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If you are new to the sport of paintballing or are wanting to get started, you may be wondering what do you wear when you play paintball. Though the options are limitless, it’s always good to start with a base point and then work your way from there. With that in mind, what we have attempted to do is to give you an idea of what your will need to be completely geared up for your first big match.
The most important part of your body to cover is your head; mainly your eyes. Besides purchasing your gun and supplies, spending sufficient money on excellent head protection is recommended. Here are some gear types to keep in mind:
When purchasing a set of goggles or a mask, there are many different options you can opt for. The main thing you want to ensure is that the lens will protect your eyes from the paintball should your head gear take a direct shot. The difference between a mask and goggles is simple; goggles are mainly to protect your eyes while a mask will cover your entire face, and often parts of your chin and neck.
If you’re looking for the cheaper option, you can opt for a good set of goggles, but be prepared to take shots to the mouth and face. These shots can often be the most painful, and dangerous, hits to take. That’s why it is recommended to go with a full-face mask. Just ensure that the lens in your mask won’t fog up.
Before purchasing your mask, try it on. During this initial fitting, ensure there is proper ventilation. Also, move around in it as if you were out in the field. This way you know if there will be any restriction to your movement. In addition to feel, make sure that the foam on the inside of the mask will not irritate your face. The last thing you want is to get into a full-day game and realize your mask irritates you.
While a hat or beanie is strictly optional, it is recommended, especially when moving through wooded areas. A hat or beanie will protect the top of your head from getting scratched, as well as offer a softening effect to getting shot in the head. However, if you are playing in the middle of winter, you may decide to forgo this piece of gear.
Taking a paintball to the neck is quite possibly the worst pain a paintballer can feel. If you are going to playing paintball at all, neck padding is a must have. While a mask can cover any hits that may come from the front, you are leaving the side and back of your neck open. Rather inexpensive, a neck pad can protect from any welting and damage to the otherwise exposed skin.
When playing paintball, your upper torso will take the most hits. Therefore, this will be the portion of your body that you may want to have the most padding. Keep in mind, the thick the clothes you wear, the less it will hurt. Also remember that the paintball will tend to bounce off a soft surface. This will increase your chance of the ball not splattering on you, therefore allowing you to continue playing.
If you will be playing woodsball (simply paintball played outdoors in a natural environment) a vest will be your best friend. Not only will it protect you from severe welts, a padded vest will help protect you while crawling and running around wooded areas. Vests will have built-in padding that is designed to absorb the impact of the paint balls.
In addition, most vests will have pockets that offer storage for any added equipment you may need to carry while in the field, such as water, radios, maps, watch, and any other personal items you may need.
Different from a vest, a chest protector is similar to the thermal underwear mentioned below in that the padding is built-in to a single wearable garment. The protector has padding that protects the chest bones area, as well as the wearers rips and abdomen. Remember, is you decide on a chest protector, the outer garment you choose will need to be sized correctly so that it fits over the padding.
Much like sports such as football and baseball, there are jerseys that have been specifically designed for the sport of paintball. Though they are definitely not a required piece of gear, your team may decide to invest in jerseys for many reasons. Your team may want a jersey for identification while in the field, as well as offer extra protection the absorbs the hit of the balls.
Jerseys can also be customized for the type of paintball you will be playing. For example, Speedball (played in an open field with makeshift obstacles that offer concealment) Jerseys are usually made of lightweight, ventilated material that will help cause the enemy’s paintballs to bounce off the player. Speedball jerseys are usually made with vibrant colors and covered with team and sponsor identifiers.
On the other hand, woodsball jerseys are made using more natural colors, or camouflage, that increase the stealth abilities. Also, woodsball jerseys feature a cuff the fts tightly around the wearer’s wrist that help keep dirt and bugs from getting to the player’s skin.
Because most players lead with their gun while walking through the field of play, the elbow and forearms become exposed and are the victims of most hits from paintballs. For this reason, special gear has been developed that engulfs the entire elbow and forearm area, protecting from welts and paintball impacts.
Also, in addition to protecting from hits, elbow and forearm pads are an essential part of woodsball gear. They allow the wearer to crawl through dirt and debris without getting scratched and cut.
Gear worn on the legs is usually designed to promote movability and comfort of the player on top of increasing the padding against hits. However, just as with the other portions of the body, there are several different options available for leg gear.
BDU (Battle Dress Uniform)
Simply put, BDU pants are the military pants that feature several external pockets for extra storage Usually worn in a green or gray camo design, the material used to produce BDU pants is durable and comfortable while allowing the wearer to blend in seamlessly with his or her surroundings. In addition, BDU pants usually feature pad-reinforced knees that allow the wearer to kneel down without causing pain to his/her knee or wear out their pants.
If you have the extra money to spend, or want to ensure every inch of your body is protected, you have the option to purchase pads that have be specifically made to be worn on your legs and shins. Though this armor will protect from any paintballs that may find their way to your legs, they are specially made to reduce the strain your knees endure while kneeling and crawling through the field of play.
Additionally, leg and shin pads can be worn on the outer layer of your body or on the inside layer, which ever you feel more comfortable with. Keep in mind, if you decide to wear the pads on the inside layer of your clothing, ensure your outer layer is the proper size to fit over the extra padding.
Padded Thermal Underwear
When thermal underwear is mentioned, we usually think of working out in the cold weather. However, the term is also used to describe the padded under layer that can be purchased specifically for playing paintball. Similar to pants worn by football players, thermal underwear includes built-in padded areas that cover the entire lower portion of the wearer’s body. These pads include protection for the tailbone, side hip, legs, front hips, and knees. What makes this type of gear different is that every pad is built into one piece of gear.
If you are the type of player that likes to jump and slide behind barriers and cover, you will want to have a pair of sliding pants or shorts. Made to be form fitted and worn against your skin, sliding pants/shorts will give you excellent protection from scratches you receive while sliding. In addition, most include built-in cup holders for the males.
This is a must have for any male who wishes to play paintball. While damage to the eye is one of the leading injuries in paintball, damage to the midsection of a male is a close second. Though they can be rather uncomfortable, you will be very thankful when it protects you from getting hit. For increased comfort, simply purchase sliding shorts that have a built-in cup holder.
Protection for your feet is all about comfort. Rarely will a player take a hit to their feet and, when they do, any amount of protection will diminish the result. For this reason, when choosing your footwear, always keep comfort in mind.
There is not any footwear that has been specifically made for playing paintball. Instead, most players tend to lean towards military/tactical boots. Any sporting goods store will have an ample selection of footwear. When choosing what best works for you, keep these thoughts in mind:
The last thing you want is to have to replace your boots every month. Spend the extra money upfront to get a pair of shoes that will last your for quite some time.
It is imperative that your footwear has support for your arch and ankle. Remember, it is likely you will be wearing the same pair of boots for an entire day’s worth of action. Especially if you are going to be running through rough terrain, this means you will run the risk of stepping in holes and on different obstacles. Having this support will ensure no injuries occur that would put you on the side lines.
Regardless of where you play, you will almost always come into contact with water. Having waterproof footwear will not only help your shoes last longer but will ensure your feet don’t get wet, causing athletes foot or other ailments.
Socks: Almost as important as the shows you wear are the socks you put on. The main feature you will want in your sock is moisture control. Regardless of how expensive your boots are, being in them all day will cause your feet to sweat. If the sweat can stay on your feet, you will ultimately develop athletes foot. Thin or thick socks is a personal preference; moisture wicking features should be available in both.
One decision you will want to make is where you want to carry your accessories, such as extra cO2 canisters and paintball hoppers. The decision, however, will most likely be made by which type of play you are participating in.
Different from the vest mentioned above, a tactical vest rarely includes any additional padding. Worn during combat simulations, such as urban settings and woodsball battles, a tactical vest allows the wearer ample storage for anything you could ever need during play. Additionally, most tactical vests are customizable, allowing the wearer to move pockets and storage compartments around to where it is best suited for their individual needs. Not to mention, it does add to the whole military simulation look most players go for.
A belt is the least common way players carry their accessories simply because it becomes cumbersome when trying to be stealthy. For this reason, a gear belt is more common in Speedball play where the players simply advance in a field of play that includes makeshift obstacles. A Gear belt also allows the wearer to customize the location of pouches, giving them full control of where their extras are.
Regardless if you use a vest or a belt, if you plan to have a backup weapon on you at all times, you will need to ensure you have a proper holster to carry it on your person. The holster will need to be fitted to your backup pistol and designed so that it prevents any misfires while you are running, climbing, and crawling. You will also want to ensure your gun fits securely in the holster so that you don’t drop it while running or allow another player access while in combat.
Regardless if you are a newbie or an avid paintballer, the gear you have on you is just as important as the gun you carry in to battle. Take your time in choosing which options you want to go with and never settle for something solely based on the price. You always get what you pay for.
If the price of a particular item is keeping you from purchasing it, remember that most paintball clubs/ranges will have gear available to rent. This is also important to keep in mind when you are wanting to try an item out before purchasing. As always, safety is always the top priority so having the proper gear will ensure you not only have a good time but you are safe while doing so.