Last updated: 2nd January 2018
I’m frequently asked what are the absolute essentials needed in terms of paintball equipment. After all, like many sports, there are lots of accessories that promise to up your game, and of course not all will do so.
I always tell them that you need the marker, obviously. There is one more thing though. No matter what equipment you’re considering, the paintball mask is vital. Most paintball facilities won’t even let you play without one, and for good reason. But now you’re scratching your head. There are loads of masks out there. All you really know is that you don’t want to rent another one. You want your own. What do you buy? What should you consider?
The paintball industry is loaded with great masks. The perfect one for you is out there. And no matter what you choose, it will serve its primary purpose – to keep you safe.
Before I review the top ten paintball masks, there are some things you want to consider before purchasing.
This may well be the most important part of the mask. It’s how you see while also keeping your eyes and face protected. There are lots of different kinds of lenses. What you choose depends on where you play. There are different lenses for different venues. But a good rule of thumb is that you almost always want a dual pane. A dual pane is two lenses attached together. The combo prevents fogging. Fogging when you’re paintballing is the ABSOLUTE WORST dudes, so make sure it is good at NOT fogging up.
Paintball is a rigorous sport. You’re going to be running around a lot. Most vents are around the mouth and cheeks. Larger vents may give you more air, but they also expose more of your face. If a paintball hits your mouth, paint could come through.
This keeps your mask on and holds it firmly on your head. When buying a mask, try it on. You want to be sure the straps don’t hurt the side of your head.
This is for comfort. It makes the mask feel nice around your eyes and cheeks. It can absorb sweat and reduce fogging. Can it be replaced? Buying a mask with replaceable foam will make it last longer.
This is about how the lens is shaped. You want to be able to see in front of you and side to side. So a narrow field of view will make it harder to play well.
Some masks are larger than others. This is where trying it on is important. You want one that covers your face and chin. You want it snug but not tight.
Padding around the ears feels great. And protects them from well-placed shots. But padding can also muffle, or echo, comments and instructions from your teammates.
This is a preference. Some chin straps are built in. Others are detachable. Like the straps, it helps keep the helmet on your head, especially if you take a roll to avoid being shot.
Like a ball cap, this keeps the sun out of your eyes. Many masks have detachable visors so you can use them indoors or outside.
Every extra feature comes at an additional cost. There are even fans to keep your face cool. But remember, extra features are all optional. If your budget doesn’t allow for them, they might be spiffy but aren’t necessary.
Now that you know what to look for in a mask, here are 10 to consider for best paintball mask of 2017. How friggin exciting!:
1. Empire E-flex
It has a dark and a clear lens which is easily snapped in and out, and both lenses are highly protective and prevent fogging. There is zero vision distortion. The field of view is large, so you can see everything that’s happening around you. The ProFlex face foam is hypoallergenic and extremely comfortable.With Empire’s E-Vent system, you’ll achieve maximum breathability.
The added ear protection feels wonderful without interfering with any conversation. If you play paintball in a hot and humid environment, you’ll find the anti-fog lenses perfect. For those players with larger heads, it may provide the ideal fit. It comes with a protective case and a detachable chin strap.
Overall this JUST pips it to the best paintball mask 2017.
2. Dye Precision i4
There are 23 colors and styles are available, and all come with thermal anti-fog dual lenses. It rarely, if ever fogs up. Purchasing a micro-fiber cloth to keep lenses clean is something to consider. The multi-directional ventilation is good; it will not only keep you fresh, but you’ll be heard over the field.
It has a comfortable, tight fit, and low profile. The mask covers the facial surface from above the brow line to the chin leaving your chin and jaw exposed. If this worries you, then another mask may be better suited for your needs. Because of its lower profile, wearing it with glasses is challenging. A micro-fiber storage bag is included with purchase.
3. VForce Grill
The mask breaks down into three pieces for easy cleaning. If you like to swap out visors, there are various colors available. The foam is superb on this one, giving you maximum comfort.
It comes with clear, Thermo cured antifog and anti-scratch lenses. They provide distortion-free, unrestricted peripheral vision. Customizable lenses are available that adjust to any light condition.
The mask doesn’t completely cover your head, so wear a cap for added protection. However, it does offer good face protection. It comes with a comfortable, detachable chin strap, and the mask is available in ten different colors. If you enjoy quick, tight play, you’ll benefit from the stability of this as well as your enhanced performance on the field.
4. Virtue VIO Extend
What is terrific about the Virtue VIO Extend is its mirrored lens. THESE ARE SO COOOOOOL! You’ll see more of the playing field with its huge chromatic lens. There are some difficulties in swapping out the lens, but once you get the hang of it, it’s totally fine.
The VIO is available in 30 colors to match your gear. Other customized options are available. The Extend offers more coverage, yet is still streamlined. It may be a tad longer but offers more room around the mouth and jawline to provide ultimate comfort and protection.
Another thing is that the acoustics are great. It’s build is flexible, so it moulds quite well around your gun or tank in tight positions. Although not as bouncy as other models, it still has a little give. It comes with a mask bag and an additional bag for one lens. Like many other masks, there are no fogging issues with the Extend. Due to its profile, it works best with smaller heads, but certainly not limited to it.
5. Empire Event
Although Empire offer many high-end masks, the Event is moderately priced. This mask certainly won’t break the bank. With quick-release tabs, the lenses swap out easily for a quick change on the field or easy cleaning. It has a dual pane lens which is thermal cured, preventing fogging.
Like other Empire masks, the vision is distortion-free and has a good peripheral view. The foam and headband are very comfortable and fit snugly around the head. Because the foam cushion on the inside of the mask doesn’t go completely around the lens area, wearing glasses and sunglasses is easier than it is with most other masks.
An adjustable goggle strap makes it more of a one-size-fits-all for players. Soft, removable, foam ear pieces add comfort and help deflect paintballs if they hit this area in the line of fire. This sturdy mask is popular with players because it’s comfortable, protective and affordable.
6. JT Spectra Flex
If you’ve just come into the world of paintball and decided you like it enough to buy your own mask, the JT Spectra may be your best buy. It offers protection from paintballs flying at you from any direction (phew!). Without worrying about what’s coming at you, your game play may improve.
Because of this design, it fits snugly on your head without feeling too heavy. Equipped with thermal anti-fog goggles, the lens rarely fogs up. The field of vision is optically correct. The Flex provides a unique, integrated venting along the jaw line which keeps you from heating up. It also allows you to hear.
The field of vision is broad and better than most masks. A visor is included and can be detached. Even with full coverage, accessories are available. Offered at a medium price point, the Flex is a great choice for players who want additional protection while they play.
7. JT Proflex
Before going right into all the Proflex’s custom options, look at what it comes with first. Its field of vision is top rate. It uses JT’s best selling goggle along with the soft ear protection. With its unique insert molding technology, which allows it to conform to your face, you get a rigid upper mask but a soft lower one. This provides great protection on the field.
Breathability is high making it easy to inhale and exhale. Additionally, the light weight of the mask, along with the excellent field of view, makes it easy to forget you’re wearing the mask at all.
If a player has a small head, the Proflex may be a TEENY bit large, so trying on different masks to make sure you like the fit is recommended. As far as customizing this mask, it’s easy to do. But it also makes it easy to clean and maintain. Everything comes apart and goes back together quickly. If you like cleaning your gear after every game, you’ll find the JT Proflex saves you time.
8. HK KLR
This is a smallish mask, so it’s designed for a specific profile. It boasts a new goggle system which is sleek and angled, and so the chances of breakage are reduced. It’s easy to customize and off the shelf comes in 20 different colors.
It has 3D memory foam, custom straps, ear protection and lens options. The goggle system is optically correct, with a UV-shielded dual-pane thermal lens. Like many other masks, the lenses are easy to snap in and out. The mask is acceptable, but if it doesn’t fit right, you’ll have problems. It has less coverage than other small masks and the chin and jawline are exposed. The vents are relatively small. Sound echoes. The foam doesn’t feel as luxurious as it does in other masks.
All that aside, if your budget isn’t the biggest, this mask will absolutely fulfil all of what you need without much difficulty at all.
9. JT Flex 8
It is designed for a smaller player. It has a great vision field and is low profile, but provides full coverage. Even with that, part of the ears is exposed, which could matter to some players. Its rigid body does make the lens changing system challenging.
If you like quick changes in the field as the light changes, you may not appreciate this. It does provide an evolutionary exoskeleton frame using JT’s state of the art “Dual Fusion” technology. This makes the mask structurally efficient with decent ventilation.
Flex is a good brand, but this mask is distinctive. Since comfort is important to a seasoned player, you may want to play in this mask a few times before buying it. If there’s one you can rent for a few games, that’s a good intermediary step. That said, it’s also pretty safe to just buy it without trialing. Check out the reviews on Amazon and you’ll see it’s a quality mask.
10. Sly Profit
Like the HK KLR, you’ll love or hate this mask. The vision is good, but some players do feel the ventilation is poor. You may find yourself overheating. You may also find you can’t hear your teammates.
The Sly is another small mask designed for a small profile. For the right person, it is comfortable and snug. The gradient lens does seem to distort vision on cloudy days. However, due to its design, on sunny days, players could have a slight advantage. In terms of the weight, the mask is a bit on the heavy side. If you prefer to play in a mask that feels weightless, this is not the best purchase for you.
The biggest bonus to this mask is the protection it provides to your whole face. It’s not the least expensive mask, but it’s not the most expensive, either. For a smaller person, this may be the perfect mask to consider. But try it before buying it if you can.
There are many options for you when buying your paintball mask. The most important consideration is still safety. There are varying degrees of protection. To excel at play, and to have fun, buy a mask that protects you in the way that makes you comfortable. If you’re going to play all day, comfort becomes key.
You don’t want one that fogs up. You don’t want one that squeezes your head tightly. Because so many options are available, there is one that can fit you comfortably and securely. And still be in your price range.
So we’ve been through our top paintball masks in detail for all of you guys, and we hope that we brought you closer to making a decision. It’s a vital choice for your playing and one that we do NOT want you to regret.
What we can guarantee is that all ten of these masks are top quality, and will improve your game. Remember – paintball is an incredible game and one that keeps you fit, healthy and active, but it can be rough! You want something that can guarantee your safety and all of these models will do exactly that.
Happy huntin 😉