I recently got some Respokare N95 respirators from N95 Mask Co, and wanted to write up my thoughts on them.
These were of interest because they are N95 rated, and on the NIOSH approved manufacturer list here (scroll down to “Innonix”, who make them).
They arrived to me via UPS International Express and took approximately 5 working days to arrive. Although I can’t comment if that lead time is typical.
Whilst their shipping page only mentions UPS International Express for shipping, I can confirm they all ship out of Hong Kong.
I cut one of them open to take a peek at the inner layers. It’s more or less as you’d expect – with an inner and outer layer, that sandwich a meltblown filter. Unlike most respirators, it then adds a (blue) layer that claims anti-viral properties. According to the Respokare site, the layer is made of rayon, with copper and zinc ions.
Weight: The respirators are very lightweight, and don’t feel heavy on the head.
Air Tight Seal: One concern I had initially was that the seal around the face wouldn’t be great, especially around the cheeks and chin.
However, on that front I was pleasantly surprised. Holding on to the respirator and blowing outwards, there doesn’t appear to be leakage.
One issue I did run into though was that the material gets sucked in slightly when breathing in. Under normal breathing conditions, this is manageable, but if for some reason you were breathing heavily (going up a flight of stairs for instance), then you might feel the material pressing against your face.
Whilst it’s a good sign that air isn’t being drawn from around the edges, it could also be irritating. That said, you do start to get used to it after wearing it for a while.
You can compare this to the respirators with a cup shaped shell, which prevents the material from moving with the breath.
Elastic Straps – The elastics are strong and look like they’ll last a long time. They fit my head well, but for smaller heads, it’s not impossible they might be a bit loose. Some respirators have adjustable straps, but these are “one-size fits all”. Of course, often one size does not fit all. One workaround could be to staple a small section of the elastic to shorten it, like below. It’s not an irreversible change, so if it didn’t work, you can just pick the staple out.
On the flip side, whilst I have a reasonably big head (22.5 inch / 57cm) – it’s not the biggest. If you had a much larger head it’s possible the straps would be too small. If that’s the case, you’d be better off going for a respirator with adjustable length straps.
Smell: Ideally there wouldn’t be any discernible smell coming from the respirator, but there is. It smells to me like chemicals, so is probably leftover from the manufacturing process, or from the type of material used. Your nose adjusts to it after a while, and perhaps it goes with time. At the time I’m reviewing the product I’ve only worn the respirator out once, and so far the smell is still there.
N95 respirators contain an electrostatic charge between layers, which can be damaged by washing. So I’d exercise caution if you thought to “wash the smell out”.
Overall I’d say that this respirator looks a lot like the blue surgical masks that have become commonplace, therefore it doesn’t stick out too badly. However the “fin” at the front does project forward, and is the most conspicuous aspect.
I’ve summarized the pros and cons below.
✅ On NIOSH’s approved N95 respirator list
✅ Lightweight, doesn’t weigh on your face and is reasonably comfortable
✅ Fits the face well and appears to form a good seal
✅ Blue color is similar to surgical masks, and thus blends in somewhat
✅ Strong elastics that should last a while
❌ The elastic straps are not (easily) adjustable – which may be an issue for people with large or small heads.
❌ The material can get drawn inwards to the face on the in breath. It’s not so noticeable with regular, shallow breathing. However if heavily breathing due to exertion, it can be irritating
❌ The material has a chemical smell, perhaps from the manufacturing process
If you have any further questions, please leave them below in the comments.
I’ve also reviewed here the other N95 respirator N95MaskCo sell, made by Xiantao Zhong Yi.