Teamwork, the thrill of chasing down your opponent, and being able to run around outside are all reasons people love the game of paintball. Not to mention-you get to shoot paint at people! What could be more fun? However, nothing can sully an exciting game of paintball quicker than an injury. While the game may look totally harmless to the untrained eye, those paintballs are actually whizzing by at a pretty impressive speed. In order to avoid injury in this sport and enjoy it to its maximum potential, wearing the right protective gear is crucial. Here are the top 5 pieces of protective gear every paintballer should wear before hitting the pitch:
1. Paintball Mask
This is perhaps the single most important item you will purchase, as a paintball to the face could cause some serious damage.With paintball masks, it is essential to shop for one that fits your face well and is made of quality material. Picking the cheapest one on the shelf is futile, as masks are not a one size fits all, and the last thing you want is a mask that rubs against your face uncomfortably or needs constant readjusting.
When trying on masks, search for one that fits snugly yet is still breathable. Ensure that the mask provides full coverage that doesn’t leave any areas of your face exposed. Also, when you play paintball you are most likely going to get very sweaty. You don’t want to hinder your performance or your fun by constantly having to stop and defog your goggles, so that’s why it is important to only buy a mask that comes with anti-fog goggles. A quality paintball mask may be a bit of investment, but in the long run it will totally pay off.
2. Paintball Pants
There is a good chance you will be playing outside, and so to avoid your legs getting scratched up, pants are always recommended over shorts, even when it is really hot outside. Full coverage pants that will protect you from the elements is the most important factor to take into consideration. Pants should also be appropriately padded to reduce the chance of injury in case of collision.
After that, you basically want to narrow your selection by what pants fit you the most comfortably and are easiest to move around in. Preferences can vary widely in regards to this consideration, so it is important to not buy a pair of pants just because they have a really good review. What works for some doesn’t always work for others.
3. Paintball Gloves
The purpose of paintball gloves are twofold- to protect you from the elements and to help you maintain a firm grip on your paintball gun. When paint balling, you will be crawling on the rough ground and leaving your hands exposed can result in scratches, splinters, and gashes. Also, hands are very fragile, and an unprotected hand taking a hit from a paintball could be very painful and cause injury. Good paintball gloves should be made with compression form foam to protect you if you get hit.
For tactical purposes, players can choose between full coverage gloves and fingerless gloves. Fingerless gloves will offer you more mobility when pulling the trigger and pressing buttons. However, they are obviously not as safe as full coverage gloves. The decision between full coverage and fingerless is really subjective but those just beginning to play should probably opt for the full coverage ones to best ensure their safety.
4. Tactical Boots
Ankle injuries are the most common paintball injuries, so a sturdy pair of boots is essential for safe play. You will be crawling, running, jumping, diving, twisting and pivoting, so a high quality pair of shoes is essential. Also, just like your other gear, you want something that offers full coverage to protect you from any other hazardous elements.
For most people, a durable pair of army boots or hiking boots gets the job done just fine. Just make sure your boots are outdoor appropriate and are fully waterproof, as nothing is worse than trying to run around in a soggy pair of socks.
Football and soccer cleats can also double as quality paintball shoes. Sandals and open toed shoes should absolutely be avoided as these will not be comfortable for moving around in nor will they offer full protection. Lastly, you are most definitely going to be running through some mud, so also make sure they are a pair of shoes you don’t mind getting dirty.
5. Paintball Vest
The vest is the piece of gear that is probably going to take the biggest beating during game play. Therefore, you want to make sure to purchase a vest that is durable and long lasting. Similar to the mask, you want the vest to feel snug yet breathable. It should also come with a fair amount of protective padding to reduce the impact of the shot. It will also help protect you against a paintball grenade or other attack.
Aside from safety, there are also many tactical considerations to take into account when purchasing a vest. One thing that can be essential to strategy is a paintball vest that allows you to make customized adjustments. Being able to place pouches in a strategic manner that best suits your needs will save you time and energy and can give you a leg up on your opponent. Color is also another tactical factor to consider, and most serious paintballers wear black or camouflage in order to blend in easily with their surroundings.
Whether you are playing competitively or recreationally, the five aforementioned items are all essential when playing paintball. These items can often be rented, but investing in your own set of paintball gear is the smartest option for anyone who plans to play long term. Cost of renting will add up quickly and a well shopped for set of gear is always going to fit better than any gear randomly selected from a shelf.
Paintball is an adventurous sport that is great for adrenaline junkies. Any good paintball player will tell you that the right gear can make all the difference in the amount of fun you have while playing.