As the Olympics prove that not even a global pandemic will halt sports, Nike has unveiled new performance masks made to be worn during workouts. The futuristic face coverings were first spotted on Team USA athletes in Tokyo, where, in tune with the dystopian theme, the masks were compared to the ones worn by villains Bane and Hannibal Lector.
Earlier in the pandemic, Nike had already crafted masks for its employees, although the design was completely different from the new performance mask and not available for sale. The latest face covering also isn’t meant for selling Nike sneakers or walking around corporate offices: The model features heavy-duty straps, chin padding, and layers of mesh for efficiency while keeping active.
Designed to be durable — While cardio in a mask seems inhibitive, Nike promises optimal airflow in its heavy-duty style. Inspired by origami — fittingly considered a Japanese art form —the mask features layers of mesh and allows for a personalized fit with an adjustable nose wire and chin padding. Two strap options — an over-the-ear look and a wrap around the head and neck — allow a secure fit while in motion.
Dubbed “Venturer,” the face covering is suitable for indoor and outdoor wear, and is the first mask produced by Nike solely meant for performance. The design is machine washable, making it reusable, and comes with a protective case to prevent deformation when not in use.
Nike has yet to announce an official release date for its Venturer Performance Face Mask, although the piece is expected to launch soon on the brand’s website. With an expected price tag of $60, the face-covering is more expensive than most, but its long-lasting wear and performance features are worth it — right?
What’s Nike really masking? — A note on Nike’s website makes clear that its heavy-duty mask is not intended to be used as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), nor is it rated as a medical face mask or surgical mask (medical device). Yet the brand has been outfitting American athletes in said masks at the Olympics — which supposedly has strict mask mandates — and is marketing the face covering to the public for $60.
Not only is Nike’s mask misleading, but it completely defeats the purpose of wearing a face covering while working out. If not intended for PPE, why else would regular athletes wear the Venturer mask?
Until Nike clarifies just how protective its mask is, consumers may be better off using a plain N95 face covering. You’re guaranteed more protection for a few bucks as opposed to Nike’s $60 fabrication.