In the sport of paintball, when confronted with a question of what is best, there is often no “right” answer; players will usually defend their favorite brand or manufacturer. This holds for paintball guns, clothing, paint, and especially masks.
So how do you choose the right mask for you? All masks must be put through rigorous testing, and are all universally safe for the sport, but there are other factors that go into choosing the right mask. We’ve provided insight into a wide range of paintball masks, and several qualities that further define what each mask is like.
What Makes a Mask a Mask?
There are four parts to each and every paintball mask. Their shapes and colors change, but their functions remain the same. They are:
The lens is the most important part that you’ll never see until it saves you from taking a paintball in the eye. The lens obviously stops paint, but also keeps dirt and smoke out of your eyes. There are several types of lenses, including single-pane and thermal. Lenses can have special tints like mirrored and smoke, and recently have started being increasingly UV resistant. The frames are simply what holds the lens onto the rest of the mask. Some masks have integrated frames, such as the Profit, while others have removable and swappable frames, like the Proflex.
As the name implies, the bottoms of the mask are everything below the lens. Bottoms wrap around to the sides to cover your entire chin and parts of your neck. The bottoms also include any protection against your nose and cheeks. The bottoms house almost all of the ventilation, as that’s where your mouth and nose will breath out, so they have meshed areas or slots, angled away to prevent direct contact with the paint, to allow the mask to breathe with you.
Also called ear-pieces, the ears of a mask may be soft or hard, tall or short, but are designed solely to keep paintballs from hitting either in or on your ear. They must be open enough to allow you to hear calls and shots, while still keeping your ears safe. These can usually be swapped out, except in rare cases, such as the Profit and Flex 8.
The strap is one of the more flavorful parts of the mask. Practically, it holds the mask to your head, and should first and foremost be able to do just that. However, past its practical use, straps are often used to personalize the mask. Rare or collectible straps are often traded for upwards of $100, but there are hundreds of other options out there for any price range or color combination you need.
So, with all that technical information out of the way, let’s look at how to proceed in your search for the best paintball mask.
Choosing the Perfect Mask
Now that you have both a selection of popular mask systems and the information behind them, it’s time to pick a mask based on the below important factors.
First, obviously, is your budget. Paintball is an expensive sport; no other sport has you buying new balls every time you play, let alone entire boxes of them. So pick a price range that you want to stick to, and go from there. The more recognized the brand and the more features the mask offers, the more expensive the product will be.
Style of Paintball
Next, it’s important that you decide which style of paintball you wish to play. Not all masks are suited for all types of play, and it’s important to be comfortable in order to enjoy the sport. For example, in a day-long scenario game, where you’re crawling through the woods for hours without water or rest, you want comfort and space to breath inside your mask. You really won’t need to worry about having a minimal profile as the enemy is going to have multiple acres to flank you, and at that point, a low profile isn’t going to help as much as a calm operator, so finding a mask with good foam and ventilation is key.
Comfort and Appearance
This leads to the final point. Pick the mask that you like and the mask that feels good on your face. If, for example, you try on a mask and notice that foam itches, don’t use it. Comfort should always surpass style when buying anypaintball gear. Do you know what looks cooler than an itchy mask with a skull painted on it? Your team winning because you weren’t jamming your fingers up there to scratch your face. All kidding aside, it’s a serious point; the mask has to work for you. That means no fog, good peripheral vision, good acoustics, and a comfortable fit. This is why we recommend trying on your mask and wearing it prior to your game so that you have time to adjust to how it feels.
In the end, the most important piece of advice is to try different masks on, and, if you can, actually use them in a game. It’s by far the best way to find which mask is best for you.
Durability and Protection
When choosing the best paintball mask, you should definitely consider durability and protection. Paintball masks come in an array of materials and designs that can make your search even longer. Some masks are sturdy and made from plastic, while others are designed with soft rubber for optimum flexibility.
If you’re purchasing your first paintball mask, you’ll want to choose one that will protect your face from any direct hits you might receive. No matter how good you might anticipate you’ll be, you should be prepared for your opponents hitting you, and protect yourself accordingly. A harder shell provides a better job from any direct hits, although some brands feature foam on the interior so the hard plastic isn’t uncomfortable on your head.
Look For Excellent Ventilation
It’s easy to completely disregard ventilation when you’re looking at the best paintball masks available. More than likely, you’ll be more focused on protection and comfort. But, if your product doesn’t enable you to see and breathe like normal, how are you supposed to perform to your best standard and enjoy the sport?
Don’t just observe the designs that have ventilation around the front of the mouth, as you’ll also need proper ventilation in the side and back to prevent any fogging and help with your hearing. If you’re concerned about any paint coming through the ventilation, opt for a mask that has smaller holes throughout to keep out any paint while ensuring that no paint can mark your face.
Single Pane or Dual Pane?
Another important factor to consider is if you opt for a single or dual pane lens. These types of lenses offer a different vision, durability, and maintenance. Single pane lenses have an anti-fogging feature on them, but this completely depends on the environment that you wear the mask. This type of lens is easy to maintain and clean, and will also offer great durability. Many of these also come at a reasonable price.
The other option also prevents fog from building up in your mask, but they require more care and maintenance. For example, the inside of a dual pane lens can easily get damaged with scratches and you have to clean them with water and wipe them down to ensure they remain in good condition. Although this might sound like more work, dual pane lenses generally last longer because they’re more durable.
Ultimate Paintball Mask Comparison Table
Stylish and sleek, with JT’s legendary comfort and visibility.
Rigid body design and a difficult lens-changing system.
JT has been making paintball masks since the ’80s, and the Flex 8 line, introduced in 2005, brought a radical new look to paintball headwear, along with offering an optional full-head cover for added protection. It’s a solid mask for any player.
This mask does a great job of not fogging up in cold weather and you can even regularly use it when it’s humid outside. This is one of the most important features when searching for the best paintball mask because you don’t want the weather to restrict your game. Another advantage to the JT mask is its durable frame that protects your eyes and face use time you use it. The mask won’t let you down and you can comfortably have fun playing paintball without worrying about getting injured. Owning a durable and reliable mask is important to ensure that no one’s safety is at risk during the sport.
Despite this mask’s durability, it’s not uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. In fact, it’s flexible while still being able to take a beating. While playing on the field, comfort is an important factor for a mask to perform at its best. With small vents at the bottom of the mask, you can clearly communicate with your teammates, and these vents also enable you to properly breathe, even during intense moments.
Finally, there are virtually no restrictions to your sight while wearing this. It’s one of the best paintball masks to provide you with a 290-degree vision so that you’re always aware of your surroundings. Not only will this improve your gameplay, but keep you safe. Some masks can make it difficult to see what’s around you, as they’re merely built for protection.
Ultimate customization, trade value, comfort, and visibility. Flexible bottoms add extra chance of “bounces.”
The Proflex may feel too large for some players, and the profile is fairly boxy.
The Proflex (and it’s older brother, the Flex 7) is by far JT’s, and perhaps paintball’s, most legendary mask. There exists an entire subculture dedicated to trading and discussing “Flex” masks. Comfortable, lightweight, and with a thermal lens as standard, the Proflex is a truly awesome mask.
It comes with many similar features to the above option, as it’s built for professional and safe use while ensuring that you enjoy your time out on the field. It’s a great mask for such an incredible price (many have purchased for under $100). There are also some incredible features such as being able to change the straps to customize your look as well as change sizes should you choose to share with other players. You can also change the lenses, and removing them to do so is simple and quick.
This mask is a head-turner and a great addition to the game. Rather than a robust design, it’s sturdy while remaining elegant to look at – the perfect combination for all genders. With excellent vision, the mask always has you covered, no matter the angle you need to keep your eye on. One factor to consider on the mask are the ears. After multiple games, the ears tend to tear at the screw which can force you to purchase a replacement mask. But, if you only intend on playing the sport every so often, this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
Great ventilation for long, hot days, a close fit to the face, and a mean look.
Lenses scratch easily (even dual pane), and the Grill is bigger than it feels. Your voice echoes slightly inside the mask.
The V-Force Grill is used by several professional teams, which should tell you enough about its quality. This mask fits in-between an i4 and a Proflex when it comes to the feel on your face, but from the outside, it’s rather wide and, well, easy to shoot.
You can take this mask apart in less than one minute, and in this same amount of time, you can replace the lens, strap and foam padding. This impressive timing is all thanks to its incredible durability and usability, which makes the V-Force Grill the best paintball mask for busy individuals. This brand also comes with an array of lenses, including smoke, mirrored, reflective and tinted, so you can always customize your look. Although looking stylish while playing paintball might not be your top priority, it’s certainly not a disadvantage to enjoy how you look.
Engineered with a low-profile, the V-Force Grill is ideal for players of all sizes, and for everyone in any position. The best paintball mask should fit your head perfectly without being too chunky that it impairs your vision and adds extra weight to you. Thankfully, this model is lightweight, durable and only contains the essential materials and features that you need.
This mask is designed for someone who is tired of uncomfortable paintball masks but is looking for a product that will protect them and make playing the sport fun. It’s also a luxurious and flexible mask that you can wear all day without any irritation. This is all thanks to the semi-rigid and soft rubber frame that provides movement while protecting all areas of your face. This mask also has an aggressive look to it which will scare off your competition. But this aggressive is due to the numerous ventilation holes that provide constant air circulation so you can breathe and speak adequately.
Nice, tight feel with ample foam.
Poor ventilation and acoustics; make sure your teammates speak up.
The Profit is a controversial mask; you either love it or hate it. The foam is comfortable, and the field of vision is good, but many players complain of overheating and not being able to hear properly. In the end, try one on before you buy, or better yet, play with one.
We love that it has a mean design to it which can help to get you in the right mindset for the game while scaring off your enemies. With a low profile style, you’d expect a higher price tag, but this mask doesn’t rob you of your money. For just below $80, it’s a bargain that you can’t afford to miss – even if you don’t play paintball all that often.
If you’re looking for a paintball mask that has a comfortable fit, then don’t shy away from the Sly Profit LE unit. It’s not easy to find a mask that comfortably sits on your head without needing adjustments every 10 seconds. This is one of the only paintball masks on the market to use a cross-over type of dual strap that you can adjust when setting up your mask. This provides a secure fit while ensuring that everyone can wear this mask.
The Sly Profit is one of the toughest paintball masks. Designed with a co-molded nylon frame, this comes as a standard feature on every unit. With a combination of soft TPR on the lower part of the mask, this provides excellent movement and protection throughout your gameplay. Finally, not being able to see other players on the field can massively affect your gameplay, so we’re impressed that the Sly Profit mask can offer an extensive view so help you continue building tactics to win. This field of view is definitely an important component when choosing a mask.
The most spacious and comfortable mask out there, with JT’s innovative flex bottoms. Great FOV and ventilation.
Like the Proflex, this mask may feel very large for some players, and the big lens is open for ample scratches.
A collaboration of JT and Empire technology, the E-Flex combines JT’s flexible bottoms and overall profile with Empire’s E-Vent System to provide maximum breathability, visibility and bouncing. This mask is arguably the most comfortable on the market, while still retaining a relatively low profile shape. As a result, it’s perfect for those with larger heads.
The best paintball mask for you should be comfortable and enjoyable to wear. Thankfully, the E-Flex mask helps you to have fun on the field by not worrying if your mask is falling off or if you look a fool. Inside the mask, it’s filled with a hypo-allergenic foam that is thick and comfortable on your face. This means that no harsh plastics are touching your face and causing any irritation or annoyance. The foam also enables you to get a tight fit without applying any pressure to your face.
The E-Flex mask is certainly built to last for a long time as it’s designed with top quality materials. Even the earpieces and goggle straps are created to perfection so that the mask looks expensive and protects as much of you as possible. Maintaining the mask is easy to. When it’s time to replace the lens or foam, this is easy to access and the replacement parts are fairly inexpensive, too.
This mask’s goggle strap and chinstrap are comfortable and functional to wear for long periods of time. Although these features might not look like anything extraordinary, they’re lined with silicone to securely remain to the back of your head throughout the entire duration of the game. The chin pad is easy to take off if you don’t want to use it, although keeping it attached helps to improve your safety. Either way, this quick and simple process is beneficial to everyone.
Close-fitting and very customizable, lens swapping is a breeze, as is cleaning.
Fits a very particular player and the parts don’t feel very sturdy. Very small design.
HK’s new, and only, goggle system. Its sleek and angled faces reduce chances of a break, and it’s got lots of color options. However, it’s arguably the smallest mask available, and should definitely be tried on before purchase. With a limited size range, this mask isn’t ideal for everyone.
HK Army is one of the first brands to use a lens retention system to provide an innovative, safe, and interchangeable wear for every paintballer. The PVT lock system enables you to change the lenses in a handful of seconds, and you no longer have to gouge your mask and lens with a screwdriver. Offering a large, swiveling hinge system, you can change the appearance of your goggles instantly. There is also a wide range of colors and designs available, so you can choose a paintball mask that best suits you.
The 3D memory foam provides comfort while the high-density foam absorbs any impact to your face against the goggle frame. The foam is cleverly located around the paintball mask to absorb any sweat from our face as well as provide insulation when it’s cold outside. Made from thermoplastic elastomers throughout the mask, this allows the paintballs to bounce off of your face, no matter how hard and fast they travel toward you.
With padding on the inside of this mask, it’s comfortable enough to wear for hours at a time so you can enjoy the sport with no worries. To increase your gameplay, the mask comes with a high-definition optically correct view so you can see as far around you as possible. What’s the point in a mask protected you but you can’t properly see? You still need to have a high chance of winning the game as well as remaining safe.
Small, solid, and viciously styled. good acoustics, both in and out.
Like the KLR, very small design. Rigid design means no bounces.
A classic of tournament players, the i4 focuses on tight, low-profile play, where you need the minimum of extra material hanging off of you. The i4 breathes well, and allows you to hear even distant calls, but don’t be surprised when you get shot in the Adam’s apple; this mask has no extra coverage unlike some other paintball masks have.
The hard cost lens on this mask provides excellent UV protection and also prevents the mask against scratches and scuffs. Dye gives you a total of 20 different types of lenses to customize your look. This mask’s multi-directional design is a great addition in maintaining enough heat and moisture inside. Also, your breath is pushed out of the mask via the ventilation filters rather than up and causing fog issues.
This Dye i4 mask offers 1 ½ inc straps that are comfortable and can easily be adjusted without any issues locking the mask into place. Its strap also comfortably remains in place, even if you’re constantly moving around while playing. Sometimes paintball masks can slip off of your face, but you won’t encounter that issue the Dye’s product.
The frame is designed from rubber that provides a high-quality, yet flexible finish. It’s slim and has a lower profile than competitive masks, but this should definitely be seen as an advantage. This feature also means that the mask doesn’t weigh much and is comfortable to wear without impairing your vision. You should bear in mind that this does mean the mask offers less protection than others on the market.
In the above table, you’ll notice a column labeled “profile.” There are other ways to describe a mask’s profile (thin, wide, short, etc.), but “small-large” is the best range to describe the general profile.
Now, what is profile, exactly? It’s the total area that a mask occupies in your vision from different angles. This comes in handy when you’re playing an aggressive type of paintball, such as speedball, where your mask and gun are (or, at least, should be), and the only things visible outside your bunker. In this case, a small front profile would be most useful; you’re mostly going to get shot in your front. A small profile mask allows you to see from behind cover without exposing unnecessary amounts of mask that can get shot. Remember, on most fields, a hit on any of your gear is an elimination.
So, what profile do you want? What profile do you need? Smaller profile masks are generally used for speedball, although that’s not a rule. If you plan on playing in the woods (woodsball or mil-sim/scenario), then the profile isn’t as important. In that case, comfort should take precedence, but we’ll discuss how to choose the right mask later.
So there you have it! A complete guide to selecting your next mask system! Finding the best paintball mask for you doesn’t have to cost the earth, and you don’t need to purchase the most recognized brand either. Finding a durable and comfortable mask that you trust within your price range is totally possible if you prioritize what features are most important to you. It might take some time and research, but it’s definitely worth it.
Remember, there are dozens of other masks out there that aren’t listed here, but these above are some of the newest and most popular selections on the market. So get out there, try some on, and get on the field!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you play airsoft with a paintball mask?
In most cases, yes, you can definitely use a paintball mask as eye protection for playing with airsoft guns. A paintball mask is rated to take a heavier impact than a traditional airsoft mask is, so you can rest assured that you’re well protected from that fast airsoft bullet. However, paintball masks aren’t as versatile as airsoft masks when it comes to vision restraint and focus. In short, you might have a harder time aiming and performing certain tasks as efficiently as you would with an airsoft mask.
Can you wear a paintball mask with glasses?
Yes and no. It depends on each individual mask model. Some models offer a great inner mold that allows you to comfortably fit your glasses inside of it while others simply don’t allow you to do so at all. However, even if you manage to fit your glasses inside a paintball mask, you won’t have a comfortable experience. And thanks to the mask’s insulation, you might give off excess sweat, which in turn can cover up your lenses and make it even harder for you to play well and aim as you want to.
Can you wear a gas mask for paintball?
No! Under any circumstance, you should not wear a gas mask as a replacement for a paintball mask. Don’t be fooled by the fact that they look similar because a gas mask won’t offer nearly the same levels of protection that a paintball mask can. A gas mask’s lenses can easily crack even under minor pressure, so don’t even think about it!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article and that you’ve found the information to be useful. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us and we’ll respond as soon as possible.
Last update on 2022-09-25 at 07:50 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API