The Truth About Goggles

BT Avatar paintball mask

BT Avatar paintball mask What’s the single most important piece of paintball gear you’ll ever own?

It’s not your marker.

Sure, your paintball gun is a sexy piece of gear. Everybody wants the biggest, baddest, most realistic shooter they can get their grubby hands on. But a paintball marker is only as good as the player who wields it. When the paint’s flying and things get hairy, it’s your mask that can make or break you.

That’s right, your mask. That annoying little piece of gear is often the last thing people think of, right before they reluctantly plunk down 20 bucks for the cheapest pair they can find. If that’s you, then it’s time to rethink your priorities.. Your paintball mask determines everything, from whether you can spot a stealth movement out of the corner of your eye to whether you can see anything at all. So you’d better make it a good one.

A high-quality paintball mask can run you $60 or more, but it’s well worth it as long as you make a smart purchase. Here are a few tips on choosing a good one (if you don’t feel like reading all this, skip right to the end for a nifty video):

Thermal Lenses

It’s simple science: The adrenaline kicks in and you start breathing heavily, which causes your mask to fog up. Fogging also becomes an issue whenever you’re playing in humid or cold weather. Most starter masks have single-pane lenses, which fog up easily. You can reduce the problem with an anti-fog mask, which comes with a fog-resistant coating on the lens, but the coating can wear away over time.

Instead, I recommend a thermal mask, which is more expensive but has double panes to prevent fogging. The space between the panes acts as a buffer against condensation. This is especially important if you wear glasses. (For ultimate fog protection, upgrade your thermal goggles with a goggle fan.)

Field of View

A good mask protects your melon from paintballs without restricting your field of view, or how much you can see to the side without turning your head. A mask with a better field of view can help keep you from getting flanked, letting you scan for threats from the side without losing sight of your target. Generally, field of view is limited with entry level masks and increases as the mask’s quality increases. Look for the widest lens you can get.

Comfy Fit

You need a mask you can run, jump, crawl and slide around in. One you can sleep in. One you won’t want to take off. Ever. Once you hit the field, that mask becomes a part of your skin.

Finding a good fit can be tricky, as not everyone has access to a store where they can try different models on for size. My best advice is to make as many paintball buddies as you can on the field and ask to try on their masks until you find one that feels right. Barring that, a higher quality mask generally will offer a better fit. You want a wide, adjustable strap and lots of padding around the lens.

Of all those fancy paintball accessories you’ve been drooling over, your mask is the single most important purchase you will make. Besides, you want to intimidate your opponent? Wear one of these, and nobody will be looking at your gun. Trust me.

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