There’s a whole lot more to developing the perfect paintball arsenal than just purchasing an expensive gun. Even the best marker in the world will be of little benefit to you if you’re using subpar equipment to protect yourself.
A mask will protect your head, eyes, and face during games, so you can understand why choosing one of high quality is so important. A little further down, we’re going to discuss specific models of goggles, but first let’s take a look at what separates a high quality mask from the ones you should try to avoid.
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- 1 The Basic Mask
- 2 Choosing The Right Goggle For You
- 3 Top Paintball Masks
- 4 Conclusion
The Basic Mask
While paintball masks vary in terms of design and coloring, they all share a number of common features.
There are a variety of different lenses to choose from. Many masks come equipped with with double-glazed lenses, while some others offer single-pane or thermal lenses. In recent years, UV resistant lenses have become extremely popular, and are a good idea if your paintballing is limited to the summer months.
A lot of the lower standard manufacturers of paintball helmets experience difficulty when it comes to getting earpieces right. The perfect earpiece should be designed in such a way that it protects your ear from stray paint but does not prevent you from hearing your teammates calling you to action. The vast majority of helmets come with interchangeable earpieces.
Much like earpieces, bottoms can be a little tricky to produce. As bottoms will cover your nose and mouth, they must adequately shield those areas from paint, but should not inhibit your breathing or speaking. Bottoms will also protect your chin, and in many cases, a good portion of your neck.
A lot of people tend to overlook the importance of quality straps in a mask. Should the strap not be of a high quality, you’re likely to spend a much of the game fumbling to tighten it and level your mask. Many paintballers like to keep multiple straps so they can customize their goggle according to their mood. Some of the more passionate players spend hundreds of dollars on rare and collectable straps (though you’ll find a perfectly good one for significantly less).
Choosing The Right Goggle For You
There are hundreds of really great paintball helmets out there, but there is always going to be one that suits you better than all the others. When trying to find the right goggle for you, there are a number of things which you should take into account.
The more money you can spend, the more goggles you will have to choose from. However, you don’t need to go out and spend a couple of hundred to get a high quality mask. There are a lot of masks that sell for $50 which will serve you well for a number of years. When setting your mask budget, remember to take into account any other necessary equipment which you still have to buy.
A mask’s profile is basically the area of vision which your mask allows. A helmet with a small profile will be fitted with large lenses, while one with a large profile will feature lenses which only cover your eyes. Depending on what style of paintball you will be playing, certain lenses are better than others. For example, if you’re playing speedball, you’re going to want to go with a mask which has a small or medium profile.
You’re likely to find a number of helmets which meet your desired budget and profile. After that, it becomes an issue of personal preference. Certain helmets may be extremely popular with other paintball players and online reviewers, but can often turn out to be completely unsuited to you. Before purchasing a mask, be sure to ask yourself what you want in terms of fit, color and padding.
But if you want to be a professional player do not forget to invest in the best painball hopper / loader too.
Top Paintball Masks
Now that we have covered the things you should know before purchasing a goggle, we can start looking at specific products. Like I said already, there are countless masks out there which will do the job, but here are some of the most popular ones.
1. DYE i4
The DYE i4 is another one of those paintball masks which has built up a large following of dedicated fans. It is particularly popular among those who regularly take part in tournaments.
The DYE i4 is a relatively light helmet when compared to similar options. It won’t add to the weight which you already have to carry thanks to your gun and other equipment, and is the perfect mask for anybody who likes to move quickly through the battlefield.
- Lack of coverage
A consequence of the DYE i4’s light weight is the fact that it does not offer a whole lot of coverage. While your eyes, nose, and mouth will be adequately protected, there is practically nothing at all to shield your throat from your opponent’s shot.
2. Empire E-Flex
The empire is an interesting mask as it is pretty much a combination of the best of Empire technology and the best of JT technology.
Many experienced paintball players consider the Empire E-Flex to be among the most comfortable masks on the market. It is equipped with JT’s unique flex bottoms and offers fantastic ventilation.
Because the Empire E-Flex is of such high quality, it is quite a bit more expensive than some other goggles you could choose over it. If you can afford it, you should certainly consider purchasing the E-Flex. However, you can get much the same protection from a less expensive model.
3. JT Flex 8
JT are one of the most experienced and trusted manufacturers of masks. Having been in the business for three decades, they what it takes to produce a great quality product. Their Flex 8 range was first introduced back in 2005 and brought a breath of fresh air to goggles.
- Dual Fusion
The Flex 8 features JT’s patented “Dual Fusion” technology. This mask offers effective protection from paintballs and whatever else you might encounter on the battlefield while giving the wearer maximum comfort and breathability.
If you purchase the Flex 8, you had better be good and happy with the lenses the helmet is sold with. This is because it features a particularly tricky lens changing system, so switching lenses can be quite frustrating and time consuming.
4. Tippmann Valor
Tippmann have produced some of the best paintball guns available and the rest of their available equipment is rarely anything less than stellar. The Tippmann Valor is a basic yet effective helmet and generally sells for only a small amount.
- Great for beginners
The Tippmann Valor is the perfect helmet for anybody just getting involved in paintball. The low price means you don’t have to worry about being out of pocket if you realize a month from now that the sport isn’t for you. It is also a great piece of equipment for the casual player who may not play more than a couple of times a year.
While this is an ideal mask for those who lack experience in paintball, seasoned players are unlikely to find anything special about the Tippmann Valor. Veterans who have tried the goggle have slammed it for it’s minimal padding, underwhelming features, and the inability to customize it.
5. Sly Profit
Those who like the Sly Profit really, really like it. However, those who don’t like the Sly Profit really, really dislike it. It seems to have split the paintball world in a way no other mask has done before; however, that isn’t exactly a good thing.
Regardless of what other feelings they may have about it, few who have tried the Sly Profit can deny the fact that it is incredibly comfortable. The mask features copious amounts of padding, meaning it can be worn for long periods of time with the wearer experiencing little – if any – discomfort.
While all that padding is great in terms of comfort, it is at least partly responsible for reports of the helmet overheating after they have been worn for a little while. The Sly Fort does not have the best ventilation when compared to other goggles, and can make it quite difficult to speak and interact with your teammates.
6. JT Proflex
The JT Proflex is the second entry from JT on this list and is one of the most popular masks the company have ever produced. It has attained near legendary status among JT’s diehard fans.
With its expert design, impenetrable lenses, and multiple options for customization, the JT Proflex gives you great value for money. On top of that, it is extremely popular among JT Proflex enthusiasts, many of whom buy, sell, and trade JT masks.
Similar to the HK KLR, the JT Proflex has pretty specific sizings. While the KLR is considered by many to be on the small side, multiple paintballers have complained that this goggle is too large. It is possible that this can be fixed by wearing some layers beneath the helmet, but many players will argue that they shouldn’t have to compromise in order to get an agreeable fit.
7. V-Force Grill
The V-Force Grill is the chosen mask of many professional paintball players. It offers a tight fit and a whole lot of padding for extra comfort.
This mask is particularly good for those who like to go for hours on end as it features great breathability and ventilation. Decent ventilation is an especially important feature if you’re playing paintball on hot days.
The V-Force Grill is vulnerable in a number of ways. Firstly, the goggle is quite wide and easy to shoot, which puts you at a significant disadvantage if you’re playing a hit-and-out game. On top of that, the lenses are susceptible to scratches and can be damaged easily.
8. HK KLR
The KLR is the only goggle system produced by HK, but there are many players who feel the company got it in one. Like the Virtue VIO, this small profile mask leaves a lot of room for customization and is available in a number of colors.
The HK KLR is one of the most durable paintball masks available. It is sturdy and sleek and the faces are positioned in such a way that they are near impossible to break.
If you’re one of a small group of people who the HK KLR fits perfectly, you’re going to have a great time with this goggle. However, many who have purchased it have complained about its small fit and downright odd dimensions. Ordering this mask online is ill-advised as it really should be tried on first.
9. Virtue VIO
The Virtue VIO is a relatively new mask but has already built up a loyal following of paintball enthusiasts. It is lightweight and features a small profile, which makes it a great choice for speedball.
The Virtue VIO offers the most room for customization of any mask on this list, so if you like to express yourself both through your actions and your dress, this mask is probably the one for you.
- Long Nose
While this helmet has proven extremely popular with some paintball players, many who have tried it have complained about its long nose causing discomfort. In many cases, the design of the the nose can lead to serious fogging on the lenses.
That brings to an end our examination of paintball masks!. While we could conceivably discuss what makes one goggle better than another for several thousand more words, what we have covered here, along with the many masks we discussed, should be more than enough for you to make an informed purchase. Once you settle on a mask, you can get down to business and paint the town red!