If you are new to paintball or have played a few times, you are likely wondering exactly what you should be wearing while immersed in the thick of battle. Even veteran paintball players are always looking gear and clothing suggestions that will provide additional protection and comfort. The aim of this article is to explain what to wear while playing paintball in an effort to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Players of all levels will benefit from perusing this piece.
Opt for Thick Garments Over Thin Ones
Everyone knows that venturing on out to the paintball playing field with shorts and a short sleeved shirt is a bad idea. Yet many are not sure about what types of clothing and equipment will prevent pain while facilitating a free range of movement. Paintballs are not as soft as actual paint. In some instances, they can be fired at velocities that create a rip or a hole in clothing. Do not wear garments that are especially thin. Opt for thick shirts and pants that can absorb the impact of a paintball that strikes your body at a high velocity.
It is not enough to merely throw on some old clothes for your paintball session. Instead, put on multiple layers of old clothing to minimize the impact of the paintballs when they hit your body. The extra layers will add space between your skin and the outermost layer of clothing. This “in-between” material will accept the brunt of the paintballs‘ impact so that you do not feel much of anything at all when you are hit. However, if you are playing in extreme heat, it is not prudent to pile on the layers. If your group is enjoying a match beneath the hot summer sun, everyone should take care to not go overboard on the layers in an effort to prevent overheating. Also, do not head on out to the playing field with new clothing. You are going to get hit with paintballs and they will leave marks on your clothing and your gear.
No matter what, it is critical that you do not leave any skin exposed. Paintballs sting when they come into contact with unprotected skin. If you are hit in the right spot, a paintball can even leave a welt on exposed skin. Sometimes, they even sting when hitting skin that is protected. Your paintball experience will be as pain free as possible if you put forth the effort to dress appropriately.
Upper Body Protection
In terms of specific garments, wear a long sleeve t-shirt as the initial base layer. Add at least one more long sleeve shirt on top of that for extra padding. Top it off with a hoodie or a thick sweatshirt. Some players wear a specific paintball jersey on the exterior while others opt for a light rain resistant jacket. Padded shirts are also available. Some of these padded garments are similar to the compression style shirts made by companies like UnderArmour. The extra padding in these shirts offers important protection and can even take the place of an extra layer. While they are fairly costly, they are very comfortable and available in both long sleeve and short sleeve varieties. If you are concerned about this amount of clothing bogging you down and restricting your movements, opt for fewer garments but be sure to bring more layers with you to the playing field. You can add them onto your body in between games if desired.
Certain players opt to wear sniper suits or ghillie style suits. Ghillie suits are typically worn by hunters but paintball players have adopted them as they are comfortable, provide camouflage and can break up the head’s outline. Sniper suits are available at military supply stores while ghillie suits can be purchased at sporting goods stores or online. You can also purchase individual ghillie style pants, ponchos and jackets if you desire.
Some players add vests to the outsides of their shirts. These are typically worn in scenario style paintball competitions where they are used to hold tubes for extra paintballs, pistols, grenades and other sundries. Paintball vests are available in a wide array of patterns and colors. Some are even sold with special themes like military, police or offbeat styles.
Lower Body Protection
Wear two pairs of baggy elastic sweatpants. Or, opt for a pair of old baggy jeans on top of long johns. Some players choose to wear jump suits, cargo pants or pants made specifically for paintball. Most paintball players roll around, crawl, kneel and dive during play. Therefore, the baggier and thicker the pants, the better. They allow you to move more freely, reduce the chance of a bruise and paintballs are less likely to break when coming into contact with them compared to tight garments. If you tear a hole in your thin pants during play, you will have exposed flesh for the remainder of the competition. Keep in mind that outdoor paintball players are exposed to rough terrain, twigs, dirt, rocks, thorns and other objects that can easily tear holes in pants. So, use one very durable layer of pants or double up for extra protection.
In terms of clothing style, opt for dark colors or camouflaged pants, shirts and jackets that make it difficult for your opponents to see you. Think about the aesthetics of the environment that you will be playing in before choosing your garments’ colors. Choose hues that will blend in with the paintball fields that you play at most often.
Many paintball players are not satisfied by the limited protection offered by long sleeve shirts and pants. Some opt to wear arm pads that protect the forearm from the elbow to the wrist. These are especially helpful for players who like to slide and dive throughout the paintball playing field. The pads will soften the blow when your arms come into contact with the ground. Some players also opt to wear shin pads as well. Also, consider purchasing some “slider shorts” that are designed specifically for paintball players. They are perfectly padded to provide ample lower body protection
Add on a winter hat, do-rag, backwards fitted baseball cap or go ahead and flip up your hood if you wear a hoodie. It is imperative that you wear a helmet/mask that is designed specifically for paintball. Paintballs fly through the air at 280 feet per second. This equates to about 200 miles per hour. If a paintball hits you in the head and you are not wearing protection, it will definitely hurt. So strap on a paintball helmet/mask over your hoodie or winter hat for the ultimate protection.
All paintball helmets/masks cover the face. There are even some that cover the entire head. However, it is worth noting that covering your head will often cause your mask to fog up and decrease your vision. When shopping for a mask, opt for one that fits the most comfortably. It should stay firmly affixed to your head and never fall or slip off while you are running, rolling or performing any other evasive maneuver during the thick of battle.
Additional Head Protection: Goggles
Pick out a pair of paintball goggles as well. Goggles built with thermal style lenses are especially effective as they prevent your paintball mask from fogging up. When choosing between thermal lens goggles and single lens goggles, always opt for the thermal variety. Ideally, you will add on a goggle fan that functions to prevent fog from appearing in your lens during humid conditions. Just be sure to verify that your specific mask is compatible with the goggle fan before purchasing it.
Do not settle for goggles that are not intended for paintball use. Regular shop goggles will not suffice. Goggles designed specifically for paintball are an absolute necessity. If you are struck in the eye with a paintball while wearing non-paintball goggles, you could lose sight in that eye. Never take the cheap or easy way out when it comes to paintball safety.
Do not attempt to play a round of paintball without gloves. If you leave your bare hands exposed and they are hit with a paintball, it will hurt. A lot. Do not lose sight of the fact that your hands are exposed throughout the match as you use them to point your gun down the range toward your opponents. The hands are especially tender compared to other body parts, so any impact will sting quite harshly. Pick up a pair of paintball specific gloves for adequate protection.
If you do not want to spend the money on paintball specific gloves, opt for football gloves, gardening gloves or lite duty mechanic gloves. Ideally, your gloves will have extra padding or even a plastic protective component on the back section of the hand. While some choose to wear fingerless weight lifting gloves, this is not the best option. The skin on the outsides of our fingers is especially sensitive and it will hurt if struck with a paintball, especially if the shot is licked off at close range. Also, refrain from wearing welding gloves, winter gloves or any type of latex gloves. These are all much too thick and can prevent you from pulling the trigger exactly when you desire.
In terms of footwear, high quality sneakers are essential. Paintball players commonly experience harsh ankle injuries due to all of the running, pivoting, jumping, diving and other rapid lower body movements. Some choose to wear soccer or football cleats while others opt for hiking sneakers or military style boots. Do not use your best pair of sneakers for paintball. Use durable old sneakers or low cut boots that you won’t mind getting dirty or wet. Never wear open toed shoes or sandals.
Do not Forget to Protect Your Neck and Groin
Finally, do not forget to add on a sturdy neck protector. It will guard your neck’s extremely sensitive skin. If you do not want to purchase a neck protector or find it to be uncomfortable, opt for a bandanna that you tie around your neck. Or, put on a turtle neck sweater. Many will argue that crotch shots in paintball are very rare but when they occur, they can be awfully painful. While a cup to protect the groin area is uncomfortable, it will provide additional protection in your most sensitive of places.