The Best Paintball Mask

Dye Precision I4 Thermal Paintball Mask

Our Top Pick for 2016: Dye Precision I4 Thermal Paintball Mask
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $109.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

Paintball is a fun and exciting sport for many people. The game can be played indoors or outdoors at amateur and competitive levels. Paintball technology is also used by the military, law enforcement and security organizations to supplement training and for non-lethal suppression of potentially dangerous persons. Because paintball guns are powerful enough to cause severe injury, it is vital that the participants wear a paintball mask. Some of the best paintball masks are listed below.

Table of contents

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Soft Cell Frame Foam
Anatomic Fi
Large Field Of View
Co-molded Nylon Frame
Anti-fog Thermal Lense
Maximum Airflow
Prevents Ball Breakage
Compression Formed Earpiece
No Echoing
Lightning-quick Release System
Rapid Lense Change
Ideal Venting
Double Strap For Goggle Angle Adjustability
Multi-directional Venting
Customizable

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Dye Precision I4 Thermal Paintball Mask

Dye Precision I4 Thermal Paintball Mask Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $109.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerThis professional-style paintball helmet features the Tiger Teeth retention system with multi-directional venting. The anatomic fit of the helmet ensures secure contact with your face for a comfortable experience. The Precision i4 by Dye is the result of many years of goggle engineering. With thermal lenses, you won’t have to worry about fogging during your game.

If you should ever find that you need to change your lenses, the patent-pending rapid lens change system makes it easy and quick to do. The lenses for these goggles provide 100 percent UV-A, UV-B and UV-C protection and are corrected optically for superior clarity. The “scream venting” allows you to easily communicate with your teammates by projecting your voice. The angling of the blades for the helmet help to dissipate heat and moisture for optimal ventilation. Tested twice at current ASTM and CE standards for impact, the dual-stage foam with open and closed cell technology provides optimal support and unparalleled comfort.

Although ear protection is critical for paintball, it does not have to be bulky or uncomfortable. The i4 uses a compression-formed earpiece that is soft and extremely lightweight. Cool Max material provides increased moisture evaporation for the user, making the goggles more comfortable to wear. The design of the helmet wicks sweat away from your eyes, thereby enabling you to maintain clear vision during your game. This mask is perhaps the lightest paintball helmet on the market.

The helmet will also work for airsoft fights as well. If you wear glasses, no worries! The helmet will still fit you comfortably, although you might notice a very slight fogging of your lenses. Reviewers have commented on the size of the mask and say that it is best for those with small faces. Those with average or large faces may find that the chin or jaw is exposed. Although this is not a particularly bad thing, it does sting a little to be hit there.

The History of Paintball

The first paintball game was played in June of 1981 as a wager between “city boys” and outdoorsmen. The idea was to combine the ideas of outdoor hunting and “the survival of the fittest” in a way that was safe and enjoyable. These 12 friends knew that they needed a weapon with the ability to tag the individual without causing harm and found the answer in a farming catalog: paint spray guns used to mark breeding animals. The friends played their first game on 100 acres of woodland in New Hampshire.

Shortly thereafter, they named their new game the “National Survival Game.” At first, the game was played with an “every man for himself” mentality, but team play became more popular as time went on. As paintball developed into a more commercialized sport, paintball fields were designed and built. The first outdoor paintball field was opened in 1982, followed by the first indoor field in 1984.

Competitions have been going on almost since the sport began. The first tournament was held in Canada in 1983. These initial games used CO2 cartridges that lasted a maximum of 12 rounds before requiring replacement. Early paintball guns needed to be cocked after each shot.

After the first paintball game, interest in the sport steadily increased. The three minds behind the sport, Bob Gurnsey, Hayes Noel and Charles Gaines, decided to sign a contract with Nelson Paint Company to design and sell paintball guns and equipment. Rivals quickly developed and caused the popularity of the sport to rapidly increase during the 1990s.

The first paintballs were oil-based, but the paintballs of today are made from food-grade ingredients. These ingredients are water-soluble and will easily wash out of players’ clothing. Because it is non-toxic, players do not need to worry about being hit in the mouth and swallowing the paint. Basic materials used for paintballs include gelatin, food coloring, ethylene alcohol, iodine and mineral oils. These are the same materials used in creating encapsulated medications and liquid vitamins. Some paintballs are designed to glow in the dark while others are scented or have specific features to enable them to work well in cold weather.

Paintball paint is made at a specialty paint factory and is usually shipped to the encapsulating plant. Large manufacturers may combine both operations at a single plant. At first, pharmaceutical companies were responsible for encapsulating the paint within the shells. As the paintball industry grew, paintball manufacturers began to furnish their own factories. Today, the game continues to evolve as companies and teams invent new ways to enjoy the game.

Common Paintball Mistakes Made by Newbies

Failure to Shoot
Many beginners are accurate in their shots and seldom miss an opponent 10 feet away or less. However, they often have a tendency to shoot too soon and at everything that moves. Be patient and wait until the flight path is clear before you shoot.

Remaining Stationary Too Long
If you are unable to be useful in your current location, find another one. If you are pinned down by withering fire, shoot back and call for help. There is no use in remaining silent in an attempt to conceal your location when an opponent is shooting at you . Let your teammates know you need help so they can come to your aid.

Failure to Pay Attention
Many newbies are afraid to look around for fear of getting hit. However, if you don’t look around, you will be unable to notice someone sneaking up on your position. Look from the side of your barricade rather than the top if possible. Use your ears as well to detect unusual sounds.

Perhaps the best advice for those just starting is to jump in and play hard. Learn from your mistakes. With the proper equipment and a high-quality mask like the Precision, you will be on your way to becoming a paintball sharpshooter in no time.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Sly Profit LE Paintball Goggles

Sly Profit LE Paintball Goggles

View it on Amazon for $99.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerThe Profit LE goggles by Sly feature a velvet-lined interior with SBR foam for optimal shock absorption. The double strap permits easy angle adjustment while wearing the goggles. The co-molded nylon frame features a soft TPR lower to prevent paintballs from breaking at this point. The lightning-quick release system permits rapid removal. The mask fits comfortably over eyeglasses, making it ideal for those who wear corrective lenses. Although some reviewers commented on the tendency of the mask lenses to fog up, others said that the lenses remained clear even during a hot and humid day with heavy breathing. If you need a high-quality paintball mask, the Profit LE by Sly should do the trick quite nicely.

Paintball Games

Capture the Flag

Capture the Flag is the most basic variation of paintball and is one of the most enjoyable versions to play. In order to play successfully, you should have at least four players, but you can have as many people as you want. Flags can be as simple as a garbage bag tied to a tree branch or as elaborate as an actual flag on a pole.

To play, you will need to set up a flag at each base on opposing ends of the field. Field boundaries should be firmly established as well as a time limit for the game. Capture the Flag usually takes about 20 minutes, but this time can vary depending on how many players you have. The game begins when someone calls, “Game on!” The goal of this version of paintball is to capture the opposing team’s flag and return it to your own base without getting hit. If a paintball breaks on a player, he is out of the game. A team is not allowed to move their own flag unless the opposing team has moved their flag and is eliminated. The winner is the team that eliminates all players of the opposing team or that captures the opposing team’s flag.

Jungle Paintball

Jungle paintball is a version of the game played in dense growth and thick foliage. This version can be challenging as a result of leaves and branches getting in the way of your paintballs. You could empty an entire hopper at a single opponent and never get a clean hit. To many people, Jungle Paintball might seem like no fun as all the basic fun of speed and movement are negated. However, players of the game are then forced to come up with new ways to play and can bring these new skills to more traditional paintball games. Jungle Paintball is a great game to play with a few friends in an area with restricted space.

VIP

VIP allows you to place all your focus on a single member of an opponent’s team. However, you must also protect your own VIP from attack. You will need at least three players. You can have up to 10 players per team, but more than this might be too many to make the game effective.

You will need to establish two bases at opposing ends of the field for your two teams. Before the game begins, ensure that all field boundaries are clearly defined and that each team knows the identity of the opposing team’s VIP. All general rules apply with the additional objective of eliminating the other team’s VIP. The VIP can be armed, but the game is more exciting if the VIP is unarmed. The team who eliminates the VIP of the opposing team is the victor.

Base Capture

Base Capture is a version of Capture the Flag that encourages mad dashes, exceptional speed and significant strategy. Setup and requirements are the same as for Capture the Flag. A team wins by eliminating all players on the opposing or by touching the opposing team’s flag. The secret to success is to plan a quick attack that will allow a single player to get close enough to touch the flag.

Superman

Superman is one of the most hardcore paintball games invented. It is not recommended for play with those who cannot tolerate getting shot multiple times. Unlike other paintball games where you are out after you are hit, Superman rules dictate that you are not out unless you call yourself out. You win the game by being the last one left standing. People tend to play Superman as the last game of the day to get rid of the last of their paint and their air. Because this game can become extremely intense, it is of double importance that you follow the rules of safe play to prevent serious injury.

Aliens

To play this game, each team chooses two people as the aliens. The rest of the group are humans. Unlike humans, aliens can only be killed by a head shot. If a human is shot by an alien, he becomes infected but remains a human until he is touched by another human or until 30 seconds pass. If an alien is shot, he is dead and is unable to be revived as a human. The game ends when all humans become aliens or when all the aliens are killed.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Virtue VIO Contour Thermal Paintball Goggles

Virtue VIO Contour Thermal Paintball Goggles

View it on Amazon for -*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardThe Virtue VIO paintball mask permits the user a large field of vision for easy visibility. The maximum airflow vents permit unrestricted breathing and easier communication with other players. Fog-resistant thermal lenses allow you to play for an extended period of time without restricted visibility. The foam lining and ear pads make this mask a true pleasure to wear when playing paintball. A visor can be purchased separately if desired. The mask can accommodate most types of corrective glasses. Reviewers have commented on how lightweight and comfortable this mask feels on the face while wearing it.

The Paintball Sniper

A paintball sniper is willing to be patient and to play alone. A good sniper will be aware of when to shoot and to hide. A sniper should be able to hit the target on the first try. In order to achieve this goal, you will need to have a high-quality paintball gun. As a sniper, your gun should blend in with your surroundings and not stand out. You will also need to choose clothing that matches your surroundings. Although it does not have to be camouflage, you might be better able to blend in with specially-designed paintball camouflage.

As a sniper, you can play one of two roles: forward sniper or rear sniper. The forward sniper moves as far forward as he can at the start of the game, only stopping when contact with the opposing team is imminent. He will then conceal himself and wait for the perfect shot. A forward sniper should be familiar with the playing field and choose a location adjacent to a trail or path that the opposing team is likely to use.

As a forward sniper, your best chance for success is a heroic amount of patience. Make sure that you know how many people are in the group coming towards you and their exact formation before taking a shot. If possible, allow the enemy to pass you before shooting. It is much easier to shoot a group of people if you are shooting at their backs. When choosing your first target, pick the most important person in the group. If you are lucky, you will be able to eliminate the entire group, but you will most likely only “kill” one or two persons before the others find cover.

Rear snipers should position themselves far enough away from the flag to prevent the opposing team from sighting them. At the same time, they are close enough to have an accurate shot at anyone who attempts to seize the flag. The rear sniper should not hide directly behind the flag but should instead choose a position where any advance on the flag must pass in front of him. The rear sniper has less of a surprise factor on his side as the opposing team expects heavy defense near the flag. Make sure that the opposing team members are in range before firing. As the last line of defense, you will most likely not have the opportunity to retreat. If your hiding place is well-chosen, the only chance your enemy has of shooting you is to run into the open and risk getting hit.

The key to being a good sniper is to position yourself in such a way as to prevent the opposing team members from observing you while allowing you to quickly return fire. Try to choose areas with natural concealment. During sunny days, take advantage of shadows to keep cool.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Tippmann Valor Paintball Goggle Mask

Tippmann Valor Paintball Goggle Mask

View it on Amazon for $24.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickThe Tippmann Valor paintball mask by Paintball Discounters has a removable visor for protection from the sun. Open-cell foam provides a comfortable wearing experience for the user. If the mask is for a child, you might find that it fits a bit loosely. If this is the case, a baseball cap turned backwards or a beanie worn beneath the mask should help the goggles to fit more snugly.

The low cost of this mask makes it the perfect choice for those who aren’t yet sure whether paintball is something they would enjoy as a long-term activity. The mask covers the ears and face sufficiently for the ultimate in paint protection. One reviewer commented on how well the mask held up in southern Alabama heat and humidity with outstanding visibility. The Valor is designed to eliminate all blind spots for a superior view of the playing field and incredible peripheral vision.

What To Wear When Playing Paintball

Dressing for a game of paintball should be based on three things: comfort, durability and weather. Because paintball involves lots of sliding, running, crawling and diving at the ground, you will want to be sure that your clothing permits sufficient freedom of movement. Because the point of paintball is to avoid being shot, mobility is a key component to a successful game.

The clothing you pick should be able to take quite a bit of wear and tear. If you play paintball, you are guaranteed to have dirt and paint on you by the end of the day. Your clothing may even sport a few rips afterwards, so be sure that what you pick is suitable.

Many people recommend dressing in layers to decrease the pain of being hit by a paintball. While more layers will indeed soften the paintball strikes, you run the serious risk of becoming overheated and succumbing to heat stroke on a warm day. New players often show up in multiple hoodies, two pairs of sweatpants and thick gloves. All that extra gear is not necessary. You can wear long sleeves and long pants to prevent welts from forming, but thin layers are all you need on a hot summer day. Only wear layers if the weather is cold enough to justify the extra bulk.

Along with your mask, you will also want to wear some form of headgear. Headbands, dew-rags and beanies work well as do baseball caps worn backwards. You can also wear an old t-shirt or a sweatband. If you rent a mask, you may find that the straps are worn out, resulting in jiggling when you are running. A sweatband or other form of head gear can help keep the mask from jiggling when you run.

For your legs, consider jeans. Jeans are very durable and can take quite a beating. Be sure that your jeans are “regular” or “relaxed fit” for maximum comfort. Scrubs also make an excellent choice. If you are really serious, consider purchasing real paintball pants complete with padding and pockets.

For footwear, any shoes with sturdy soles will do. Cleats are great as long as they don’t have metal spikes.

Some people play with padding, but others don’t. Whether you do or not is a matter of personal preference. There are additional padding options available for use with your paintball mask that can be purchased separately. A pair of thin gloves will work just fine for hand protection.


Pre-purchase considerations

Anti-Fog

Paintball is no fun if you cannot see. You will want to ensure that your paintball mask can tolerate your heavy breathing and body moisture without preventing you from seeing the playing field.

UV Protection

If your lenses are tinted, it is important for them to have UV protection to avoid damage to your eyes.

Comfort

A paintball mask should have a significant amount of foam padding to protect your face and ears from paintball strikes. Choose a model with molded ear cups for the ultimate in comfort.

Communication

Some masks feature a special vent to permit easier communication between team members. These masks may also permit easier breathing.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

Paintball is a fun sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and genders. Wearing the proper mask will help ensure that you stay safe and have fun.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. History of Paintball: Origins and Evolution, thepaintballprofessor.com, June 9, 2014
  2. Jim Colvin, Beginner’s Most Common Mistakes, greatlakespaintball.com
  3. David Muhlestein, Paintball Game Variations, about.com
  4. Cynical Historian, The History of Paintball, youtube.com, October 10, 2013
  5. SoleFerry, How It’s Made — Paintballs, youtube.com, June 30, 2013
  6. David Muhlestein, How to be a Paintball Sniper, about.com
  7. 10 Fun Paintball Games You Have To Play, skyaboveus.com, January 18, 2011
  8. Paintball — What to Wear?, hubpages.com, February 9, 2012
  9. Explosive Review, Getting Into Paintball: What to Wear for Your First Time, youtube.com, April 22, 2014

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