General Civilian

User Manual

Certification Status

Updated: 2020-02-16

Currently, General Civilian is pursuing 95PFE (the current Canadian equivalent of NIOSH/N95) certification for Facepiece Filtering Respirators (FFRs) under interim order of the Government of Canada (click here to learn more). Until such time as 95PFE certification is officially obtained, the RS-1 is rated as a non-medical facial covering.

2020-06-23. General Civilian was pre-qualified by Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) under the COVID-19 Testing Stream (EN578-20-ISCD-01).

2021-01-06. General Civilian was awarded ISC-TS Contract UT849-210673-001-SC. Test includes an Ease of Use Pre-Test with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), as well as concurrent testing (sponsored by Health Canada) of the next iteration of the RS-1 combined assembly with improved retainer and filter combination, for increased breathability and filtration efficiency.

Further updates on product certification will be posted here.

To learn more about our overall design philosophy and rationale, please read our On the Personal and Collective Imperative of Mask-Wearing.

On the importance of non-medical facial coverings

Owing to strong evidence of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission of COVID-19, the Public Health Agency of Canada (hereafter: the PHAC) stresses the importance of everyone, even those who feel fine, taking measures to prevent transmission of COVID-19. To that end, the PHAC suggests use of non-medical facial coverings by civilians in addition to other preventive measures (most importantly, frequent hand-washing and physical distancing) to help slow the spread of the disease.

Crucially, the PHAC underscores in their guidance that these measures are not only (or even primarily) about protecting oneself, but about collective protection, especially the most vulnerable. General Civilian recognizes this personal responsibility for collective protection, and endeavours to outfit people with the equipment necessary to take action.

Personal responsibility. Collective protection.

The reason why the PHAC suggests use of non-medical facial coverings is that, as part of an emergency response to the pandemic, medical masks must be preserved for healthcare workers. At the same time, General Civilian recognizes that there is still a need for the public to have access to durable, reusable and adaptable facial coverings offering enhanced features and additional protection when physical distancing is not possible.

To be clear, use of a non-medical facial covering is not a substitute for physical distancing and hand-washing. However, it can be an additional, voluntary measure taken to protect others around you, even if you have no symptoms. It can be useful for short periods of time when physical distancing is not possible in public settings.

For additional information please see the Government of Canada's COVID-19 website.

The RS-1 system

Note: perhaps obviously (although it must be said), the RS-1 alone does not provide protection without proper insertion and retention of appropriate filter material. You have to load a filter otherwise you will breathing through an unobstructed, open aperture.

General Civilian is introducing the Respiratory Substrate (RS) system to provide you with a serious option for a durable, reusable and adaptable facial covering that offers enhanced containment, protection and wearability. Public Health guidance states that non-medical facial coverings should be well-fitted and non-gaping (a common problem with cloth and surgical masks). When appropriate filter material selected by the User is properly inserted, the RS-1 combined assembly provides enhanced containment. It can be easily cleaned and reused. It is adaptable in accepting any appropriate filter mediaOur products are intended to be practical, economical and universal standard issue civilian gear.

The Combined Assembly

The RS-1:

The Retainer:

General Civilian Retainer


Note: all RS-1 masks come with an additional white backup retainer (free).

With the Retainer, General Civilian Filter Squares and Fabric Squares can be loaded into the RS-1 (see instructions below), or DIY fabric and filter material can be cut, loaded and retained by the User (helpful in case of unanticipated or emergency supply shortages).


Non-medical facial coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

What you will need 

DIY option

The RS-1 gives you the freedom to DIY your own filter and fabric squares. To do so, you will need a pair of sharp scissors (handle with care) and enough material to cut multiple 6.5 cm (2.5 in) fabric and filter squares. Current PHAC guidelines on Non-Medical Masks recommend 3 layers: the two outer layers being a tightly-woven breathable fabric such as cotton, while the middle layer should be a filter-like material. This option provides non-proprietary flexibility in case of unanticipated/emergency supply shortages.


Great care has been taken by General Civilian to ensure the safe provision of our manufactured products, including minimum 3-day sequestration of RS-1 masks before shipping.

You should be aware that masks can be potentially contaminated on the outside when touched by hands. Therefore, before handling your RS-1 mask, begin by thoroughly washing your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. If this option is not available, use hand sanitizer with minimum 60% alcohol base.

Selecting and Preparing Mask or Filter Material

You may select ready-made/pre-cut options from General Civilian.

One General Civilian Filter Square can be used alone (as each Filter is in itself 3-ply). These are rated for single use.

One General Civilian Fabric Square can be placed on the outside (front-facing) layer in combination with one Filter Square as a second (inward-facing) layer.

Fabric Squares can be gently washed with soap and water, dried and re-used.

Inserting the Mask or Filter Material

A. Remove the Retainer from the inside of the RS-1. Place the RS-1 on a flat surface with the outside of the mask resting evenly on the surface.

Placing the filter square on inside of RS-1

B. Place the 6.5 cm (2.5 in) General Civilian Filter Square into the opening on the inside of the RS-1 (or place a General Civilian Filter Square on a Fabric Square as an additional layer). Always ensure that the blue side of the Filter Square is facing outward and the white facing inward. A Fabric Square should be the first (outward facing) layer if used in combination with a Filter Square.

C. All Filter and Fabric Squares should be secured by the Retainer by pressing firmly into place.

Filter square retained in RS-1 mask

Please view the video above for a demonstration of how to load filter and fabric material.

Putting on the RS-1 and adjusting the fit

A. Place the lower portion of the strap around the neck.

B. Adjust the fit of the RS-1 by tightening or loosening the elastic strap as needed, using the simple slide.

C. Holding the RS-1 over the nose and mouth comfortably, place the upper part of the strap around the back of the head.

A properly adjusted mask should:

You may perform a seal test as follows:

For a positive pressure test. Once the RS-1 is properly donned, place your hands over the aperture, covering the entire surface area. Exhale gently into the RS-1. The face fit is considered satisfactory if a slight positive pressure is being built up inside the mask without any evidence of outward leakage of air at the seal.

For a negative pressure test. To conduct a negative pressure user seal check, cover the aperture as indicated above and then inhale. You should not feel air passing between your face and the RS-1.

In the case of either type of seal check, if air leaks around the edges of the RS-1, use both hands to readjust the mask. You may also readjust the straps using the slide until a superior seal is achieved.

Removal and cleaning of the RS-1

Remove the RS-1, being careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

Remove and dispose of all used filter material (rated for single use). Used fabric material can be placed in a delicates wash bag and hand-washed/laundered, dried and reused.

General Civilian recommends that the filter material be changed after every use. Determining when to change the filter is your responsibility.

The RS-1 can be wiped clean with water (and soap) if needed and then sprayed with alcohol sanitizer or hydrogen peroxide and air-dried. Sanitizing wipes can also be used.

Avoid immersing the gasket around the inside of the RS-1 in water.

Finally, wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, or if not possible, use hand sanitizer with minimum 60% alcohol base.

Additional Instructions

As with all facial coverings, yours should avoid repeatedly touching the RS-1.

Your RS-1 should not be shared with others.


Limitation of Use

Substrate for Mask or Filter Materials

The General Civilian RS platform is designed to accept mask or filter material selected by the User. Selected materials should always conform to current Health Canada, CDC or similar official guidance and government protocols as they may be issued from time to time. Always consult the official User Manual before use. The RS-1 is not intended to replace, but rather accepts, the User's own selected mask or filter material.

Status of Independent Testing

At this time, independent lab testing of the RS platform is underway (see Certification Status above). It has not yet been approved by federal or provincial authorities and has not been established as conforming to NIOSH or any other standard. General Civilian and its officers, directors, employees and assigns assume no liability and make no representations, warranties, or guarantees regarding the safety, efficacy, or appropriate use of the RS-1 in any particular situation.

Use of Information

Use of information provided by General Civilian for any purpose is at the User’s own risk.

No Representation

By placing an order, the User hereby acknowledges and agrees that General Civilian makes absolutely no representation and/or warranty as to the fitness of the RS-1, including but not limited to the ability of the RS platform to protect the wearer from contracting and/or spreading any disease. General Civilian further does not represent or warrant that the RS-1 and combined assembly has received any regulatory approval from any governmental authority for use in healthcare or other front-line or essential services. Current status is a non-medical facial covering. The User shall be solely responsible for assessing the fitness of the RS-1 and combined assembly.

Waiver and Release of All Claims and Assumption of Risk

The User hereby expressly assumes all risk, liability and responsibility for the use of the RS-1 and combined assembly, including by any of the User's personnel, whether they be employees, contractors, volunteers, or anyone otherwise under the control of the User.

The User shall not hold General Civilian liable or accountable in any manner whatsoever for the failure of the RS-1 to perform as intended, or for any injury (including death) and/or damages suffered by the User, any employee, volunteer, visitor and/or anyone otherwise under the control of the User, resulting from the use, or contributed by the use of the RS platform whatsoever.

The User hereby expressly waives and relinquishes all claims that the User may have against General Civilian.


The RS combined assembly helps protect against certain particulate contaminates but does not eliminate exposure to or the risk of contracting any disease or infection.

The User hereby agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless General Civilian from and against any claims, actions and/or demands, including, without limitation, reasonable legal and accounting fees, arising or resulting from any injury, damages suffered and/or any cost incurred by anyone using the RS-1 under the control of the User, or by anyone coming into contact with a person using the RS platform under the control of User, inducing an employee, visitor or volunteer. The User shall provide notice to General Civilian of any such claim, suit, or proceeding and shall assist General Civilian, at the User's sole expense, in defending any such claim, suit or proceeding.

A final note

Please remember that non-medical facial coverings will not prevent the spread of COVID-19 without consistent adherence to public health guidance, most importantly frequent hand-washing and physical distancing.

Wearing the RS-1 and combined assembly in public does not mean you can forgo physical distancing or ignore guidance from public health authorities. The RS platform is intended to be an additional voluntary public health measure.