Reinventing the Face Mask

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.

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. 

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.

PROTX2 has been shown in laboratory tests to destroy COVID-19, and is being reviewed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to confirm the efficacy of the substance as it is applied to the UA SPORTSMASK. Under Armour also has a patent pending on its design and construction of the mask.

“I think of wearing masks as a team sport, because it requires the participation of each team member to be successful. When everybody wears masks together, it can be quite effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19, which could be especially important in close-contact environments like a gym or when training with a group,” quoted Dr. Daniel Durand, Chief of Innovation at LifeBridge Health.

The seeds for the UA SPORTSMASK were planted in mid-March, when Under Armour began manufacturing face masks designed by its innovation team and distributing millions of units of personal protective equipment (PPE) to health care and community organizations to help fight the spread of COVID-19. During this process, Under Armour founder Kevin Plank recognized a need for performance solutions that would support athletes navigating the pandemic climate. He called on the innovation team in Baltimore, equipped with their recent mask-making experience, to join him in finding a way forward, and fast.

“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."

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.

“At Under Armour, we always want to be part of the solution, especially during this extremely challenging time. We specifically designed this mask for athletes and for all of us who want to exercise and train while also keeping ourselves, and those around us, safe,” quoted Patrik Frisk, CEO of Under Armour.

Each UA SPORTSMASK retails for RM 109 in Malaysia. The UA SPORTSMASK will now be available starting 24 July 2020 at Under Armour online store (www.underarmour.com.my) and all Under Armour brand houses, except Suria Sabah from August 2020 onwards.