How To Find The Right Paintball Mask

Purchasing a new paintball mask is of the utmost importance. Why? Because without a good one you risk not being able to see your surroundings, and as such, you will suffer the consequences. Most people underestimate the goggle system. People will usually settle for a $10 to $20 mask, and then buy themselves a $500-1000 marker - but what's a wicked marker without being able to see? Your mask is probably one of the most important tools in your paintball inventory. In my opinion, players really do need to consider this more. I've been playing paintball for 3 years now, and I see a lot of my friends and teammates using their original paintball masks (that were usually $10-20), complaining about fogging problems... and I can only shake my head.

The objective here is not for you to spend your life-savings on a really expensive mask. It's to get a mask that suits you; one that is comfortable on your face, and one you feel doesn't limit your vision. If you're happy at the moment with your original mask, then keep it. A cheap mask will still protect your eyes, and that's all that truly matters. But if you want the best line of sight for your target, you may want an upgrade.

Now, there are certain things you'll want to look for in a new goggle system. Whether you're a veteran or a new player, this article is designed to help you figure out what you're looking for. If you do decide you need a new mask, there are three things (that I like to call the 3 F's that you should look for:

  • Fogging
  • Fit
  • Field Of View

Fogging - Your Worst Enemy

You're bunkered down. It's last man standing. Six players are approaching your position using fire suppression tactics to keep your head down. It's a cold day and your mask is starting to fog. You can't see... BANG! You're eliminated. If you're a paintball player this has probably happened to you, and it really sucks! There's nothing more frustrating to me when my paintball mask fogs up.

Fogging generally occurs when the temperature around you rises or drops. This effect is magnified by your breathing. Hence, having great ventilation on your mask is a must. Because of this problem, many players these days are more educated in choosing their goggle systems, and the technology has improved to reflect this demand.

One of the latest technologies available are thermal lenses. Thermal lenses are great because they are double paned. This means that the middle of the panes acts as a barrier to condensation - reducing fogging issues. In comparison, traditional single paned lenses are more prone to fogging. There are also little contraptions called anti fog machines which are small battery powered fans that minimize fogging in your mask. You can also look at buying anti fog spray, I personally haven't used it, but have heard good things about it. Fogging is very annoying and will hinder your gaming experience, so make sure you consider this when you pick out your mask. After all, you can't hit what you can't see!

So, what do you need to remember about fogging?
  • Ventilation
  • Thermal Lenses
  • Mask Fan (Anti Fog Machine)
  • Anti Fog Spray

Fit - Keep it Light and Comfy

Finding a perfect fit is obviously the most important factor in determining the type of mask you will have, because if you're not comfortable then you can't stay focused. So first things first, try on different masks.

Sometimes the local paintball shops will let you take a mask out of the packaging to try it on. Unfortunately, some paintball shops won't allow you to do this, so another way to find a good fit is at your local paintball field. Yeah, that's right, ask all of your buddies at the field to try on their masks. See how they fit and how comfortable they are. Are they lightweight? What's even better, is if you like your buddies mask, ask him/her if you can use it in the next game. Most people wouldn't mind switching for just one game. Plus, it'll give them an excuse to complain if they get eliminated that round!

This is really the best way to experience the 3 F's for yourself (Fit, Fogging, and Field of view).

Certain problems will arise if you have prescription glasses however, so make sure to choose a mask that will fit over your glasses. Also, your glasses will probably fog, so you might want to invest in a mask fan (anti-fog technology) as mentioned previously.

So to recap, what are the most important factors when looking into the fit of your mask?
  • Comfort
  • Lightweight
  • Experience the 3 F's for yourself, and try on a number of different masks

Field Of View - Be The Hunter, Not The Hunted

Chances are, at some point you have found yourself in a position on the field, either behind a tree or an inflatable bunker, and have gotten shot by a player hiding in your blind spot. This type of situation is where your field of view matters most. Field of view refers to how much you can see all around you - essentially this is your peripheral vision. The quality of your game can dramatically increase if your field of view is wider. Many of the newer paintball masks on the market have a very wide lens, enabling you to see more of the battlefield. If you find yourself getting flanked all the time (and consider yourself a decent player), your field of view is most likely constricted. This type of issue can be easily solved with a new quality mask that has a wider lens. With a mask that lets you see side to side, you don't have to keep turning your head, and in the process lose sight of the targets in front of you.

In summary, field of view is very important when you're looking for a new goggle system. After all: "Better sight makes for a better fight!"

So, remember these field of view tips when considering a new paintball mask:
  • Peripheral Vision
  • Line of Sight
  • Wider Lens
Alright, soldier, that about sums it up for the most important things to look at when buying a new mask. Next time you are ready to grab that new mask, don't forget the 3 F's!

Now get out there and man the frontline soldier!!

About The Author

Niko Brain is a freelance writer and offers sound advice on the sport of Paintball. He runs his own personal paintball site and enjoys writing reviews on Paintball Guns and Paintball Gear. He's your "average Joe" paintball player and is an up and coming industry resource that loves to help newcomers to the sport.




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