We’ve all been there – coming home from a fishing trip with a face red-raw from sunburn. It’s painful, annoying and increases your risk of skin cancer.
That’s why our resident guide Shawn Chapin has put together a list of the 9 best face masks/neck gaiters to allow to enjoy a long day on the water without getting roasted by the sun. (Hot tip: Masks are also great when you don’t want to put on greasy sunscreen.)
Shawn’s nominated his top three below and read on for full reviews to help you buy a durable, comfortable and effective fishing face mask that is great to wear even when you are on the water for hours.
Best Overall Face
The best fishing face mask available today – for those who want full protection and a long-lasting comfortable mask. Non fogging technology is great for wearing with glasses or sunglasses.
Probably the world’s most popular face shields, and for good reason – high quality sun protection in cools designs that doesn’t break the bank.
The SunGaiter is the #1 mask one we recommend if you want the very best protection for your face and neck and you aren’t overly price sensitive. Anyway, you can’t put a price on your health in terms of avoiding skin cancer! Because they are lightweight, breathable and durable, they are one of the first items packed on for us on any serious fishing trip.
They come in a variety of colors and comfort is key too as you can just wear it round your next life a scarf and pull it up as required. Wear it beneath a cap with some quality polarised sunglasses and you are fully protected.
The SIMMS SunGaiter has laser cut breathing holes in front of the mouth – great for avoiding fogged up glasses when fishing in hot weather and humid conditions.
On top of that it features a UPF rating at 50 which is higher than the average 40+ UPF found with most face shields.
This product is constructed using 92% polyester with an 8% blend of spandex – this means its cool, wicks the sweat away and fits just right and it’s the perfect fishing gaiter and not just for fly fishing.
- High quality brand
- High UPF rating, but low sweat
- Laser cut breathing holes
- Durable design
SA face shields are extremelby popular and that’s for a good reason – they feature excellent face protection having a UPF 40 rating against sunlight. They are also very breathable and have excellent cooling for those hot days on the river or lake.
SA fishing face shields are very lightweight and can be worn up to 12 different ways (as headbands, bandanas and even wrist bands) to provide full face coverage so they are a great fishing buff.
- UPF 40 coverage
- Custom packages
- Tons of styles; vibrant colors and prints including camo design
The face shield by GOT is a microfiber pull-on closure sun shield and neck gaiter that protects you from the sun, insects, dust, and wind while fishing.
There are 16 different ways to wear this face shield, covering all situations you could ever come across while chasing your target species.
The Headwear is also incredibly comfortable, with a seamless design, soft and natural feel, and great breathability.
The microfiber materials used are 100% stretchy polyester, with moisture-wicking abilities and quick drying making this a versatile fishing face shield.
- 100% polyester
- Moisture-wicking, low sweat
The Gillz fishing mask has a lot of features going on; just at first glance, you will notice a construction design that’s unique compared to other face shields.
The Gillz mask has vents built into the face shield to provide optimum breathability.
One vent is in front of the mouth, allowing for warm air that is exhaled to exit quickly.
The other two vents are located at the sides of the neck, keeping your neck cool on hot summer days.
The material is rated to 50+ UPF for excellent protection, and the material is also anti-microbial and stain-resistant.
This design is unique and a true winner for outdoor adventures.
- Awesome vent system, breathable fabric
- 50+ UPF
The Bassdash face mask is made of 90% polyester fiber and 10% spandex.
This provides great cooling and breathability as well as a tight fit when you are out in the elements for long periods of time.
You don’t have to worry about sizes as the stretch material means one size fits all.
Along with cooling, sun protection, and breathability, this mask is also effective against cold winds and cold air entering your nose and mouth.
It, like other face shields, can also be worn in multiple ways.
- Good brand
- Moisture wicking fabrics
- Excellent UV protection
The WTACTFUL balaclava is a full head sun shield that is suited to cold weather conditions and harsh weather elements.
Believe it or not, you can still get a sunburn in cold temperatures. I personally have gone ice fishing in the spring during 50-degree Fahrenheit temperatures, with only a sweatshirt, and came back home with a substantially sunburnt face.
Constructed with BLCOOL polyester fabrics to provide great breathability while offering great durability, it should last season after season guarding against the sun, dust, cold winds. The material is also hypo-allergenic and non-skin irritating.
- Great for cold temperatures
- Non-skin irritating
Kingree comes in a package of 6 fishing face buffs with a wide variety of designs to choose from.
They are constructed from 100% premium microfiber with significant UV protection, are seamless, and also highly stretchable.
You can wear these things just about any way you want to, and when you need to wash them are completely machine washable for your next fishing adventures.
- Stretch material, full coverage
- Six mask package
The main feature of these sun masks is their visually cool designs, so if you’re looking for something different to stand out, these are probably the face shield for you.
They also block out 95% of UV rays, are 100% polyester Microfiber, and absorb sweat while wicking moisture away.
Did I mention they have super cool designs?
- UPF 50+
- 100% polyester microfiber
- Awesome designs
The Aqua design masks are made from 100% aqua poly microfiber. They also have 6 different sizes to choose from to give you a perfect fit.
One aspect that makes these gaiters stand apart is they are designed with color patterns that help you blend in – perfect when stalking the shallow saltwater flats with a fly rod for species like bonefish as well as all other styles of fishing.
The aqua poly microfiber used to create these buffs consists of 85% polyester and 15% spandex to give both cooling and a great fit.
- Aqua poly microfiber breathable material
- Stealthy colors and some beautiful designs including camo
- Protective with high stretch
Fishing and UV Protection
Anglers that spend long days on the water are getting bombarded by UV rays. Not only from the blazing orb in the sky but also by UV rays reflecting off of the surface.
Many of us have also gone through terrible sunburns, and for me personally, I just dealt with it as part of the trade for years. I would become incredibly tan over the course of the season, with the standard ghost-white sunglasses face, or as I can it, “reverse raccoon eyes”.
But I have begun to take precautions in recent years, with face shields always being readily available in the boat. This, for me, was easy to do. Simply put on the face shield and keep fishing, without the need to deal with messy and greasy sunscreens that make it hard to grip my rod.
A great trick I have learned as a guide and hardcore musky fisherman in Northern Wisconsin is to dip your face shield in the river or lake on hot and steamy summer days and put it back on. This creates an ultra cooling effect as it dries and is incredibly refreshing.
Other Protective Clothing
There are also other lines of clothing dedicated to protecting fishers from the sun and its UV rays. Many fishing shirts have popped up on the market as well, with materials being the same as the face shields.
These long sleeve shirts are incredibly lightweight, breathable, and really do help to cool you down on hot summer days.
These shirts also come in a variety of styles and colors, so you’re sure to find something that piques your interest.
I hate applying sun screen and it is one of the reasons I just dealt with sunburn year after year. But with that being said, there are less greasy and intrusive ways to use sunscreen lotions nowadays, and I have actually started to keep the spray can version in my boat from any brand that offers it in this version, which is most these days.
Many of these spray-on sunscreen brands also go on pretty dry, a massive improvement from the greasy lotions of the past.
Guarding yourself against the solar rays is incredibly important and is often overlooked by the angling community, and I can confirm I myself have overlooked it for years.
Luckily, us fishers have definitely made strides to be more aware of the concerns of UV rays and their potential to cause life-threatening issues such as skin cancer.
If you haven’t jumped on board to take precautions against UV rays, start by picking up some of these fishing face shields today.
Just because you are short or long sighted, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a great pair of polarized fly fishing sunglasses. All four of