Often overlooked on paintball forums in favour of markers and pyrotechnics (probably as they’re way cooler and a mask is essentially purely a safety measure), a good paintball mask is probably the best investment anyone serious about paintball can make. Not only will it protect your vitals (not those vitals though) but a well-fitting mask will undoubtedly let you aim better than an ill-fitting one.
When it comes to shielding your eyes from paint coming at you at 300-feet per second, you don’t really want to economise, so a good mask really is essential. They are designed specifically to absorb the shock of the hit and disperse its impact throughout the full breadth of the mask – meaning when you get shot in the head, a good mask will make the impact feel far less than it actually was.
They can be made from rubber, foam or hard plastic but, usually, they are a composite of all three. If you buy a paintball mask that doesn’t come with goggles (I.e. you have to supply your own), always make sure you supplement it with paintball goggles, nothing else. Don’t be tempted to use it without appropriate eye protection and never just stick on a pair of ski goggles either – as the glass in these isn’t designed to withstand a direct paintball hit.
So here’s what to look for:
1. Find one with an anti-fog lens. In the heat of the game masks and goggles steam up easily, so get one which can counter this problem, so you’re never tempted to remove your mask mid-game.
2. Try on a few different types and assess their foam content. The foam is what will dictate the comfort, so find out how much you actually need – maybe you have a massive head and have just never noticed before?
3. Don’t be swayed too much by style. Often you’ll see one mask next to another. They both are the same weight, with the same safety specs and the same amount of foam, but one of them is double the price. This is usually down to style. Buy it if you want (might earn you some cool points in the field) but there’s no harm in starting with a cheap but effective mask.
Highly recommended is the V-Force Shield Paintball Mask. Not only is it a great price for any level of player, but it fits over glasses, has a removable visor, incorporates a distortion-free lens which has a huge field of vision and, to top it all, is very comfortable indeed.