Snowshoe Hard, Breathe Easy! RZMask Up to Task

Snowshoe Magazine revels in introducing popular products to the wacky world of snowshoe fun. RZMask, a cold weather “Breathe Safe” covering for the nose and mouth, stresses uses for snowboarding, skiing, hockey, camping and snowmobiling. Snowshoe sports fit right in the category; the aim requires understanding how.

Founder Steve Torbenson  exhibits the ability to find new markets for RZMasks

Founder Steve Torbenson exhibits the ability to find new markets for RZMasks

Camping meets the definition as a snow sport though it might not necessarily seem that way at first glance. Just ask those racing the March Iditarod Trail Invitational, either its “condensed” week-long 350-mile version or the you-gotta-be-kidding 1,000-mile adventure to Nome, Alaska. Sleeping out under the stars in this race while civilization slumbers under a distant moon—for example, their 7-11 doesn’t refer to a convenience store, it’s more like “How close is the next town?” Oh, 711 miles or so—is extreme winter camping. Minnesota’s Afton State Park just announced they’re opening Yurts, those nomadic domed structures, for year-round camping, which means about nine months of cold weather here. The joke goes, the Fourth-of-July celebrates the warmest day of Minnesota’s winter. Instead of ingesting dry cold air, the RZMask promises protection with an “Ideal Inner-Temperature” for your breathing pleasure controlled by dual one-way-out exhaust valves.

snowshoe RZMASK suppot pink ribbons

If you use goggles, a good choice for your eyes when traversing the north-bound Actif Epica winter endurance race ending in Winnipeg, Canada, this mask chucks breath moisture like a technical shirt. So the fog problem mists away.

The fit rests comfortably around the mouth and nose having been tested in all types of uses ranging from firefighters to Harley riders; one doesn’t want to torque either of those groups. A real insight, though, is its ability to filter out minuscule particles. Take as a base-point that tobacco smoke particle measures .30 microns, influenza .43, strep .90; RZ filters at .10 micron and above. I discovered the dreaded Anthrax number is 1.00, so there! Part of the filter contains activated carbon that collects carbon-based chemicals, preventing such harshness to bypass your lungs. Breathe better, snowshoe longer, a good axiom to remember when climbing that next big uphill at a United States Snowshoe Championship or qualifying race.

John Capouch, CEO, chooses the Heartland as his favorite RZMask

John Capouch, CEO, chooses the Heartland as his favorite RZMask

Filters, just like those for your hot rod’s engine, need replacing. They’re a minor cost for what they do: $6.95

These masks aren’t plain-Janes; they’re wild, colorful and imaginative due to the work of creative director and designer Cole Brenner. From limited edition models such as Heartland’s yellow-gold with green flair or Gas Mask Aftermath—you need to see to understand—one comes to understand why RZ calls tongue-in-cheek their own designs “sick.” Their limited editions are just that; once gone, they’re gone.

For their major categories of firefighting, agriculture, snow sports, hunting, off-road and pollution, each cover a variety of sub-categories like painting under the pollution group.

Bend Oregon's Chad Voos wears RZMasks

Bend Oregon’s Chad Voos wears RZMasks

And size matters! One chooses Youth, Regular or XL to cover the mouth and nose. Many would argue against their choice for me, the Blullow Regular, suggesting rather a size not yet available: XXXL

The site offers a tremendous user’s page detailing far more details than I can cover, but they are there like how to increase air-flow into the mask by disabling the filtering function. Prices mostly hit the scale at a light $29.95, including the Limited Editions, too, so one can choose freely the one that appeals. These make wonderful gifts; even though the company maintains a wide distribution network and public image—think Discovery Channel’s Hogs gone Wild—the name remains as fresh as the air one breathes through a RZMask.


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