The balaclava, also known as the balaclava helmet or ski mask, is a cloth cap designed to expose only part of the face, usually the eyes and mouth. Depending on the style and how it is worn, only the eyes, mouth, and nose, or only the front of the face, are unprotected. Versions with sufficient full face opening can be rolled into a hat that covers the top of the head or folded into a collar around the neck.
The balaclava is often used by winter sports enthusiasts, skiers, and snowboarders, to protect the face from wind and maintain warmth. It is also popular with motorcyclists, cyclists, hikers, and during cold weather months in general. When used as a tactical accessory, it can help conceal the wearer's identity.