Paintball Harness Buyer's Guide
A paintball harness, also known as a paintball pack, pod pack or ball hauler, is what you wear to carry spare paintballs and other needed items onto the field of play. A paintball harness is typically worn around the waist and come in several designs and formats, some better for a particular style of play over others. This Paintball Harness Buyer’s Guide will help you make an informed decision.
What Are Paintball Pods?
Paintball Pods are also referred to as paintball tubes and as paintball pots in Europe. They are typically plastic tubes with a lid that hold paintballs for reloading during a game. The lid is almost always spring loaded with a tab or recess for the thumb to pop it open. Pods come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with the most common being 140 ball capacity. This is a convenient size to reload the common 200 round hopper or electronic loader without having to wait for it to be empty first. Pump and tactical players using small hoppers often use 50 or 100 round pods, while stock class players use the old school ten round tubes.
What Is A Paintball Belt Pouch?
The simplest form of paintball harness is a paintball belt pouch. These are simple pouches with pod sleeves to hold one to three pods of paint, with loops to attach to a belt worn around the waist. If you use a remote system then some belt pouches are made to carry an air tank with the pods, or just an air tank. Paintball belt pouches are cheap and effective, thus very popular with beginners and players on a very tight budget.
How Does The Harness Fit?
Most paintball harnesses use one of three methods to secure itself to your waist. The simplest and cheapest method is a nylon webbing or similar strap in the front with a quick release buckle. These are quick and easy to put on and take off. They are popular for their low cost as well as easier fit for portly or larger players. The downside to harnesses with the belt is they are not as snug as other designs so they tend to flop, bounce and move around during rigorous movement.
The other lower cost design is two very wide, non-stretch belts covered in Velcro. You simply pull each end around tight and press the Velcro in place. These have the advantage of being easy to put on and fit instantly. The downside to the static Velcro straps is they still flop a bit and can’t withstand as heavy without stressing the hold on the Velcro material.
The third design is the elastic waist belt harness. These are the most popular types for speedball and tournament players. This typical uses a double belt system of wide and durable stretch elastic, similar to a lumbar support belt worn by workers doing lots of heavy lifting. The first belt is stretched and velcro’d in place to hold around the waist, then the second belt is stretched and secured to that, pulling the back of the harness to your back. Elastic waist belt harnesses are the most fitting of all harness designs, staying snug against the lower back with minimal movement and bounce as you run and dive. Many are rubber or neoprene padded inside to both grip your clothes for a no-slip hold and to give some lower back comfort and support. Because of their snug and form-fitting design, these can be a bit uncomfortable for larger players with wide waist lines.
Horizontal Vs. Vertical Paintball Harnesses
Pods are held either horizontally or vertically in the pod pack, with advantages and disadvantages to each style. Horizontal packs usually hold an even number of pods pointed in either direction on your back with velcro’d flaps or straps to hold the pods in place. Horizontal pod packs are popular with woodsball players who can’t drop a pod on the field to be picked up later. It is easy to withdraw a pod, reload, then slide it back into the pod sleeve and secure the flap. They can also be easier for larger players to reach as the openings are to the sides of the body. The downside to horizontal pods are that they typically stick out from the sides, presenting a bigger hard target for a paintball to hit and break on. They can make crawling, lying on your side or rolling over very uncomfortable if not impossible.
Vertical pod packs typically keep the pods centered to the body. The pod sleeve openings are pointed down so you pull the strap open and withdraw the pod downwards. Because of their vertical position they rarely ever stick out from the side, making you a smaller target when fired at from the front. They allow for maximum movement but can be a bit tricky to efficiently slide a pod back in after reloading . This is not a problem on the speedball field where a player simply drops the empty pod to be picked up later, but in the woods that is not practical. Larger players or those with shorter arms sometimes have a problem reaching pods.
Horizontal pod packs are a common sight on a woodsball field. Vertical pod packs are the hands-down favorite on the speedball field.
What Does It Mean When a Paintball Harness Is a +1, +2, +3+2, etc.?
Paintball harnesses are usually named by the number of pod sleeves, such as a 3 pod harness. The “+” designation indicates optional capacity outside of the pod sleeves. When a pod pack is a “+1” this almost always means that it has a pouch for an air tank. Thus a “4+1” paintball harness has four pod sleeves and holds one air tank, a “6+1” holds six pods and a tank, and so on. These types of harnesses are usually used by players using a coiled remote hose system.
Numbers over +1 in a harness name denote how many additional pods can be carried outside of the pod sleeves. Typically these are held either in elastic loops between and on the ends of the sleeves, or under a wide elastic band that holds by compressing the pods together. The elastic loop models typical have a cord on them to slip over the thumb tab or hinge of the pod for extra hold.
A “3+2” harness has three pods in sleeves and two more in the loops between the sleeves for a total of five, a “4+3” a total of seven, etc. If additional loops are on the ends of the pod sleeves then they are typically an additional “+”, so a “3+2+2” holds three in sleeves, two in loops between, and two in loops at the ends for a total of seven pods total.