What To Wear When Playing Paintball – Field Guide

If it’s your first time going to a paintball field, you’re probably wondering what to wear to paintball for the first time. Your first time may either be at a speedball field (either indoors or outdoors) or outside playing woodsball. “Speedball” is the name for a fast-paced style of paintball that is played on a field with inflatable bunkers, while “woodsball” is paintball played outdoors, usually in the woods. Don’t worry—these clothing tips can be used for both of these types, and other varieties of the game, too. The speedball variety of paintball is an intense physical activity that typically includes lots of running combined with jumping, crouching, and even crawling. These paintball tips will focus on either indoor or outdoor speedball since it is so common nowadays. What happens when a paintball hits you? Paintballs will be whizzing by you left and right at over 200 miles per hour… and yes, some of them (or lots of them) will hit you. It hurts a little, and usually paint splatters onto you. But how badly it hurts depends on where the paintball hits you and, more importantly, what you’re wearing in that spot. (Sure, it hurts, but it’s not so bad. Think of it like getting snapped with a rubber band. It hurts just enough so that you don’t want to get hit! Trust me, you’ll be fine.) Wearing the right clothing not only reduces the pain of getting hit, but also can help keep you in the game. Many times paintballs will hit you and break, but sometimes, they bounce right off of you and don’t break. If that’s the case, you’re not eliminated yet! Only paintballs that break will get you out of the game.

How do you know what to wear to paintball?

The key tip here is to wear dark, loose fitting clothing. If you wear tight clothing, the paintballs will hurt more and they won’t bounce as often. As many paintball games are played on outdoors fields, make sure you check the weather and dress appropriately. Remember—you can always remove layers of clothing. If it’s cold out, wear a few layers. Once you start running around, you’ll warm up and want to take some of those layers off. Dark clothing will help you from being spotted as easily. Bright colors are like neon signs to the enemy saying “hey, I’m over here! Shoot me!” So try to pick darker colors if you can. We’ll break it down by body part in the following sections.

Protect Your Head: Headgear

Getting paintballed in the head is not fun if your head isn’t properly covered. So, what should you wear on your precious noggin? First off, all paintball fields require that you wear a mask at all times. It’s not optional. You can rent this equipment from the field, so don’t bother buying one for your first time. What you should bring is a baseball cap or beanie. You can turn the baseball cap backwards and wear it with almost any rental mask, and the beanie will cover most of the skin on your head. Remember, we want to cover as much skin as we can, so bring a light scarf in case you get hit in the neck, too. Those can hurt quite a bit. You might end up taking it off, but better to have it on hand if you need it. If it’s really cold out, stay warm by wearing a knitted cap and a heavy scarf.

Protect Your Body: Shirts

You’re going to be getting dirty, splattered in paintball paint (which washes off easily), and if you’re outdoors, you’ll probably get grass stains on you, so, use common sense here. Don’t wear anything you wouldn’t mind getting dirty. Paintball paint will wash out, but the dirt and grass stains usually won’t. Wear a loose, long sleeve t-shirt (to protect those arms), or a hooded sweatshirt. Don’t worry, you’ll fit right in. Just don’t wear anything skin tight! Loose fitting is best.

Protect Your Hands: Gloves

Your hands are going to be shot more often than not as they are holding your gun, and you’re pointing your gun down the range at your opponents. Hands are sensitive instruments, so it’s fair to say that getting hit in the hand on your bare skin hurts pretty badly. Solution? Wear some tight fitting work gloves, fitness gloves, or weightlifting gloves. Here is the one place where you want tight fitting clothing. You’re going to be holding and pulling the trigger on your paintball gun (which is called a paintball “marker”) and you don’t want big, bulky gloves slowing you down and making things difficult. Thick winter gloves are not a good option. Wear tight gloves on your hands.

Protect Your Legs: Pants

Not only will you be getting hit with paintballs, but the terrain might be pretty rugged. You want to wear dark, loose-fitting jeans, sweatpants, or cargo pants. Many paintball fields also rent out jumpsuits and you can call ahead or check the field’s website if you’re interested in that option. The main key here is to wear something rugged and loose-fitting that you can still move around in. The darker the better.

Wear The Proper Shoes

You’re going to be on your feet a LOT, and running and moving a TON, so shoes are by far the most important paintball clothing consideration. Ankle injuries are very common when playing paintball, so it’s important to wear shoes that give you support but still let you move around. Soccer cleats, hiking boots, army boots and sneakers are good choices. And remember: dark colors! (if you can). If playing indoors, wearing sneakers is usually the best choice. Bottom line is, if you are prone to rolling your ankle, wear something that gives you support. It’s all fun and games until your ankle pops out of the socket. Do NOT wear any open toed footwear like sandals. Also, you’re going to be getting dirty an possibly wet, so again, don’t wear shoes you want to keep clean. Wear “play clothes” only!

Other Items To Bring

Aside from the clothing tips above, there are a few other things you might want to bring with you to the paintball field. First off, grab yourself a backpack or duffel bag and put an extra change of clothes in them. You’re getting hit with paintballs and lots of them, so you’re likely to have paint all over you. Having a fresh set of clothes will keep your car (or your ride’s car) clean and will feel so damn good after getting all sweaty. You might go out for food afterwards so feeling somewhat fresh and clean will be worth it. Also, bring a towel and a garbage bag so you can wipe yourself down and put your dirty (and possibly smelly) paintball clothes into the bag for the laundry. Bring some cash as well. Many paintball fields are still stuck in the stone age and don’t accept credit cards. Bring a little more than you think you might need. You can rent a decent entry-level gun, a mask, hopper, tank and some paintballs plus your entry fee all for less than $30. Some fields even have $20 deals. After that, you will usually pay for refills. Many fields offer snacks (pizza, subs, drinks), so you may want money to eat something after all that working out. $60 in cash is a good, safe amount.

What To Wear To Paintball: Summary

So, how do you show up prepared for your first game of paintball?
  • Dress for the weather (if playing outdoors).
  • Wear loose, dark clothing.
  • Head: Wear a baseball cap or beanie.
  • Shirt: Wear a loose, long sleeve shirt and/or hoodie. Layers are good.
  • Hands: Wear tight-fitting gloves that don’t slow you down.
  • Pants: Wear loose-fitting jeans, sweatpants, or cargo pants.
  • Shoes: Wear sneakers indoors, and cleats, hiking shoes, or sneakers outdoors. Darker is better.
  • Bring a change of clothes and a towel
  • Make sure to bring a garbage bag (for dirty clothes and towel).
  • Bring at least $60 in cash (just in case).
And most of all, come prepared to try something new and have a great time!

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