What to Wear for Paintball – Definitive Guide to Best Paintball Gear

If you are new to paintball you may be asking yourself, “What to wear paintballing?” The answer depends on a few factors.

First, how much are you willing to invest in gear, and second, where you are playing, speedball or woodsball.

Usually indoor play involves wearing some type of armor, because the shots are close range. But Outdoor play, which is more popular in North America, demands its own unique attire and the best paintball gear for outdoor or woodsball play will be different.

This guide will outline the basics of what to wear to play paintball in an outdoor field or woodsball play.

outdoor paintball

What NOT to wear paintballing

First before we discuss what to wear for paintball, a quick discussion on what NOT to wear is in order. Do not wear shorts or short sleeve shirts. Being hit with a paintball on bare skin hurts, sometimes badly. Cover arms and legs with long sleeves and long pants.

Second, in case it is not obvious, paintball is messy. Besides being hit with flying capsules of paint which explode on contact, there are things outdoors that can ruin or stain clothing and gear. You may need to trudge through mud, traipse up a river, crawl in grass, slide across gravel….you get the idea.

Do not wear any clothes you don’t want ruined. You WILL stain, tear, wear-out and otherwise destroy the clothes you are wearing if you play often enough.

One more important consideration-Heat

Yes, getting hit with a paintball can hurt. It’s a part of the game. But some newcomers make the mistake of layering, doubling up and over-protecting. This not only limits movement and reaction time, but it can cause overheating.

Getting too hot can lead to heatstroke, and this sucks way worse than getting hit with a paintball. Also, if you get hot and need to remove layers, you risk getting shot while removing your clothing. That’s a bummer. Don’t over-layer.

The best paintball gear is simple and unobtrusive.

Your focus should be on the game, if your gear distracts you and you find yourself focusing on that, it’s time to re-consider your gear.

Paintball/tactical Pants

When engaging in paintball combat, sturdy pants are necessary. An old pair of heavy denim jeans, cargo pants, or tactical camouflage pants are good options.

If you plan to get into the sport and play often it might be a good idea to invest in a pair of tactical pants like Propper Men’s Lightweight Tactical Pant which are engineered with a DuPont Teflon coating to resist stains, rip-stop fabric to withstand tear and wear, and several strategically placed pockets to hold gear and other personal effects.

Paintball Shirt/ Top

Always wear a long sleeve top while playing paintball. A lightweight athletic shirt, or shirt made from heavy cotton are good choices. You can also layer with a hoodie if the weather is cold. A hoodie is an ideal layer because it is so easy to remove once you get hot.

Look for a shirt with a turtleneck or mock turtleneck to give your neck some protection. If you want to invest in a shirt, Rothco Mock Turtleneck makes a decent mock turtleneck in heavy cotton at a reasonable price.

If you want a little more protection the Empire Paintball Prevail F5 Jersey is lightly padded at the shoulders, arms and chest. It has breathable mesh sides to keep you cool while playing.

Cap or Hat for Paintball

Wear a baseball cap, worn backwards when playing paintball. A baseball cap generally works with any mask and will protect your head and forehead.

If you have a cap with a closed back, that’s even better. The cap of the hat will work to protect the back of your neck too. You can also wear a beanie or knitted cap, just be aware that you can easily get too hot playing.

Although a cap or beanie is sufficient, especially to start with, a Dye Precision Head Wrap will help keep sweat off your face and prevent your mask from fogging up during extended play.

Just remember, especially if this is your first time playing, a lot of special gear is NOT necessary. Play for a while first to make sure the sport is for you. Getting some experience will also clue you in on the extra or specialized gear you may need and give you a good idea of what to wear for paintball.

Paintball mask

paintball mask

A paintball mask is a mandatory piece of equipment for any player at any level. Some fields rent the mask, but you may be more comfortable with your own.

This is top tactical gear and the most important piece of equipment when engaging in paintball combat, arguably more important than your gun, because you mask protects your eyes, which are not replaceable.

You need a mask that fits well and is comfortable to play in for long periods of time. You need a mask you will not be tempted to push up to the top of your head if they fog up or get uncomfortable, because when you do that, you leave your eyes vulnerable.

The mask, more than any other piece of gear, is the place where you want to invest the time and financial resources to get the most comfortable, best performing one you can.

The rental goggles will protect you, but they are not the most comfortable. Rental goggles are usually made with rubber gaskets, which are uncomfortable, and single pane goggles, which fog up easily.

Look for a high quality mask that has these features:

  • Wide angle pane for supreme peripheral vision
  • If you wear glasses, look for a paintball mask that can accommodate them.
  • Anti fog lenses
  • Comfortable and form fitting soft foam, at least ¾” thick, not rubber, gaskets.

Invert Helix Thermal Paintball Goggles Mask makes a good mask at a decent price, and the V-Force Grill Paintball Mask/Goggles works well for folks who wear glasses.

Read our guide How to find the perfect paintball mask and TOP masks HERE.

Paintball gear bag

If this is your first time playing paintball and you plan to rent your gear and marker, you won’t need a gear bag. If you play a few times and decide to dive into the sport and play more often, that’s when you want to consider a gear bag. If you play a lot, investing in your own gear will make you a better player and save you money from rental fees.

A good gear bag should hold your marker, tank, mask, hopper, paintballs, snacks and other accessories.

You first consideration when choosing a gear bag is the size and length of your paintball marker, and if the barrel is removable. You need a gear bag that is long enough to fit.

Planet Eclipse Paintball HoldAll Gear Bag is a popular gear bag according to tactical gear reviews. It is short, at only a little longer than 25 inches, and 11” by 11” width and height but it should fit a smaller gun with a removable barrel, plus your other gear, provided it is also compact. This bag has several wet/dry compartments to store soiled clothes and snacks and extra paintballs too.

UTG Ranger Field Bag is a lot longer and larger bag, at 36” long and 17” by 13” width and height. This should fit all your gear no problem, including clothes and tools. It has sturdy zippers, and straps. The straps convert to backpack style. There are no compartments in this bag, but it does have side pockets.

Tactical backpack

A tactical backpack serves the same purpose as a gear bag, with the benefit of wearing it, instead of lugging it around. Again, if you are new and renting gear, you won’t need one. But if you plan to play often you might want a gear bag or tactical backpack.

Look for a backpack that has

  • Enough space for your paintball gun, plus a padded compartment to protect your marker
  • Padding on the backside, shoulder straps and waist for comfort
  • Easy access outside pockets to access extra paintballs easily

The Gen-X Global GXG Tactical Backpack with Integrated Gun Case G-134 is a tactical backpack that has all the above features. It will fit a gun up to 37 inches, and has several side pockets to fit all your extras.

Tactical gloves

Paintball tactical gloves are practically mandatory, but NOT thick gloves. Remember, you will be handling a paintball marker, and pulling the trigger with thick bulky gloves will be challenging and make you less accurate. Being able to manage the paintball gun is your first priority when deciding which gloves to use.

Knuckle shots HURT, which is why gloves are so important. Plus, since you use your hands to shoot the gun, your hands are exposed a lot during play, so they are more likely than other areas to get hit.

If you are renting gear, gloves should be included, but if you don’t want to wear gloves that several other players have sweated in all day, you may want your own pair.

What to look for in gloves:

  • Not too thick, you need to be able to move fingers easily and shoot your paintball gun.
  • Grippy surface on the palm, so you don’t drop your marker
  • Some padding on top to protect your knuckles. Many multipurpose gloves do not have this extra padding, but it really helps reduce painful hits, so if you plan to keep playing these are a good investment.
  • Full finger protection to protect all on the hand surface.

HK Army Paintball 2014 Pro Gloves make a great glove specifically designed for paintball. It has a bit of padding on the top, grippy silicone screen-print on the palms, full finger coverage, plus the index and middle finger are exposed, allowing you to shoot with ease.

Footwear

You will need a sturdy shoe that supports your ankle and is appropriate for uneven terrain. You also want a shoe that you can use in the mud and dirt, and don’t mind if paint lands on them.

Sturdy work boots, Combat boots, steel toe shoes, hiking boots, cleats, or a pair of athletic shoes with good traction may be good choices. They must be comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

Traction is very important and playing outside you are likely to encounter dirt, gravel, grass, or even carpet covered concrete. You do not want to slip while running and be a sitting target.

If the field is urban, or has a lot of straight concrete or large boulders, cleats are a bad idea. Use a shoe meant for running outdoors or on trails. Something with a rough treads pattern and plenty of traction.

Combat/hiking boots with high tops offer good ankle protection. A sprained ankle can ruin your day and put you out of the game completely. However, since these type of shoes are heavy, you sacrifice performance and speed.

Use shoes that have already been worn in, especially if you plan to play for several hours. If you use new shoes to play, you risk blisters and pain because the shoes are not worn in and poor fitting shoes can ruin a paintball outing.

Special Protection- Guys, wear a Cup

Tip for Men: A cup is absolutely mandatory for guys.

Get yourself an athletic supporter (link to Amazon.com) and cup (link to Amazon.com) to protect yourself during play. If you think a paintball to the knuckles hurts, ask someone who was not wearing a cup how it felt to be shot down there.

Other considerations

Bring a change of clothes and a plastic bag to keep the car clean. You will be getting dirty, covered in paint and whatnot. The paint is designed to be washable, but that does not mean you want to be washing it off the interior of your car, so pack a change of clothes.

Bring some snacks and plenty of water. Many fields sell these items, but it’s handy to have your own.

Bring cash and bring more than you think you need. Many fields do not accept credit cards and you never know when you might want a snack or more paintballs.

We hope our guide helps you decide what to wear for paintball and has given you an idea of what to look for when buying top tactical gear.

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