Breathable Buff

Athletic Asthma Mask

Our quest was to improve the quality of athletes' lives in winter. Cold, dry air aggravates asthma symptoms for outdoor athletes. As 75% of asthma symptoms are due to cold weather, winter athletes face a frequent obstacle to their activities. Here we designed a comfortable system to help athletes do what they do best.


Studio: Introduction to Engineering, Dartmouth College

Instructors: John Collier

Collaborators: Madeleine Genereux, Ruthie Nordhoff, Carly Tymm, and Kevin Yang

Skills: user research, ethnography, prototyping, user testing/feedback, sketching, materials testing (texture, airflow, moisture retention)

Honors: Phillip R. Jackson Award

Design strategy

To address the challenge, we set out to make a breathable face mask that would humidify and heat inhaled air using moisture and body heat from exhaled breath without restricting athletic activity.


We tested with users throughout the whole design process, investigating usability and comfort, airflow, and moisture retention. User testing in conjunction with lab testing and iterative prototyping informed our final design, a functioning device consisting of a tented rigid structure, an air filter that can be exchanged depending on weather conditions, and a fabric form to secure the filter to the face.

Learning from tests

From user testing we realized that the mask structure restricted jaw mobility for breathing and speaking. This problem led us to further iterations exploring flexible silicone and structure shapes that interacted with the chin differently. User feedback indicated that instead of the structure resting under the chin, it might glide over the chin as the jaw moves using low-friction material.

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