Respirator Face Masks

If you’re truly preparing for every scenario, then respirator face masks have to be at the top of your packing list for your bug out bag. When many people think of respirators, they assume that a nuclear strike has happened. However, the air can quickly become contaminated by dust from collapsed buildings or airborne bacteria from a biological weapons strike so the masks will be key to purify the air that you breathe.

How They Work

Particles in the air that could harm your airways and bloodstream, such as dust or viruses, are much bigger than any other component of the air. They are still microscopically small and invisible to the human eye, but respirator face masks are designed to allow the small gas molecules through to your mouth and blocking the larger particles from coming through.


It is possible to create temporary respirator face masks out of simple wool or cotton rags. The holes in these materials will stop some of the large particles from coming in and you can make a better mask by combining three or four layers of cotton as the overlap of holes will catch more particles. You’ll need to wash them on a daily basis as the material can become quickly contaminated and any particles left on the mask will transfer to your skin when you take it off.

If you’re serious about your survival preparation, however, you’ll want to get hold of professionally made respirator face masks. These come with the following features which make them essential parts of your kit:

  • Activated charcoal filters – the big difference that a professional mask will give you is the inclusion of activated charcoal inside the mask. This creates a slight electrical charge that causes 95% of particles to attach to the filters. This is a much more efficient way of blocking the particles as it stops radioactive particles as well, which are typically smaller than the holes between cotton fibers.
  • Longer lasting – most professional masks will need to be replaced after 24 hours worth of usage, but if you get hold of specially designed vented respirators, you’ll get at least 100 hours of continuous usage. This will be more than enough to get you through to the point where the air currents have cleaned the air enough to make it breathable again.
  • Snug fit – there is little or no point in a face mask that doesn’t secure tightly around your nose and mouth as a loose fitting will allow millions of harmful particles into your airways. Professional respirators come with four way straps that fit over the back of your head and pull tight. If you have a larger face or will be travelling with small children you should get a pack that includes differences in sizes so you’ll always get a tight fit.

Best Brands

When you’re looking for a respirator mask, you should look at the following brands first:

  • N95 – these are the simplest masks on the market, providing 24 hour protection along with unique anti-fogging agents so you can wear them with goggles. You’ll pay around $5 for one mask.
  • 3M – the N100 range will give you 150 hours worth of continuous protection. It will filter a minimum of 99.97% of all airborne particles. For this high level of filtration, you’ll spend $15 per mask.
  • Survival Air System – this is one of the bigger face mask brands on the market, but can filter radioactive particles and will last up to a week. The filters can be washed and reused and it will cost you around $21 for each mask.

Finally, make sure that when you shop for respirator face masks that you buy ones that have been specifically designed for survival situations. There is a large market for masks that workmen use when painting or plastering but these won’t give you the same level of protection.

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