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What Should I Wear To Play Paintball?

When it comes to paintball clothing, true comfort means not having to think about what you're wearing while you're playing. Gearing up with the right apparel can make or break a day of paintball. It's too often that we see people who didn't give themselves options for a day that the weather took a complete turn for the worse, or they over dressed for conditions.

Try to pay attention to the weather for the day and hopefully you have at least a moderate understanding of how your body reacts to exertion in those conditions. Dress accordingly and have a backup if the weather changes.

Focus On Your Foot Protection And Wearing Layers

Shoes/Boots. Other than your mask/goggles, shoes are the single most important article of clothing you need to focus on. Don't buy new shoes on the way to the field or a couple of days before you play. Wear something that is familiar, comfortable and broken in. Keep in mind that these shoes are probably going to get very muddy and dirty.

Ankle support and a tough sole is a must. You'll be running and moving with adrenaline across uneven terrain full of foot-falls and hazards. The last thing you need is a shoe falling off or failing to keep your ankle from rolling.

Good aggressive boots will provide plenty of traction. Football cleats may work if you're playing on a groomed speedball field, but we would not recommend them for any type of woodsball play.

Light Hiking Boot

Light Hiking Boot

Light hiking boots accomplish a good balance between support, protection, and weight. Heavy winter boots can lack proper support for running and will quickly cause fatigue.

The second part to good shoes is great socks. Supportive cushion socks designed for sports are a must. Bring a couple of pairs and change part way through the day. Anyone who's done time in the military can tell you how important your socks are.

Layers. Again, this is going to be very dependant on the weather you are expecting for the day, your environment, and the terrain at the field you'll be playing at. We've played paintball outdoors here in Wisconsin in the middle of December. Obviously it requires a much different approach than playing on a hot and humid August day. This is where layers become such an important roll in the comfort you give yourself.

Don't wear a heavy coat or only bring a t-shirt to the field. It's too often that we see this type of person who shows up to the field with just a t-shirt and shorts. I don't care how tough they think they are, it doesn't take long to see them struggling with their uncomfortableness. Bring options for layering.

On the other side of it, we see new players who come completely wrapped up from head to toe. You can tell they are concerned about getting shot and the pain they have imagined. You don't need a full head mask, a chest and back protector, a cup, and full body armor. You're going to be miserable playing in that. It'll weigh you down and you'll be fatigued in a very short time. You'll essentially be a sitting target that can get out of the way.

Lets talk about specific choices:
On top; A long sleeve t-shirt is a great idea, maybe wear it over or under a short sleeve t-shirt. If it's a cooler day, add a light sweatshirt. Don't make one layer dependant on the other, be able to shed a layer quickly between rounds and go on playing.

Pants; Usually just a pair of jeans is a great recommendation. Don't wear tight jeans and don't wear jeans that look like you could be an emo kid hanging out on the corner. Keep your pants pulled up with a good leather belt. I realize it maybe in style to wear your pants half hanging off your arse, but that'll get you in the dead box before you can say "saggy butt"!

Do not wear sweat pants. They don't absorb the hits and you'll be left with deep welts. BDU type pants are great. Get some that fit well and have well maintained pockets(not pockets that hang out and easily get snagged by trees.) You can find BDU pants at just about any sporting goods store or at a farm and fleet type of store.

Do not wear multiple pants. If it's really cold then consider long underwear and pants that will fit well over them. Keep in mind one of the biggest keys to playing paintball will be your ability to move - run to cover, duck, kneel, stand and run to the next cover. Don't get hung up on padding yourself too much as this will only slow you down and prevent you from moving when you need to.

Paintball Gloves

Paintball Gloves

Hands. Getting hit in the fingers is very painful. I'd put it up there with a head or neck shot. I never found myself comfortable in gloves so I endured the sting of it. However, many people like the feel of gloves and the protection it provides. Some will argue that it gives them better grip on their equipment too.

There are a few choices for gloves. Don't worry about getting expensive paintball gloves, cheap mechanics gloves can work really well. I've even seen some "work" type gloves from the dollar store that do a good job of protecting your precious paws. Just make sure you have plenty of room to get your fingers in the trigger guard and that you can feel the trigger.

If you have to stop and take off your gloves to reload or run a squeegee through your paintball marker, then maybe it's time to consider not wearing them. It's going to be a personal preference choice that you'll have to make.

Neck/Head. There are a lot of options for covering up your head and neck. One of the biggest challenges you will run into is blocking the ventilation for your mask. If you wear a hood from a sweat shirt pulled over your head and pulled tight, you will run into a problem with your mask fogging up. You need to have plenty of air moving around your mask at all times. Often head wear with a visor will create this problem too.

There are paintball headbands that are cheap and very useful. Many of them have longer tails that can be used to shield the back of your neck. We commonly see people with a regular bandanna tied around their head or loosely around their neck.

Another common item used is a baseball style hat worn backwards. It protects your head and the visor should help cover the back of your neck.

Some paintball manufacturers make full head masks that act like a helmet, but they tend to be pretty uncomfortable and often don't fit the head size of the player. We'd recommend trying a headband or ball cap instead.

Camouflage BDUs

Camouflage BDUs

Camouflage. You don't need camouflage. You don't need any fancy paintball clothing or paintball brand name clothing. Dark colors work best. Earth tones that match your specific flora work great. Try to have your shoes dark with dark soles too. We've seen people in camo hiding out in the woods with white soles on their shoes. It's a funny site to see.

Don't over think camouflage. Just wear dark earth tone colors.

Stains. Most paintballs will wash off easily but don't wear something that would upset you if it got stained. If you're wearing something white, or very light in color, it may not completely come off. If you leave the clothing in the sun and the paint drys on, it's on for good. If you don't wash the clothing soon after playing(a day or two), the chances of it staining increase. Play in clothes that can get dirty and wash them soon after playing.

Also, there are cheap brands of paintballs that will stain. There are typically the super cheap paintballs that you can buy as "white box" or "seconds". Some of these paintballs do not have water soluble dyes in them and you're going to stain anything it hits.

If you're really concerned about staining, bring some laundry detergent pretreater to the field and spray it on your clothing before you leave the field. We've seen moms out there doing that.

Other Thoughts. Bring a change of clothes to wear home after playing. Bring other shoes! Bring towels or an old sheet to sit on if you're really dirty. Don't get your car, or your friends car, dirty with everything you picked up on the field or the paint that got on your clothes.

Bring a garbage bag to throw your dirty items in. Keep it all in one spot and wash it as soon as you get home. Hose off your shoes or what ever gets covered in mud.

Just remember to think safety first and obey all the rules of the paintball field. If you're unsure of something, ask the people that are working at the field. It's OK to ask questions.

Be sure to consider your clothing well. Dig deep into your closet and you'll probably find exactly what you need for a full day of fun play at your local paintball field. Focus on your feet and layering your clothing and you'll have a great day of paintball!

Posted by Redwood on

Also see:

Basic Paintball Q&A

Wikipedia on Paintball Clothing