Survival is a word that has been thrown around alot. It means different things to different people. For some, it means being able to survive without food or water. Others might think of it as surviving an attack by a wild animal.
Survival is truly about being prepared for anything. Whether it’s a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, or even a zombie apocalypse, having the proper gear can mean the difference between life and death.
Gas masks are one of those survival pieces of gear that you just hope you never have to use, but might be good to have for one of those just in case scenarios.
Unfortunately, we live in a world anything can happen, whether that’s a natural or man-made disaster. Humanity is stepping into a precarious time which makes having a plan b a good idea.
We researched and found a list of gas masks that are a far cry from Vietnam-era masks that we are all used to seeing on TV. These masks might just be the best gas masks out there.
Best Survival Gas Masks
- MIRA Safety CM-6M Gas Mask – Best Overall Gas Mask
- 3M FX Full Reusable Respirator FF-402 – Best Designed Mask
- PD-100 Full Face Gas Mask – Best Budget Option
- 3M Reusable Respirator 6900 – Best Small Fit
- PD-101 Full Face Gas Mask – Best Multi-Purpose Mask
- Honeywell North 7600 Respirator – Best NIOSH Approved Mask
- 3M Full Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6800 – Best Mask for Tradespersons
1. MIRA Safety CM-6M Gas Mask
Best Overall Gas Mask
Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 8 inches
Weight: 0.99 Kilograms
Pros: Long-lasting gas mask, Easy communication, Compatible with glasses, Comfortable to use with a helmet, LEO approved
Cons: The elastic straps lack quick releases
Description: The Mira brand is popular for its innovative design and was originally made as a tactical gas mask for law enforcement and military use.
The mask has a drinking system and external canteen integrated into the design as well as making extra room for people who wear glasses. Its designed for using it for the long term, which they had in mind when including the filtration system but also its comfort and ability to communicate with other effectively while wearing it.
There is an inbuilt speed diaphragm that allows you to communicate easily. The MIRA CM-6M is built in a way that ensures there is no distortion of vision with its panoramic visor as well as giving room for adequate airflow which preventing fogging.
There is also a built-in hair net that makes sure your hair does not get trapped in the gas mask. To crown it all, you can use this gas mask conveniently with a helmet. With it’s two standard filter ports it allows for easy breathing with minimal resistance.
2. 3M FX Full Facepiece Respirator FF-402
Best Designed Mask
Dimensions: 9.5 x 8 x 5.5 inches
Weight: 1.7 pounds
Pros: Fits perfectly, Adjustable, Lens resistant to paint and stain, Ease to use, Quality gas mask
Cons: The straps sometimes are loose
Description: 3M’s Ultimate FX Full Facepiece Reusable Respirator is a gas mask that comes with 6 straps that give it a perfect fit for your face. It is an easy-to-clean mask that includes an airtight seal for your face and a silicone nose cup.
The 3M lens is structured to aid a wide-angle view and makes it easy to see even in low light conditions. This gas mask features a cool flow valve that increases airflow so it doesn’t get super hot or fog up. It uses a Scotchguard coating that prevents stains and any paint from entering the lens.
The 3M™ Ultimate™ FX Full-Facepiece Respirator is designed to fit a wide range of face sizes and shapes. The clear, optical-quality polycarbonate lens can be adjusted so that no matter what size your head is, you can make it snug.
The silicone facepiece makes it so that stains and adhesives won’t damage it and also makes it easy to clean. This respirator is lightweight which thankfully makes it comfortable to wear for long periods of time – just in case you have to.
3. PD-100 Full Face Gas Mask
Best Budget Option
Dimension: 9.61 x 8.11 x 5.43 inches
Weight: 1.6 pounds
Pros: Lightweight, Comfortable, Eases communication, Air circulation that is anti-fog, High-density electric straps
Cons: You cannot take very deep breaths
Description: The PD-100 comes with an airtight, quality silicon material that safeguards you from all kinds of dangerous gases. The wide range of filter technology inside provides extra protection against both manmade gases and organic vapors.
The PD-100 full-face gas mask is designed to protect you from things like air pollution, germs and bacteria, but also serious chemicals and biochemicals as well. It is made of medical-grade plastic material with a non-toxic organic vapor respirator, which makes the inhalation healthy and safe.
This one comes with adjustable elastic straps and fits most people’s faces comfortably even people with glasses or beards seem to have an air-tight fit. These types of masks are worn a lot by people who work with hazardous fumes, dust and chemicals. The biggest difference between one of these types of masks and a regular face mask as a gas mask is air-tight! Which makes the world of difference.
4. 3M Respirator 6900
Best Small Fit
Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 8 inches
Weight: 1.20 lbs
Pros: Well-balanced gas mask, Easy to care for, High impact, Wide field of view, It does not leak
Cons: It doesn’t include a filter, Uncomfortable for users of glasses
Description: The 3M 6900 Full Facepiece Reusable Respirator is a lightweight well-balanced design with a silicone face seal and an integrated optical correction that helps reduce distortion when looking through the mask at angles. The 6900 is the “Large” size and the company also sells two smaller variations, the 6800 and the 6700 for those of us will smaller heads. This is a more fitted mask so if you have a long beard I would look for something else.
The mask provides a large field of view together with a 3M flow valve that helps keep the mask cool and dry. The mask has an adapter that helps to keep exhaled breath travel downwards to avoid fogging up the mask.
This mask is made out of silicone and so it is light and more comfortable than you would normally find. With some reviews even saying that they didn’t even notice that they were wearing a mask after a while. The maks uses M 2000 Series Filters, 3M Filter 7093 P100, 3M 6000 Series Cartridges.
5. PD-101 Full Face Gas Mask
Best Multi-Purpose Mask
Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 8 inches
Weight: 1.20 lbs
Pros: A high-quality filtration system, Suitable for a wide range of uses, Resistant to impact, Anti-fogging, Easy to replace filters
Cons: Poor performance under hot conditions, Communication is easy only within close range
Description: The PD-1010 Full Face Gas Mask has charcoal filters that are dual activated and are compatible with 3M Respirator cartridges. The mask has a nice ergonomic design as well as a good voice amplification system and an air system that prevents the mask from fogging up.
Parcil is a professional industrial labor manufacturer based out of USA and provides 1 year warranty on its gear, which isn’t too bad (not the greatest either). Some of the other features include impact-resistant, sound repeating diaphragm and replacements filters that filter everything from dust and gasoline to acetone alcohols.
This maks was made specifically for working professionals in mind and as a result, it is not as sleek or light as some of the others and instead is a bit more heavy-duty. This might not be the one you want if you going to be using it as a survival situation as its a bit bigger and heavier, though would work better for on the job.
6. Honeywell North 7600 Series Silicone Respirator
Best NIOSH Approved Mask
Dimensions: 11.5 x 8 x 7 inches
Weight: 15 ounces
Pros: Full vision mask, speech diaphragm option, Niosh approved
Cons: Can be used only with some types of glasses
Description: The Honeywell North 7600 Series is a Niosh-approved full facepiece silicone gas mask features a lightweight silicone facepiece with an adjustable head harness that gives you a secure fit and seal. The North 7600 has been NIOSH approved for use against a wide range of organic vapors, ammonia, chlorine gas, hydrogen chloride
The design features honeycomb-shaped silicone cushions, which provide better seal and has a PAPR (powered air purifying respirator) was designed for workers who need protection from particulates, gases, vapors or airborne contaminants while working in environments where they are required to wear respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
7. 3M Full Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6800
Best Mask for Tradespersons
Dimensions: 10 x 8.5 x 8.5 inches
Weight: 1.4 pounds
Materials: Silicone & thermoplastic elastomer
Pros: Lightweight, Exhalation is pushed downward so as to not fog up the mask
Cons: Not sufficient for
Description: The 3M 6800 was designed specifically for professionals working in an environment where there are lots of airborne particles and dust. The 3M 6800 facepiece is lightweight, comfortable, and easy to wear. It has a silicone face seal
It also offers a cool flow valve that helps provide cool, dry comfort while you are wearing it. The center adapter directs exhaled breath and moisture downward so your vision stays clear as you work. The lens of this mask is large so it provides a wide field of view for excellent visibility.
Best Survival Gas Masks Buyers Guide
Though this might be common knowledge, but in case it’s not, a gas mask is used to filter out harmful pollutants in the air such as chemicals, radiation, or any other harmful compounds.
A gas masks filter works much like an air filter of water filter, in that there are layers that trap and obsorp pollutants. There are usually three layers that act to remove particles. The first is much like a coffee filter and acts to remove only larger particles. A second layer acts as an absorption mechanism, that binds to any harmful substance. This layer is usually activated charcoal, which is a carbon that has the ability to absorb any substance that comes into contact with it.
All of the filtration processes is usually done with a removable and replaceable filter that is separate from the mask and is replaced. Each filter will last anywhere from 8-24hrs of continuous use.
There are many varieties of mask in the market each with a whole range of numbers and acronyms that can be a little confusing. The most important one you should pay attention to is:
- CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radition, Nuclear)
This is the industry standard and the most comprehensive and he highest civilian grade mask you can get.
There are several other rating systems such as :
- NBC (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical)
- CBA – RCA (Chemical, Biological Agent-Riot Control
The standard of gas masks is regulated by the (NIOSH) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health ensures that masks that are distributed to civilians adhere to a standard needed for safe usage.
There are a variety of masks that are designed for different purposes, such as dust masks and half respirators. There is a big difference between a CBRN mask and any other, especially ones that are used for dust, woodworking, or construction as they do not offer the same capacity to protection.
What to know about Gas Masks
1. Purpose & Protection
Before picking out a gas mask it is good to identify the type of pollutants you are trying to protect yourself from, whether it is aerosols, and paints or if you want something to protect you from biological or radioactive material.
The rating that the masks has will be an indicator what type of pollutants it can be used against. Not every gas mask is made equally. Even full-face gas masks, though they appear to look the same have very different levels of protection.
2. Types of Masks
There are many different types and variations of gas masks. We can roughly break them down into two types: a half-mask that covers only the nose and mouth and a full-face mask that encompasses all of the face above the eyes. In this list, we only covered the full-face gas masks.
A full-face mask provides more protection than a half-mask because full face masks are airtight and provides a shield against any pollutants that might otherwise affect your eyes, which is important if you are looking for protection against chemicals.
There are several different types of gas mask filters out there. The type of filter that you want will depend on the level of containments that you are wanting to protect yourself from.
The 40mm gas mask filter also referred to as the NATO 40mm standard is the most commonly used threading. Each filter will last roughly 8-24 hours depending on the person and the usage before they need to be replaced.
- Class 1: filters 1,000 parts per million
- Class 2: filters up to 5,000 parts per million
- Class 3: filters up to 10,000 parts per million
There are 3 different categories of filters:
- Particles filters – which protect against dusts, aerosols, bacteria, viruses
- Gas filters – which protects against gases, organic and inorganic vapors and acids
- Combined filters – which protect against gas and particles substances
The price point, or how much you would like to spend will largely determine the quality of mask you’re looking for. With that said there is always a good combination of quality. With most of these masks falling within the range of the 100-300 dollar mark you are likely to be able to find something that works for you.
Cheaper masks will be ones that are either half masks or non-CBRN models.
The durability of a gas mask is determined by the material it’s made of. The most common materials are rubber, silicone and plastic. The most durable are those made from rubber or silicone because they can withstand heat up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit without melting; however, these materials also tend to be more expensive than plastic ones which is why some people prefer them.
Most gas masks should have a shelf life of 20 years. However, it may be wise to check your masks every so often to be sure that the filter still works.
6. Ease of Communication
You likely will want to be able to speak with someone when you are wearing a gas mask. Most high-end masks will come with a built-in speech diaphragm, which allows you to speak without taking off your mask.
Others will also come with a voice amplifier which will only be needed if you are going to be using it in conditions with a lot of background noise.
The weight of the mask while perhaps not the most important factor when getting a mask though it might come into play if you are looking for a mask for your bug-out bag or if you need to wear it for long periods of time. In that case, you would want something light so that it doesn’t feel like too much of a burden to lug around in your bag.
Heavier masks are more used for industrial purposes and are generally bigger and clunkier. Most of the tactical masks these days use sleeker designs so that law enforcement and the military can use their weapons without the mask interfering much.
The best survival mask is likely going to be one that is CBRN certified so that you are protected from whatever might be floating around. If you take some of the above points in mind you should be well protected.