With consideration for apparel, gear, and additional suggestions for experienced Paintball players, this comprehensive head-to-toe guide will assist you in figuring out what you should wear.
What should you wear for paintball? Playing paintball safely will demand that you wear long sleeves and pants as well as ample safety/protective gear.
In this article, you will learn other factors to consider, variations in gear based on the time of year, what to expect when paintballing, and some safety precautions to familiarize yourself with. Based on all of the variables at play, you may find that outfitting yourself looks a bit different from one individual to the next based upon experience, level of play, duration of play, etc.
Proper Paintball Apparel
This dynamic game can be played indoors or outdoors with a small group or large group and with a multitude of strategies. There are many games within the game that can be integrated, such as single elimination (one time hit and you’re out), obstacle focused games where you complete specific tasks as a team, and many others.
Each individual application of the game can dictate your need for gear and supplies. What should stay constant, however, is the safety precautions you take, the protective equipment you wear, and the skin surface area coverage by clothing.
When planning your paintballing garb, think about covering your skin and leaving very little visible to the naked eye. You may also want to pay special attention to more delicate areas such as your head, face, eyes, ears, and private parts.
If you’re playing paintball during the warmer months, you may feel compelled to wear short sleeves to prevent overheating and sweating endlessly. However, experienced paintball players will tell you that long-sleeved tops are worth it. Even better, you can buy paintball specific shirts that are long-sleeved, yet breathable. This way, they are suitable for warm temperatures while also providing coverage for your skin.
Similar to picking out your top for playing in warm temps, you may be tempted to wear shorts to go paintballing. But, the smarter choice is to find breathable pants that provide adequate coverage. Leaving your skin exposed is just asking to get shot.
Since paintballing is such a dynamic activity, you ideally want to have comfortable shoes to prepare you for all of the demands that will be placed on you:
- Hurdling over obstacles
- Maneuvering around opponents
- Jumping over fencing
- Landing stable on the ground
- Going from stopping to running in seconds
- Barrel rolling on the ground
Low-profile hiking boots work well, as they keep the ankle stable while also providing traction and plenty of tread. Be mindful to stay away from hiking books that have a high platform, as you will increase the odds of rolling your ankle in those shoes.
It’s advisable, though, to have shoes or an ankle guard for protection. Ankle injuries are one of the most common paintball injuries, and they can be easily prevented.
For your first paintball outing, you might find it’s a good idea to bring multiple shoe options and test each one of them out. Maybe you have some stable, sturdy running/training sneakers that prove to be your favorite. Hiking boots might be too much for your preferences and skill level. The key is to keep safety in mind and choose the shoe that feels the most comfortable for you.
|Short Sleeves & Shorts||Stay cooler longer in warm weather||No protection from paintball hits on forearms|
|A large amount of surface area for insect bites|
|Long Sleeves & Pants||Coverage from paintball hits||Less airflow throughout your clothing|
|Protection from insect bites|
|Open-Toed Shoes||More airflow around feet||Increased likelihood of stubbing a toe, cracking a toenail|
|Prone to insect bites|
|Closed-Toes Shoes||Protection from paintball shots||Less airflow around feet|
|Coverage from insect bites|
|Freedom to run, be agile, and to not worry about injuring a toe|
As you can see, the pros of wearing long sleeves, long pants, and closed-toed shoes far outweigh the cons. Your ultimate goal should be decreasing the likelihood of injury. Being slightly sweatier is a small price to pay for being protected and avoid injury.
Clothes You Won’t Mind Getting Dirty
Especially for first-timers, it’s not necessary to go out and buy the top of the line gear for paintballing. The best approach is to take in the experience the first time and see what works well for you and address what doesn’t. It’s also helpful to inquire with the park you’re playing at in regards to which gear they like best for their unique park and set of obstacles & barriers.
You might already have some long-sleeved shirts and pants in your closet that will work just fine for your occasional paintball outings. But, be sure to pick items that you don’t mind getting muddy, dirty, ripped, and covered in paintball liquid. Even though all the gunk is likely to wash out, it’s best to pick old clothes that you have no problem tearing apart.
Camouflage is Ideal
If you’re serious about your paintballing game, then you want to make yourself as close to invisible as possible. This means that camouflage clothing can play to your advantage in a big way. It’s not required to participate, but it’s something to consider if your paintballing hobby turns into a competitive venture.
If you’re not on the camo-level yet, opt for clothing that has earth-toned colors like brown, dark green, black, navy, etc. This will minimize your visibility by the opponent, which will give you an advantage.
Specialized Paintball Apparel
In 2019, there are many lines of specialized paintball apparel and gear that contain paintball-specific padding and precautionary materials. If you are a regular paintballer, find yourself partaking in this recreational activity several times a year, or even take it to the next level as a professional, investing in some high-quality paintball apparel can pay off.
Paintball-specific gear contains padding in areas that you’d need it, protection where you’d want it and even comes with a dark-colored and/or camouflaged patterns. It’s an all-in-one way to consolidate all of your gear into just a few pieces that cover the bases for you.
Just like in any other sport, having high-quality gear pays off in terms of performance, longevity, and overall enjoyment of the sport. Proper equipment allows you to keep playing the game as it’s meant to be played with fewer pauses and more action.
Seasonal Paintball Apparel & Gear
Summer Paintball Gear
Dressing for summer paintball sessions can be tricky because the last thing you want to do is wear long sleeves and long pants when it’s hot outside. However, it’s essential to keep your focus on safety and protection from paintball hits. Thus, long sleeves and pants should be what you wear.
So, what’s a good compromise or middle ground to be found between staying protection during summer paintball sessions while also not putting yourself in a position to sweat profusely? Opt for breathable, sweat-wicking materials that will keep you cool, absorb sweat away from your skin, and act as cooling system.
This will allow you to still get the protection of long sleeves and long pants while also not causing you to overheat. Some gear is even made with zippered air vents that will allow for increased airflow.
Winter Paintball Gear
Playing paintball during the colder months will require you to take a different look at the apparel you are wearing and the gear you are carrying. Not only will you need to be prepared for colder temps, but there are many other aspects to consider when getting ready for a winter paintball session.
A fun fact to know about colder temps is that they cause paintballs to become harder and can be .green_color. This is another reason to focus on staying protected.
Always Dress in Layers
Depending on how cold it actually is when you’re playing paintball during the winter, you’ll need varying levels of protection. Since it’s hard to gauge how warm you’ll need to dress, it’s ideal to dress in several different layers so that you can make a choice to keep your layers on or shed them as you get moving around.
You may find that your body perspires and gets warmer as the paintball game progresses. If you dress in layers, it will be beneficial in those times when you are overheating because you overcompensated with clothing.
If you want to play paintball in rain or winter, check out this whole article I wrote about it.
For warmer months, carrying a sweat rag can be helpful, as perspiration & heavy sweating is inevitable. Also, preventing dehydration is crucial. Find a way to carry a water source on your body, or get clear on where the drinking water source is at the park you’re playing at. Even better would be adding a source of electrolytes to your water for replenishing the salt you’re losing through sweat.
For colder months, wearing anti-fog goggles is invaluable. I collected and explained a detailed list of the 5 best ones here. As your body heat meets the barrier where the colder air hits your goggles, a foggy lens/face shield will be something you’re constantly battling. If you have anti-fog glasses, you won’t have to mess with this while you’re playing. It’s well worth it; it will mean that you’re doing more playing and less stopping to fix gear. This usually translates to more paintball victories!
Beginner Gear Needed
- Paintball Gun (also called a paintball marker)
This basic version on Amazon has great reviews and is great for beginners.
Paintball guns are provided at Paintball facilities. But, just like with any other aspect of gearing up, you can always upgrade to a more deluxe version and elevate your game.
- Goggles or Mask
Since this item protects your face, it is the single most crucial piece of safety gear that you will use. One or both of these are always an option for rental at your local paintball facility, but you can increase the durability and longevity of your shield by investing in your own paintball mask. This won’t be necessary for most players, but it’s an option.
- Jock Strap/Athletic Supporter
Men may be encouraged to know that it’s very common to wear an athletic supporter when playing paintball. Some paintball clothing has some level of padding/support built into it. It’s up to you as an individual to decide what level of protection you desire. Wearing additional padding may prove to be hindering your movement. However, it’s advisable to make safety your focus.
- Joint pads (for elbows, knees, and ankles)
If you can imagine getting directly impacted on a bone, you’ll get a glimpse at how undesirable that is. Fortunately, elbow, knee, and ankle pads go a long way. Wearing these, you won’t even have to think about being protected, even though it may feel goofy to be so armored up.
Your goal of wearing gloves is two-faceted: protection and grip. Getting shot in the hand is likely. Thus gloves will help buffer the impact. I have been shot many times in the hand when I wasn’t wearing any gloves. It resulted in a nasty broken skin injury with blood coming out. Nothing serious to go to the doctor to, but definitely unpleasant.
The grip is vital because with paintballs exploding and liquid being dispersed all over you, your ability to grip your gun will slowly diminish as your session progresses. Grippy gloves will make it easy for you, as they are made with a durable, protective, substantial material to outfit those shooting hands.
Experienced Paintball Gear
These items are meant to help hold up to the higher level of play for regular paintballers and professionals. Though not required, they are useful and allow you to elevate your game to a whole new level:
- Anti-fog goggles or mask with additional cushioning for comfort – enables you to keep playing without stopping to wipe the inside of your goggles or adjust them. You can read more about them in this article.
- Squeegee or Sponge – for cleaning your gun when it gets clogged/jammed. After several paintballs go through the barrel, it can sometimes become clogged and inhibit further paintballs from making it out of the chamber. Carrying a squeegee will help reduce the build-up, thus allow for more uninterrupted play.
- Mask Wipe or additional squeegee – if you are using your primary squeegee for gun barrel cleanliness, you don’t have an unused option for when you get shot in the mask. It can be helpful to have an extra one on hand so that you can thoroughly clean your mask when the moment arises)
- Pod Packs – allow you to have more paintballs easily accessible on the waist-level. The lids flip-up for quick access.
- Paintball waist pack – similar to a fanny pack, this can provide you with more options for storing items like your second squeegee, bug spray, etc.)
Unless you are ready to dive in headfirst and commit to the whole, professional paintball garb, you won’t need to buy all of these items right away or ever. Your gear supply needs will depend on your interest in the sport, the frequency at which you play, your aspirations for future outings, and the level of competition you play at.
Important Safety Precautions
In the interest of all participants, it’s crucial for every single person playing the game to have a clear understanding of the precautions that each respective paintball park enforces. Every park may be slightly different, but there are a few basic things to keep in mind that can prevent unnecessary injury:
- Make sure that every player is present for the briefing that precedes your group’s paintball session. This will ensure that everyone knows what’s going on, gains familiarity with the expectations, etc.
- Ensure that every player participating is adequately and safely outfitted, as confirmed by your park guide or referee.
- Establish an open, respectable line of communication with the referee and park owner before getting started. This will ensure that everyone feels comfortable in this new environment.
- Remember that carrying a gun (even though it is only loaded with biodegradable paintballs) can feel like a huge task for some. Be mindful of that.
- When hit, walk off of the playing ground with your arms elevated and the gun in the air. This way, you are clearly designating yourself “out.”
- When other players are “out,” no shots are to be fired at them as they exit.
- Keep your mask on at all times. If, at any point, you feel the need to remove it or expose yourself to potentially getting shot in the face, consult your referee and make sure he is aware.
- Never shoot at someone point-blank (closer than about 10 feet). Sometimes it counts if you yell at the other player indicating you hit him. Discuss this with the referee prior to the start.
- Don’t be inconsiderate & remember that paintball is a team sport. It’s not every man for himself.
- Play fairly & don’t cheat. If you get hit, resist the urge to wipe off the paint and act like your opponent missed. If you are unsure that you’ve been hit, you can yell “paint check,” and a referee will tend to you.
Does It Hurt to Get Hit?
The series of questions surrounding the possibility of injury while playing paintball is one of the most common curiosities for those that are new to paintball. Just like with any sport, there is some risk of injury. However, that risk level can be significantly diminished if you abide by the rules, adhere to the guidelines provided by the facility you’re playing at, and exercise caution when using a semi-high powered paintball gun.
If you were to be in close proximity to the shooter (less than 10 feet or so), the impact of the paintball will definitely leave a mark and likely break the skin. Improper, close proximity shooting is dangerous and not advised. These shots can cause blood-shed, injury to sensitive areas, bruising, and lesions.
You should be particularly aware of pointing your paintball gun at someone’s head. Though your opponent will be wearing goggles, you do not want to risk the paintball making contact with an eye-socket, ear, nose, etc. Those areas can be easily injured in a severe way with a high-speed paintball.
Even though the worst-case scenario sounds daunting, don’t be deterred by thinking that this is not the activity for you. Such injuries are highly unlikely if you are playing by the rules.
Paintball is a game of long shots, and when played as designed, you would never be in close proximity when shot. Balls that are fired as instructed (around 80-100 feet) are likely to feel like a thud or an exact impact on your body. But, it’s not considered to be painful, just noticeable. If you’re still wary, feel free to further familiarize yourself with online videos and anecdotal advice from paintball experts.
If you want to read more, check this article.
How to Minimize Injury
As a collective group, it’s vital for everyone to adhere to the proper set of rules & guidelines to make sure the game runs smoothly. If there are any outliers that have their own agenda, that’s often when mistakes are made, and injuries happen. There are a few pointers to keep in mind that will ensure that the game runs smoothly and injury-free:
- Surrender rule: if any participant puts their arms in the air, making their hands and paintball gun seen, they are not to be shot by the opponents and are rendered surrendered.
- Follow instructions of the park: every park is different, with some standard, overarching themes with their rules. Be sure to unequivocally follow them and ask the park marshall any questions when and if they arise.
- Wear the right clothing: if you adhere to the suggestions outlined here, you will be prepared for your first outing. As you become more advanced, you may want to consider upgrading your gear to be more longer-lasting so that you are not ruining your everyday clothes
- Protect sensitive areas on your body: athletic supporters or jockstraps can be helpful for men. If you are concerned about this, you can also find padded paintball gear that will keep you protected.
Do Paintball Stains Wash Out of Clothes?
Keep in mind, the internal paintball liquid in most paintballs is meant to be water-soluble and will wash out in a standard washing machine. They are also hypoallergenic, environmentally friendly, and biodegradable. If you are able to wash your clothes within a day after your paintballing ventures, the stains should wash off of your clothes entirely.
Lighter colored clothing may stain if the paintball liquid is left on them for a few days or more. You can avoid this by just being diligent about doing a load of laundry after playing paintball.
Either way, it’s always advisable to pick clothes to wear paintballing that you are okay with donating, as you may unexpectedly rip, scratch, or compromise your garments from the running, climbing, rolling, and tumbling that you do while playing the game.
Over time, you may get tired of tending to laundry immediately after playing. It may be enough of a reason for you to buy an outfit specifically for your paintball adventures. This way, it doesn’t matter if it stains, and you won’t be dealing with the hassle of stain removal, laundry, and worrying about ruining your everyday clothing.
If you are wondering if paintball paint washes off cars or houses, I have a perfect article for you.
What To Expect at Paintball Parks
Most paintball parks are designed for all levels of play, accommodating a range of group sizes, preferred games and obstacles desired. The majority of parks enforce a 10-years-old minimum age for participants. A liability waiver for all participants is also standard at paintball parks.
The majority of paintball parks will supply you safety goggles to rent while you are using their facility, so don’t fret if you come unprepared. Don’t be wary of asking questions to the attendant helping you get your group started; that’s what they are there for, and they are often paintball hobbyists that have a good amount of experience to offer up.
If you have any specific concerns, questions, or issues when planning your trip to a particular park, don’t hesitate to reach out to the owners/facilitators of the event for further clarification.
Is Paintball an Affordable Hobby?
If you are the occasional or even entirely novice paintballer who only participates every few years, the cost will not prove to be a concern for most. It is often similar to the fee paid to play a 9-hole golf course. But, as your paintball frequency increases, so will the costs associated with it.
The most expensive aspect of paintballing is the paintballs themselves, coming in around $10 per box of 500. Considering that you typically use around 200 paintballs in one game, you will run through them pretty fast.
Paintball-specific garments and gear (for the more avid player) are an investment as well, but because they are a one-time purchase, they are not a purchase that you will have to keep repeating. Whereas, with paintballs, it’s a recurring expense that may add up over time.
If you are interested in participating in paintball often, don’t let the cost completely sideline you. The price is just something to consider, similar to something you’d be thinking in regards to hobbies like golfing, having a gym membership, sky diving, scuba diving, etc.
I have torn down the costs of paintball and the affordability to play here.
It’s also worth exploring some membership options if you are a frequenter of a specific paintball facility. That particular location may offer up some rewards program or discounted membership in exchange for your business. You can also find some reasonably priced online paintball sources (in bulk) if you are looking to minimize the financial impact of those frequent paintball purchases.