Remember when we stressed about the idea of wearing masks in public for a few months? Remember when a few months felt like a long time? With nearly a year of expertise under our noses, here are some of the best masks our editors have found in Seattle—the comfy, the snug, the adorable.
Keep in mind that layering these with surgical masks, or upgrading to some more serious coverage in higher risk situations, may be the move.
Stats: $20 (full price), two layers (with slot for filter), nose wire, adjustable ear loops.
SoDo-based Outdoor Research, usually a maker of waterproof ski jackets and such, was one of the first recreational gear companies to go big on masks. It dedicated its Seattle factory to making PPE back in March 2020, setting a goal of 200,000 masks per day way before most of us were wearing them. The Essential mask isn't cheap—though it's currently on sale for $15—but it comes with three removable filters and adjustable ear loops, plus a snug fit. OR's other models have been hit or miss, including a sports-minded Adrenaline Mask that protrudes a bit too far. The basic model, however, has become the Patagonia puffy of my mask collection: perfect for any occasion.
Stats: $15, two layers (with slot for a filter), all other options customizable.
Shoutout to Chelsea Lin for pointing me toward this local maker and her masks patterned with leopards and jellyfish and soft-serve ice cream cones. You can specify your size, style, ties versus loops, and whether you want a nose bridge wire. Do these masks run large, or do I have a freakishly small face? Either way, I added some adjuster beads to the (very soft) ear loops. —Allecia Vermillion
Stats: 3 for $32, two layers (with slot for a filter), nose wire, adjustable ear loops.
Everywhere I go, someone compliments this mask, and every time, I tell them where to find it with the enthusiasm of a missionary who has been approached by a potential convert. If you're on the hunt for PPE that won't detract from your prime grocery store looks, Baggu's cute patterns and colorways speak for themselves. But the real magic lies in the unique design: Two extra flaps work to completely secure the mask under your chin and around your nose (meaning a big yell or yawn won't yank the whole thing around). I cannot shut up about these masks. Buy them local at Prism in Ballard. —Zoe Sayler
Dick’s Drive In Burger Mask
Stats: $10, extra breathable, no nose wire, ear loops.
The mask I reach for most was an impulse buy at the Queen Anne Dick’s, purchased purely for the burger and fry motif. Turns out, the thing is supremely breathable and the loops don’t give me Yoda ears. Sadly it’s sold out online, but if you see one available at an actual Dick’s, add it to your order, stat. —AV
Stats: $18, two layers (with slot for a filter), no nose wire, ear loops.
At the grocery store and higher risk indoor situations, I’ve been using KN95 masks. But anytime I’m outside around people, I use this Japanese-made cotton mask I bought early on in the pandemic at Wallingford’s the Sock Monster. I thought $18 for a mask was outrageous, but pickings were slim. How wrong I was! This remains the best pandemic purchase I’ve made—the only mask I can comfortably wear for hours. It’s soft, thick (with space for a filter), and it conforms to my face. —Stefan Milne