All the best sports require ‘gear’: fact. Any sport where you can just show up without having to tinker or double-check some piece of crucial equipment isn’t worth your time, and should probably best be considered little more than an ‘active hobby’. Running, for example.
Thankfully, paintball takes loads of gear and better still, the real enthusiasts can pretty much just keep on adding more cool stuff to their gear cupboard for as long they want; as there are dozens of great paintball brands out there. However, an important point is to make sure that you not only remember to bring everything you need to a game, but everything is also in good condition and battle-ready. You wouldn’t catch a hot air balloonist or parachute jumper taking off without double-checking their gear first, so apply that sort of diligence to checking yours too.
So, we all know that you need a marker, old clothes and safety gear, but what else should be packed into your paintball gear bag before a day’s game play?
1. Paintball Mask
Yes it falls under ‘safety gear’ but it’s definitely worth reiterating this, as the mask should be considered the single most important piece of paintball kit you’ll ever own. You shouldn’t ever play without it, so there it should be the first thing thrown in the holdall.
2. A barrel cover or sleeve
Getting a little techy with this, but consider buying a simple barrel sleeve. Increasingly more and more paintball venues are asking players to bring their own guard as a safety requirement on site. Often markers come with a simple barrel plug (like most older Spyders) but a barrel sleeve is the safest option for whenever your marker is not in use.
Luckily, most markers come with all the tools (or often just ‘tool’) that you need to completely maintain them. Make sure this is chucked in with your gear, as there’s nothing worse than getting to a site only to discover that there’s a slight niggle with your marker that could easily be fixed with the right size of allen key. Likewise, if there are any parts of your marker that routinely break or wear down, always carry a spare: like an O-ring for example. Likewise, it’s probably smart to bring a light marker oil too, or even just some WD40 in case anything needs loosened up a notch.
An awful lot of markers need a battery in them before they’ll fire, so always make sure you have some spares. Any electronic firing mechanism or feeder system will always require a battery, so it might be smart to check what sort your marker uses and then stock up on rechargeable ones with a charger (always bring the charger too, just in case).
5. Spare compressed air or CO2
Carrying a spare tank of compressed air or CO2 can be bulky, but the only other option is to phone the venue or site ahead of play to see if they definitely have a supply on site that you could use to top yours up if need be. If not, then bring a spare; as nothing’s more frustrating that running out of juice just when you’re nice and warmed up!
6. Food, juice & a towel
After a morning or afternoon playing paintball you’ll not only be hungry, but probably thirsty too – so pack a little lunch box and a couple of tins of juice. If you’re playing outside of the summer months, best throw in a flask of hot tea or soup too, just the thing for afterwards. You’ll inevitably be muddy or sweaty, or both, so add a towel and a change of clothes if possible.
Apart from these, just remember to double-check you have all the safety gear you need (goggles, mask, gloves, knee pads if necessary) and there’s no harm in always carrying a small first-aid kit, just in case anyone needs a cut or graze electroplated on-site.