Types of Protective Paintball Gear
Protective gear in paintball goes much further than the mask. Nowadays, it’s ok to play it safe on the field, whereas before you were chastised and tied to the stake for wearing neck or elbow pads. Because it is more openly accepted, companies are offering much more protective gear. For those that value their body and want to be safely covered on the field, then read on for the types of protective paintball gear you can find for sale today.
The Different Classes of Protection Available
Aside from there being gear that protects the different body parts, there usually is a target feature each padded accessory tries to accomplish. Some companies make protection for athletes that want to perform. To make their gear perform, they usually opt for lighter materials and less coverage to keep the player as cool as possible. If less restriction and keeping cool are 2 priorities of yours, then you should opt for protective gear made for performance.
The other option is to go for protection that emphasizes protection. Gear that esteems to be protective will offer complete coverage, and use tougher material. While it won’t be as cool (temperature wise) — you will have maximal coverage.
To get a good idea of what I am talking about, check out below as I cover the different types of protective accessories available.
Paintball Masks – Protection For Your Face
The most widely known accessory is of course the paintball mask. Over time, the paintball mask has evolved from a simple snowboard style goggle that only offered coverage of the eyes, to a full blown head-encasing mask. There are so many styles and feature rich masks available today that you could easily get caught up for weeks trying to find the right one for you. Knowing whether you want protection or performance is the first step, and you can see what that looks like below.
A performance style paintball mask will have a small profile, be lightweight, keep you cool, and offer maximum visibility. The Dye I4 is a perfect example of a mask made for performance as it encapsulates all of these features. It has a huge lens that nearly goes ear to ear of the mask itself. It offers coverage of the bottom of the forehead down to the tip of the chin, which is more than enough for the professional paintball athletes, and because it is so small, it won’t feel like an oven is on your face.
A highly protective paintball mask will cover the entire head. It will cover all parts of the ears, chin, parts of the neck, top of the head, and forehead. Unlike the Dye I4, this type of mask leaves no areas of the head exposed, including the ears. The material used in this kind of mask is tougher, and will not fold in on itself from the impact of a paintball as some of the more flexible masks tend to do.
Paintball Gloves – Coverage For Your Hands
Like the mask, paintball gloves too have evolved from hard shelled biker style gloves, to full fingered protection. Those that have been shot in the hand undeniably understand why gloves are necessary. The hand doesn’t have as much tissue as other parts of the body, which means tendons, joints, and bare bone are all left to absorb the impact. Not only can your hand get seriously bruised from a direct shot, it can also get quite cut up from fragments of the paintball shell.
For the performance minded player, gloves can come entirely fingerless or fingerless only on the middle and pointer fingers. They offer this because many players feel having their trigger fingers covered slows down their rate of fire, which a stiff glove seemingly can do.
Valken, a new leader in paintball, has become well known for creating and selling high-quality paintball products. For superior performance, I’d look no further than the products they offer, especially their 2 finger gloves they are currently selling. This glove has one hole for both your index and middle finger, allowing them to move about freely and let you easily strum away on your marker’s trigger. They only cost 27 bucks, which is a decent price for the quality and style Valken offers.
On the other hand, a highly protective glove will offer superior coverage, and supply quality padding on the backside of the hand, from the tips of the fingers to the wrist. The best ones for protection have a hard shell on the outside. If you take a shot to hand with one of these, you won’t feel a thing. The price isn’t that bad too. These gloves offer superior protection and affordability, and can be yours for around $17.
Coverage For Your Neck – Paintball Neck Protectors
The neck is filled with soft tissue, nerves, glands, and the ever important larynx, all this makes for one of the weirdest feeling areas to get shot in. If you have ever been fortunate enough to get blasted in the throat you know what I mean. It is in the least sense uncomfortable. Not only do you feel like your throat could close (which realistically can happen), you get the pleasure of hosting a nice ring that resembles that of ringworm. Awesome.
The JT Cool Max neck protector is about as simple as a neck protector can get. It has a velcro strap so you can easily take it off and put it on. With holes for breath-ability, you’ll be cooler than you would be with an all-neoprene neck protector. Simple and cheap. What more could you ask for?
Sometimes you can get the best of both worlds. This neck protector, along with the above one, happens to be pretty darn breathable. Because of its innovative design, it also offers great protection. In fact, If you have the money, I’d grab this one before any of the others. However, if $25 bucks for a cool and safe neck isn’t worth it, the opt for a simple protector like the above one.
Coverage For Your Chest – Paintball Chest Protectors
The chest tends to be one of the most common places to take a hit to, as it represents a large section of the human body (go figure!). Protection for this area comes in a couple forms. It used to be that chest protectors only protected your… chest. Today’s version is more vest-like, and offers coverage of the back and sides. You can find them integrated into one entire shirt/unit, or as a vest. I personally would only recommend the ones that are integrated into a shirt. The vests are uncomfortable and tend to slide up around the neck. This is based on my own personal experience.
Empire makes great apparel for paintball. Among their excellent line of products, lies the Ground Pounder chest protector. It has sold pretty well because of the price, which is even lower now because it has been out for a while. You can get it for $20, making it cheaper than the Dye neck protector you saw above! The padding isn’t the thickest, but that’s because this vest was made to endure long day’s of hot summer paintball.
This is one of the thickest protective shirt vests available, and can be worn underneath a regular shirt or jersey. BT released this vest a couple years ago, and it has been received pretty well among the recreational paintball community. It gives them everything they are looking for — complete protection of the chest, back, shoulders and sides.
Coverage For Arms – Paintball Arm Pads
Also known as elbow pads, these arm sleeves offer protection for both the elbow and forearm. I can’t even count how many times I’ve take a bounce off of my arm pads. They have been responsible for keeping me in the game longer, and protecting my elbows while crawling. If you are a competitive player, you shouldn’t be without these pads. For one, as you get better, you reveal less of your profile as you snap shoot. Your arms/elbow become one of the more prevalent targets as they can catch a hit on your way back into the bunker after snapping. Because of this reason, you should invest in a soft set of arm pads. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Planet eclipse makes a highly breathable elbow pad. They are soft and fit the arm nicely — lose enough to get some air in, yet they don’t move because of the added thumb hook (a nice addition I must say). I have a friend who owns a pair of these, so I got to try them on. They are superb. Much more breathable than the ones I own.
If you are looking for a thicker padded one, then take a look at the Proto Defender. The padding on these suckers are thick. In fact, these are the ones I use. I can honestly say they offer superior protection and bounce-ability. I’ve beaten these things to a pulp. From crawling over jagged rocks and gravel, to taking multiple shots to the forearm. The best thing is, I can’t remember one instance where a paintball actually broke on my arm pads. From what I remember most hits bounced.
Coverage For Your Thighs & Special Parts – Paintball Slider Shorts
Not too long ago I took a shot to the corn-hole. Needless to say I felt violated, it was almost as if I had experienced a form of rape. You however, don’t need to go through that, in fact, I hope you never experience it. One way you can void yourself of this experience is to grab a pair of padded slider shorts, preferably one that protects the back of legs and your crown jewels.
This sliding short is specially formulated to be flexible and breathable, yet still offer enough protection where needed. Dye has been known to make quality products at a premium price. In short, you get what you pay for.
Another great option is these sliding shorts made by Empire. They happen to have thicker padding than others, but also retain a good amount of flexibility. They also are pretty affordable.
Coverage For Your Legs/Knees – Paintball Knee & Shin Pads
Players that tend to move a lot, and take all kinds of positions while playing paintball, will find that it doesn’t take much to get banged up knees. This is especially the case if you are playing outside on rough terrain. I invested in a pair because I often find myself shooting in the prone position on all kinds of terrain. I also tend to rest on my knees and shins alone. Doing that on a rocky surface isn’t the most comfortable thing. In fact, just ask a friend of mine. During Oklahoma D-Day he tried to slide on the hellish Oklahoma terrain, and ended up bruising a ligament in his knee, which put him through some pain for the rest of the week. Much like a neck protector, knee pads are just one of those things you don’t consider getting until you’ve had one of those experiences.
Some players will only need straight up protection for their knees. I can understand this, as my knee and shin protectors do get pretty hot in the summer. Valken makes a quality knee protector for players that just want to comfortably kneel and cushion their knees.
Other players (including me), don’t mind the heat, and want padding that covers the shins as well as the knees. Getting a set of pads that offer this is a must if you crawl, kneel or sit on your heels a lot while playing. I tend to do all of that, so my legs took a massive beating before I invested in a pair of knee and shin pads.
Total Body Protection For Every Paintball Player
Paintball players have a unique ability to customize their paintball experience to whatever they wish. No other sport offers that to the level of which our great sport does. Guns, masks, tanks, hoppers, and other gear have accessories upon accessories available for players to chose from. Among the slew of products available to this hungry crowd is protective apparel. Giving you the player the ability to achieve a level of comfortably that best suits you.