As of 2021, there are almost 1,700 paintball fields in the US. Paintball has been around since the 1960s, but it's rapidly gaining popularity among people of all ages and fitness levels. It's a fun way to bring your video games to life, after all!
But with this comes real-life consequences, such as possible pain from being hit by a paintball. If you're considering taking up paint balling as a hobby, you might be worried about this.
So, you want to play paintball. No one can blame you, paintball is some of the most fun you can have for your money, and the industry is only growing. There could be many reasons as to why it's growing, maybe it's because the game has become more mainstream with the exposure from social media, but you get the point, it's growing.
However, paintball won’t be as fun if you don't have the right paintball gear. On top of that, you have a lot of choices available for paintball clothing, paintball guns, and paintball equipment. How do you pick the right one?
This article will act as your paintball gear 101, and teach you about all the paintball equipment you need to get started playing.
First things first, safety is your top priority. There's some cool-looking paintball gear out there, but it all means nothing if it can't keep you protected. When the proper equipment is worn, the worst that will happen is you'll slip and fall or have a welt on you where the paintball hit you.
While its mechanics simulate warfare, paintball, at the end of the day, it is a sport. Sports players have to wear their safety equipment, otherwise, they could end up getting hurt.
Best Paintball Gear
That being said, the best paintball gear combines safety, aesthetics, and functionality. Your gear should always fit what's most comfortable for you. Different types of paintball require different gear, so make sure you take that into account when choosing gear.
Paintball Guns aka Markers
Paintball guns, or markers, are easily the most recognizable pieces of equipment on the paintball field. However, few know just how many choices you have when it comes to paintball.
First of all, you're going to want to figure out what type of paintball you're playing. The type of paintball you play will help you figure out what gun you need.
More casual paintball play is usually referred to as "woodsball", or "scenario". If you're just starting out, and don't plan on making paintball a career, this is probably what you'll be playing. You have your choice of different paintball guns, with different designs (including paintball guns that simulate real guns).
If you're looking to go pro, that's referred to as speedball. Speedball requires its own high-powered guns that have to meet certain regulations.
Figure out how much you want out of a gun, and what you're willing to spend. A mechanical paintball gun is a reliable and affordable option that's perfect for beginners. If you're looking to make a splash early on, however, you jump in right away with an electric gun.
Paintball Masks & Goggles
Paintball masks and goggles are the single most important piece of gear you'll wear on the paintball field. They shield your head and your face, which are some of the most susceptible parts of your body to projectile strikes.
Your mask should be capable of defending you from high-velocity paintball attacks, but it should also be fog-proof, and give you a wide range of vision. The last thing you want is for your protective gear to cause you to miss falling down a hill and hurting yourself.
If you're just starting out, some places offer beginner paintball packages. For one low price, you can get a beautiful military-style gun, a quality hopper, and a great-looking mask that's sure to keep you protected.
You can also buy paintball goggles separately, to make sure the most crucial part of your mask is working.
Paintball Air Systems
In order to send paintballs careening through the air at high speeds, paintballs need a supply of air. Some use CO2, and some use compressed air. Either way, you're going to need to invest in a good air system.
A great air system is a perfect fit for anyone's paintball gear bag for anyone looking to step up their game and dominate the competition.
Do you know those funny oblong fixtures on top of paintball guns? Those are known as hoppers. They hold the paintballs, and, through the air system, feed them into the gun to fire.
The cool thing about paintball guns is that you don't have to worry about a limited magazine as you do with real guns. Try finding a gun that holds up to 200 rounds at once, like the best paintball hoppers.
Reloading in paintball is inconvenient, and can get messy. Make sure you equip yourself with a good paintball hopper.
The barrel of a gun is the metal tube through which the bullets fire. It's where most of the science in the gun takes place. This is true of paintball barrels as well.
Any new paintball gun will come with its own barrel. You don't have to buy them separately. If you get into paintball, however, having the right barrel is a point of pride.
The best paintball barrel will provide you better accuracy, proficiency, and consistency with your paintball performance. It's a must-have for anyone going pro.
Paintball Barrel Cover
It's common courtesy for paintball players to keep a paintball barrel cover on their barrels. These are little slips of durable fabric — often fashionably designed — that stop any paintballs from flying out of the gun in case you accidentally pull the trigger when a game is not being played. Some paintball guns have safeties, but barrel covers are the best way to telegraph that you care about safety.
It doesn't cost you much to buy a good paintball barrel cover. Nine dollars is a small price to pay for something that will show the world you take paintball seriously.
Paintball Barrel Kits
A barrel kit is another piece of advanced paintball gear that's extremely important to any pro player. A barrel kit is a kit (obviously) that contains multiple barrels for you to use, depending on the situation. They can get a little pricey, so we only recommend them to the serious paintball players out there.
A great barrel kit offers a variety of paintball guns that are all high quality. Different barrels are good for accuracy and speed, and a barrel kit will let you easily oscillate between several options, depending on what the situation calls for.
Paintball Pod Pack
Paintball pod packs let you carry some extra paintballs on the field. Hoppers hold a lot of paintballs, but that also encourages people to shoot a lot. If you're in a particularly drawn-out and tactical session of woodball that includes covering fire, and multiple sting operations, you might find yourself running out of paint.
One of the biggest disadvantages of carrying paintballs with you on the field is that paintballs are delicate. Paintball pod packs eliminate this difficulty, providing you with a safe way to store your paintballs, so you can reload with ease.
Everyone has a different style of paintball. If you like to shoot first and ask questions later, you're going to want to have a pod pack to back up your firepower.
While you won't see any models strutting with these pants down the runway, paintball pants come in many different styles and varieties. Pants are extremely important to a serious paintball player, helping you assert your individuality on the field, and keep you safe from scrapes and scratches. A note for new players, if your budget is tight, or you are just wanting to test the waters, wearing jeans could be a good alternative to paintball pants to start out.
You have a couple of options to go with to pick the best paintball pants for you. Many opt for black pants, hoping to decrease visibility, and keep them hidden amongst the shadows. With black pants, the padding blends easily into the pants.
However, in a game of speedball, you're not going to find yourself hiding in any bushes. This opens up speedball players to many levels of color and expression. Pick an awesome pair of paintball pants that fits your personal aesthetic, or the aesthetic of your team, and you'll vastly improve your paint-balling experience.
One of the most important reasons you need paintball pants is to keep you safe from the weather. Paint-balling can get uncomfortable in summer months, especially when you need so much gear. Keep yourself safe from heat exhaustion with a pair of breathable pants.
Sports jerseys have a long and storied history. It's a testament to the legitimacy of paintball as a sport that teams are expected to wear paintball jerseys. The quality of said jersey shows that paintball isn't just legitimate, but thriving. For beginners, a jersey may not be in the budget, so we’d recommend a hoodie, or similar. Something thicker but loose to help keep you protected.
A good paintball jersey will look cool, breathe in hot weather, allow you to move, and keep you safe. It'll keep your elbows, abdomen, and torso safe from all of the jumping, crawling, and sliding you might have to do. It will also lessen the impact of any paintball shots you take.
Your paintball jersey can run the gamut from stylish to camouflaged. Just like paintball pants, camouflage is a lot more useful in woodsball than it is in speedball. However, a well-camouflaged jersey can be the difference between victory and defeat.
What's best to look for in paintball jerseys depends on how you like to play. Speedball has a more formal, less random quality to it that makes it feel like a sport. However, woodsball feels more like real combat and allows you to come home with war stories without ever leaving safety.
Paintball headgear isn't all you need to stay safe, you also need paintball footwear. Getting shot in the foot isn't all that dangerous, and your standard shoes, boots, or cleats will probably keep you protected. However, all of the athletic demands of paintball could at most ruin your sneakers, and at worst, mess up your feet.
That's why you need a pair of good paintball footwear. While slipping on some mud happens extremely easily, the consequences can be dire. Make sure you find paintball footwear that combines aesthetics with comfort and traction.
Whether you're playing on astroturf, grass, mud, or dirt, these cleats will keep you protected and help you perform your best. They come in a variety of colors, so you can rock the cleats in style, no matter what your preference is.
The last piece of equipment you need before playing paintball is, well, a supply of paintballs. . . Depending on your gun and barrel size, you'll need to use rounds of different sizes; this should be taken into account when choosing your gun and barrel.
Paintballs generally come in quantities of one or two thousand. They ensure accuracy as well, as a bad paintball will fire off in a random pattern, much like a musket ball.
Don't come all this way buying paintball gear, and skimp out on the paintballs themselves. They're disposable, so we understand why you wouldn't want to spend a lot of money on them. However, good paintballs can mean the difference between a fun game and a frustrating game.
Final Thoughts on Paintball Protective Gear
Paintball gear can help you have a safe, fun experience, but don’t feel like you need to purchase every item on this list in order to play. Get the basics first of a gun/marker, hopper, barrel cover, mask/goggles, and the rest you can make due with while you get acclimated to the sport.
Take into account all of these bits of gear you can make use of and explore our shop for more options. For more information, or questions about getting started playing paintball, contact us today.