A guide to paintball masks
If you're new to the game of paintball chances are you’ll assume your first purchase will be a paintball gun, I mean that’s pretty essential to playing paintball right? Well despite your first assumption, you should always purchase your paintball mask (this may also be referred to as a goggle) first. It’s THE most important piece of kit you as a paintball player can own, after all you can go out on a paintball field without a marker but not without a mask! If you buy a cheap marker, chances are it won't perform much better than the rental you've used before, but having your own mask will immediatley give you an advantage over all the players still wearing rental goggles that steam up continuously.
Back in the early days of paintballing players used ski goggles, this is unsafe and all paintball masks must now pass ASTM and CE approval. There’s such a vast variety of masks to choose from, with a range of lenses, coverage and fit, it can be a little overwhelming so hopefully this guide will help.
Paintball goggle lenses are made of a poly-carbonate material for strength and to prevent shattering, these will generally be coated with an anti-glare and scratch resistant material. The lens fits securely within the goggle frame, protecting your eyes from paintball impact and spray. Lenses can come as single pane or dual pane (thermal lens). A single pane lens is a one piece lens that has an anti-fog coating added although easier to maintain and cheaper these are prone to fogging. Thermal lenses are dual pane lenses which are sealed together via glue and foam (like double glazing), this assists with regulating the temperature thus reducing fogging. Never submerge your goggle under water, the foam barrier between the lenses is absorbent so if you get water between the lens panes your lens is useless. Ideally when cleaning your thermal lens you want to use water on a cloth to clean the outer lens and a microfiber cloth for the inner lens. For further information on preventing your mask from fogging check out our “Prevent your mask from fogging” blog post.
The frame of a paintball mask is what houses the lens. Goggles with either have a fixed lens or a quick lens release system. A quick release system is ideal for maintaining and cleaning your mask however this does tend to inflate the cost. Frame foam is important for protection, comfort and again the preventing of fog. It’s important the foam forms a seal that prevents your warm exhaled breath from fogging the mask. Low end masks tend to have more rigid foam where as high end goggles will have thicker dual layer foam. This dual layer foam is softer against your face and aids with absorbing sweat.
The mask is what protects your face and the level of protection varies mask to mask so it’s best to consider your style and level of play. Beginner masks tend to offer full coverage along the forehead, jaw line and ear sections however this does come at the expense of added weight. These are often constructed from semi-rigid plastic that offer ultimate impact protection however are very inflexible.
High end masks tend to be more streamlined and sit closer to the face. These are made from softer pliable material making them more comfortable however still offer maximum impact protection.
All paintball mask straps are elastic and will fit snugly to your head. High end masks will often have a toothed clamp to hold your adjustment in place, if your mask does not have beads or a toothed clamp you will have to re-adjust throughout the day.
Fit over style
With so many cool looking masks available these days, you could be forgiven for choosing a mask based on how stlylish it looks, but this is a big mistake. The decision on which mask you buy should be based on how it fits you first, and not how it looks second. We always recommend that players try on various masks to ensure a comfortable fit with suitable protection, after all no two faces are the same. Some of the crucial areas to check for fit are the eyes, ears and head, this will ensure all vital areas are covered. Ensure the strap of your mask is up at an angle as opposed to going straight across the back of your head, this will assist with the fit.
For glasses wearers check out our "The Best Paintball Masks For Glasses" blog post. If you require any further assistance don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01642605000.