Some sports such as hockey or football have a large list of safety gear ranging from shin guards to shoulder pads and helmets to name a few. But paintball really only has one wearable piece of safety equipment; the mask.
Paintball masks are designed to protect your face and ears. When looking for a mask you should look for one that covers your whole face area, forehead to chin with coverage for your ears. If the mask doesn’t fully cover all these areas look for a bigger mask. Some mask also provide protection for your head, although this is not entirely necessary as the top of your head is hard and can withstand a paintball, some people feel better with this option.
Since this is your primary protection you want something that fits just right. Look for a mask that fits firmly on your head without pinching. You should be able to tighten the straps to make your mask snug without maxing out the adjusters or permanently stretching out the straps. Make sure that your mask comfortably fits around your ears and that the mouth guard doesn’t hit your chest when you look down or your shoulders when you look to the sides. Remember this is about safety first then style. You need to make sure that everything is protected and feels comfortable first, then try to get the look you want.
While most people don’t pay much attention to the foam padding inside a mask it can be a huge difference between a good mask and a great mask. Most importantly you want make sure you like how the foam feels on your face. You are going to be wearing this a lot so comfort is a big part of safety. You want to find a mask that has form which is flexible and will mold to your face, but will also return to its original shape. You also want to inspect how the form in secured/glued to the mask. Check for a solid glue job with no corners or seams unattached.
When looking through the mask; make sure that the lens area provides enough side vision. On average human have a field vision of 180 degrees, unless you are planning of looking out of the corner of your eye instead of turning your head, a mask with 120 degree field of vision should be more than adequate. Next you should look for a mask with a thermal lens. Thermal lenses are simply two separate lenses with air in between them which helps prevent fogging. You will also find some lenses are tinted, while these do not add to the safety of the mask, they can provide a function similar to sunglasses or just a cool factor.
Paintball masks can cost from $ 20 to more than $ 100. To decide which mask is best for you determine what features you really need (for example, you may want good fog protection, therefore you will want to look at masks that offer a thermal lens) and then see what masks fit your budget. The best mask is not necessarily the most expensive; it’s simply the mask that fits and works best for you.
Most masks come with visors which some find to be useful when playing outdoors. Additionally, some masks come with built-in fans designed to reduce fogging, while others are designed to have a fan added on if necessary. The plastic of the mask come in many levels of rigidity. Some players prefer softer plastic which may help prevent a ball break. When choosing a mask; chose one that is rigid enough for your liking. The plastic also comes in numerous colors ranging form bright reds and blues to dull blacks and greens, so you should able to find a color you like. There are also many purely cosmetic upgrades you can add to customize your mask.
Have fun and play safe.
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