I will never forget the first time I got involved with paintball. A lot of my friends were getting into it when I was 15 years old and I followed them so I wouldn’t miss out. Before we could get to play, the first step was learning about what paintballers need to get started and it was not a short list.
Figuring out what you need to buy and wear depends on the person. Some paintballers come out with the bare minimum. All they need to play is a good quality long sleeve shirt and a pair of old Levis. Other players get deep into their soldier persona and go all out with camouflage gear from head to toe. Neither person is wrong because you can have a good time and stay safe with both options. As long as you follow the rules and guidelines which are pretty lenient, no one will stop you.
In this guide, I will give you everything you need to know about the gear you need to wear when you play. If you are short on time, below is a nice and short overview of what to buy.
- Construction type gloves that will not restrict movement of your fingers
- Sneakers, military/hiking boots, football style cleats or trail runners
- Loose fitting clothes that allow you to move around freely
- Long pants that are easy to run with and long sleeve t-shirts that can absorb paintball shots
- Baseball cap or a beanie. I recommend a beanie because they don’t get in the way when you wear a paintball mask.
Gear You Need To Play Paintball
The area around your head is the most sensitive place on a paintballers body. Cover it up as much as you can and focus on the most sensitive areas first. The most affordable option is to wear a baseball hat, beanie or a headband. They don’t cost much and are pretty easy to find in almost any sports store.
My favorite option is a headband because the rim of a baseball cap and get in the way when you wear a mask. Headbands are also good at defending your forehead and absorbing sweat so it doesn’t get in your eyes. If your forehead is moist, your paintball mask will slide down and could cause you to lose a game by getting hit. I can’t tell you how many times my mask would fog up on me and force me to stop playing due to moisture.
I will say with confidence that this is the most important piece of equipment you can wear. It protects your eyes and ears which can be damaged permanently if you don’t cover them up. Pack an extra lens for every game because you want to be ready for any situation. For my own collection, I have light lenses and dark lenses. I use them depending on the time of day and how strong the sunlight is.
Before we get into the clothing that you should wear, I will first discuss what you need to stay away from wearing. Anything that exposes any area of your body should be off your list. Even if you are a tough person and don’t mind a few bruises or welts, you should not wear shorts or t-shirts. The reason for this is because a lot of paintball venues will not allow you to play to avoid any liability issues. Another reason is that it doesn’t make sense. If you play Woodsball, you will spend so much of your time crawling around and on your knees. Cover up and avoid unnecessary cuts or welts.
Because I am promoting covering every area of your body, doesn’t mean that you should wear triple layers. This will hurt you also because you will have problems moving around the field and you will tire easily. Wear only one layer and make sure that the layer of clothing that you do choose is will do a good job of protecting you.
My best piece of advice for new players is not to go overboard. Don’t go to a sports store and buy the fanciest and best-looking paintball gear you can find. Stick to the basics until you know you want to commit to the sport. Wear cheap but durable clothing that you can find in any Army Surplus store for pennies on the dollar.
The type of footwear you go with all depends on what kind of paintball game you will choose to play. The two most popular for newbies are Woodsball and paintball. If you go with Woodsball, stick with military style boots that support your ankles and don’t make you slip. Although you could wear running shoes and cleats, go with boots for best performance.
There is one drawback when you wear boots which is why many beginner players don’t like them. They tend to be heavier and slow you down if you are not in good shape. In the beginning, I had a similar complaint but I got used to them. It also makes the scenario military play for authentic when you wear what real soldiers wear. Stay away if you are not in good shape and put on a pair of running shoes instead.
In my opinion, the best footwear for speedball is cleats. Speedball fields use the same turf that football fields do which gives you good balance. Do not use them if the field has areas that are made of cement or wood because you could get injured. Soccer cleats tend to be the best and are the ones that I buy for me and my kids. They never break if you invest in a good brand and are very easy to move around the field with.
My last tips may seem like common sense but you would be surprised how many people don’t listen. Stay away from footwear that exposes your toes such as sandals. I witnessed a new player last month fracture his toe because he didn’t listen to this obvious advice. Another good tip is not to wear shoes or sneakers that are new and have not been broken in yet. You will be uncomfortable the whole day and will most likely lose the game.
Paintball fields will not ban you from a game if you don’t wear gloves but it would be foolish not to wear them. Your hands are more delicate than you think and would good shot to the knuckles or fingers will hurt. A decent pair of paintball gloves or even construction gloves are life savers. They prevent you from getting cuts, scrapes, and burns that could affect how you perform on the field.
Stay away from gloves that are super thick and that most people use when it snows. It will be very hard to pull the trigger on time with these and it is too much protection. Wear any type of glove that is thin and covers you up well without hurting your game.
My favorite gloves are golf gloves and gloves that bodybuilders use for weights. If you are in the mood to splurge you can buy gloves that are made specifically for paintball. Some players even wear fingerless gloves. This helps them keep their trigger finger free and ready to pull with no restrictions. I prefer these and have modified my golf gloves in the past to accommodate me.
Clothing Tips To Consider
Everything that you need to wear to stay safe and injury free has been covered. I will dedicate this section to giving you some extra tips that I picked up with experience you might not know.
Dress According to The Weather
Most of the games I play are in a state where the weather is cold and it doesn’t change much year round. Because of this, I wear pretty thick clothing to keep myself warm without killing the way I move.
When I went to play in Florida with this same gear, I realized what mistake I made. It was very hot and I almost passed out from heat exhaustion.
This is why you should always consider the weather when deciding what clothes you want to wear. No matter what you pick, always make sure that it is loose and doesn’t hurt the way you move on the field. Use a bit of common sense when deciding on what to wear depending on the climate and you will be okay.
Wear Used Clothing You Don't Care About
Never buy a pair of new pants and long sleeve shirt to play paintball. Instead, choose clothing that is either old or that you don’t care about losing. I say this because when you are out playing, most of your time will be spent diving, crawling and rolling around. There is a good chance that the stains on your clothing and pants will not be washable. Not to mention, you might even tear it if the terrain is rough enough.
Paintball paint should be the last of your worries. They are water soluble and easy to clean stains if you use a proper stain remover. You must do it after a game quickly because the longer you let them sit around stained, the harder it is to remove them.
Wear Only Darker Colors or Camouflage
Paintballers who wear bright colors stick out like a sore thumb and are easy to target. When you play Woodsball it is best you stick with darker military colors that will conceal you in the woods. For speedball players, this does not apply and they can wear any colors they like as long as they are not banned. I love wearing camouflage because I am a paintball sniper who does a lot of hiding for most of the game.
Wear Extra Protection When Necessary
Some players have higher pain thresholds than others. For paintballers that want to reduce the amount of pain they will face, it is best to go with as much gear as possible. I would go with knee pads, elbow pads, a paintball mask, chest protectors and neck protectors. Every inch of your body will be covered and the pain you feel from getting shot will be minimal.
Bring Extra Clothing or a Towel
This is the first mistake I made when I played my first paintball game. I played for hours trying to learn the ropes and was filthy after the game. I did not bring extra clothes and was forced to sit in my car with mud all over me. I stained my car seat and it was a nightmare to clean. Bring an extra pair of clothing to avoid this scenario or a towel to sit on in the car. It will save you hours of stress when you have to clean your car or walk around in public.