I bought the Totobobo mask in 2013 because I commute on a bicycle to work in Jakarta. Indonesia is known as having some of the worst air quality in the world, and when I began cycling I really began to notice congestion in my chest and a regular sore throat, although I already was using a fabric mask. Since using the Totobobo mask, both the sore throat and congestion have disappeared. I have noticed that the sore throat sometimes comes back if I continue using filters which should have been changed.
Although Totobobo was quite costly (especially when shipping costs from Singapore are included), the mask looked very good and the ability to change filters was particularly attractive. Spread across the year, the cost of my mask works out at about US$6 per month (including international shipping & replacement filters), which is actually very cheap especially when you see what gets trapped on the filters. I Purchased the headstrap classic with extra 94% filters (92% bulk pack was sold out at the time). This review is based on 5 weeks of use.
My experience using the mask has generally been excellent, and I have recommended it to many people. Using the mask is very easy. Once it’s on, it is very comfortable and I tend to forget about it. It can easily be pulled aside when necessary which I find useful as need to be able to speak in order to purchase train tickets on part of my journey. A major advantage over my previous fabric mask is that it covers the minimum of my face and the straps are simple, thin plastic. This makes the mask much more comfortable, because the fabric mask trapped heat around my face and neck like a scarf, which quickly became uncomfortable in the Jakarta heat.
Although I was worried excess moisture might get trapped in the mask, so far I have found that this is not a problem. Furthermore, if the mask gets wet through condensation or rain, it can be wiped dry easily, or it will dry itself very quickly. With the fabric mask, I sometimes had to put a cold wet mask on if it had rained in the morning and the mask hadn’t dried before home time.
The filters are excellent and I found the comparison colour guide on the replacement filter packaging a very handy feature, making it simple to know when to change the filter. Changing the filter can be done in under a minute, and is very easy. In my experience in Jakarta, I need to change the filters after about 12 hours of cycling time (see photo). It’s quite alarming to see what the filters collect, that would have otherwise been in my lungs.
I think it looks a lot nicer than many of the other alternatives on the market, and many people in the street have been curious about the mask, even though wearing masks is very common in Jakarta. The clear plastic means you can easily see when the mask needs a clean. The mask packs down pretty small, and is durable, so I can easily stuff it in a pocket or in my rucksack when I’m not on the bike.
I still find it quite difficult to get a complete seal, because my nose is quite narrow and it is difficult to get the mask to seal where the nose joins the face (although watching the fitting video improved the fit a lot). However, I think that even the partial seal is sufficient to cut out most of the pollution. I’m reluctant to start cutting the mask in case I make the problem worse.
My strap snapped after 4 weeks of use, which was frustrating as I didn’t order a spare with the original shipment and the cost of ordering one now would be about US$30 (including shipping). Fortunately, the strap can easily be tied back together and I have continued to use the mask without problems.
Overall I would (and have) recommended it to anyone cycling in an urban area. I think it is an excellent product.
PS. I also think the website is really good and constantly improving. the videos showing how to do everything are great. Although the instructions that come with the mask are adequate, I watched the video and it helped me to improve the fit of the mask