Paintball is a physically active sport, and a smart player will wear the proper equipment to help protect him or herself from potential injury. Statistics have shown paintball to be a safe activity when played responsibly. Everyone knows that an approved paintball goggle/ facemask is required and worn at all times but have you given any thought to protecting you from injuring yourself? Proper paintball padding and protective equipment will keep you playing longer and more aggressive with increased comfort and confidence. If you want to improve your paintball potential, read on.
Paintball Knee Pads
Your knees can take a beating no matter what style of paintball you play. Running, diving to the ground, crawling, kneeling on hard surfaces, and then getting back up to keep running… your poor knees can take some serious abuse! A proper set of paintball knee pads should be high on anybody’s list of gear not to play without.
A good set of paintball knee pads should fill several requirements. They need to be well padded, as you will be landing on them in a dive or accidental fall as well as keeping down behind cover. Try kneeling on a rock, stick, or bunker stake sometime without them and you’ll quickly appreciate good knee pads! Your knee pads need to be snug enough not to slip down, yet still be articulated to allow you to spend an extended time on bent knees without losing circulation or chafing. Lastly, they should promote keeping muscles and ligaments in your knees warm and supported to help prevent injury.
Paintball knee pads usually come in two types: knee and knee/ shin. Knee pads just cover the knee, light weight and offer the most freedom of movement. Knee/ shin pads protect from the knee to the bottom of the shin. They are a bit heavier and bulkier but offer the most potential bounce from incoming paint as well as padding from landing or banging into rocks and bunker stakes. Knee/ shin pads and shorts are a popular combo to wear when playing paintball in humid summer heat.
Paintball Elbow Pads
Next to the knees, your forearms and elbows are prime candidates for protective gear. The elbows in particular are exposed to impact when falling, diving, crawling or slamming into hard cover. The forearm and elbow are also exposed to incoming paintballs when you lean out from cover to shoot. A good pair of paintball elbow pads will go a long way to helping you play safer and longer.
Paintball elbow pads have several game-specific features incorporated into them. They are a slip-on design that covers from the elbow to the wrist, as the forearm is exposed to incoming paintballs and players typically land and crawl on the forearm while cradling their marker. They often have a wrist-over sleeve with a thumbhole to prevent them from sliding up the arm. Again, these long forearm/ elbow pads are popular to wear with just a t-shirt for summer play.
A good pair of paintball gloves will keep your hands in one piece while improving the grip on your paintball marker. Your hands are soft and vulnerable to the elements. Crawl around on a woodsball field and they will get cut, scratched and full of thorns and splinters. Go for a slide on an artificial turf field and you will get rub burns. While it really doesn’t hurt to get hit with a paintball, a close range shot to a finger is something most players would rather not endure! Get some paint spray on your marker and suddenly it’s like trying to hold on to a bar of soap. P aintball gloves have a leather or tough synthetic material palm to protect your soft skin from harm. The palms are often padded with additional layers of nylon or Kevlar to cushion impact and last longer. The backs may have sections of padding, plastic, or other armor pieces to shield the backside and knuckles from stinging paintball hits. Check out our Info Center article on paintball gloves for more in-depth glove information.
Paintball Slide Shorts
If you’re the type of player who goes fast and physical then you should consider wearing paintball slide shorts. These are slip-on protective undershorts that pad the hips, thigh and groin areas. Aggressive front players who need to slide or dive into bunkers should never be without them, and woodsball players crawling over hard ground will appreciate the comfort as well.
Paintball Chest Protector
A paintball chest protector is worn to take the sting out of getting hit. When you know that it’s not going to hurt to get shot by a paintball then you will start playing more confidently. Paintball chest protectors typically fall into two types. The simplest are a body armor-type design that basically sandwiches your torso between two slabs of padding. These are bulky and make you look like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle but provide the most coverage and absorb impact the best. The undershirt style paintball chest protector is a short sleeved or sleeveless design with articulated padding sewn into it. They are typically worn under your jersey or a baggy shirt. This style doesn’t cover as much but is much more maneuverable.
Paintball Neck Guard
The neck may be a small target area but it is one of the more tender areas to get hit! A paintball neck guard (also known as a paintball neck pad, paintball throat guard or a paintball neck protector) helps take the sting out of a neck shot as well as reduce the chance of a welt or bruise forming. A paintball neck guard may be as simple as a neoprene neck wrap or a more complex design complete with extra padding and throat flap.
Paintball Bounce Cap
Many players simply wear paintball headbands and head wraps to pad the forehead and a ski cap or beanie to pad the top of the head. These are nothing compared to a paintball bounce cap! A bounce cap is a ventilated and padded cap that provides superior impact protection for your dome while still looking good.