Here’s the struggle for some of us who suffer embarrassment easily: How do we go out in public, wear a mask that will properly protect us and not get weird looks?
If worrying what strangers think of what you’re wearing is a big thing for you, the Microclimate AIR2 ($299, microclimate.com) is not for you. But if you want extra protection, more filtered air and maybe to look like a long-lost member of Daft Punk, this is up your alley.
Dubbed a “super mask” by Microclimate, this helmet-like device covers your head and neck like you’re ready to blast off to the moon. It’s a look that caused the original AIR mask to get dunked on by a lot of high-scale publications.
From my experience wearing this at the store, on a plane and indoors (I rarely wore it outdoors because of the better ventilation and I didn’t want the extra inquisitive looks), it works. When I wear a regular mask, I sweat. When I’m in a high-anxiety situation like a plane taking off, that problem is exacerbated. Having four HEPA filters that scrub incoming and outgoing air, along with a running fan, I felt better protected and wasn’t sweating like crazy. It felt nice.
Here’s the part that you’re probably wondering about: What’s it like to go out in public with the AIR2? First, I’ll say that you get weird looks and, with some people, eye rolls. Other people asked questions as to how it works or how it compared to a regular mask. I suffer embarrassment easily, so going out with this the first couple of times, I felt that. After I got used to some of the looks, it was fine.
While the original Microclimate AIR had trouble with hearing and speaking, that wasn’t a big problem for me with the AIR2. Through the helmet, I was able to hear people pretty clearly, although some needed me to repeat myself a few times when I spoke. At a slower setting, the two tri-speed fans were fairly quiet and as a helmet, its cushion lining made it feel comfortable and it was easy to remove and slip through without much movement when I was using it.
Judging by some people I talked to, they thought a helmet was overkill. But with COVID numbers rising, I’m fine with looking like I’m taking too many precautions with this than not enough. If you’re willing to spend the money, this is a decent purchase for this winter.