Sorry about the pun, I generally try to avoid them on here but sometimes I can’t help myself. I mention quite a lot of paintball gear on this blog but something that we’ve not covered so far is the humble paintball vest. Some of you will probably play paintball for years and never once see a player wear a paintball vest, some of you on the other hand wouldn’t even consider stepping into a field of play without one. So what is it about this seemingly straightforward bit of kit that divides players so much? Let’s find out.
First of all, a paintball vest is essentially a strategically padded utility vest. The unfortunate truth is that, in design and practice, your average paintball vest isn’t too dissimilar to your average fishing vest, in that it is a comfortable vest designed to give you all the manoeuvrability you need whilst also allowing you to carry gear easily. However, choose the right paintball vest and you could see a big improvement in your game. Here’s how. They first became popular during the early games of woodsball, before scenario paintball really took off. These games would often last for hours, with the emphasis often on catching or tagging just one guy, over acres and acres of terrain. As this took some time, players would often need not only water, but also spare paintball supplies too; so they took to wearing standard outdoor ‘woodsman’ vests. After a while someone made the suggestion they should perhaps opt for a camouflaged version, and gradually more changes were made until a dedicated paintball vest evolved.
Consider your style of playing. If you’re routinely the sniper guy, perhaps pitched in a bunker towards the back of play, then a paintball vest probably isn’t for you. But if you are remotely trigger happy, or just love splintering off from the pack and taking matters into your own hands, then certainly consider the benefits. Not only can you easily carry everything you need (keeping your hands free to handle your marker), but you can also carry a few surprises too. Being able to take essential pieces of paintballing equipment like smoke grenades and paint bombs allows you the freedom to change tactics whenever you like, so your opponents won’t be able to pre-empt your next move quite so easily. Also, many paintball vest have a built in rubber reservoir sewn into the back with a simple rubber tube and bite threaded through, so you can stay hydrated whilst everyone else starts to flag under the heat.
Apart from the ability to carry more equipment and pyrotechnics with you, a paintball vest also offers you the obvious advantage of increased padding. Depending on what level or style of paintball you play, this alone could make a purchase well worth its asking price, as getting tagged routinely can start to ache; especially on boney parts of the anatomy – like the ribs. A small addition but one which most users are thankful for is a shoulder clip. This is usually no more than a small metal clip attached to either the left or right shoulder (depending on what hand you use to fire), which allows you to attach your marker to it whilst in action. With this, you can completely let go of your marker and it will stay at roughly the same height, so no more putting it on the ground to launch that grenade, or dropping it or worrying about landing on it after a particularly daring dive behind a bunker. Some vests even come with a worrying ‘drag handle’, to emphasise the ‘no man gets left behind’ mentality!
Next time you’re near a paintball store, at least try one on – it might just be your thing.