Tips For Playing Paintball In The Summer Heat
Summer is fast approaching, giving many people more time to get out and play paintball. Summer sun also brings high temperatures that can make playing paintball in the heat difficult if you are not prepared for it. You don’t have to wait until fall to avoid playing paintball in the heat if you take the necessary precautions ahead of time. Read on to learn tips for playing summer paintball.
Hydration Begins Before Game Day!
Many people think that drinking some water when you get to the field is good enough. This cannot be any farther from the truth! Proper hydration for playing paintball in the heat begins days in advance. Begin drinking at least twice your normal water intake three days before you plan to play. It is beyond the scope of this article to recommend a particular amount of water based on your weight, physical fitness, etc., but drinking one pint (.47 liter) an hour for a typical 16 hour day will keep 2 gallons (7.57 liters) a day working through your system.
You Should Have Two Coolers
You will want to bring two ice coolers with you. One will be for drinks on ice, and the other will be for your paintballs. One big enough to hold two cases of paint is a convenient size. Look for one that can accept a padlock.
Hydrate Early And Continue Throughout The Day!
Begin hydrating with water when you first get up on the morning of game day and continue throughout. You should be drinking plain water most, with real fruit juice and electrolyte-replacement sports drinks to supplement. Avoid soda and sugary pseudo-juices, or just drinking straight sports drinks. Good ol’ plain water is the primary liquid to drink.
Keep plenty of water on ice and be sure to drink a few ounces between each game. A hydration bladder with a hose and bite valve worn on your back is highly recommended for big games and scenarios where you will be out on the field for extended periods. The key is to keep a consistent and regular intake of water in your system. If you wait until you feel thirsty, then you have gone too long without drinking!
There are some studies that show drinking cold water, while having a soothing and cooling effect upon intake, can raise body temperature by a small amount from the body working to process it. Some feel it is better to drink tepid or warm water. However, one side note from these studies is that people are much more likely to drink ice cold water in larger amounts than warm water for the initial cooling effect and taste, thus actually staying more properly hydrated. If it makes you drink more then by all means ice it, just be sure to keep drinking plenty of water throughout the hot day!
Keep Your Paintballs And Gear Out Of The Sun!
Summer heat and humidity will cause the shell of your paint to swell up and get soft. This will make them jam in your loader and bounce rather than break on your opponents. Store them in the big cooler you brought. Place this in the shade of a tree, under a picnic table… anywhere in the shade out of direct sunlight. You want to keep them in a consistently cool temperature as long as possible. If it’s really hot, don’t put bags of ice in with the paint. The humidity from the cubes will be almost worse than the heat itself. Instead, take an ice pack or a frozen bottle of water, wrap it in a small towel and place it in the cooler. This will keep it a few degrees cooler and not ruin your paintballs.
When you come off the field, remember to put your gear down in the shade! A pod is a miniature greenhouse if left in the sun, and will bake the paint inside to a spongy blob in a short time. CO2 tanks are especially notorious for blowing their burst disc if left in the sun. Store them in the cooler as well. HPA tanks are not as volatile in the heat but that doesn’t mean you can just leave them in the sun, either. Intense summer heat is not good on the seals in your regulator. Keep them in the shade when not playing.
If you got a cooler that accepts a padlock then you can lock it closed and chained to a tree, table, etc., for security while on the field.
Wear The Right Goggles
Summer heat and humidity greatly increases the chance of mask fogging. The more humid a locale you play in, the more likely it will happen. Sometimes it is simple fogging, but in adverse humidity the result can be intense condensation. To alleviate this as much as possible, invest in a good paintball mask with a thermal lens. The dual pane lens helps prevent fogging much better than single lenses. Goggle fans are kind of loud and noisy but work wonders. They help draw out the warm moist air from your sweat and breathing while pulling in fresh air. Some players hate the noise they produce, but most find that they don’t notice the buzzing sound after a while. Goggle fans help prevent the intense condensation issue.
Bring several headbands, headwraps or bandanas to wear. These will absorb sweat and keep it from rolling down in your eyes and evaporating on your lens. Change them out throughout the day as they become soaked. Soaking the top of your headwear with water has a nice cooling effect as it evaporates. Between games, take your mask completely off your head and either hook it over loader or carry it. Don’t wear it on your forehead; let it air out!
Intense sunlight in your eyes makes it hard to see your opponents. Smoke or tinted goggle lenses and a goggle visor or brimmed hat will help deal with the sun’s glare in your eyes.
Summer Paintball Clothes
You need to stay cool in the heat so it is time to start wearing less. Milsim/ tactical players are the biggest offenders of this rule. When temperatures and humidity go off the charts then it’s time to leave the Call Of Duty helmet, balaclava, and heavy duty combat clothing at home. There are two schools of thought in regards to summer paintball playing tops: baggy or skin tight. A loose fitting and lightweight paintball jersey with ample mesh panels will allow fresh air to circulate, popular with speedball players. A form fitting, combat shirt style like the BT Professional Jersey series or Valken V-TAC Zulu made from moisture-wicking stretch material will draw sweat off your skin to allow faster evaporation for a cooling effect. These are often preferred by scenario players wearing a fully loaded tactical vest. A third and extremely popular way to play in the heat is to wear shorts with full length paintball knee/ shin pads, and a t-shirt with forearm/ elbow pads. These protect your arms and lower legs from paintball impact and the ground while keeping air circulation throughout, and letting your sweat evaporate to cool your body.
The more skin you have exposed, the more likely you will get sunburned! Remember to apply a high SPF sunscreen before play and again during lunch. A wide brimmed sun hat or boonie hat between games are great to change into. Summertime can also bring out the insects so pack some insect repellant!
Don’t Overdo It
Stay properly hydrated and don’t push yourself too hard. Heat and humidity puts tremendous stress on your body so plan for it. Rest more often in the shade than you normally would, taking a load off by sitting down or dropping to one knee. If you got a long flanking march or uphill push to make then figure it will take extra time for a slower pace. Plan your games or your attack through areas of shade, and avoid getting stuck in a position exposed to the sun. Consider carrying less gear and paint. That “backup this” and “emergency that”? Leave it behind if it is something you are not sure to use. It’s more important to carry extra water instead of extra pods of paint!
Buddy up with people and keep an eye on each other. Be honest with yourself and your physical state. If you start feeling extremely thirsty, dizzy, fatigued or nauseous… stop playing, get off the field, and go rest in some shade. If you notice that you or someone has stopped sweating, that is a sign of serious dehydration! Watch other players around you, occasionally ask them how they are doing, and help them off the field if they seem to be succumbing to heat conditions. No one will think less of you!
Hopefully that will improve your game this summer. Remember to stay hydrated, dress right, protect your gear, and take an extra rest here and there. Don’t become a heat casualty!