Over the past few months, I’ve had an increasing number of requests to review the masks produced by RZ Industries. I finally got my hands on one of their devices – the M2 Mesh Mask – and I am excited to finally present my review.
Currently, RZ masks have a lineup including three devices – the M1, M2 and M2.5. These devices all differ slightly but follow the same overall formula. They all have the same shape (with the most significant difference being the M2.5, which uses a dual head strap design) and use the same filters.
When looking through the devices offered by RZ Industries, I settled on the M2 Mesh Mask as it offers, in RZ Industries words, a significant airflow advantage over the original model. Due to this improvement, I believe this is the mask that most customers will be interested in.
Interestingly, this is one of the first masks I have reviewed on Breathesafeair that isn’t intended for fine dust protection. While the device should be a capable performer, it’s clear that RZ Industries has designed the M2 Mesh Mask for DIY, construction, and woodworking purposes.
However, I’m interested to see how the M2 Mesh Mask performs in daily life. So while I will share the specifications and science behind the mask, which will be relevant to all usage situations, my M2 Mesh Mask review will be from the perspective of someone looking for protection from general air pollution.
As always, anyone with experience or questions regarding the M2 Mesh Mask is welcome to share their thoughts in the comments. Sharing your experiences helps all future readers make an informed decision, and I greatly appreciate everyone who comments.
With that being said, let’s get this review of the RZ Industries’ M2 Mesh Mask started.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please refer to my affiliate disclaimer. I was NOT sent a product for review, this product was purchased by myself. All opinions expressed in this post are my honest thoughts. I only recommend products that I 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.
Filtration is a strong point of the M2 Mesh Mask. RZ Industries offers three different filters that can be used in each mask. These filters increase in price, but also come with a few significant advantages. Below are the filter offerings:
- F1 Filter: Standard filter. Has higher breathing resistance but includes a carbon layer.
- F2 Filter: Highly breathable filter. Has no carbon layer.
- F3 Filter: Combines the carbon layer from the F1 filter and the low breathing resistance from the F2 filter.
Before diving into each filter’s performance, it’s essential to remember that the test results mentioned only apply to a fully-sealed mask. If leaks are present in the device, particles won’t pass through the filter and, therefore, won’t be filtered. For this reason, the fit is equally as crucial as filtration.
It is also important to note that these tests were carried out only on the filters – not on the masks themselves. Filters must be fitted correctly for the best protection, and air must pass through them instead of the outer mesh material.
Testing on RZ Industries’ filters was carried out by Nelson Labs, an accredited laboratory well-known for its filtration testing. All three filters underwent two tests – one for filtration efficacy and one for inhalation and exhalation resistance. The M2 Mesh Mask holds no official certifications such as N95, KN95 or KF94.
RZ Industries does not provide its filtration results publicly on its website. However, when I asked for the certifications, they were quick to provide them. While I do think these documents should always be easily accessible for the sake of transparency, staff were prompt to provide the certifications via email.
In PFE (particle filtration efficiency) testing, the masks were exposed to 0.1μm particles. Testing conditions followed the ASTM F2299 standard with the exception of non-neutralised charges that were used. The three filters achieved the average filtration efficiencies listed below through these tests.
|Filter Type||Average Filtration|
All three of these average filtration results are very comparable, and very little difference between the performance. With these results, the filters perform almost identically; therefore, the biggest difference between them is the inclusion of a carbon layer (F1 and F3) and higher breathability (F2 and F3). Let’s discuss breathability in more detail.
Filter breathability was tested for all three filters. The F1 filter achieved good inhalation and exhalation resistances that both come in lower than the ASTM F3502 face-covering standard requires (at level 1). This is significantly less than the N95 standard requires at ≤ 35 and ≤ 25 mm H2O.
However, even more impressive is that the F2 and F3 filters have vastly lower breathing resistance. While the F1 filter provides low inhalation and exhalation resistance, the F2 and F3 filters offer far less resistance.
|Filter Type||Inhalation Resistance (mm H2O)||Exhalation Resistance (mm H2O)|
|F1||≤ 11.8||≤ 5.8|
|F2||≤ 1.4||< 0.2|
|F3||≤ 2.0||< 0.2|
This means that while the F1 filter is breathable, especially in comparison to a respirator such as an N95, the F2 and F3 filters are massive improvements in breathability.
I didn’t find the F1 uncomfortable, and most people will have no difficulty breathing through it – mainly because the mask uses valves to decrease exhalation resistance. However, the F2 and F3 filters are better, especially considering that they provide similar filtration.
To offer a point of comparison, the breathing resistances of some other common masks are:
- Cambridge Mask (inhalation ≤ 12.2, exhalation ≤ 7.6). Single valve
- Vogmask (inhalation ≤ 10.2, exhalation ≤ 8.6). No valve
The F1 is comparable to both of these masks in inhalation resistance while a bit better in exhalation resistance. However, the F2 and F3 filters both provide far more breathability. While the F2 does perform slightly better than the F3, most people won’t notice the difference. Therefore, the differentiation between these two filters is the F3’s carbon layer.
Activated carbon is added to many mask filters to provide some level of filtration against volatile organic compounds. Activated carbon filters are capable of reducing or preventing smells such as tobacco smoke from reaching the wearer. It’s important to note, however, that carbon can’t filter all gases and it also has a limited lifespan.
Overall, the F3 filter is the best option. However, the downside is the increased price. If this is an issue, it’s worth considering what’s more important – do you need higher breathability, or is the carbon layer an important addition?
For most people, the higher breathability of the F2 filter will be a better choice. While an activated carbon layer is a nice addition to any filter, I think most people will find the increased breathability more noticeable. Therefore, I would recommend the filters in this order: F3, F2, F1. With that being said, if the price is a big factor, the F1 filter still provides good breathability and filtration.
As important as filtration, the fit of a mask is a key element we must consider when deciding which device to don. It’s vital to perform a fit test when donning a mask to ensure the seal prevents air from leaking.
It’s also important to mention that these are purely my experiences. Every individual has a different face shape and will experience a different fit. Therefore, I can not determine if a mask will fit you. All I can do is share my personal experiences from the past few weeks of wearing the M2 Mesh Mask.
Overall, I found the fit of the M2 Mesh Mask to be good. There are some caveats that I will discuss in more detail, and I also found that the mask made some sacrifices to comfort in order to achieve a good fit. With that being said, I would sum up the fit as being solid.
The M2 Mesh Mask uses a unique-fitting mechanism reminiscent of the strategy used by Respro. The mask relies on a neck strap rather than ear loops (which I often criticise). This strap is intended to pass underneath your ears sit near the centre of your neck.
This design tends to come with significant advantages over earloop-based masks. Earloops are often somewhat flimsy and loose, allowing masks to become easily dislodged, breaking the seal. Head and neck straps are usually more secure and provide a more secure fit.
In the case of the M2 Mesh Mask, I did find this to be the case. The neckstrap allowed the mask to stay secure even when I went hiking. While it required adjusting from time to time, the fit was sturdy overall.
The second mounting point of the mask is on the nose. The mask sits on the bridge of the wearer’s nose and seals with a very sturdy and durable nose clip. Using the nose and neck to seal, I found that the mask both sealed and stayed in place better than most earloop masks.
From my experience, the most significant problem area regarding fit was along the bottom of the mask. I found that, at times, it could be hard to remove leaks both along the top and bottom of the mask. If I moved the mask up higher on my face, the bottom would leak. If I moved the mask lower, the top would leak.
This was fixable, and I could always get the mask to fit in the end, but it was finicky at times. I wondered if I picked a mask that was a size too small, but I chose an L that is slightly bigger than the sizing guide indicated.
The valves on the M2 Mesh Mask are very effective and allow all of the air that I expelled to pass through. This largely prevented micro-movements of the mask caused simply by inhaling and exhaling.
In summary, I found the M2 Mesh Mask to provide a leak-free seal after some fitting. While I would often have leaks near the bottom of the mask when initially donning it, these were fixable after some adjustments.
However, I do worry that this fit came at the expense of some of the mask’s comfort. Let me explain.
While often not considered as important as filtration and fit, comfort is the third pillar of masks. No one wants to wear an uncomfortable mask, and with the wide range of high-quality masks on the market today, there’s no reason to wear an uncomfortable mask.
Typically earloops are the cause of the most discomfort in masks. This is because earloops can put pressure on the back of the wearer’s ears, leading to minor discomfort and, in worst-case situations, pain.
This issue doesn’t occur since the M2 Mesh Mask uses a neck strap instead. When I wore the Mask during a long bus ride, I found that it was comfortable enough to wear even after four hours. In addition, I felt a lot less discomfort than I would with a standard earloop mask.
Another aspect that contributes majorly to comfort is breathability. The more breathable a mask is, the less effort we need to exert while breathing. Therefore, lower breathing resistance and higher breathability lead to a significantly more comfortable mask.
The M2 Mesh Mask improves breathability over the M1 Mask, making the device very breathable. However, inhalation resistance is low, and it feels as though the filter is almost solely accountable for the resistance – the outer mesh fabric provides very little resistance.
RZ Industries also includes two valves on their M2 Mesh Mask. These valves are designed to prevent condensation build-up and to reduce exhalation resistance. These valves are very effective and provide virtually no breathing resistance, making exhaling effortless.
Overall, I would compare breathability on the RZ M2 Mesh Mask to the F-series masks from Naroo Mask. They are breathable and a big step up from standard respirators such as N95 and KN95 devices.
However, I did allude to some discomforts with the M2 Mesh Mask. Two key areas caused issues – the nose clip and the neckband. While these are the masks greatest assets in regards to fit, they aren’t entirely comfortable.
The nose clip is very sturdy, and it allows for a leak-free seal around my nose. The issue that I discovered is that the nose clip, when tightened, feels like it’s blocking my nose. This makes both talking and breathing uncomfortable as it feels similar to talking or breathing with your nose partially pinched closed.
Even when I placed the Mask further up my nose, I found this issue less severe but still present. Of course, this doesn’t pose an issue if you breathe through your mouth. However, I prefer to breathe through my nose, and it took time to adjust my breathing for this Mask.
Of course, it’s possible to loosen the nose clip. However, I found that when I did this the device could leak. Therefore, I would prefer to have the nose clip tightened with no leaks than to have minor leakage but less breathing discomfort. Ideally, this wouldn’t be a decision that I need to make.
The second, more minor, discomfort that I experienced was with the neck strap. While I still believe this fitting mechanism is better than earloops both in regards to fit and comfort, it isn’t perfect.
I went hiking with the Mask, and I found that it hindered my head movements. When turning our heads, our necks stay in the same position. This can make it difficult to make large head movements like looking left, right, up and down. These large movements can also compromise the integrity of the seal.
This issue was largely avoidable by making smaller head movements. However, it did take some getting used to. This is a better alternative to pain behind the ears, but it can be frustrating at times.
Neither of these issues was a deal-breaker for me. The restrictive movements are something that I’d prefer to earloops (headbands are the best fitting mechanism), and the nose clip issue was avoided by breathing through my mouth instead. With that being said, they are comfort factors that need to be considered.
Cost & Lifespan
Please note that all prices mentioned in this section are in USD.
The M2 Mesh Mask comes in at $35 for the starter kit. This is $10 more expensive than the previous model, the M1 Mesh Mask. While I can’t compare to the original mask, I would say that the upgrade is worth the price as the breathability is fantastic.
The starter pack includes one mask, two F1 filters, a storage bag, and a strap extender. The one notable omission here is valve-blockers. While RZ Industries does offer them, they are a further $5. Usually, I would argue that manufacturers should include these blockers in the base kit. However, it’s clear that the M2 Mesh Mask is intended for workshop and DIY use as opposed to situations requiring two-way filtration.
With that being said, if you are looking at this mask for general purpose use, you will want to pick up the valve-blockers. That puts the total price at $40. This price and reasonable and sits between cheaper masks such as Cambridge Mask and Vogmask (which don’t feature replaceable filters) and more premium masks such as Airinum’s Urban Air 2.0 and R-Pur’s mask lineup.
Replacement filters start at $8 for 3 F1 filters. For the same quantity of F3 filters, the price increases to $14. RZ Industries also offers bulk packs of 12 filters which are priced at $30 for F1 filters and $40 for F3 filters. After looking for a while, it appears that the F2 filters have been out of stock for a while, or RZ Industries is selling the F3 filters in lieu of them.
|Filter Type||Price (x3)||Price (x12)|
RZ Industries recommends that each filter be used for 20-60 hours, depending on the scenario. For heavy exposure in situations such as construction or demolition, the filter is rated to last 20-30 hours. For light exposures in the same scenarios, 30-40 hours is recommended. Finally, 50-60 hours is recommended for allergen and air pollution protection.
Of course, this is general advice, and the filters may degrade faster in high AQI situations. If you are regularly exposed to increased air pollution concentrations, you may need to replace your filters frequently.
RZ Industries’ M2 Mesh Mask is a mask with many strengths and a few drawbacks. However, for most people, I believe that the strengths are significant enough to outweigh the disadvantages. These are my summarised thoughts after wearing the M2 Mesh Mash for a few weeks.
All filters provide a good level of filtration that is comparable to many of the best reusable masks. The addition of a carbon filter to both the F1 and F3 filters is also a welcome addition as it’s capable of removing many unpleasant smells before they reach the wearer.
The breathability of the mask is good with the F1 filter. With the F2 and F3 filters, the breathability is fantastic. If you can justify the price of the F3 filter, I highly recommend it. F2 filters are also a good alternative, but they are currently not available on RZ Industries’ website and I am unsure if they plan to sell them again.
When it comes to fit, I did have some issues. Despite purchasing a size a bit larger than I needed, I had trouble fitting the device. If I fully sealed the mask around my chin, I found that the nose clip would sit lower on my nose and interfere when I breathed through my nose. If I placed the mask higher, to prevent this, the bottom of the mask would have some leaks.
While I could loosen the nose clip a bit so that it interfered minimally with breathing, this would at times allow for leaks. This would require me to adjust the mask every fifteen minutes or so when I was active – this was especially noticeable when I went hiking with the mask.
On top of this, I’m unsure where I stand on neckbands. While they do provide a more sturdy fit than earloops, and remove the pain that earloops cause behind the wearer’s ears, they aren’t perfect. I found that they would restrict head movements (looking up and turning to look left or right). While I would prefer the more sturdy fit to earloops, I believe that headbands are the best fitting method even though they are less convenient.
Since the fit is based on the facial features of the individual wearing the mask, I think the M2 Mesh Mask is a device that many people will like. Even with the issues I had, I will continue to don the M2 Mesh Mask in the future. While the fit/nose issue can be annoying at times, the high filtration and fantastic breathability make this device worthwhile. Further, it’s great for long trips (such as flights) where earloop masks tend to become very uncomfortable.
Just remember, if you are picking up this mask for daily use you’ll likely want to get the valve blockers alongside it. While they will decrease breathability, they are essential for situations that require two-way filtration.
M2 Mesh Mask FAQ
Does the M2 Mesh Mask Hold an Official Certification?
No. Currently, the M2 Mesh Mask does not hold an official certification. However, it has undergone lab tests.
Does the M2 Mesh Mask Use Replaceable Filters?
Yes. The M2 Mesh Mask uses user-replaceable filters.
Has the M2 Mesh Mask Been Lab Tested?
Yes. The M2 Mesh Mask has undergone filtration and pressure drop testing by a certified third-party laboratory.
Is the M2 Mesh Mask Better Than the M1?
The M2 Mesh Mask improves breathability over the original M1 Mask and this makes it a big improvement.