If you’re interested in playing paintball, then you would do well to familiarize yourself with the different equipment and supplies that you’re going to need to dominate the course. It's not enough to have the best paintball gun...you need the gear to last. The last thing you need is to feel the sting of a paintball on a cold autumn day just before you're about to capture the flag...
It's not as simple as "just wear a thick jacket". You need maximum protection with maximum mobility, breath-ability and FLEX-ability. Bundling up like you're going out skiing is only going to turn you into a big fat slow target on the course. Be smart and plan to win.
A general rule of thumb for paintball advises that you shouldn’t expose too much skin in the game. So, the foremost base layer of your outfit for paintball should be a t-shirt with long sleeves. A lot of players tend to prefer darker and loose sweatshirts, hoodies, and even paintball jerseys. And if you’re into more protection, there are also padded shirts you can buy.
Such outfits are generally quite comfortable, as they were designed for the game; but they’re also a bit expensive. Preferably though, we recommend wearing more loose clothing to help when you get hit. More dedicated players even put on real-life sniper suits, in order to achieve better camouflage.
Moreover, a lot of players put on vests on top of their shirts. These are great if they have multiple pockets because you’re likely to need them for essentials like water bottles, or even maps! The vests are also great if you’re playing woodsball, as they give you additional padding that helps with impact absorption.
Playing paintball is known to expose the players’ legs to the elements, of course depending on where you’re actually playing. But such elements may include dirt, thorns, forest twigs, etc, that could very well result in serious cuts and scratches on your legs and knees if you’re not careful.
Keeping that in mind, we definitely don’t suggest that you consider shorts for this game. Jumpsuits, paintball pants, and even cargo pants are a better option. Whatever you wear, remember that protecting your lower body is imperative.
That’s because paintballing can include a wide range of diverse activities; like diving down or crawling on the forest floor. If you don’t take precautions to protect your lower body, such activities are likely to cause scratches and bruises. Simultaneously, you need to find pants that provide an adequate level of protection, but which are also comfortable and loose enough to allow you easy movement.
As you play paintball more and more, you’ll learn to see what the weakest and most exposed bodyparts of your opponents are. And more often than not, these tend to be hands; at least if your opponent doesn’t cover them with gloves. That’s why these are a good idea; if someone hits your hand, you could feel quite a nasty kick. Of course, if you don’t want to affect trigger sensitivity, there are always fingerless gloves you can buy.
Though, if you want maximum protection, gardening gloves, soccer gloves, and other heavy-duty models are the best option. You should avoid generic winter gloves; these are usually weighty and thick, making for good protection but also very restricted hand movement.
If you’re a guy who’s just starting to play paintball, there’s one item of clothing that we’re going to count as a must-have: a groin cup. Sure, most players will tell you that actual crotch shots are quite rare in the game of paintball, so there’s not a large chance of it actually happening. But we can tell you this - when it does happen, it hurts a hell of a lot. So do you really want to take that risk and count on it certainly not happening to you?
Naturally, a groin cup isn’t comfortable at all, and it does restrict your movement somewhat. But as you keep playing with it on, after a while you’ll get used to it and you’ll stop noticing that it’s even there. And most importantly of all - it will give you all the protection you need for your most sensitive and private area. Remember - there’s no comfort that can replace the peace of mind when it comes to safety.
Make sure you never leave home to go to a paintball field without a paintball mask. Quite simply, it pretty much impossible to play this game if you don’t have a proper mask on. This is one of the most crucial pieces of paintball gear. Keeping that in mind, we recommend bringing a couple of lenses for the mask if you play outside; you never know when changing weather conditions may force you to adapt quickly in the middle of the game.
The best way to go is to take a light and a dark lens with you; both of these are good for different weather conditions. And if something happens to go wrong in the middle of the game, you won’t have to worry about your equipment because you’ve got a spare lens with you!
When you play paintball in certain environments, one of the key considerations to make is to see if fans are available for your specific goggles. As you might imagine, top-of-the-range precision masks don’t require the use of fans because they work well in all conditions; but some goggles and masks simply require fans to work properly in foggy conditions. The fans act as a sort of air-conditioning for the mask.
These are quite suitable for the thermal lens on your goggles, as they will prevent any fogging and reduced accuracy. Also, we recommend that you take a piece of a microfiber cloth with you; making maintenance and cleaning of your lenses far easier.
Another piece of essential gear for paintball would be the tactical belt. Having such a belt on is a major help if you have any attachments to your gun that you want to equip in the middle of the game. Plus, many players like the tactical advantage gained from the use of a sidearm in the match. And having an additional, albeit smaller gun, will require having a holster as well.
There are many pants for paintball out there that actually come with knee pads built-in; but for all the rest, you’ll need to get your separate knee pads in order before the game starts. And don’t underestimate this piece of paintball equipment - the first time you need to crouch behind a bush without knee pads, you’ll rue the day you decided not to wear them.
As the name suggests - knee pads are there to provide ample protection for your knees. Regardless of that, though - there are a lot of people who simply forget to bring them, or don’t think about such things at all. As a result, they tend to suffer from mild, though extremely annoying injuries. Let’s just say that wearing them is the best thing to do, so don’t forget to get a pair!
Remember that paintballs travel to their target at incredibly high speeds - ranging up to 200 miles an hour! Considering that - sustaining a headshot can be an extremely uncomfortable experience to say the least. With that in mind, a smart approach to protecting your head is in order.
If you don’t have any head protection with you, the speed of paintball shots is likely to hurt you and your head. So, we suggest getting a cap designed for paintball or a baseball cap. Heck, even a winter hat will suffice.
Furthermore, it’s also not a bad idea to put a paintball mask over a hoodie if you want additional and optimal protection. And while you should definitely wear a mask that was specifically designed with paintball in mind; there are a couple of types of paintball masks, so you should take care to choose the right one for you.
For example, most paintball masks are intended to cover your face; but few options will actually protect the entirety of your head. And if you want such a thing, there are masks designed with that in mind. But while they are more protective, they’ve got other drawbacks; most of them fog up quite a lot, so your vision becomes subpar. So, weigh all of the pros and cons, and choose the one that’s optimal for you. Additionally, try on masks until you find the one that’s likely not to fall off during the game. Remember, paintball is a pretty intense sport; so you will be crawling, running, jumping, etc.
When you’re choosing clothes for absolutely any occasion, aesthetics matter. And in that regard, paintball is really no different from any other social gathering. But in this situation, you should choose the aesthetics and color palette that will be the most useful. You should choose some camouflaged clothes or clothes with darker colors, so you can blend in better with the background.
In paintball, the smartest and consequently the most successful players are the ones that utilize stealth; for which you’ll need the right clothing. That’s a pretty clever way of remaining at least partially hidden from the opposing theme. Naturally, take a look at the paintball field you’ll be playing on before you choose your color palette; it needs to closely match your surroundings.
For most players, high-quality goggles are an absolute must-have. We’re talking about a very much essential piece of equipment for players who are serious about protecting their eyes and face. Furthermore, you should take great care while you choose the right type.
As you make your choice between single-lens and thermal lens goggles, you should probably opt for the latter, even if they are more expensive. When you’re picking headgear for paintball, having superior quality with features like anti-fogging coating and comfort lining will give you a major edge on the battlefield. But whichever you choose, it’s crucial that you don’t use goggles that weren’t made for paintball. These are likely to burst if they’re stricken with a paintball, potentially causing significant injury.
Next up, we’ve got the boots. If you were thinking about running around a paintball arena in sneakers, we’ll stop you right there; that’s not a good idea. You need a pair of shoes which are appropriate for this game, making it comfortable as well as exciting.
A solid pair of boots will protect you from any twigs or dirt, and even more importantly - keep your feet completely dry. And in muddy conditions, you’ll be able to run all around the field far more easily and at a greater speed.
Regardless of the specifics of your game, it’s a good idea to invest in a proper paintball vest. That’s an essential piece of equipment for paintball, providing significant assistance in the planning and execution of a fun paintball match.
Frequently enough, such vests come with additional padding, that helps absorb and shock and impact. Plus, if you wear a vest with multiple pockets, you’ll be able to hold more essentials that you need in the field. But even disregarding the additional storage space you get while you’re playing, a tactical vest is still pretty essential to a strong paintball game. Remember, it’s there to provide protection through any rough and tough conditions on the field!
Apart from goggles or masks, there are other facets of protecting your face and head that you need to consider; like a winter hat or a fitted baseball cap. And if you decide to wear a hoodie, you shouldn’t forget to flip the hood up.
Such essentials will do more than a great job of protecting your head. If you invest in premium-quality head protection, it will stay firmly fitted to your head - which is just about everything you need. You don’t want anything that will fall off or constantly slip as you crawl, run, or perform any of the other myriad activities on a paintball field.
In the end, we also recommend using some durable neck protection. That will cover one of the most vulnerable areas of exposed skin, making you as safe as possible in this fast-paced game. Though, many people find neck protectors a bit too uncomfortable. If that is the case, you could always tie a bandana around your neck - or just wear a turtleneck sweater and be done with it.
If you want to have some more padding, you could always just wear one additional long-sleeved shirt. And then, you can top that off using a hoodie or a thick sweatshirt. Though, you’ll find that many players actually prefer investing in an actual paintball jersey. If this is too much of an investment for you as a casual paintball player, you could always just go with a light jacket.
But just like pants require kneepads - you will find that even a thicker long-sleeved shirt may not always be enough of protection in the field. If that’s the case, we recommend using arm pads to provide adequate safety for your elbows and forearms.
This is quite helpful, especially for players of a certain gameplay style that involves a lot of sliding and diving. During such actions, pads will allow your arms to remain comfortable as you hit the ground. Additionally, you may consider getting a pair of slider shorts that are particularly made for paintball players. These have additional padding, adding protection to your lower body area.
Unlike the paint that makes the crux of it - paintball is not a soft game. In most cases, the ammo that’s shot out of a paintball marker could even rip apart a piece of your clothing, or even hurt you. That’s why you should take care to play as safely as possible, while still remaining competitive. Considering that, we want to give you a couple of gameplay tips right here!
Regarding paintball garments, never go with thin shirts. Instead, when possible, opt for thicker pants and shirts. If a paintball strikes you in any part of your body, such pieces of clothing will provide ample protection, softening the blow on impact
If you’re getting ready to play paintball, it’s rarely enough to just throw on a pair of old pants and a shirt. Instead, you should take care to put on a multitude of layers, in order to further minimize the impact of potential hits on the field.
These layers will additionally increase the space between your skin and the external layer of clothes. Of course, if you’re playing in a very warm climate and in extreme heat, we suggest the opposite; dressing in accordance to the weather is crucial.
The pain thresholds we have differ from person to person; meaning that not all paintball players are the same in that regard either. So, if you want to absolutely minimize the level of pain you’re subjected to during the game; having more protection is a good idea.
As we’ve said above in detail - stuff like elbow pads, knee pads, chest and neck protectors, and a paintball mask are absolutely needed. Basically, if you want to reduce the risk of suffering any pain, you need to cover up as much of your body as possible.
And that brings us to our final tip - don’t let your skin be exposed. If paintballs hit your exposed skin, that’s likely to hurt quite a lot. So, if you don’t want people to shoot you in an area that you haven’t protected; protect all areas! That will make your paintball game experience as fun as it can be.
As you might have realized by yourself, choosing the best possible gear for a paintball match isn’t always an easy process. There are a lot of different factors to take into account, and many of these depend on the specifics of your game. However, we hope that this comprehensive tutorial on paintball equipment will give you all the help you need to have hours upon hours of exciting, but fun gameplay. If you follow our tips, you’re sure to experience the least pain and injury possible.
We will reiterate this point one final time - if a paintball hits your skin, the paint itself won’t be difficult to wash out even if it’s in your hair. However, if the paintballs hit your skin directly; the process will be somewhat painful. So, if you want to avoid such a scenario, consider protective equipment for paintball on time, and leave no exposed skin as you enter the playing field!
Best Paintball Guns (Updated for 2020)