Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review: Totobobo Air Filter Mask

Biking the streets of Manila can be hazardous to a person's health on the account of all the air pollution coming from the buses, jeepneys, taxis and tricycles.

I know this for a fact because whenever I bike on a busy thoroughfare, like let's say EDSA or Roxas Blvd., not only do I see the black smoke coming out of mufflers of cars, I also get to taste and smell it.
I wouldn't be caught dead wearing these while biking.
I've tried wearing ordinary face masks (the ones you can get at the local hardware store or bike shop), but I don't think they do the job because I still smell the dirty air. Plus, they're odd looking.

Then my friend Al Castillo introduced me to the Totobobo air filter mask, after he visited Singapore last July. It's supposed to be a customizable, reusable, stylish, thin, light and compact mask with an air filtration efficiency of up to 96%.

He bought a Super Cool model, so I asked him to get me one as well. It costs US$25.00 (or PhP 1,100.00). Pretty expensive for my taste, but if it works the way it proclaims it to be then the price shouldn't be an issue, right?
The mask itself is made of a transparent elastromer (whatever that means). So it's not plastic and not rubber. There's supposed to be "anti-virus" agent infused in the mask to prevent bacteria and other viruses from building up.

Anyway, unlike other face masks, the Totobobo mask has filters that can be replaced. And there at least 4 different kinds of filters. For more about the Totobobo Mask, check out  the Totobobo Blog

One of the unique features of this kind of mask is that it can be shaped to follow the contours of your face. When I wore mine for the first time the top edge hit the skin under my nose, which was irritating. So I cut some part off with a pair of scissors. Now it doesn't hurt as much.

On the other hand, the lower part of  mask didn't exactly hug my chin and left a gap, so I also trimmed it a bit. Now I wouldn't say that the mask is sealed tight, but it does fit better than other face masks.

The tight strap makes my cheeks look bigger!
After weeks on the shelf (I usually ride on weekends when there are less cars on the road), I finally got to test the Totobobo Super Cool Mask in Manila's polluted roads.

I joined the World Car Free Day 2011 Bike Ride of the Firefly Brigade last Friday and we rode from Pasong Tamo in Makati to Cubao X in Quezon City.

I wore the Totobobo Mask all through out the 15 kilometer journey. I breathed through it while passing the jeepneys in Pasong Tamo, the cars stuck in traffic on Makati Ave., and the smoke-belching buses on EDSA.

First things first, breathing through my mouth and exhaling through my nose takes some time to get used to. But not that long. After about 5 minutes of breathing that way, I got the hang of it.
Wearing the Totobobo Mask during the World Car Free Day bike ride.
Next is the effectivity of the mask. I only got to test the mask once, so don't take this review as a comprehensive one.  I followed the instructions and breathed the proper way, but in some parts of the ride I still smelled the air pollution (you know, the smell of smoke coming from a motor vehicle). Now I don't know if smell is separate from dirt/soot, but I associate the two as one and the same. I could be wrong though. It's possible that the dirt/soot stayed out and only the smell went through, I don't know. But I guess I expected to breath fresh clean air through the Totobobo filter.

Anyway, after the ride, I checked the filter and I did notice it turned a little grey in the middle. So I guess it worked. That was the dirt/soot that did not end up in my lungs.

In summary, the Totobobo Super Cool Mask is a different kind of air filter mask compared to the ones available in the market. It looks cooler than traditional face masks. It is customizable and can be shaped to conform to the contours of one's face. However, it is a tad expensive. And as to the effectiveness and capability of the mask to protect the user from air pollutants, I believe I haven' used the product enough times to make a bloggable conclusion.

I will definitely continue testing this product and will write my thoughts about it in another entry.


  1. vogmasks are cheaper and cooler. look at

  2. Nice post thanks for sharing. I am also using a Totobobo Supercool mask in Hong Kong for cycling. After the first week of use, I was shocked to see the dark filter which was originally pure white! Time flys and that was 1 year ago. I am still very happy with the product and use it regularly. The filter work out very affordable and is certainly worth it. The mask clean easily. The strap was broken a few weeks ago and I only need to change a new set of earloop.

  3. Thanks for dropping by my blog, Dean! Hope you get to fix your Totobobo Mask!