I have recently had the opportunity to try out one of the RZ masks from RZ Industries which are popular among motorcycle riders, ATV riders, hikers and even firemen. It got me thinking about how these also have an application in prepping, and would be great for our bug out bags.
Before I get into why I will be changing out the N95 masks in my bug out bags to RZ masks I want to explain what different masks and respirators do. Keep in mind that there are many more details about what different masks and filters do, but I am going to explain the basic processes here.
Mask vs Respirator
The main difference between a respirator and a mask is their intended use. Surgical masks are designed to protect you from airborne contaminants, as well as others from your airborne contaminants such as blood of saliva.
Respirators are better suited to protect you (the wearer) from the inhalation of airborne contaminants because of the air tight seal between the face piece and the face. The protection offered by either the mask or respirator also depends on the efficiency of the filter.
Let’s start with some of the reasons you might need this mask in the first place.
- Wild Fires and Smoke Inhalation
- Terrorism: Collapsed Building, Debris and Chemicals
- Smog and Pollutants
- Natural Disasters Causing Mold, Dust and Debris
- Projects Around the Home. Woodworking, Cleaning Horse Pens, Painting and Insulation
- Outdoor Activity’s Like Hunting, Motocross, ATV’s and Running.
Why the RZ Mask is Better Than the N95
While the N95 does have its place in your preps, and I will still be using them, I want to go over some of the benefits of adding a couple of these RZ masks to your preps.
Durability: N95 masks are 1 time use and can get damaged easily. Whether you wear the N95 for a half hour or 8 hours straight, once you’re done…it’s done. The RZ mask filters will last up to 60 hours depending on the exposure levels.
Because the RZ mask itself acts as a barrier to the filter, they are less likely to get damaged or wet. But if it does become damaged or past its lifespan, it can easily be replaced by removing the 2 breather valves.
Breather Valves: The 2 breather valves allow air to be expelled without letting air in. This comes in very handy if you wear goggles or glasses because they can (and do) become fogged up without them.
Bug Out Bags: The thing that was a huge selling point for me was how tailor made these are for bug out bags. The mask, pouch and extra filter weigh just 2.3 Ounces and easily folds to fit in a bug out bag, whereas N95 masks are dome shaped and can become crushed, decreasing their protective property’s.
Protection from the Elements: While the RZ masks true purpose is to filter air, it can also be used as protection from the elements and keep your face warm with or without the filter. The M1 version is made of neoprene, while the M2 model is mesh and might not do as well.
Huge Assortment: The RZ masks come in 3 different models, the M1 (33 Styles) the M2 (9 Styles) and the Mossy Oak (4 Styles) Here is what they say about the 3 different styles at the RZMask website.
M1 Model: M1 Neoprene offers a better fit for superior air filtration and cold-weather protection. The M1’s tough-duty Neoprene Material improves protection in wet and muddy conditions and is ideal for severe dust applications from Powersports to Construction to Agriculture. The M1 is your general purpose, tough-duty air filtration dust mask.
M2 Model: M2 Mesh is our lightweight mask for warm work and play applications. Perfect for riding in the desert or laying insulation in a hot attic. Improved airflow and increased breathability keeps your face cooler while delivering superior air filtration.
Mossy Oak Model: M1 Hunting Masks filter your exhale through Active Carbon filters for superior scent control. The Series consists of 4 official Mossy Oak® patterns for optimal concealment in a variety of hunting environments.
What This Mask Will Filter
The life expectancy of the RZ Filter (or any filter) depends on many variables, such as; particulate exposure density, particulate exposure duration, user breathing rate. With that said; below are their general guidelines.
- 10-20 hours of continuous use in heavy dust exposure to Grain bins, Off-road, construction/demolition etc.
- 30-40 hours of continuous use in light dust exposure to Grain Bins, off-road, construction/demolition etc.
- 50-60 hours of continuous use when protecting against allergens, pollutions, odors etc
- 60+ hours when used for cold weather protection
There are 4 types of filters to choose from, the F1 Filter Active Carbon, the F1-Hunting Filter Scentless Active Carbon, the F2 HEPA Filter and the F3 HEPA Active Carbon filters. These range in price from $6.95 to $12.95 (at the time of this article) for a 3 pack depending on the type of filter you need.
If you can find room in your budget, these in my opinion are a much better option than the N95 masks. The initial investment of the mask itself is the main cost, after that the filters themselves are not that expensive.
A 10 pack of NIOSH approved N95 masks will cost you around $15, so the cost of the RZ filters are really not that much more, and possibly less considering their durability.
Along with their storability and durability that makes these great for bug out bags, these are great to have around the house. I also do a lot of woodwork in the garage and I will be using mine while I’m sanding and doing finishing work.