Even though the incidences of becoming blind from paintball have been rare (so far), such consequences are so severe one should be careful when playing the game. When you’re through playing paintball, have a barrel blocking device installed onto the gun to eliminate the chance of accidental firing. Your head/eye gear should still be worn even when you’re walking away from the field you’re playing in since some players may not have been tagged yet and are still holding their guns.
A majority of eye injuries from paintball happen due to shrapnel from a blasting shell, as opposed to a direct paintball to eye impact. It’s one reason why paintball masks are much better for an active paintballer than paintball goggles. Even if you dont want to go for a full on mask, at least go for the goggles. This isnt a one or none thing, is a one of the other thing (choose a mask OR goggles, but not neither).
When buying a paintball mask, it’s ideal to make buy the mask from an authorized retail store or a trusted online retailer, like amazon. Through this, you can be sure to pick from a number of paintball masks that have been deemed safe for use. Even though there are a number of different styles of protective gear for your head and face that are suitable for many sports, only face masks and lenses with an approval rating by the American Society of Testing and Measures (ATSM) are ideal for paintball, due to the velocity at which the paintballs are fired.
The ATSM is an association that offers unprejudiced testing on a number of different products to determine their safety ratings. If you’re unsure of the safety rating of your paintball mask, it’s recommended not to use that mask. Paintball masks not officially approved for paintball may shatter or break in pieces on contact, leading to exactly the type of serious injury you’re trying to reduce the risk of.
Paintball masks can come either as a pair of goggles or in the form of a full face mask. Paintball goggles are compact, lightweight, and stick to your face while still covering your eyes, making them simple enough to move in and give you a clear field of vision, however, they don’t offer protection for the sensitive portions areas of the rest of your face or head. Although your eyes are completely protected when wearing them, having your face slammed with a high speed paintball is not any fun whatsoever.
Meanwhile, full face paintball masks provide complete protection for the face with some models occupying certain areas of your head. While full face paintball masks offer more protection, they’re a little bigger and bulkier, yet still very popular with most paintball players. With more surface area coverage than googles, full face masks provide a number of color and styling options to pick from, as well as offer greater protection for the wearer.
If you’re not accustomed to putting on a full face paintball mask then you can easily overheat on the filed dodging paintballs and making strategic moves with your team. It’s essential to have a paintball mask that offers breathability around the nose and mouth areas. Breathable slots in the right areas will not only aid in helping you breathe better, those slots also let your team members hear you talk when on the field.
It’s also very important to pick a mask (or pair of goggles) with non-fogging lenses. Usually when the mask covers the nose and mouth, the heat from your breath will lead to your lenses to fogging up. Today’s top paintball masks boast double pane lenses with two panes and thermal coating to fight lens fogging. In comparison to goggles that only shield the eyes, and therefore do not fog up nearly as much as the full face models.
Another important thing to keep in mind is the kind of material your paintball mask is made from. A majority of full face paintball masks are constructed from thick yet soft rubber that provides complete head and face protection. These masks are simple enough to move in and comfortable to put on. Other paintball masks are constructed from tough and stiff plastic, providing full face protection, but are a bit clunky and feel heavy on the face, making them difficult to move in.
Even though masks made from softer material typically give better performance, the rigid ones are still widely used since they can be decorated and customized with artwork. Regardless if you’re playing a speedball tournament or paintball in the woods, paintball masks are excellent for crafting a custom killer appearance that will put fear into the hearts of your competitors.
Since you’re a veteran paintballer and we know you will be out on the field for quite some time, you’ll need to go for a mask that’s comfortable to put on for at least half an hour to an hour and possibly for the entire day. Whenever you get the chance, try on a paintball mask to ensure the foam padding fits your face nicely and good enough to wear for longer periods of time – you don’t want to be the person thinking “man I hope I get tagged so I can get this mask off”. It may be a good idea to see how your new mask meshes well with your complete paintball outfit or tournament gear. The sad part is, gaining access to a decorative paintball mask is through online stores, and so trying them on before buying one isn’t possible.
Picking the right paintball mask for you
If you are a paintball beginner, you probably have a good idea on how much you need a paintball mask is when playing on the field. Here’s a fact: no one wants to get smacked in the face with a high velocity paintball.
Here are some important tips to help you get the right paintball mask the next time you take part in a paintball tournament:
Find a Mask that Fits!
While it may seem too obvious if you’re purchasing a used mask or a mask from an online store, it’s likely you won’t get the chance to try the mask on. It’s recommended you go to the nearest retail store that sells paintball masks so you have an idea of the size that fits you. After that it’s a matter of purchasing the size in an online store at a cheaper price. Ensure the mask you purchase has a refund period so if there’s any issue with the sizing you can switch for the right one or have a full refund.
Get a mask with an anti-fog lens feature
If you happen to be playing paintball on a cold day and your mask doesn’t have any anti-fog lens, you may as well be out in the field with a towel over your head, as the visor from your mask will fog out and you won’t be able to see anything through them. If such instances happen, you’ll likely be lifting your helmet — a no-no since this is when serious injuries happen. Look for such feature in a paintball mask the next time you buy one.
Get the best mask you can afford. You dont want to cut costs when your face is involved.
While the old saying, “you get what you pay for,” is true, this goes for paintball masks as well. It’s better off to pay a little more for safety features to protect your head and face from serious injuries.
Basically, if you follow some of these tips, you can be sure that you’ll be able to find a mask that fits perfectly, gives you protection, and gives you a bit of an advantage compared to less informed paintball enthusiasts.
Top 5 paintball masks in the market today
The Pronto El Switch Mask
This Pronto El Switch is said to have remarkable anti-fog properties and actually functions considerably well. It’s recommended to purchase this mask in addition to a thermal-based lens. For the price tag of the mask including a thermal lens, it gives complete protection for your face and ears, a visor to shield your forehead, and it doesn’t fog easily compared to other masks in the market.
Overview of the Pronto El Switch Mask:
- SwitchTM El Goggle System with superb features
- Unique physical design
- Rigid and one-piece wearing
- Single pane with anti-fog lens
- External hard layer and abrasion resistant lens
- Available in Woodland Camo and Black colours
User review on the Pronto El Switch Mask:
Even for users with a bigger head, the paintball mask fits considerably well and it doesn’t strike any discomfort on any pressure points. Its anti-fog and thermal features are worth noting. In terms of protection, the Pronto El Switch does an excellent job in shielding the head, face, and the ears as it’s made from tough plastic. A notch in the mask padding has enough room for users to wear their glasses in but for the most part, it’s not advisable since it feels a little uncomfortable and makes the mask even heavier.
The visor of the Pronto El Switch is removable. As a result, it tends to flip out or fall off over time. The foam situated around the lens feels a little rough and may lead to abrasions when worn for a prolonged period. The strap holding the chin doesn’t really serve much purpose and can be a little hard to remove. Cleaning can annoying since you need to work your finger in to wipe to clean around the lens edges.
The Pronto FS Switch Mask
The Pronto FS Switch is considered to be a heavy duty paintball mask. It’s comfortable to wear and it features a thermal lens to prevent the lens from fogging up. The Pronto FS Switch is one of the most price-friendly paintball masks in the market today.
Overview of the Pronto FS Switch Mask:
- Switch Triodal lens for high standard peripheral vision
- ¼ patented buckle for simplified lens switching
- Multi-port ear pieces for clear hearing
- Breathable and anti-fog vents
- Pivot and switchable visor
User review on the Pronto FS Switch Mask:
The paintball mask is highly durable and can withstand repetitve paintball hits. For a mask that feature a thermal lens, its surprisingly affordable price tag makes it a steal. Its camo pattern is nicely designed and blends incredibly well in the background making it difficult for opposing teams to spot you in a color packed environment.
The good thing about the Pronto FS Switch mask is that it can easily be cleaned using a wet towel. The visor is removable so you have the option to get rid of it anytime. It does a superb job of preventing sweat from running down the lens unlike other masks in the market.
The JT Flex 8 Full Head Shield Mask
The JT Flex 8 Full Head Shield is considered to be one of the most protective masks in the market today. It features a standard thermal lens that prevents fog from obscuring your view while on the field. The mask completely covers the head while being priced reasonably at under $100.
Overview of the JT Flex 8 Full Head Shield Mask:
- State-of-the-art exoskeleton construction for flexibility and efficiency
- Innovative cranial enclosure
- Comfortable ear protection
- Vortex II fan compatible
- Detachable visor
- Quality foam interior
User review on the JT Flex 8 Full Head Shield Mask:
The JT Flex 8 Full Head Shield Mask has a lot going for. It offers superb field of view via its goggles. In terms of comfort, the JT Flex is surprisingly cozy to wear for prolonged periods. Its durable body can withstand repetitive paintball hits.
While the lens can be detached or swapped out for a new one, it takes getting used to since it’s a little difficult to remove. The upside of the JT Flex is that it’s well ventilated. This gives you breathability while you’re on the field. Its low profile design gives you a clear view.
The Empire E-Flex Mask:
The E-Flex is one of the many known products from Empire Paintball. It features a full layered and cozy foam interior for all-day wear and anti-fog lens for uninterrupted viewing.
Overview of the Empire E-Flex Mask:
- Revolutionary switchable lens system
- Proflex Thermo-foam for comfortable fit and protection
- Two-way pane construction for multiple angle viewing and visual clarity
- Outstanding breathability and voice projection
User review of the Empire E-Flex Mask:
The Empire E-Flex is considered to be one of the few masks in the market to offer excellent field vision and comfort at the same time. It’s what makes the mask a little pricey but worth keeping in the end. The switchable lens system makes it easy to remove or swap out in a few seconds.
In terms of protection, the Empire E-Flex gives you just that. Combining comfort and protection makes the mask a definite keeper. It has excellent ventilation so you won’t have to worry about sweating on the inside.
Dye I3 Mask:
The Dye I3 has made its presence in the paintball market for years and is still a worthwhile purchase. It provides complete protection for your face and ears while offering a thermal lens stock. The mask is widely noted for its durability and strength.
Overview of the Dye I3 Mask:
- Durable and flexible base frame
- Patented venting construction
- Interwoven and elastic rubber straps
- Lightweight and soft foam earpiece
- Cool Max fiber for enhanced moisture absorption
- Low profile design and detachable
- Simplified vertical adjustment for visual protection
User review of the Dye I3 Mask:
The Dye I3 is comfortable to wear. At the same time it’s lightweight so moving your head is never a problem. Its internal fabric ear cover lets you clearly hear from your surroundings. Its lens won’t fog up easily even in colder conditions. In terms of size, the Dye I3 is small making it difficult for opponents to target your head during game play. Often times, the mask comes packaged with a bag for storage.
The importance of paintball masks in any paintball game
A paintball mask is a very important gear in paintball. It shields your face (especially your eyes) from direct hits or high velocity paintball splashes. Either of such hits can lead to permanent damage including brain damage and blindness. Instances like these should be enough to prevent your from going out into a paintball tournament without wearing one.
The good thing about paintball masks is that regardless if they’ve been used frequently or freshly bought from the store, they’re basically the same either way. This is a good thing since they can be purchased at a cheaper price if you happen to be on a budget. If you’re opting for such approach, the ideal places to acquire them is through eBay or off Craigslist.
If you intend to go for a new one, you can purchase them at any legit paintball store. Since paintball masks are essential in paintball, it’ll be impossible to see a paintball store not carrying them. Try reading up on reviews before making your purchase.
If you’re daring and you feel it’s more fun playing without a paintball mask, possibly because you don’t like how they feel or they somehow impede your vision, take note that a majority of paintball game locations forbid users from playing without one. It’s a big risk playing without a mask and most field owners won’t take risk. This is true for paintball games or tournaments. So make it a habit to play safe and always put on a mask.
It’s way better to be uncomfortable in a mask then getting over the discomfort rather than being blind for life or face irreparable damage to your face.