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What’s the deal with neck gaiters?

Many are questioning whether their neck gaiter is ok to wear as a face covering.

A recent Duke study which suggested that gaiters are not a good face covering, was not an all-encompassing study.  It was actually meant to test for an effective way to test face coverings, not to test the face coverings themselves.  This could explain why the specs for each mask tested are unclear.  I found several articles which suggest that the notion that neck gaiters are bad is not helpful.  It is unlikely that any covering would multiply droplets, and any publicity that steers the public away from wearing a face covering is not good for the overall message, which is that any face covering is better than no face covering.  Here is a New York Times article which points to another, gaiter-specific study.

It’s unclear the exact specs of the gaiter that was tested in the Duke study, except that it was a thin neck fleece.  A most affordable product that I know well is 100% Micro-fiber 130gsm, so I decided to compare another gaiter with that item.  I don’t have lasers or a controlled environment, but I do have a pretty large iced tea dispenser that could simulate an adult sized head.  I also have a camera in my phone and a flashlight.  So I stretched both over the iced-tea-dispenser-head and took some photos with and without the flashlight inside the “head” to see if we could see a difference in the porousness of each item.



I think we can reasonably see a difference in how the light passes through each item.  According to the articles I read over the last week, even the lighter weight gaiter is better than nothing at all.  It could be more effective still if doubled up (and most gaiters are long enough to fold in half and still cover your nose and mouth).

There are so many styles of neck gaiters to choose from, since nearly every textile manufacturer is making them and/or masks out of whatever fabric they have on hand.  The reality is that many people may be more willing to wear a gaiter than a mask and so it’s best to encourage any style of face covering to help slow the spread of Covid-19.  If you are thinking of buying gaiters for your organization, take some time to consider your needs: budget, number of people, how soon you need them, and the thickness or fabric.  We’re here to help, so give us a call!

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