- Paintball mask/goggles to cover your full face
- Baseball cap, sandana or scarf for hair and head protection
- Long Pants – blue jeans or cargo pants
- Long sleeve t-shirts with a sweatshirt or Jersey over
- Running shoes, hiking boots or cleats depending on the playing surface
- Gloves – fingerless for trigger control
- Layers for more protection
The answers for what to wear to paintball vary depending upon where you are going to be playing. Let’s first look at playing at our indoor GatSplat facilities. Playing paintball on our paintball field is a little different than an outdoor park. Since we offer an indoor and air-conditioned field to play on, the attire is a little different than an outdoor park.
What to wear for Face and Head Protection
Let’s start with protecting the head and face and work our way down. Masks, also called goggles or helmets, are designed to cover your entire face from ear-to-ear and chin-to-forehead. Masks use a polycarbonate lens that is rated to stop a paintball and must follow ASTM standards for eye protection.
While most masks just cover from the face back to the ears, there are masks that cover the entire head. These are not very common and realistically you should not get hit in the top of the head very often. People are normally not above you shooting down at you, so the only way you normally get hit on the top of the head is if you look down as a paintball is coming toward you.
While there is a little sting if shot in the top of the head, most players just want to keep the paint out of their hair.
If a player is worried about covering their entire head, they normally simply wear a baseball cap backwards. This keeps the bill of the cap away from the mask and gives a layer of protection for the top of the head. Another option that is very popular, especially with the tournament style paintball players, is a sandana.
A sandana is a headband that also has some netting attached. Tying, or velcro attachments, make for a padded headband with the netting covering the top of your head as seen in the picture. These are available in most online paintball shops. Our friends at Fun On the Run paintball park also carry them in their pro shop in Forth Worth.
What to wear for upper body protection
Different size paintballs hit with different amounts of energy. At GatSplat, we are exclusively a low impact, .50 caliber facility. A .50 caliber paintball has one third the mass of a normal paintball and doesn’t have as much sting, so you really don’t need to pad up as much as you do with standard .68 caliber paintballs. It is still a good idea to have full-length coverage, as a shot to bare skin does sting more than if it hits clothing.
We have many customers that wear long sleeve t-shirts when playing. Since a lot of our business is birthday parties, many of our customers are younger. With younger or more pain-sensitive players, they may want to layer a long sleeve shirt with a sweatshirt or hoodie on top of the t-shirt.
After a player has experienced a few hits, they can decide if they need the extra protection, or want to peel off a layer. As our Fort Worth paintball field and both Dallas paintball fields are air-conditioned, you can wear sweatshirts even in August.
If playing at an outdoor field, you want to watch out for overheating, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, so a sweatshirt would not be ideal in the summer. There are jerseys you can purchase that have a little padding, but also have breathable panels to let air through so you get some padding plus airflow.
What to wear for lower body protection
Long pants should be worn, either indoors or out. Not only from the standpoint of getting hit with a paintball, much like above, a layer of clothing is important, but also we want to protect ourselves from the environment.
If playing outside, you might be walking through brush, and you could easily scratch up your legs, get insect bites, tics, etc. Wear clothes that will protect you from what you may encounter at an outdoor field. Our indoor fields are covered with AstroTurf, and if you are going to crawl behind a bunker, it is possible to get turf burn with unprotected skin if you are a crawling, sliding, diving type of player.
Another option that will take care of covering you from neck to wrists to ankles is to toss full body coveralls over whatever you are wearing. You can rent just the coveralls at our location for just $5.00 or an entire protection package for $10. The protection package comes with a chest and back protector, along with the coveralls, to give you a bit of armor on your body. That package also includes a set of gloves for hand protection that we will address next.
Protect your hands
Realistically, your hands are one of the most likely areas of your body to take a hit. Most times, you will be hiding behind an object, and just poking your gun and face around a corner to try to locate and shoot your enemy. If they are shooting back, it means you will probably be hit in the mask, gun, or hand holding the gun.
Hand shots can be some of the most painful as you don’t have any meat there! So a shot to the knuckle can be a stinger! For this reason, many paintball players choose to wear gloves. Unlike winter gloves, you want to wear a glove where you can still feel and squeeze the trigger.
For paintball, players use fingerless gloves. Much like weight lifters gloves, except instead of the padding on the palm to cushion a weight bar, paintball gloves have a rubber backing to protect the back of the hand up through the first knuckle.
Footwear to wear for paintball
Most people just wear whatever kind of shoes they would for any other outdoor activity. Simple running shoes, tennis shoes, sneakers – whatever you call them, are normally fine. If in a rugged outdoor location, you might be better off with some hiking boots that will give you more ankle support if walking on uneven surfaces.
Our indoor fields using AstroTurf are level, so normally, plain running shoes work great. Some people like to wear cleats, but if so, only plastic turf cleats are allowed. Metal cleats will tear up the AstroTurf and the carpet in the lobby.
Don’t forget that most fields will not allow you to play with open-toe footwear, so skip the sandals for paintball.
What is the age of the player?
The huge determining factors is the type of field, type of paintball guns and the age of the player. A low impact field like ours allows kids as young as six years old to play, while many fields only use the standard paintball guns and start at age 10.
If we equate getting hit with a paintball to being snapped with a rubber band or snapped with a towel, we can assume different people will have different feelings about getting hit! As I like to explain, if I snap two eight-year-olds with a rubber band on bare flesh, one might say, “Is that all you got?” and try to take the rubber band away from me to snap me back. Another might just start crying.
If however, you snapped that rubber band through one or two layers of clothing, the result may be radically different.
In summation, learn about the environment you are going to play in, evaluate the pain tolerance of the individuals that are going to participate, and use the above reference to dress accordingly!