Gas masks are a crucial piece of equipment for anyone that lives in a dense population area or prone to wildfires. They protect from many real threats, including fire and smoke, Chemical Agents (accident or attack), Biological Agents (epidemic or attack), and Nuclear Fallout.

A gas mask is the best way to breathe in a dangerous situation and stay alive while you try to make it out of there. They are uncomfortable to wear for long periods, but you can live with that if it means staying safe. A good quality one is a worthy investment for you and your children to have in an emergency.

There are a lot of factors to consider when buying a gas mask, including filter type and capacity, fit and seal, weight and comfort, and compatibility with other gear. Many of the better options are military-grade, and they are designed to protect against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear gas agents (CBRN). Some are NBC rated, which is important if you expect to be dealing with nuclear, rather than merely bio/chem hazards.

You also want to be sure that the mask you buy is up to date. It shouldn’t be more than 10 years old, but the canisters themselves have an expiration date that you should keep track of. They will degrade over time, and it’s a good idea to rotate your stocks out every six months or so to get fresh ones. It’s also a good idea to store your gas mask in cool, dry conditions, and not in the sun or on a display head, as these can cause it to degrade more quickly.

A good quality mask will have a good field of view, and it should not fog up while you’re using it. If you can’t see, you’re not going to be able to work efficiently in a dangerous situation. You can use hacks like applying petroleum jelly around the perimeter of your face, but that’s not as effective as a mask that seals well and doesn’t fog up when you’re wearing it for extended periods.

Lastly, it’s helpful to have a mask that can communicate with others in your group. This can be done through a voice amplifier, but it’s much easier to have an intercom that is integrated into the mask itself.

Finally, a good full mask should have multiple filter ports, so you can hot-swap filters during a high-stress situation without having to remove the mask and try to connect and disconnect in an awkward manner while under pressure. It’s also easier to balance the weight of the mask when you have two filter ports instead of just one. This is why some of the higher-ranked models we’ve reviewed below have three filter ports. We’ve also included a few budget-friendly options that are just as functional. These are often surplus or repurposed military equipment, and we disqualified them based on their quality, durability, and compatibility with other gear. best gas masks

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