Well, a friend of mine came to play this weekend, and wants to buy a nice starter/mid end gear set. He is actually heeding the advice to buy a good quality mask, and then worry about all the other stuff after that.
Looking for a good thermal mask in the $50-$100 range. He is ultimately going to make the purchase, so I am trying to get a list of 4 or 5 I can recommend.
1) Need a good thermal lens and venting, it's humid here pretty much year around, and summers are consistently 90+.
2) Not really interested in any type of soft bottom
3) He liked my I4, but wanted something that provides better coverage over his jaw.
No glasses or other special requirements. When I recently got a new mask, I went straight to the I4 and didn't really shop around, so I am just not 100% sure what else might be worth buying in his price range, and don't have any other firsthand experience with other newer masks.
loved my previous proflexes, but I had the ones that the lenses were a major pain in the rear to take out. I know that this feature on newer flexes may have been changed, but the grillz are great for what your friend needs:
1) thermal lenses are available and even with the single lenses I never had fogging issues in triple digit texas heat.
2) While you may have a bounce off of the bottoms of the grillz once in a while and they feel pliable, they are not the gateway to a split-lip every time you take a shot to the mouth that the flexes are. They are not hard like some of the cheaper masks, so if you are looking for a hard shield... maybe not. but, the grillz never let me down the way the soft flexes did in the past.
3) always try on masks if you can. The grillz should provide the jawline/ear coverage that some masks lack. It always was a really uneasy feeling using a flex8 with my ears sticking out.
The best bang for your buck is the jt pro Sheild I believe is want they call it, $50 new and it has hard ears and bottoms and he can change what he doesn't like, and they come with thermal lenses, and there's no short supply of parts, I use an old jt proteus and love it, it's kind of like an old school i4 but fits bigger heads better
I have been researching masks lately and it seems to me that the best bang for the buck right now is the Empire Helix. Comes with the same thermal lens as the eFlex but has no soft rubber in the mask construction. $30 is hard to beat for this mask.
I wear a proto switch FS mask with an amber yellow thermal lens and absolutely love it. It's a little bit larger than most masks these days, but it gives GREAT jaw protection, has really good shoulder clearance when looking left or right, and breathes very well also. I wore one at Fulda last year and never fogged one single time. Temps and humidity here in East TN are similar to what you're used to and I can't recall a time when I have ever fogged up. On top of all of that, lens changes are crazy fast too.
FYI...regarding my above post.
Anyone with an eFlex/eVents looking to get a clear dual pane thermal lens: consider buying the Helix mask and pulling off the lens as the replacement. You pay like $5 more than the replacement lens but in exchange, you have a visor, extra lens retention pieces and a spare strap if you want to use it.
I sold my i4 and got a eflex (used). Foam is a bit stiff, but best coverage and comfort.
my vote is vforce profiler, it's pretty sleek, close to the face, good coverage, never fogged for me yet and i've had it 2 years, no fans, fogtech, mods etc. with the thermal lens it's about 80-90 bucks so it's pretty affordable. i hear good things about the vio contour as well but that's around 140-150 with the lens.
Thanks for the input, definitely got some good info to go off of.
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