Large mask for extra protection and comfort. Improved air flow. Extremely flexible construction. Large thermal lens. Easy to customize. Wide range of view. Available in a wide range of colors.
The color, lens combinations, and prices of the Extend Pro vary wildly online, so good luck finding your favorite design.
Affordable. Durable mask frame. Smoke-tinted thermal lens won’t fog up. Wide visibility. Comfortable fit.
Only 2 colors available. Its foam padding could be a bit softer.
Lightweight. Easily adjusts for custom fit. Design whisks sweat from wearer’s face. Comfortable foam ear protection. Wide range of vision. Anti-fog thermal lens. Many colors available.
While the i4 is a comfortable and well-protected paintball mask, it is one of the pricier models out there.
Extra-affordable. Wide visibility. Rigid mask. Anti-fogging single clear lens. Woven strap prevents mask slippage.
This is not a thermal lens. Black is the only color available. More ventilation would be nice.
Has a dual-pane thermal lens to fight fogging. Boasts tri-layer foam padding for greater comfort and impact resistance. Features high-density compression-molded earpieces for a more comfortable fit. Offers an adjustable goggle and chin strap.
Some users find the ventilation lacking, making it difficult to breathe in the mask.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Paintball is a safe, exhilarating way to simulate real-life combat in a competitive setting. That doesn’t mean it’s completely harmless, though, because paintballs are flung through the air with incredible velocity and force. This makes safety equipment paramount for every player, and perhaps the most important piece of safety equipment is the paintball mask.
Paintballs masks consist of a semirigid plastic shell, interior padding, air vents, and a visor of some sort. Some models, however, don’t have a visor, giving players the option of adding their own goggles to the mask. The job of the mask is to protect your eyes, nose, mouth, and face from impacts without hindering vision or stifling sound.
Paintball masks come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and designs. They offer a huge range of features and options to consider. This buying guide gives you all the information you need to choose the right product, allowing you to shoot well, see straight, and stay safe.
It’s important to try on any mask you’re considering. You don’t want to have to return it, and you certainly don’t want to play with compromised vision.
Size: A paintball mask doesn’t typically fit over your head like a helmet, so there’s more wiggle room when it comes to sizing. It’s still an important factor, though, not only for comfort but also for stability during active play. You wouldn’t want to run into cover only to have your mask slide into an uncomfortable position, taking your focus off the fight at hand.
Field of view: Another consideration is your field of view: too small of a mask will limit your ability to spot things in the periphery.
Glasses: If you wear glasses, it’s absolutely crucial that you find a mask designed to fit over them, because some are and some aren’t designed to wear with glasses.
Paintball masks are made from a solid or semirigid plastic like elastomer, with visors constructed from a shatter-resistant polycarbonate like Lexan. The overwhelming majority of helmets are more than durable enough to break or deflect paintballs, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you can, seek out a paintball mask that meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), which sets safety and durability standards for a variety of products.
Mask: For the mask itself, players have a choice between solid, rigid plastic or more pliable versions. Solid masks mitigate impacts better than softer masks, but this protection weighs more and is less comfortable. Softer masks, by contrast, are more ergonomic during vigorous play, and paintballs bounce off them rather than break. This alone can keep you on the field, which is why many tournament players prefer the softer helmets.
Visor: As far as lenses go, dual-pane or thermal variants offer far greater protection than single-pane lenses. Some models also offer UV protection.
Proper airflow is absolutely crucial to prevent fog buildup inside your mask and visor. This is accomplished through the use of vents around the mouth and nose, but different manufacturers have different vent designs. Fancier iterations have angled blades to dissipate heat and moisture quickly, while others are just basic slits.
The biggest difference between low-end and high-end paintball masks is the style of lens they use. Cheaper versions use a single-pane lens, which consists of one solid piece of Lexan or other polycarbonate.
Dual-pane lenses are far better for several reasons. The first is safety: the two panes offer extra protection for the wearer. They also have strong antifog properties: the slightly thicker outer pane is fused to an inner pane with a pocket of insulating air inside. This air acts as a buffer, allowing the interior lens to warm up without being affected by the outside temperature. Why? When there is a large temperature differential, fog can build up. It’s also why dual-pane lenses are commonly referred to as thermal lenses.
Most paintball masks have at least some interior padding, generally in the form of a foam strip above the eyes and patches near the cheeks, while others have multilayered proprietary foam to wick moisture away from the face and increase comfort. Some masks have no padding at all.
Inexpensive: About the least you can expect to spend for anything resembling a paintball mask is $15 to $20. There are decent single-pane products in this price range, but watch out for cheap “catch-all” masks for paintball, airsoft, dirt biking, and other outdoor activities. These aren’t particularly great at any one thing, and well-run paintball fields may not let you play wearing one.
Mid-range: Jump up to $40 to $80 and you’ll be rewarded with masks that have antifog thermal lenses even at the low end of this price range. You’ll also find interchangeable parts to make the masks customizable, comfort straps, and more interior padding.
Expensive: You can expect to spend around $150 for the best of the best in materials. These include strong thermal lenses, durable yet flexible masks, a wide field of view, clever venting systems, customizable parts, and loads of interior padding for comfort.
Q. How can I prevent my paintball mask from fogging up?
A. A foggy paintball mask is both extremely annoying and potentially dangerous because you may not be able to see where the players are, where obstacles are, or where paintballs are coming from. Players may also be tempted to remove their mask to wipe the fog away, which could be dangerous if they’re hit at the wrong time.
The best way to prevent fog is to buy a mask with proper airflow vents around the mouth, nose, and cheeks. Some masks have fog-resistant coatings on the inside, while others recommend applying an antifog spray (aka lens cleaner) before a match. Other fog-minimizing hacks include shaving cream, soap, Vaseline, water-repellent spray, or a good, old-fashioned spit shine.
Q. Can I wear glasses under a paintball mask?
A. The last thing you want in a paintball match is impeded vision, but there are myriad paintball masks specifically designed to work with glasses. These are built with a bit of extra room near the eyes and often have cutouts in the foam for the temples (side pieces). If this is a concern for you, we strongly recommend buying a mask from a sporting goods store rather than buying one online. You’ll be able to confirm that the fit is right before buying. In addition, prioritize masks with thermal lenses and proper ventilation, because without those features, your glasses may fog up along with the lens.
Q. Do paintball masks work for airsoft?
A. For the most part, it’s acceptable to wear a paintball mask for airsoft because it’s designed to handle the greater impact of paintballs compared to small airsoft pellets. Paintball masks are also more flexible and less liable to fog up. As a matter of fact, you’ll commonly see new airsoft players using paintball masks at first, but they usually upgrade to a purpose-built airsoft helmet. They do this because many airsoft arenas have strict rules, and some only permit certain styles of safety equipment, such as full-face masks. Also, the vents in paintball masks are designed to protect against larger projectiles and might allow smaller pellets to pass through them.