For months now, millions of athletes worldwide have been wrestling with the challenges of working out under stay-at-home orders, and wondering whether they should wear a face mask if training in public or outside. Debates continue to swirl over how best to stay healthy outside of the home and when to train with a face mask.
Today, Under Armour has a solution.
Baltimore-based Team Thrill basketball teammates get an on-court training session
The UA SPORTSMASK is a reusable, water-resistant performance face mask designed for maximum breathability by Under Armour's innovation team in record time. This first-of-its-kind mask functions to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets by the wearer. The top of the mask features a moldable nose-bridge to help secure it in place and mitigate airflow to the eyes, helping to prevent glasses from fogging. It can also be washed and dried, making it more eco-friendly than many single-use, disposable options. Under Armour also has a patent pending on its design and construction of the mask.
The UA SPORTSMASK features a unique, three-layer model engineered for athletes during performance:
- LAYER 1: SPACER FABRIC - It is light but has air pockets for structure, so it stays off the mouth and nose for better airflow.
- LAYER 2: OPEN-CELL FOAM - The breathable middle layer lets air through but makes it hard for moisture and sweat to pass.
- LAYER 3: UA ISO-CHILL - This fabric feels cool against the skin, stretches, and is treated with PROTX2™, a non-metal anti-microbial technology which inhibits growth of bacteria on the mask to make it fresh.
Lacrosse midfielder Taylor Cummings trains outside on the turf in Baltimore
The seeds for the UA SPORTSMASK were planted in mid-March, when Under Armour’s innovation team designed and distributed millions of its origami masks to healthcare organizations in a time of public health crisis. It was during this design and manufacturing process that Under Armour founder Kevin Plank recognized that athletes would need a very different solution in order to return to training.
“As soon as we finalized the design of our face mask for PPE, we dove straight into the innovation process of optimizing a mask for performance," said Kyle Blakely, VP of Materials Innovation at Under Armour. "We knew our athletes would need us to come through quickly with a solve to aid their return to training, one that would put health and safety first and adhere to current CDC guidelines.”
Because of social distancing restrictions, the company went back to its roots during the mask construction phase. Plank’s design and Blakely’s materials were sent to Ella Mae Holmes, an Under Armour seamstress and the company’s third employee who helped develop the brand’s original compression shirt. Holmes got to work sewing mask prototypes out of her Baltimore home. With input and testing from teammates across product development, Under Armour found success in the 13th iteration of the mask.
“Experience told us that fabric and performance had to be our first focus, so we set out to find a fabric combination that created structure to ensure the mask would stand off the face and offer maximum breathability,” added Blakely. “We applied learnings in fit, feel, and ease and speed of manufacturing from the face mask we created for PPE purposes. Throughout it all, the speed of the design process and a meticulous eye to quality and details were paramount.”
A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the UA SPORSTMASK and training footage
As part of the launch, Under Armour will be distributing the UA SPORTSMASK to student athletes in its hometown locations across the globe. This is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to protect the health and well-being of all athletes, who are diligently waiting and preparing for the full return of sports.
Football wide receiver Deonte Harris runs through drills to get ready for the upcoming season
The UA SPORTSMASK is available for $30 USD at UA.com. Stretchy ear loops and side panels offer a more comfortable and custom-like fit across four size offerings: SM/MD, MD/LG, LG/XL, XL/XXL. Additional colors of the mask will release this summer and fall, alongside Under Armour retail releases in countries worldwide. As Under Armour receives customer feedback on the UA SPORTSMASK, it will be incorporated into future iterations of the mask.