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Categorized | Gear, The Burning Questions

The Burning Questions: should I buy a gas mask?

A nice, solid litmus test for how paranoid you truly are is whether or not you have a gas mask, train with a gas mask, or walk around town with a gas mask 24/7. 

Let’s face it.  A hardcore gas mask is the quintessential symbol of the apocalypse, but respitory protection is a serious hazard even in everyday applications that many do not adequately mitigate.  There are many reliable protection options for you and your family if you’re not quite ready to board the paranoia train that a military grade gas mask travels.

My First Gas Mask

I bought my first gas mask partly for fun, partly because I’m paranoid, and partly to freak my wife out.  These are all valid reasons.  What I discovered is that wearing a gas mask is not fun at all, my paranoia was not really assuaged, and my wife really wasn’t that freaked out (love you, sweetheart). 

So, let’s start at the beginning:  a gas mask is any device designed to protect the wearer from the inhalation/ingestion of harmful airborne vapors and particles through the mouth, nose, and eyes through the use of an active filter.  Okay, sweet.  This means dust masks, plastic face shields, and bandanas do not count as adequate protection from certain dangerous chemicals even if they provide a significant reduction in harmful chemicals or dust.

The most important features of any respitory protection should be fit and filtration.  In other words, it should fit you properly and provide an adequate filtration for the type of hazard you are likely to encounter. If you are not properly fit tested or cannot get an adequate seal, your respirator is worthless.

NBC and CBRN Filters

For a survivalist, the compelling reason for protection in extremis is nuclear (or “nuke-u-ler” if you’re from Texas), biological, and chemcial weapon attacks.  For this type of scenario, most of the inexpensive military surplus gear found online will not be adequate. As a general rule, if you’re spending less than $100, and/or the gear was manufactured when Eisenhower was president, you’ve got a problem.

Be wary of online sellers promising full exposure protection on the cheap because there is no way to even test this equipment unless perhaps you brew up some riacin and take a whiff.  How confident are you?  There are, however, reputable sources of protective gear.  Check out Labsafety Supply.  They’re not the only source, but they are reputable. 

Gas Masks for Kids

Is it me, or does this totally freak you out?

Approved Gas Masks sells gas masks for kids and pets. They look like a lot of fun, and are advertised as CBRN systems.  But, remember, this type of equipment is designed for temporary EGRESS use.  It’s not something that can be sustained indefinitely, and if you’re thinking about rocking the gas mask, that means it’s highway time.

Another important point to make is that you must become familiar with any equipment that you’d ever have a chance of gambling your life with.  In other words, practice with it and don’t be fumbling around with it in a true emergency.

Gas Masks: not just for Halloween anymore

Now that you’ve decided to take the gas mask plunge into the warm, soupy liquid of prepping for unseen threats, it’s okay to embrace it. Make sure you’ve got your entire family covered, and that you understand what you’ve bought.

It is not a silver bullet by any means, but may give you some valuable time when you need to jam.  Add this to the other intrinsic value of always having a Halloween costume, there are few reasons NOT to pick up a reliable and effective gas mask.

Enjoy the fresh air.


3 Responses to “The Burning Questions: should I buy a gas mask?”

  1. T.R. says:

    It depends on how you are prepping and your goal for its use . I picked up a Soviet GP5 , yes I know ! but hear me out . First thing is they are cheap , dirt simple , have full head coverage and are light weight . I did do some research and they were tested for NBC threats by an independent lab , the findings were that they provide 24hrs of protection .plenty of time to exit an area . They were made in large numbers for civil defense so they were made to be as self explanatory as possible for an untrained civil population in an emergency . All Soviet GP5’s come with a case , anti fog lens caps , and a filter . This is very important ! DO NOT use the filter that comes with them , they are new but expired ,and contain activated charcoal . You can easily get brand new NATO 40mm filters for this mask , and would highly recommend you do so . For a dirt simple , cheap easy to carry mask , the GP5 isnt bad for what it is . My purpose for getting it was primarily for protection against tear gas and pepper spray , for this , they are overkill and again dirt cheap . Its a personal choice , but modern chemical warfare agents and biological warfare agents can be colorless and odorless , you will be exposed and likely die before you even know something is wrong . If I was in a war-zone in a foreign country , I would consider an upgrade , but for me , I dont see that happening with enough chance to protect myself from it . The GP5 also comes in kids sizes , just swap out the Russian filter for a new one and your good to go . Couldn’t be more easy to use in a panic hurry , the rubber stretches nicely and is fast as hell to put on , just pull it out and stretch it over ! thats it!, no straps , no dinking around .

    • Patrick says:

      Hey T.R.!

      First off — congrats! You are our first commentor… thank you for the honor.

      Second, I got one of those cheap Finnish gas masks ( before saving up for a full face NBC mask that cost about $75 (forget the model off the top of my head). I didn’t really think about not using the filter that comes w/ the mask, but you’re right — so long as there is a solid seal, the canister is the key.

      Don’t know much about the GP5, but I’ll have to look at it (especially for kids’ sizing)… that stuff can get pricey quick.

      Thanks again!

  2. T.R. says:

    Ya , for what they are ( fast basic , very basic protection ) they are not bad , The sizing charts are european but charts are found on line .Most come from the Ukraine as thats where there were large military depots and warehouses , but a lot of those guys send the stuff to England so the shipping is cheaper for people like us . I have no problem with ex Soviet or Warsaw Pact surplus , key is not to expect too much because they are very basic . The GP5 is a decent basic mask , I also picked up a 2 pack of East German canteens including the cup for next to nothing . A canteen is a canteen , its the same exact model design as the WW2 german . Things like that you cant go wrong for the price .


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