Choosing a Gas Mask

Choosing a gas mask is an important choice as it may become a vital piece of lifesaving equipment in the future. It is imperative to choose a mask that will not only fit your needs but also will function at peak efficiency in the event that it is needed. There are a huge number of variations in gas masks, be sure to take the time to familiarize yourself with what will be needed for your individual situation. Ideally a gas mask should be included in a get home bag and another in a bugout bag. This provides protection against chemical and biological agents both at home and on the go.

Common Purchasing Mistakes


  • One common pitfall when purchasing a gas mask is trying to save money by buying military surplus or New Old Stock (NOS). These masks can be purchased at a steep discount when compared to others on the market. The problem is that they are cheaper for a reason or variety of reasons. In the case of military surplus, it does not necessarily mean that the armed forces just have extras. These are masks that tend to be out of date, ill-fitting or take filters that are not as effective as newer models. Purchasing an ineffective gas mask could annul your plans and make your 72 hour kit completely ineffective.


  • Gas masks must be purchased within a time frame where they are still effective. Just as an example, the very widely circulated Israeli military gas masks have a 20 year life span. Anything beyond this has a good chance of failure and should not be purchased. Some older gas masks have not only degraded to the point of being ineffective, they can actually be harmful. This is generally seen in the WWII era masks and older Russian masks. They may contain asbestos in the filters which is extremely hazardous to the user. Do not purchase masks that are not currently being used, there is a reason that they were taken out of use.


  • Another problem with outdated gas masks (aside from the fact that they are significantly less effective) is that they may use 60mm thread filters. Modern masks almost universally use 40mm filters and these two are not interchangeable. NATO gas masks use the standard 40mm filters and many vendors will refer to NATO filters, meaning that they use the same thread that is common to most masks.

Protection Levels


There are various types of protection offered by gas masks. It is important to understand the threats that you might face and purchase the proper mask accordingly. Some masks, such as the outdated and defective ones mentioned above offer almost no protection while others can keep the user safe from a wide variety of environmental hazards and toxins.

It is possible to acquire masks that offer protection similar to a HEPA filter. This may be suitable for some needs, but it is not recommended for anyone preparing for catastrophe. This type of mask might be effective against something like mustard gas, but is very limited otherwise.

In order to be protected to optimum levels, a mask and filters should be certified for NBC. This means that the mask will protect the user from nuclear, biological and chemical threats. Of course there is nothing that can be bought which will completely guarantee safety, but getting a mask with NBC protection will give the best chance of surviving any catastrophic event.


Donning and Proper Fit

Donning the gas mask is one of the most important parts of having a mask. Without the ability to get the mask on your face properly, there is no point to having one in the first place. The military has all personnel practice donning gas masks because practice is the only way to learn the proper procedure. Otherwise when it comes to a stressful, life or death situation it is all too easy to freeze up or panic.

Ensuring that a gas mask is fitted properly is more difficult than it sounds. There are things that some people do not consider, for instance some models will not fit over eyeglasses. Taking off the glasses is fine, though this will leave the user able to breathe but not see. Another important consideration is that facial hair will interfere with the mask having a tight seal to the face. Masks were designed to fit against skin, hair can interfere with this and leave small gaps where contaminants can seep in.


In order to learn proper fitting for a gas mask, it is highly recommended to get training from a professional. If this is not a possibility, be sure to at least practice donning the gas mask at home. This will prevent simple things from interfering with your survival. Without practice it is possible that forgetting to remove the cap from a filter could prevent air flow from the mask. In the event that a mask is needed, it will not be possible to just remove the filter and try again.


Checking proper fit goes along with this practice as well. A mask that does not fit is no better than not having a mask at all. Several videos are available online showing the ways to check the fit of a gas mask. A simplistic way to check for fit is to cover the filter and breathe in, the mask should collapse down a bit. Then breathe out and check to see that the mask bulges out.


Continue To Learn

New technology is always being developed and it is up to each person to remain up to date with what products are available for critical survival needs. Hazards related to war and terrorism are always changing as new technology is made available. This makes it of paramount importance to remain in stride with these new hazards by possessing the most current gas masks available.


Be sure to follow the advice contained within this article, but also continue to learn and research what steps can be taken to survive a catastrophe. A gas mask is an integral part of survival and a correct, properly fitted gas mask is the only type that will be of use.


Updated considerations, if you are prepping to survive in a city environment, you will want to have at least a BC Rated Mask and filter to protect against Biological and Chemical agents.  A Gas Mask may not filter out the smell of decay, but it will protect you from the hazards associated with inhaling biologicals.

Fitment with glasses- you will need to consider the kind of mask in which you are going to purchase, most will need an insert to use your glasses with, otherwise you might be protected from the environment, but if you cant see, well that would be a major problem.

While Gas Masks protect against inhaled NBC microns, you will need additional gear to protect your skin.

Critical Survival’s use of Gas Masks is to allow you to move away from the threat- I keep one in my Get Home Bag (Israeli Version)  and I have another in my Three Day Pack which can be used with a rifle- which makes placement of the filter on the mask important as well.

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