N95 Masks – Now a Standard Gear Item for non-Winter Sierra Nevada :-(
May 29, 2021 at 2:29 pm #3716277
Like the topic title says, I now bring at least two N95 masks with me on any camping trip to the Sierra Nevada that is not a winter trip. Not worried about COVID-19, but I AM concerned about wildfires and needing to hike out fast in smokey conditions. Not a perfect solution but at least scrubs the particulates, and I figure two masks are enough for a fast bailout hike.
Reminds me of when I first started bringing water sterilizing tablets 40 years ago because the increasing number of people changed the earlier, more pristine wilderness conditions. A poignant, nostalgic feeling that the world was different than when I was younger, degraded, and that something good had been lost.
Enjoy it all while you still can. It’s not going to get better during our lifetimes.May 29, 2021 at 4:06 pm #3716290JCHBPL Member
There are many things in California of which I am envious. The recent proclivity of large portions of it to go up in a huge fireball is not one of them.
Now kindly leave me to enjoy another super active hurricane season. 😒May 29, 2021 at 4:46 pm #3716294Tom KBPL Member
Precisely because N95s are so efficient, I question how fast you would be able to hike while wearing one, particularly at higher elevations. My own experience even at much lower elevations up here in in Washington State in the early days of the pandemic were enough to cause me to discard the mask except when passing other hikers. I simply could not breathe efficiently enough to supply the necessary O2, which leads me to believe that a fast exit over any of the high passes on the East Side of the Sierra, for instance, would be well nigh impossible while wearing an N95. YMMV, as always, but I am skeptical.May 29, 2021 at 5:16 pm #3716300jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
I ran into a woman carrying a full pack near Wildcat Peak in Tilden, my local (very very large) park. She was training for a 500 mile stretch of the pct in northern California. However, she was resigned to the hike not coming off: we’re in a drought and the state is likely to close wilderness by the end of July, which is the earliest she could get off work. Sad.
I hate hiking in smoke and will call everything off if conditions deteriorate too much.
We’re going to have to grasp the nettle, folks. Global warming. No more gas fueled leaf blowers, please.May 29, 2021 at 5:20 pm #3716301
I feel you Tom. I live at sea level but train with an N 95 mask to simulate elevation.
But in conditions like I hiked in last summer, with smoke thicker than a heavy fog burning my eyes and leaving me wheezing, faster than without a mask IMO.
And alternatively, if it turns out there is no escape route and I have to hunker down until the fire passes, better than no mask for sure.May 29, 2021 at 7:24 pm #3716316Tom KBPL Member
Probably so, David. It’s a tough nut to crack, and no ideal solutions. I lost a couple of trips to the Rough Fire back in 2015, and have been wary about trips in the Sierra ever since. My partner and I are waiting until the last minute to commit to one in the Southern Sierra this year, out of fear of having a fire disrupt plans which include costly plane flights. It is shaping up to be a very bad fire year down there. Maybe masks are the best of a bunch of bad options. For sure, the glory days are over, at least in my lifetime.May 29, 2021 at 10:13 pm #3716326
I suspect an n95 with an exhalation valve would be much more fun to hike in than the pandemic type n95/kn95. They are still fairly easy to obtain because demand is low.May 30, 2021 at 6:52 am #3716338StumphgesBPL Member
Definitely use an exhalation valve model. Without one, the simulation would be more like having an obstructive lung disease like asthma than being at altitude. Lung hyperinflation could result. People use inhalers to prevent that happening.May 30, 2021 at 9:39 am #3716350
@matthew k and @stumphges: I was thinking yeah, exhalation valve would be better, but @stumphges’ reference to lung hyperinflation spurred me to do some research that in hindsight I should have done earlier before I started training with a mask.
According to the Mayo Clinic “Hyperinflated lungs can be caused by blockages in the air passages or by air sacs that are less elastic, which interferes with the expulsion of air from the lungs. Hyperinflated lungs are often seen in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) — a disorder that includes emphysema.”
Yikes! So that got me thinking, what about those training masks that are all the rage? How are they different? Turns out they’re not. And more fundamentally, the science shows that those training masks have no benefit (unless perhaps you’re an MMA fighter in a choke hold)!
So no more mask training. And the masks I take with me in case of wildfire will have exhalation valves! Thanks!May 30, 2021 at 11:07 am #3716355Bob ChiangBPL Member
I thought the training value of a mask was to exercise the diaphragm rather than any oxygen related physiology.
I’ve never heard of hyperinflation. It makes me wonder about the pressure breathing I do at altitude or during hard exercise. Time for some research.May 30, 2021 at 11:50 am #3716368
Ok so I have some 3M N95 respirators with valves and a double neck strap rather than those blasted ear loops. They seem like they’d be a good choice in a fire situation but I’m not sure how I’d carry one without risking ripping it.
edit: Pandemic type KN95 masks fold flat and would be really easy to carry in a FAK or a ziplock full of maps.May 30, 2021 at 2:02 pm #3716386StumphgesBPL Member
David, no problem. It’s the increased exhalation resistance of a mask without an exhalation valve that could result in incomplete exhalation. A big inhale following an incomplete exhale results in dynamic hyperinflation, and so on cyclically. If this cycle presses into the limits of the lung’s elasticity, dynamic hyperinflation could then result in structural hyperinflation. This is what happens in untreated asthma – the inflamed airways result in increased exhalation resistance. Inhalation resistance increases too, but this is more easily countered by increased diaphragm and accessory breathing muscle recruitment.
The cycle could be countered by consciously exhaling fully using the accessory exhalation muscles every so often, but this is hard to do in an aerobically demanding activity, at least for me.May 31, 2021 at 10:08 pm #3716507MarcusBPL Member
I’m also planning on taking at least 2 masks on my Sierra hike late this summer for this exact reason. When air quality is over 100 my asthma gets bad
The ONLY N95s worth a damn are 3M model 8511. Those have the easy exhale valve and proper straps for an airtight fit. They should be about $30 for 10. Get some for house projects anyways
8511’s are professional grade and do not restrict breathing at all.
The covid surgical masks or “n95” masks with crappy straps are almost useless at filtering particulatesMay 31, 2021 at 10:58 pm #3716508
Nice. 8511s are what I have a box of. Any thoughts on how best to carry them in a pack without damaging them?Jun 1, 2021 at 9:14 am #3716525MarcusBPL Member
Upon second glance, I see there are 3 other models that are equivlent to the 8511 and one of them folds flat. I have also used the fold-flat 9211 model when I painted. It works well too, and considering it folds flat maybe the 9211 is the way to go for hiking. Probably much easier to store them flat.
The 8511’s are also sold at home depot in a 2-pack. The molded plastic clam shell they come in is about the only form-fitting protection I can think of for the 8511’s.
Here’s 3M’s infographic of the masks worth wearing. (I keep saying that buecause what I see most consumers wearing is worthless. They lack proper straps to create a proper seal and are often just built shoddily. The 3M’s below will actually provide proper protection if worn correctly. That is, straps worn around both your neck/lower head and upper head with the nose piece adjusted tightly)Jun 6, 2021 at 6:48 am #3717351
The 9211 does look like a great choice for backpacking because of how it folds flat. I haven’t found them available online yet. Has anyone found a source?Jun 6, 2021 at 7:04 am #3717352
Ah. Found this recent thread on Reddit. It doesn’t look like they will be available any time soon. I’m going to give up on the 9211 unless someone here has a couple they want to sell to me.Jun 19, 2021 at 3:46 pm #3719259
I’ve given up on finding a 9211. I already have some 8511s and I realized I could put it two water bottles sleeved into each other. I suppose the bottles could be used to gather water or maybe I could move some of my FAK or backup water purification tablets into this.
Mask is 15 grams without the bottle.
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