If you’ve followed my reviews for any length of time, you’ll know that I quite often share my excitement for reviewing new masks and respirators. Whenever something innovative or unique appears on my radar, I simply can’t help but feel a little excitement.
I mention this because today, I finally get to present a review I’ve wanted to publish for months, if not years. To say that I was eager to try Airgami masks finally is not an exaggeration! Pictures of these products alone were enough to pique my curiosity, and great word of mouth only added to my interest.
Air99’s Airgami masks are products I’ve had ample requests to review, and I quickly began to understand why. Not only do these masks have an origami-inspired outer shell that gives them a truly unique look, but they also have some fantastic advantages over other masks on the market. It’s hard to explain the look of these masks in a way that does them justice, so I recommend checking out the pictures to see what I am referring to.
At first glance, it’s easy to assume that the design is purely for aesthetics. With fashionable masks becoming more trendy every day, I wouldn’t blame you if you thought that the pleated design is an example of form over function. Honestly, before looking into Airgami’s website, I thought the same.
However, the design both holds and hides the mask’s secret advantage – a massive piece of filter media far bigger than any disposable respirator. In fact, one Airgami filter is almost as big as two bi-fold KN95 respirators. This makes a BIG difference, and it’s one that I will extensively investigate in this review.
The origami-like design of the mask means that a far larger filter surface area can be exposed in a similar form factor to a disposable respirator. The first time I experienced a pleated filter was in Gill Mask, where simply changing the filter from a flat piece of filter media increased breathability by 2.5x.
Due to my previous experience with Gill Mask, alongside Airgami’s claims regarding the breathability of the mask, I have been curious about the mask for months. Unfortunately, shipping delays caused some issues, but I’ve finally had the chance to try the masks for a few weeks and am thrilled to present this review.
This Airgami mask review will follow my usual formula. I will examine the mask’s science and specifications in the first section. After getting the essentials out of the way, I like to dive into more anecdotal areas, such as the comfort and fit of the mask during my time wearing it. Finally, I will close the article by discussing pricing and the mask’s lifespan.
Before diving into the essential details, there are a few disclaimers that I need to make.
- This review is based on my personal experiences. Masks fit everyone differently, so my experiences – especially regarding fit – will likely differ from yours.
- Masks and respirators are not effective unless fitted correctly. Ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the mask as intended for the best performance.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please refer to my affiliate disclaimer. I was sent a product for review, but the article is not sponsored. All opinions expressed in this post are my honest thoughts. I only recommend products that I truly believe in.
Information on this blog is for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information herein with other sources. Furthermore, this information is not intended to replace medical advice from professionals. This website assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of information and information is subject to change without notice. Devices mentioned on this website are not medical devices and do not guarantee protection.
Airgami has submitted its masks to Nelson Labs for N95 pre-testing as per 42 CFR Part 84. This means that while Airgami does not currently hold an N95 (or equivalent) certification, testing has been carried out on Airgami masks by Nelson Labs to confirm that the devices conform to certain aspects of the N95 standard.
Therefore, although Airgami does not currently hold any certification, the pre-test results look promising, and Airgami has undergone the same testing as N95 respirators for both filtration and breathability. Nelson Labs was the lab that carried out both of these tests, and it is widely considered to be one of the most trustworthy filtration testing centres in the world.
Airgami provides all of its up-to-date test results on the specifications page of its website. If the masks undergo more testing in the future, you can expect to find the updated test results on this page. Although I believe that test results should always be public and readily accessible, it’s nice to see Airgami’s transparency in this respect.
The first test that Airgami masks underwent is for particle filtration efficiency (PFE) as per TEB-APR-STP-0059 (particle filtration efficiency for N95 respirators). This test standard requires that all filtering elements of the respirator are sealed to a test rig and tested for particle penetration. Where many PFE tests only look at the filtration efficiency of the filtration media, this standard is more thorough as it tests the complete mask filter as a customer would use it.
It is also worth noting that the process under which Airgami masks were tested for particle filtration efficiency (TEB-APR-STP-0059 as part of 42 CFR Part 84) almost always provides lower filtration percentages than ASTM F2299. Most masks and respirators tested by Nelson Labs are tested according to ASTM F2299. If Airgami masks were to be tested for PFE under ASTM F2299, they would likely provide higher filtration results.
Particle filtration testing was carried out at a flow rate of 85L/minute with particles having a median diameter of 0.075 microns. 20 Airgami masks were tested on the test rig at this flow rate to ensure consistent performance across masks. If a single mask has particle penetration > 5%, testing is stopped, and the products don’t pass.
All Airgami samples passed the N95 pre-certification tests for particle filtration efficiency. Even more promising, all pieces tested performed over the filtration required by the standard. Across 20 samples, the highest penetration was 1.66%. This means that the worst performing sample had a filtration of 98.34%.
This great result shows that Airgami performs above what the N95 standard requires regarding particle filtration. Interestingly, 16 of the tested samples had > 99% filtration showing some variance across samples. However, whichever mask you get, you can rest assured that it is capable.
What makes Airgami’s filter so unique, though, is not the filtration. Instead, this mask’s big appeal and area of interest is its breathability. Where an increase in filtration often leads to a decrease in breathability, Airgami has done a fantastic job balancing the two.
Through further testing by Nelson Labs (as per NIOSH’s TEB-APR-STP-0003 and TEB-APR-STP-0007), the differential pressure of Airgami masks was tested. This test compares the pressure difference between the filter material upstream and downstream. This test is carried out per the N95 standard; therefore, these results are directly comparable to N95 respirators.
Across three samples, inhalation resistance ranged between 3.7 and 4mmH2O. Exhalation resistance was slightly higher, at 4 and 4.3mmH2O. These fantastic results show that Airgami masks have far better breathability than standard N95 respirators and most reusable masks on the market. For reference, a ‘breathable’ N95 respirator such as the 3M 1860 was found to have resistances of 8.06 and 7.94mmH2O for inhalation and exhalation, respectively (Source: CDC).
|Mask||Breathability (inhalation/exhalation – mmH2O)|
|3M 1860 (N95)||8.06/7.94|
|3M 8210 (N95)||8.62/8.53|
|Kimberly Clark 46827 (N95)||15.24/13.04|
|Gerson 1730 (N95)||8.64/8.56|
While I will discuss my personal experiences in further detail in the comfort section, it’s easy to see through this lab testing that Airgami created an incredibly breathable mask that has very few close competitors on the market. One thing is for sure – the design is for more than just looks.
Unlike Airgami, the above-listed respirators are currently N95 approved by NIOSH. However, Airgami’s pre-tests have shown that they’ve created a mask capable of providing filtration above the 95% requirement with significantly better breathability. That begs the question – what is Airgami’s secret for creating such a breathable mask?
The image below is from Airgami’s website, which shows the mask’s shell and filter media before it is folded. Lying on top of the filter are two masks (no N95 respirator uses earloops, these are counterfeit masks – however, the mask is the same shape and size as a standard KN95, so the comparison is valid). These two masks represent the two sides of a bi-fold mask (an unfolded mask).
The comparison isn’t totally fair as not all of the surface area is used for filtering. About an inch on the left and right side of Airgami’s surface area doesn’t filter (it’s used to attach the ear loops/headband). However, the same can be said for the bifold mask – usually, the area around the edges won’t filter as it’s sitting against the wearer’s face. Not only is the filter larger, however, but the material is also highly breathable. These two factors combined create a highly breathable mask.
Even when taking these considerations into account, it’s easy to see that Airgami’s filter is extensive. Each mask has a surface area far larger than a standard bifold or cup-shaped mask, allowing for greater airflow. Since the mask has no filter collapse, the whole surface of the mask is constantly filtering – something that can’t be said for most bifold respirators.
Finally, it’s important to note that no Airgami mask has a valve. Valves are often used to decrease exhalation resistance, allowing unfiltered air to exit the mask. Where two-way filtration is needed, valve-less masks are needed. In the case of Airgami, valves are simply not needed as exhalation resistance is already fantastic. The lack of valves makes Airgami a good choice for air pollution protection and preventing the spread of viruses.
Overall, Airgami filtration is fantastic. Particle penetration is lower than many disposable N95 respirators, and filtration is comparable to good reusable cloth masks such as Cambridge Mask and AirPop’s reusable masks. However, there is no doubt that breathability is where Airgami excels. In this respect, there are very few reusable masks on the market that can compete with Airgami. If you want excellent filtration with high breathability, this is a mask that you will want to consider.
Fit with Airgami masks is hard to compare to other reusable masks directly. The polypropylene design, lack of wire nosepiece, and sharper edges of the mask make wearing Airgami products a vastly different experience compared to other products I’ve tried.
Before going any further, it is essential to mention that Airgami offers two variants of their masks – the headband and earloop masks. Both are available for the same price, and each has distinct advantages and disadvantages.
In the case of the earloop mask, the device is effortless to put on and take off, making it fantastic for daily life. Often, I visit places where I need to take my mask off – for example, at a cafe to drink coffee. The earloop mask is ideal for these situations as it’s far easier to don and doff than the headband mask.
However, I found the headband mask to offer a significantly better fit alongside being more comfortable to wear (more on that later). Although there is a bit more inconvenience associated with using this version of the Airgami mask, I recommend it for anyone wanting the best fit and protection.
This isn’t to say that the fit of the Airgami with earloops is bad – quite the contrary. I found the fit very close to the fit of the headband variant of the mask. However, the key difference I found was in comfort. To achieve a good fit, I had to tighten the earloops to the point that caused me pain behind my ears after a couple of hours. A similar fit on the headband variant never caused these issues.
Even in the correct size, I had to tighten the earloops on the earloop Airgami significantly. Interestingly, the same-sized mask with headbands was a much better fit. When I discussed this with Airgami, they mentioned that they purposefully made the earloops larger so that users can adjust them to the correct size. After all, it’s possible to adjust the loops to make them shorter, but they can’t easily be lengthened.
Adjusting the earloops and headbands on Airgami is not instantly apparent, and the process isn’t as straightforward as masks that use an adjustment toggle. The headband mask is straightforward to fit, but I initially had difficulties with the earloop mask. However, I figured it out after watching the videos on the sizing page.
The good news is that once you’ve figured out the fitting system, the fit stays for a long time. I would have to make micro-adjustments to the earloops every few days, but these took no more than 30 seconds. The most time-consuming part is simply trying the mask between each adjustment to ensure it fits well.
Once I had each mask adjusted correctly, I found the fit of both Airgami masks surprisingly good. I was not sure what to expect from an almost entirely polypropylene mask with no additional fitting mechanisms (such as a wire nosepiece), but I certainly did not expect a fit as good as I found on the Airgami masks.
Despite seemingly not having a way to seal around my nose, the masks prevented any leaking around the bridge of my nose and upper cheeks. With the earloop variant of the masks, I found that the device would require adjustments from time to time as the Airgami mask would slowly slip down my face. This was not an issue with the Airgami headband variant, and the fit and seal remained intact even with large head movements.
Another common weak point of masks is along the bottom, where the mask has to seal against the wearer’s chin/jaw. During my time wearing Airgami masks, I had no issues at all with leakage around this area. While I would find leaks around the bridge of my nose from time to time, the fit around the bottom of the mask was always great.
It’s hard to explain, but when wearing Airgami masks, I often felt like they should be leaking – they just don’t feel like they should fit. However, they rarely leaked, and when they did, some minor adjustments would quickly fix the issue.
I feel like this phenomenon is due to the breathability of the mask. Since they are so breathable, air can quickly escape through the filter of the device as opposed to finding a way around the filter. In this way, the highly breathable design of Airgami has contributed to more comfort and a better fit.
Overall, the fit with these masks was good, and I would say it was better than many reusable cloth masks on the market. After adjusting them to fit me correctly, I never had significant issues with leakage or sealing on Airgami masks.
From my experience, Airgami fit better than cloth masks such as Airinum’s Urban Air 2.0 Mask, R-Pur’s FiiT Mask, and the Honeywell Dual-Layer Face Covering. It also fits me better than many disposable respirators such as bifold and boat-style products. However, my go-to disposable respirator, the 3M Aura 1870+, has a slightly better fit than Airgami due to the memory foam seal.
Out of the box, Airgami masks do require some adjustment, and I recommend checking out the fitting videos on Airgami’s website to understand how to fit your mask correctly. That said, with some adjustments, I believe most people will be able to find a good seal with Airgami – as long as you pick the correct size. Let’s discuss that in more detail.
Airgami masks come in four sizes covering a vast range of facial shapes and sizes. I’m a young adult male with a relatively small face. As such, I opted to try the small and medium variants to see which would fit better. I received four masks, small with earloops, small with headbands, medium with earloops and medium with headbands.
Straight away, I noticed that all models’ fitting mechanisms (the headbands and earloops) were too loose except for the small headband Airgami, which fit well. Although the small earloop mask was close to fitting well, I had to shorten the elastic by a few centimetres for the best fit. Besides the loose elastic on the earloop Airgami, the small masks fit me well.
Interestingly, the medium-sized Airgami masks fit me better, even though they seemed too large initially. With the exception of the headbands and earloops (which were now far too long and I had to shorten significantly), the medium-sized variants provided a great fit with a better seal than the smaller models.
This leads to another unique advantage of Airgami – the masks’ size is somewhat adjustable. By tightening and loosening the elastic, it’s possible to expand and contract the bellows of the mask. This allows the user to make the mask perimeter smaller or larger to fit their face. While you will still need to get the general sizing of the mask correct, there are minor sizing adjustments that can be made by the user to get the perfect size.
In the end, I decided to continue wearing the medium Airgami masks. While I preferred the form factor of the smaller masks, the medium masks sealed better for me and had less leakage. This was interesting because I usually pick small masks from each brand. The Airgami team mentioned this was because they had pre-adjusted the medium to be on the smaller side as per the facial dimensions I sent them.
The ability to make some sizing adjustments is a big advantage that isn’t seen in many reusable masks. While a few other masks allow for adjustments outside the earloops/headbands, it’s an uncommon feature that isn’t present on most masks I try. I would love to see this adjustable sizing become more popular across the mask industry.
Airgami mentions on their website that the XL mask is very large and that most people should be covered by S, M and L masks. This seems true, and I believe that most adults will find that the M mask fits them best. The S mask will likely provide the best fit for most teenagers and smaller adults.
Comfort with Airgami masks is a considerable strength, primarily due to the fantastic breathability of the devices. There is very little breathing resistance, meaning breathing isn’t laboured. In fact, it’s the opposite – breathing through an Airgami mask feels almost like unrestricted breathing without a mask.
While breathability is fantastic, this is only one aspect of comfort. Another significant factor is the microclimate within the mask. In other words, how much of a temperature and humidity difference exists between the mask’s interior and exterior?
Microclimate can make mask-wearing during summer months incredibly uncomfortable as the inside of the mask becomes excessively hot and humid. Luckily, Airgami largely avoids these issues due to its highly breathable design. While the mask’s interior will assuredly be warmer than the outside, I found wearing it relatively more comfortable than other masks, such as the 3M 1870+ N95 and Benehal N99 respirator I’ve been donning recently.
Another factor that is very important when it comes to comfort is the fitting mechanism. Airgami offers either earloops or headbands on its masks, and these two designs differ vastly regarding comfort. While neither is uncomfortable, there is no way to beat the comfort of headband masks when it comes to longer periods of wear.
Since headband masks distribute the weight of the mask better, and since they sit against a non-sensitive part of our bodies (the back of our heads), they tend to be significantly more comfortable than earloop masks. This holds for almost all masks, and it holds true for Airgami.
While the earloop variant of Airgami’s mask is not uncomfortable, I did find that I had to tighten the earloops significantly to achieve a good seal. The downside to this was that there was a lot of pressure behind my ears – pressure that gradually became uncomfortable after a couple of hours.
This wasn’t a deal breaker (I find this happens with nearly all earloop masks), but it was sometimes an annoyance. For example, I wore the earloop Airgami mask on a four-hour ferry ride, and towards the end of the ride, I wished I could take it off for a few minutes to let my ears recover. Once I had a brief respite, I could don the mask for a few hours more.
On the headband Airgami I had no such issues. I could continue wearing the mask for hours without discomfort from the headbands. The weight was distributed well, and combined with the excellent breathability, this made for a great wearing experience.
The polypropylene edges of the mask were what I was most concerned about when it came to the comfort of Airgami masks. But, as it turns out, I needn’t have worried about this! While the plastic has sharp edges (and I hope this can be improved in the future), I found that they didn’t cause discomfort as the shell sat flat on my face instead of against it.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of the plastic outer shell is the strength. Airgami masks have a large air chamber within, and the masks are not prone to collapse. This means that breathing and speaking through the mask are easy as the mask will not interfere with either of these essential functions.
Further, I found that wearing Airgami with glasses was easy and comfortable. Unlike most masks, I found that I had to sit my glasses on top of the Airgami mask as opposed to above the mask (on the medium, pictured above is the smaller mask). This wasn’t an issue, but it does make wearing glasses with Airgami a different experience compared to flatter respirators and masks.
While my glasses would fog up at times, the issue was never as severe as I find with my usual day-to-day mask, the AusAir AirWeave. This was a big benefit, and it made the Airgami mask much easier to wear when going supermarket shopping, taking public transport, and in many other situations.
Overall, if I had to choose a mask purely based on comfort, Airgami would be one of my first choices. While the breathability is the biggest feature here, the mask as a whole is comfortable, and I had no major issues with either the headband or earloop Airgami in my time using the mask.
With that being said, there is a choice to make between the headband and earloop mask. While I did find the headband mask to be more comfortable, some people will prefer the convenience of the earloop mask.
There is no right or wrong answer when choosing a mask. The headband variant is more comfortable and provides better protection due to the secure seal. On the other hand, the earloop Airgami’s strength lies in the fact that it is super convenient to wear and take off.
Cost & Lifespan
Airgami masks are some of the more affordable masks on the market with prices at $24 for the white variant, and reaching $30 for all other colours and designs of the mask. This pricing puts Airgami in the same price range as reusable masks such as Vogmask and Cambridge Mask.
The masks do not use replaceable filters; therefore, once the filter is damaged or has reached the end of its life, the whole mask needs to be replaced. Luckily, both the mask shell and filters are washable – many times.
According to internal testing by Airgami, the mask can retain > 95% filtration even after 48 cycles of heat disinfection. This is a fantastic result, and each mask’s filter will likely retain efficacy for a long time, considering that heat disinfection is only recommended when the mask has been exposed to viruses.
When you want to clean the mask but aren’t concerned about viruses, you can wash the device in room temperature water. Once left out to dry, the mask will be ready to use again with a high level of filtration. However, make sure only to use water – soap, alcohol, bleach, vinegar, oil and other chemicals will significantly reduce the filtration efficacy of the mask.
While the filter in Airgami masks is capable and reusable for an extended period, I found it harder to keep the masks in good condition. This is because Airgami masks are delicate, and it’s easy to damage them. If they are damaged badly enough, you will need to replace the mask or risk losing some protection due to a compromised fit.
Airgami recommends that you place the mask in a glasses case or other similarly hard-shelled case that will protect the mask from being crushed. Unfortunately, I can attest that the masks are easy to crush – even when kept in their packaging. For this reason, I agree with Airgami that some kind of hard-shelled case is essential for these masks.
The masks can survive and be ‘reshaped’ if they aren’t crushed badly or are only crushed for a short period. However, I found that it was better to be safe and to take a lot of care with each mask as otherwise, they can get permanently damaged.
When using the mask, you will also want to handle it with care. Airgami recommends that only the straps are touched; from my experience, this holds true. It’s very easy to damage the front of the mask, and it’s best not to touch it unless essential.
While I haven’t had the chance to test the lifespan of my Airgami masks yet, I believe that they will need to be replaced every six to 12 months. However, this is very reasonable for the price as disposable masks would be far more expensive over the same period. Further, other non-replaceable filter masks, such as Cambridge Mask, have a similar lifespan.
That said, you will want to either find or invest in a carrying case. I recommend getting your hands on a mask first to see if it will fit in the case you are considering (my glasses case was a bit small) and then purchasing something adequate.
Interestingly, the masks appear only to be susceptible to being crushed. I was curious about the strength of the polypropylene outer layer and tried ripping it with my hands. Even with significant force, the shell didn’t tear.
Overall, the price and lifespan of Airgami masks are very reasonable. While you need to take extra care to maximise the lifespan of each mask, this is a minor inconvenience for a highly breathable mask that can be reused for as long as Airgami.
Air99 has created a unique and innovative product with Airgami. So much so that the mask is currently a top 10 finalist in BARDA’s DRIVe (Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority’s Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures) Mask Innovation Challenge.
A large range of masks and respirators were submitted to the competition hoping they would win. While the challenge has yet to conclude, Airgami making the phase 2 finalists is a great sign – there is a good chance that the mask could win the challenge.
The DRIVe challenge is important because it’s created in partnership with NIOSH, the organisation behind the U.S respirator certifications such as N95. They’re seeking innovation above what current respirators offer, and Airgami has successfully brought innovation to the field.
I didn’t mention the BARDA challenge earlier because I wanted to focus on the user experience with the mask. However, the fact that it’s made the phase 2 finals means that this mask has brought something new to the table.
From my experience, Airgami masks have performed very well. After wearing and using the masks daily for a couple of weeks, I’ve found no major drawbacks or issues with these products. While they aren’t perfect – no mask is – nothing was a deal breaker for me.
Regarding improvements that I would like to see: I wish that Airgami would use adjustment toggles on the headbands and earloops of its masks. While all straps are currently adjustable, I’ve always preferred masks that are adjustable while worn as it makes the fitting process painless.
The earloops are also not particularly comfortable. While the mask is lightweight, I still found that the loops weren’t very comfortable, especially after long periods of wear. I see thicker loops as being an easy fix, and this is something I would like to see implemented in the future.
Finally, the mask is prone to get crushed and damaged unless you take extreme care when handling it. I’m not sure if this is something that Air99 can quickly remedy, and it may require more work than it’s worth. With that said, if there was any way to make the outer shell of the mask a bit stronger, I believe this would be a great change.
So, what about the positives? Well, there are a lot. First, Airgami masks are comfortable and exceptionally breathable. There are very few masks as breathable as these on the market! Further, the mask has a large chamber and doesn’t collapse, meaning that breathing and talking are effortless.
The performance of the mask regarding filtration is also great; lab tests following the N95 standard’s methodology have shown this. However, we all know that filtration only applies to a well-fitted and leak-free mask. Luckily, Airgami also does well in that area.
When it comes to reusable masks, this is one of the best fitting in my experience. There are better fitting silicone and plastic masks, but these are more akin to half-face respirators. Compared to other more standard masks, Airgami fit fantastically. There were few leaks, and these were removable with some adjustments.
For anyone wanting the best protection and better comfort, I would recommend the headband Airgami. Although I know it’s not as convenient, anyone taking their safety seriously will want to consider the advantages of having headbands. For this reason, my recommendation will always be this variant.
Overall, Airgami masks suit a wide variety of people. Whether you’re looking for a comfortable mask that’s easy to wear, a high level of protection, or an eye-catching mask to match an outfit, Airgami is worth considering. Many readers have asked me to review this mask over the past year, and I can see why!
That said, while I recommend Airgami, I will need to keep wearing my mask to test its longevity. So far, my masks have held up very well. However, they do feel fragile, and I worry about how long they will last. I will need to update this in the future, as only time will tell.
Does Airgami Hold an Official Certification?
Currently, no. However, Airgami has undergone pretesting for the N95 standard.
Is Airgami Lab Tested?
Yes. Airgami has undergone filtration and breathability testing as per the N95 standard.
Are Airgami Masks Reusable?
Yes! Airgami masks are not only reusable, but they are also washable.
Are Airgami Masks Breathable?
Airgami masks are some of the most breathable reusable masks on the market.
What Alternatives Are There to Airgami?
Airgami is a very unique mask, and there aren’t really any direct competitors. Perhaps the closest alternative is the AirPop Light SE.
Can Airgami Masks Be Washed?
Yes! Airgami masks can be washed with room temperature water.
Where Can I Buy Airgami Masks?
You can purchase Airgami masks from Airgami’s website.