Bow hunting and hunting up close is difficult. Most hunters make judicious use of camo, scent blockers, scent attractants, and anything else they think might help get them the edge to get within 20 yards of their prey. For most, that includes a face mask or face paint. The RZ Industries hunting mask is a neoprene mask that comes with carbon filter inserts that kill any scent off your breath. When you think of it, it’s a bit silly that we spray all this scent blocker on our boots, wash our clothes with scentless detergent, and use non-scented soaps to shower and then hit the field with the smell of garlic wings on our breath, right? RZ Industries supplied this garlic breath blocking mask for review.
I’ve got more than a few hunting masks. My previous favorite was a cotton balaclava that was green on one side and orange on the other. I’ve got another neoprene mask, but it goes over the ears and blocks out sound, which is not ideal for bow hunting or any kind of hunting where you might need to hear what’s coming. I’ve also got a bunkerhead, which is fantastic for coverup and hunting in mild weather. The RZ Industries Mossy Oak mask uses a mossy oak pattern on neoprene material, which makes it nice and warm without being too bulky. It only really covers from just above your nose to just under your chin, so it doesn’t offer complete cold-weather coverage like a balaclava, but that also means it can be used as part of layering a bit easier. In cold weather, it’s just as easy to compliment it with a toque (knit-wool cap for my American friends) and a scarf or heavy collared jacket. The mask uses a high quality short hook and loop velcro that keeps things nice and snug, but is easy to remove and didn’t catch on my scarf.
If you just use it as a mask without the carbon filter (as I’d use it in rifle season where I expect longer shots across fields or when waterfowling), it has many available vents that should keep moisture down. Moisture inside masks is a bit of an issue when hunting in cold weather, and it affects cotton, wool, and neoprene masks alike. The only way to cut it down is have a way to vent moisture out and to let your mask dry between uses. Without the filters, this mask does an excellent job of keeping moisture out of the mask. With the active carbon filter in the mask, there’s no where for the moisture to go and it will start to accumulate inside the mask, so hunting with that scent-blocking feature should be limited to 3-4 hours in cold weather.
The mask inserts fit into the mask and are quickly affixed with 2 snap buttons. It comes with 3 carbon filter masks for blocking scent and 1 regular dust mask that blocks dust on the way in, but lets you exhale through the vents. With one of the dust blocking inserts in, the 2 exhaust vents come into play and allow breath to exhaust to the outside. These would be the ideal inserts to use if you were quading to location and had to follow a friend down a dirt road. The 2 exhaust vents only allow air out, while breathing in forces air through the dust mask.
When bow hunting, the vent on the same side as your draw can be removed so that it doesn’t interfere with your bow string at full draw. Similarly, you can remove a vent if you’re using it with a rifle or shotgun. I didn’t find that it interfered with my cheek weld when using it duck hunting, but I ended up removing it anyways to keep it from clicking up against my shotgun stock when I mounted the shotgun.
In use, this mask is a dream. Neoprene is compact and durable, so it’s easy to stash it in a backpack or satchel and you don’t have to worry about breaking or ripping anything. It easily transforms from a regular neoprene mask to a dust mask to a scent blocking mask, all while providing camo. I found the cut of the mask convenient and loved that it didn’t block my ears like some of my other masks. I’d rather have the option of popping a toque over my ears than be forced to lose some of my hearing. If you’re looking for more ways to get close to your game and want to block your scent from scaring game away, check out the RZ Industries Hunting Mask.