Paintball Protective Gear Checklist: The Equipment You’ll Need

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Paintball is a very thrilling, rewarding sport, but you need the right equipment to play it safely. Paintball protective gear is an essential aspect of the sport — whether you’re a long-time enthusiast or a total newbie, playing paintball for the first time. While some equipment is optional and comes down to personal preference — for example, wearing specialty gloves or a cup — other gear is mandatory every time you play.

Paintball is a sport that involves shooting paint capsules using guns. When the capsules hit something, they burst — leaving behind a satisfying splat of color. While the paintballs are non-toxic, getting hurt can still lead to serious injury in specific circumstances, like getting hit in the eye.

Based on the nature of the sport, there are certain risks when playing. In addition to the bruises and welts you might get when shot by a paintball, there’s also a chance of overexerting yourself — lower body injuries like sprained ankles come with the territory. The most common paintball injuries can be avoided by simply wearing the right equipment and making smart choices when in the game, though. In this article, learn about the paintball protective gear you’ll need.

What Kind Of Gear You Need To Play Paintball — A Beginner’s Guide

close up of paintball player special protective mask

Since paintball is a popular recreational activity, there’s an entire industry devoted to the sport — meaning there are many options out there for gear.

In terms of essential paintball protective gear you need to start playing, there are only a few items you need to get for your first time.

Safety Goggles and Paintball Mask: Arguably the most important equipment for paintball, at least from a safety perspective, is the goggles and paintball mask. It’s important to get goggles rated specifically for paintball. They need to withstand the impact of getting hit by a paintball while adequately protecting the eyes from both the physical force and the liquid dye. They should also be fog-proof since you may be breathing heavily and playing on a cold day.

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The most common serious injuries for paintball are to the eyes and ears due to gear malfunction or misuse. You should never remove your paintball goggles or mask during active play. If you need to remove your protective face gear for any reason, make your way to a designated “safe” zone where no firing is allowed. Otherwise, you may find yourself on a quick trip to the emergency room – and could lose your sight or hearing.

Barrel Sock: This gear is less of protection for you than it is for other players – although it could prove to benefit you as well! The barrel sock, or barrel sleeve (as it’s sometimes called) is a material device that fits over the end of your paintball marker’s barrel. The device prevents misfires – for example, accidentally shooting your paintball gun before entering the designated firing area. It’s a courtesy to keep the sock on before the game starts.

Footwear: Although you don’t necessarily need specialty footwear to play paintball, you do need to wear something that will provide adequate support, stability, and traction while playing.

A 2004 study found that the most common injury of players over the age of 17 was related to overexertion, including slips and falls. When you play paintball, you’re often making quick maneuvers, sometimes on soft terrains like mud or grass.

You can buy paintball footwear to protect your feet while also offering performance-enhancing benefits. You can also use a pair you already own – but make sure the footwear delivers maximum comfort and is suitable for the environment you’ll be playing in. Hiking boots may be too bulky and heavy in less demanding environments while running shoes might not have the traction you need in particularly slick terrains.

Protecting Clothing: Clothing is another essential for the sport. No one expects you to play paintball naked! Dress appropriately for the weather and the environment in clothing you can move around comfortably in. It’s worth noting, however, that you should wear something that covers as much skin as possible; getting shot with a paintball feels a lot worse on bare skin.

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Since the dye used for paintballs is water-soluble, it should clean out of clothing pretty easily; however, you may have other environmental hazards to worry about, like grass causing stains or rocks and twigs ripping material. It’s best to have clothing dedicated to playing paintball since the sport can be pretty hard on whatever you wear.

Loose clothing is best for paintball because the material will absorb some of the force of a paintball, making getting shot less painful. It’s also generally more comfortable to move around in loose-fitting clothing over tight-fitting styles. More outfit ideas when playing paintball.

Other Protective Equipment Used For Paintball

paintball team in action during playing in forest

There are further options for protective equipment you can wear for paintball; however, these come down to player preference.

A Protective Cup And JockStrap: Many athletes wear a cup or jockstrap when playing sports to protect the sensitive groin region from injury while playing.

While it might seem like an obvious device to wear while playing paintball, it isn’t required (or even recommended) gear. Many players find that loose-fitting pants do more to protect the groin from injury when hit by a paintball — and they’re a lot more comfortable to wear. If you’re worried, you can wear one, but you probably would be fine without it.

Paintball Jersey: Some players opt to buy a paintball jersey rather than just wearing a long-sleeve shirt. The jerseys have long sleeves and are durable yet breathable material, comfortable to wear while playing paintball. They also look cool and keep you safe.

There’s something to be said about having a proper paintball jersey. It certainly lends an air of authenticity to the experience, and enthusiasts like that it identifies them as being serious in the sport. It is optional though.

Body Armor: Body armor is another optional piece of paintball protective equipment. As you’ve probably guessed, the armor acts as a chest protector and helps protect the player from the impact of getting shot. These come in many styles, but most resemble a tactical vest worn on top of your shirt or jersey or built into a shirt or jersey. They look cool, and if you play aggressively, you may want to wear something like this to protect you from bruising.

Other Paintball Protective Gear: There are other forms of paintball gear you can buy for protection, like arm pads, elbow pads, special paintball gloves, and even a neck protector (it does smart to get shot in the beck). The purpose of these is all pretty self-explanatory; each option affords additional paintball protection to that part of the body.

Knee pads and elbow pads are arguably the most useful of the optional protective gear since falling is a risk in the sport, especially if you’re playing on a more rugged course. If you have concerns about falling and landing badly, these paintball accessories could be beneficial, but again, are optional and up to the paintball player.

In summary, invest in the proper paintball protective gear to avoid injuries and feel safe while playing!

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