In February this year, I had the chance to review AusAir’s first foray into masks with the AusAir AirFlex. This mask was one of my most highly requested reviews, and the masks quickly became some of my go-to devices for daily wear. However, while I am a big fan of the AirFlex, it wasn’t a perfect product.
Fast forward to a few months ago, and AusAir contacted me again to let me know of their new mask that was launching – the AirWeave. This mask promises to improve upon the AirFlex design in many ways, with an emphasis on increasing the device’s breathability.
After looking over the product description, I found some interesting points that piqued my interest. Firstly, the AirWeave utilises Lanaco’s Helix filter. This filter is created in New Zealand using wool and is the most effective natural filter media globally. This filter media was chosen by NASA to be worn by astronauts on the ISS in the case of a fire breaking out.
On top of this, the mask is supposedly more comfortable and fits better due to a combination of being lighter, using better earloops with an improved fitting mechanism, and allowing for increased airflow. With all of these improvements, I wanted to find out if the new AirWeave mask is as good as the website implies.
Therefore, today I am bringing you my AusAir AirWeave review. This review will cover the science behind the mask, and I will also share my experiences from wearing the mask for the past two weeks. I will also compare the AirWeave to other reusable masks to help you choose which mask best suits your needs.
As always, if you have tried the mask and have some thoughts and experiences to share, I would love to hear them in the comments below. Further, if you have any questions about the mask, please don’t hesitate to ask on this post. I do my best to reply to every comment!
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.
The filter used in the AirWeave mask is, in my opinion, the most exciting change from the AirFlex. I’ve encountered Helix filters before on masks such as MeoAir‘s and Lanaco’s own Brezy Mask and Waire P2 Respirator. These filters are unique because they are produced using wool from only very select sheep. This means that the Helix filter is also among the most environmentally friendly on the market.
While I will delve into the AirWeave’s filter’s specifics in a minute, I think it’s worth mentioning that Lanaco has used its technology in certified P2 (AS/NZS 1716:2012) respirators. While this certification does not apply to the filter used in the AirWeave, it does lend Lanaco’s technology an extra level of trust.
Helix filters are created from wool which has the natural property of being the most positive charged electrostatic fibre that exists. This is particularly important because these filters rely heavily on electrostatic filtration to ‘catch’ particles attempting to pass through the filter media.
Another property of these filters is that they are significantly more breathable than similarly capable meltblown and non-woven filters. I will discuss this in more detail in the comfort section of this article, but it’s worth introducing here because this is perhaps the most significant benefit of the Helix filter.
So, how does the Helix filter perform when it comes to filtration? AusAir has submitted filter samples used in the AirWeave to Nelson Labs for the usual three tests – PFE (particle filtration efficiency), BFE (bacterial filtration efficiency), and VFE (viral filtration efficiency). These three tests are the most common for filtration media to undergo.
It is important to remember that these test results apply only to the filter media. These results do not apply to the mask itself but rather to the tested samples of the filter media. They show the theoretical performance of the mask if both the filter is inserted correctly with no gaps and the mask is adequately donned and fit-tested.
Regarding PFE testing, the lowest filtration rating achieved among the tested filter samples was 99.64%. These tests were carried out using a particle size of 0.1μm (100nm) and indicate that the filter can filter a high percentage of ultrafine particles even in the worst-performing sample.
It is worth noting that many masks have undergone filtration testing at 0.3μm, a size at which particles are more difficult to filter. Therefore, while the filtration results of the Helix filter are great, it’s hard to directly compare to lab tests carried out against particles at the most penetrating particle size (MPPS).
When it comes to BFE and VFE testing, the mean particle size used is 2.8μm and 2.9μm, respectively. These particle sizes aren’t representative of ‘naked’ viral particles but are more akin to the particles that viruses will become attached to. For example, while a specific viral particle could be 100nm in size, they are rarely airborne by themselves and are often attached to much larger particles such as respiratory secretions.
The lowest recorded filtration result for the Helix filter in both VFE and BFE was 98.7%. Interestingly, this means that the VFE and BFE capabilities of the AirWeave are slightly lower than the AirFlex while the PFE capabilities of the AirWeave are marginally better than the AirFlex.
Another feature that AirWeave has introduced is the addition of copper on the first layer of the filter. This embedded copper layer precedes the Helix filter media and has been tested by Microchem and shown to deactivate > 99.88% of bacteria over 24 hours.
This deactivation period means that if you have multiple filters or AirWeave masks to cycle through, you can rest assured that the filter will remove the vast majority of bacterial particles on the surface.
Overall, the Helix filter used in the AirWeave can filter over 98% of the tested particles. This shows that the filter can protect from a range of different airborne threats. However, this does, of course, rely on the mask and filter being fitted correctly and without leaks.
While the AirWeave has brought a lot of improvements over the AirFlex, both masks are very similar when it comes to fitting. If you’ve already tried an AirFlex mask, you can expect to find a similar experience here – if the AirFlex fits you well, the AirWeave likely will. Likewise, if you had trouble fitting the AirFlex, you’ll probably also encounter issues here.
The AusAir AirWeave relies on two key features to provide a good fit and to seal the mask. Each filter has a strip of memory foam to help seal the mask around the bridge of the nose, and the mask also features adjustable earloops to adjust the tightness of the mask to your face.
The AirWeave mask is slightly taller than the AirFlex, and rather than allowing the filter to go from one edge of the mask to the other (as on the AirFlex), the AirWeave leaves a small edge around the top and bottom of the filter. I didn’t find this an issue with the mask, as it is along the edges of the filter itself where the seal occurs.
The most significant change when it comes to fit is the redesigned earloop mechanism. One of my issues with the AirFlex was that I would often find the earloop bead loosening over time. This would lead me to need to readjust the mask every few hours.
AirWeave has kept a similar design but has improved it by making it more sturdy. While I would still need to adjust the tightness from time to time, the AirWeave retained its fit significantly better than the AirFlex did.
AusAir has also carried over the long memory foam piece integrated into each filter. This memory foam is designed to prevent leakage that often occurs around the bridge of the nose. In addition, this memory foam is contoured to seal comfortable around the wearer’s nose.
Similarly to the AirFlex (with the updated memory foam introduced on later masks), the AirWeave’s memory foam removes the majority of leaks for me. So while I can feel some air escaping when I exhale, I am not worried about this as it’s a common occurrence.
As you exhale, the interior of the mask becomes positively pressurised. This means that the air within the mask is higher pressure than the air outside the mask. Due to this, the air within will seak the easiest route of escape and will rush out of the mask.
When you breathe in, the opposite happens and the inside of the mask becomes negatively pressurised. This leads to the mask collapsing as air from the outside is pulled through the mask and into the wearer’s lungs.
While I do experience some air escaping around the top of my nose (which can lead to my glasses fogging up at times), I am also confident that the mask is filtering due to the mask collapsing whenever I inhale. Further, when I tested the mask, I could not detect any major leaks on inhalation.
With that being said, if you are a glasses-wearer like myself, you may have some issues with fogging. At times I could get the mask fitted perfectly and this issue was non-existent, but other times I struggled to get a fit that would prevent my glasses from fogging up.
As always, these are merely my experiences. I can’t comment on whether or not the mask will fit you as everyone has a different face shape and features. With that being said, the memory foam on the AirWeave does provide a solid fit and I believe that many people will be able to get a good fit with this mask.
I found that the mask had to be both tightened on the earloops and that it had to sit quite high on my nose for the best fit. The best fit for me occurred when the tip of the mask sat on the same level as the bottom of my irises.
Where the AusAir AirWeave excels is comfort. This is one of the most comfortable masks that I have worn over the past year, which has caused me to continue returning to the AirWeave. I have an extensive range of masks that I can choose to don every day, yet this mask has become my go-to mask simply because it’s very comfortable.
The mask that I usually wear daily is from Happy Masks, and I choose to wear it because it is comfortable due to being lightweight and easily breathable. While the AirWeave mask is not quite as comfortable as Happy Masks, it isn’t far behind at all.
Breathability with the AusAir AirWeave is excellent. The filter is made from wool and specifically designed to be breathable, and the shell of the mask is made from merino wool with gaps to allow for airflow. Despite being a two-layer mask (mask and filter), the AirWeave feels as breathable as many single-layer respirators.
I would compare the breathability of an AirWeave mask with a Helix filter to a dual-layer nanofibre mask. While I found single layer nanofibre masks to be slightly more breathable, AirWeave is a close second and is noticeably more breathable than masks that utilise melt-blown filters. Currently, most reusable masks on the market rely on melt-blown filters, which gives AirWeave a big advantage over those masks.
I also noticed that the interior of the AirWeave is quite warm. While the mask is designed to remain cool in summer, I feel that the two wool layers will keep it warm. I wore the mask during late autumn, and even with temperatures as low as -1 degrees the interior of the mask was always warm.
This is not necessarily the mask’s fault, and all masks will have a warm microclimate provided they are worn correctly. However, compared to some other masks on the market, the AirWeave is warmer. Compared to the AirFlex, the AirWeave provides a more balanced microclimate. This is something to keep in mind if you plan to wear the mask in a warm environment.
AirWeave is a big improvement over AirFlex in regards to comfort. Even with two valves, the AirFlex has more breathing resistance. However, it is worth keeping in mind that the merino wool on the AirWeave is warm and will retain heat more than some masks.
Price & Lifespan
The AirWeave Merino Mask is not cheap, and it sells for AUD 89 (about USD 65 at the time of writing). This places the mask securely among the premium segment of the market alongside masks such as Airinum’s Urban Air Mask and Airpop’s Active and Original masks.
This price also means that the AirWeave is sold for an AUD 20 premium over the original AirFlex Mask. Therefore, the AirWeave is not intended to replace the AirFlex, but rather to be an improved mask that sits above it in the AusAir mask range.
Replacement filters for the AirWeave (AirFlex filters can NOT be used in the AirWeave) cost AUD 25 for a 3-pack. This is currently the only quantity purchasable, and there is no discount offered for larger, bulk purchases. Each filter is rated to last up to 15 days of wear.
I found that this 15-day recommendation is in line with my own findings. An issue that I did notice though, is that loose fibres from the filter begin to become irritating after three or four days of wear. This issue is frustrating but it didn’t cause me to replace filters more often than recommended.
The mask starter kit comes with a few additional items included. You will find a mask, two filters, and one anti-microbial copper-infused carrying bag inside the box. With this starter kit, you can expect to get around one month of usage from the mask.
If you are wearing the mask in locations with high air pollution concentrations, it may be necessary to replace the filter more often for the best performance. However, wearing the mask daily in Seoul for the past two weeks, where the AQI averaged 73, the filter lasted for the recommended lifespan.
Assuming that you can utilise each filter to its maximum recommended usage period, you will be getting 45 days of usage for each $25 filter replacement pack. This comes out to $0.56 per day – much cheaper than relying on disposable masks. But, of course, the initial investment is significantly higher, and it will take some time for the costs to balance out.
A comparable mask, the Bilio Kangaroo Mask, sells replacement three replacement filters for $10 for a 3-pack. While this is cheaper, the filter media is also far smaller and the increased price on the AusAir mask seems justified.
I would pay the extra $20 to purchase an AirWeave over the AirFlex. While my review of the AirFlex was positive, and I still use it regularly today, there is no denying that the AirWeave brings significant advantages over the previous model.
If you are looking for a more affordable mask, I recommend checking out StyleSeal, the Craft Cadence Nanofibre Mask, and the Honeywell Dual-layer Face Cover. These masks all feature replaceable filters and come in significantly cheaper. In saying that, the AirWeave does have advantages, such as substantially better breathability, that some people will want to pay extra for.
AirWeave Vs Other Masks
I recently sent out an email newsletter asking readers what they would like to see added to future BreatheSafeAir articles. One suggestion was to add a comparison section to each review. While the current reviews are useful within a vacuum, there are a lot of mask options out there it’s hard to see exactly how masks stack up against each other. If you would like to provide feedback for future articles (and get special deals and more!) you can sign up here.
Therefore, I’ve chosen some masks with similar features to make a comparison. Each of these masks features replaceable filters and is in the more ‘premium’ section of the market. These are the masks that I would deem the main competition to the AusAir AirWeave. I also included Cambridge Mask and Vogmask as these are the most popular reusable masks despite not having replaceable filters.
|AirWeave||Replaceable||> 99.6%||No||89 AUD|
|AirFlex||Replaceable||> 99.2%||Yes||69 AUD|
|Urban Air Mask||Replaceable||> 97%||Yes||75 USD|
|Airinum Lite||Replaceable||> 94%||No||49 USD|
|AirPop Active||Replaceable||> 99.2%||No||59 USD|
|Cambridge Mask Pro||Built-in||> 99.4%**||Yes||32 USD|
|Vogmask VMC||Built-in||> 95.3%**||No||33 USD|
Please note that I chose the most similar test results for each comparison. However, some test conditions differ and this is merely a broad overview of each filter’s capabilities. For more details, please check each mask’s individual review.
When it comes to filtration, both AusAir masks perform similarly to the AirPop Active and Cambridge Mask. The other three masks provide significantly less particle filtration. Of course, the fit is equally important and a factor that needs to be considered.
For fit, I would place the AusAir masks, Urban Air Mask, and AirPop Active above the other masks. This is due to the fact that they all offer adjustable earloops and utilise an additional sealing system – either memory foam or a silicone seal in the case of AirPop.
The fit that I can get from these four masks is significantly better than the other three due to these additions. With that in mind, I believe it comes down to the Urban Air Mask, AirWeave, AirFlex, and AirPop Active. Both the Urban Air Mask and AirFlex use valves yet the AirWeave provides better airflow and therefore breathability. With the new design used in the AirWeave, I can’t see myself recommending the AirFlex.
I’ve found the AirWeave to be more comfortable than the AirPop Active. However, the AirPop Active’s silicone seal does provide a more secure fit from my experience. The AirWeave also requires less adjusting when donning as the silicone seal on the Active can be hard to position correctly. Therefore, I would recommend reading my AirPop Active review and deciding on a mask from there.
Overall, the AirWeave is a solid mask that doesn’t have any big drawbacks. If you’re looking for a more affordable mask, I recommend checking out this post on the best reusable masks.
The AirWeave mask is a mask that has outdone the AirFlex in almost every way. As I mentioned earlier in the article, I have always been a fan of AirFlex masks. However, with the AirWeave available, I don’t see when I would recommend the AirFlex anymore as the AirWeave is just so much better. The primary reason for this is because the AirWeave is more breathable – even though the AirFlex has two valves.
The biggest issue that I encountered when wearing the AirWeave was the fibre loss of the filter. For the first few days of wear, I had no problems. After using the same filter for a few days, I began to experience some irritation from the loose wool fibres. These were especially frustrating when they got in my mouth.
This would happen well within the recommended 15-day lifespan of each filter and was frustrating at times. However, with that being said, the superior breathability that the mask provides is a big bonus and something that outweighs this downside for me.
Another factor to consider when deciding whether or not to purchase the AirWeave is the price. This is not a cheap mask, and the initial investment is quite high. Among its competitors, I believe that the AirWeave is the best choice. However, there are more affordable masks that provide some of the benefits.
When it comes to a mask with reusable filters, I can’t think of any mask that compares. MeoAir’s offerings perform similarly as they use the same Helix filter. However, the masks themselves are not of the same quality, and mine lost their shape after a few wash cycles. Among the masks that I have tried, the only products with better breathability all use built-in filters.
Overall, I’ve been impressed with the improvements that the AusAir AirWeave brings. It’s a solid mask and one that I will be adding to my list of the best reusable masks. So, if you’re looking for the ideal mask, I recommend considering the AirWeave!
AusAir AirWeave FAQ
Does the AirWeave Mask Have an Official Certification?
No. While the AirWeave’s filter has undergone lab testing, the mask does not have an official certification.
Does the AirWeave Mask Have Lab Testing?
Yes. The AirWeave’s filter has undergone lab testing for PFE, BFE and VFE.
How Is AirWeave Different from AirFlex?
The AirWeave mask is made out of merino. Combined with the wool filter, this provides superior breathability and comfort. Further, the AirWeave doesn’t utilise valves as the AirFlex does.
Is AirWeave Better Than AirFlex?
From my experience, I would say that the AirWeave is a big improvement over the AirFlex. Especially in regards to breathability.
What Alternative Are There to AirWeave?
If you are looking for alternative masks I recommend reading this post on reusable masks.
How Much Does AirWeave Cost?
AirWeave costs 89 AUD (around 65 USD at the time of writing).