Safety is of the utmost importance, no matter what sort of sports you play. If you ride motorcycles or skateboard, you have to wear helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads. This equipment can literally save your life.
If you intend on playing paintball with your friends, you need a mask, often called a paintball goggle. In the early days of the sport, people simply played using ski or shop goggles.
However, doing this is not safe, so eventually, paintball masks were invented. Each mask must pass the stringent standards of the ASTM.
Here’s the thing.
There are many different paintball masks that come with different kinds of lenses, covers, and styles, and you’ll need to make an informed decision about what’s right for you.
That is why I’m here. By the time you finish this article, you will know how to pick the proper paintball mask for any scenario.
However, if you’re still not sure where to go from here, we will review the best masks on the market.
Comparison of the Best Paintball Masks
|GXG XVSN Paintball||Empire Paintball X-ray||Invert Helix Thermal|
Though all paintball masks are different, there are a few components that all of them share.
All paintball masks feature lenses made of Lexan or other polycarbonate materials. This construction ensures that they won’t shatter.
The lens fits securely inside the goggle frame. The tight fit protects your eyes from impacts and paint spray.
Different mask models have different lens types. The lenses can either be flat and curved or a bubble.
The different shapes offer different amounts of peripheral vision, fit and clarity, and most are coated with an anti-scratch, anti-glare substance.
Single-pane and Dual-pane
Single-pane lenses are a one-piece design. They feature an anti-fog coating cured directly onto the glass. The up-side to this type of lens is that they are super easy to clean. However, there is a downside. These lenses are not good at remaining fog-free. If you wear glasses, you know how annoying lens-fog can be.
Dual-pane lenses, often called thermal lenses, feature a thick outer lens and a softer, thinner inner lens. The two lenses are glued together, with an air-tight gasket between them.
These lenses are the best at resisting fogging. However, they are much more maintenance. You must use a microfiber cloth in order to prevent scratching of the inner lens.
Also, it is not wise to dunk these lenses in water to clean them. Water will get behind the outer lens, fogging the goggles permanently and rendering your goggles useless.
The next important piece of your paintball goggles is the frame. In some models, the frame and the mask are one piece. In others, they are not.
Some goggle frames feature quick-release lens systems. These are more convenient, seeing as you can remove the lenses to clean them. However, these are more complex, so the cost increases.
When picking a paintball goggle, you want to make sure the foam inside the frame creates a good seal with your face.
The reason for this is simple. If the seal is not good enough, your breath will flow up under your goggle and fog the lenses.
Cost is a factor here, too. Lower-end masks feature more rigid foam that is not as supportive while the high-end versions feature softer, more comfortable foam.
Some even feature two layers, a firm supportive foam core and a softer outer foam that absorbs sweat better, so you stay cooler.
Paintball Protective Mask
The mask portion of your paintball goggle is what will protect your face from impact. There’s no such thing as a perfect mask, so you’ll need to consider a few factors before choosing.
Level of Play
At what level do you play paintball? Beginner paintball masks tend to cover the forehead and chin and to have bigger ear sections to cover the ears and jawline.
However, this protection comes at the cost of increased weight.
High-end paintball masks are much more streamlined, as tournament players are trying to reduce as much of their target profile as possible. For this reason, they can leave the forehead and chin visible on players with larger heads or wider faces.
What’s It Made Of?
Recreational paintball masks tend to be made out of rigid or semi-rigid plastic. They will absorb the impact of a hit, but they won’t flex at all.
This means that if you bump into something on the field with your head, it’s going to be really jarring.
High-end paintball masks are made of something more pliable. It can cause a paintball to bounce rather than break.
However, it will flex with a close-range impact, giving you all the discomfort of a hit to the face.
That’s considered a good trade-off by most players who would rather a bounce that lets them stay in the game than a break which would knock them out.
There are mid-range masks, however. These tend to be really popular, especially with milsim players who use shoulder stocks because the jaw line of the mask conforms to the face as you aim.
These masks feature a semi-rigid upper portion and a softer lower portion. They flex, giving the paintball a chance to bounce, but the rigid upper portion absorbs the impact of a direct, close-range hit.
Ear Coverage and Ventilation
Consider the type of ear coverage your mask has. Soft ear pieces are more comfortable and streamlined. However, they don’t do much to absorb the impact of a close-range shot.
Hard ear pieces, on the other hand, can be difficult to hear through, as well as presenting a target that paintballs won’t bounce off of. However, they do absorb all the impact energy of a shot.
It’s also a good idea to check the ventilation holes. The more holes a mask has, the easier it is to breathe and project your voice.
However, that comes with the downside that you’ll wind up eating more paint and shell when you get shot in the mouth area.
A lot of people overlook their goggle straps when choosing a mask. However, this is a really important factor to consider.
Low-end masks will need to be adjusted throughout the day as they slide loose.
Higher-end masks often have several beads of silicon along the inside of the strap. This allows the strap adjustment to stay in place all day. If you are buying a tournament mask, it may also include a tooth clamp to hold things in place.
If you are buying a tournament mask, it may also include a toothed clamp to hold things in place.
Full-Head Paintball Mask
There are two types of paintball mask on the market. Till now we have been covering the kind which only covers a player’s face. The other type is a mask which covers your entire head.
The best of these masks are made from a slightly flexible material. That way, they will absorb impacts but still conform to your head shape.
These masks are quite hot. For this reason, thermal lenses are recommended for this type of mask.
Though we have listed the main concerns when buying a paintball mask, there are still some more pointers that need to be shared.
Try On The Mask
If possible, try on the mask before you buy it. Make sure that you can see out the corner of your eye. This test can save you from a sneak attack. It’s also important to make sure you can see through your gun site with the mask on.
Finally, if you have glasses, make sure your mask fits over your glasses. However, be prepared that either your mask lenses or your glasses are going to fog. It might be worth investing in a mask fan.
While you have your mask on, rub your forefinger and thumb together next to the ear flap. If you can’t hear anything, then keep looking. You don’t need a mask that blocks the sound of an enemy approach.
Wear a Visor
A good visor will keep the sun out of your eyes. It will also keep paint from dripping into your mask. Wearing a backwards-turned ball cap under your mask can also help with this.
Check Your Fit
The fit is another reason to try on your paintball mask before you buy it. Even if you have the best mask on the market, if it doesn’t fit your face it’s nothing more than a piece of junk.
Look for a mask with a lot of padding around the lens area and a wide, adjustable strap. If you plan on wearing anything on your head, make sure that it fits under your mask well.
Best Paintball Masks Reviewed
Paintball masks can be very expensive, depending on what features you want. However, they don’t have to be. Now that you know what sorts of masks are available, and what features you might like, you can make an informed choice.
To help you with that choice, I offer some reviews of the best paintball masks on the market today. These are good for beginners to the hobby, allowing them a great first experience at an excellent price.
If you are looking for a good beginner paintball goggle system, this is a great one.
The mask is particularly well-vented. This means that the lenses are far less likely to fog.
One size fits all for this mask. That means both you and any children you have can wear it. However, since it is one size fits all, it is possible that those of you with larger heads might find this mask does not fit or is uncomfortable. However, if you wear glasses, the mask is likely to fit well over them.
Since this is a cheaper mask, it does not have the best padding. However, for what it is, the padding is good. This is a mask that will serve you well until you become a more advanced player. It is also great for occasional players.
The X-ray Paintball Goggle system comes with everything a beginning paintball enthusiast will need to get right out on the field, including a visor.
The foam in this mask is hypoallergenic. You won’t have to worry about itchy, watery eyes while playing or your sneezes giving you away.
The mask covers your face and ears. It does not cover your entire head, but that simply means you can feel free to wear a baseball cap or the included visor over it.
The mask breathes well and does not have fog problems, so you can use this one in any weather.
One size fits most. However, if you wear glasses, you will have to trim the foam just a little or the mask will be a little tighter than it should be.
Last but not definitely not least on our list is the Invert Helix Thermal Paintball Goggles. One of the most important features on these goggles is the anti-fog lens, which will allow you to have clear 270-degree visibility.
If you wear glasses, you won’t have to worry about taking them off since this mask allows your glasses to fit snugly.
Another neat thing about this mask is the fact that it comes with both the visor and the brow shield, so you don’t have to but them separately.
A good paintball mask can cost you an arm and a leg. but it doesn’t have to. In fact, finding good masks at a great price is easy if you know what you’re looking for.
Now that you have read this article, you have all the information you need to choose the perfect paintball mask for you. Happy gunning!