Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
Initially being an engineering specialist, Tom has never stopped learning and acquiring other knowledge and skills. Now he’s involved in technical support for a well-known household appliances manufacturer, so no wonder he knows everything about almost everything you buy for your home.
Last updated: July 06, 2021
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Paintball or ‘paintballing’ is actually a serious game in which teams simulate military-like combat against each other using guns to shoot capsules of paint at each other. Usually there are different colors to represent different teams, and even a point system depending on where you hit a target – elbow, knee, headshot, etcetera. Many people play the rules that if you get shot in the head you’re out for the round, which quickly brings up one of the most important concerns: how do you get shot in the head, but not in the face?
The following buying guide takes a look at paintball masks, often called ‘goggles’, and lists many of the top-ranked models on the current market. These masks are essential to paintballing because they are designed to cover and protect the ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and sometimes even include a throat guard. With some guns capable of projecting a paintball 300 feet per second, not only will you be grateful when you’re wearing a mask, but you’ll also want to make sure and buy the best paintball mask. Since there are so many different mask options available, we made it our number one concern to only review masks which include the most important features and also use good materials and innovative technologies/designs to improve these features. Some must have parts which we considered essential to the best paintball masks were: weight and whether it impeded your movement or not; ventilation because breathing is essential, especially when you’re running around while under fire; lenses, ones that don’t entirely limit your peripheral vision and which also have anti-fog options to counter your breathing and the fogging of your goggles when it’s cold.
In designing this guide, we reached out to manufacturers of the following products to ask them about the design of their product and the materials and time which have gone into each individual mask. We also talked to verified customers to see how each mask held up during a fight and also over time, and we had them list some of the pros and cons they’d noticed with particular brands. The following products are organized into a comprehensive chart which lists each of their specific details and noted pros/cons. After these reviews, we’ve included a helpful little guide to understand the features of these masks, with frequently asked questions at the end. It’s our hope you’ll put this information to use and have no problem picking the best paintball mask.
The unique EVS goggles featured here are a combination of cutting-edge design with cutting edge technology based entirely on a focused study and the inputs of experienced paintball players. The reason this mask is unlike almost any others in paintball is due to its wide-view spherical lens which is seamlessly part of the overall mask and allows for a 270-degree field of vision. This lens also uniquely features a mouthguard to keep the upper lens from inner breath fogging, as well as a dual pane to reduce all outer fogging from temperature drop. Len’s features include ASTM endorsement for maximum eye protection, scratch resistance, and anti-reflective materials which block 100% of harmful UVA radiation. Just fitted over your head, this mask is very comfortable and made from flexible triple density face foam; foam also includes moisture wicking fleece. The head strap is built for a nonslip fit that stretches around your head but also has a comfortable silicone back. Even your ears are protected and your hearing improved with thermo-formed ear canals which not only offer maximum comfort but also excellent hearing.
If you’re looking for a mask that offers the most customization for head size, ear shape, nose bridge, etcetera, then look no farther. The Unite goggles are uniquely designed to adjust almost all features of the fit with by use of an allen tool – such as the nose bridge adjustment system – and you can even adjust while you’re wearing the mask for the exact fit around your face. To eliminate rising hot air while you’re running, ducking, and firing, this mask creates a perfect seal (once fitted) which also comes with 16 different vent zones that will eliminate all fogging. The lens itself features Push EXP technology which is guaranteed safe for your eyes with a maximum field of vision, but also allows for a quick-change lens system when paint is impeding your line of sight. For maximum security around your head, this mask comes with a magnetic chin strap as well as a universal fit silicone tacked head strap. For your ears and their protection with added ability to hear, the mask includes soft cup formed ear pieces; other facial comfort is provided using triple layer face foam that is also moisture wicking.
What stands out?
Comes with a protective travel case
Prescription glasses friendly
Allows for great breathability and voice projection
What cons did we manage to find?
Ventilation reduces glare on mask, but does not eliminate sun glare
From the main manufacturer this brand is widely considered one of the designs with the most customizable configurations; although just off of Amazon your options might be a little more limited. First, the VIO’s lens offers a massive field of view which is also 100% UV protected; this lens can be removed and replaced in seconds with a unique integrated hinge lock, and the lens is easy to clean with a regular rag or wipe. The profile itself features a lightweight streamlined mask that’s quite compact but easily protects the eyes, ears, face, and chin; an extensive ventilation system around the mouth and nose also provides easier breathing, reduction of goggle fogging, and the ability to comfortably talk to your teammates. Mask is finished in hard-scratch resistant coating, anti-reflective coating, and anti-fog hydrophobic coating, meaning no scratches or sunlight or below-zero temperatures will ever distort the masks optical clarity.
Why are we impressed?
Allows for great breathability and voice projection
Massive forehead and head protection
Trifecta finish; scratch-resistant, anti-reflective, and anti-fog
What negatives must you be aware of?
Not very prescription glasses friendly
Somewhat distorts hearing
Face mask is easily removable but somewhat harder to reattach
This mask has one of the smallest profiles on the market though still with an excellent extended field of vision. Its main qualities are those which provide ventilation and protect the chin, mouth, and ears; though the thermal lens is very industry leading and provides a distortion-free and fog-free field of vision. The rapid change lens system also allows the wearer to change lenses in ten seconds or less by pulling on interior tabs and sliding the pane free. The I4 helmet itself is tested at twice the current impact rating for ASTM and CE standards, and equipped with hard impact abrasion resistant coating. Unique facial foam offers the best comfort that conforms universally to any face type with dual stage foam that is specifically designed to wick sweat and moisture. Ear protection is created by soft and flexible earpieces which are compression formed from the foam. Using venting technology and blade angling on the mask, the I4 dissipates heat and moisture quickly and also allows you to breath easier and have your voice carry farther to teammates.
Where face foams and allergies are concerned, we want to point out that this mask has one of the best hypo-allergenic foams; and it’s comfortable too. It comes with proven vents around the mouth, nose, and sides of the faces which reduce fogging and create excellent breathability with voice projection. Eye protection allows for a 270-degree view with zero optical distortion and also uses anti-fogging technology and UV protective dual lens layering. Advanced e-flex thermo-foam ear pieces protect your ears without distorting your hearing; e-flex foam is also ultra-soft and flexible around any face. This mask is very lightweight and easy to operate in any conditions, for when you’re waiting in ambush or running for your life. The lenses are true thermal designed lenses which will protect your eyes, resist all fogging from breath or weather, and deflect most hard abrasions during battle. Finally, this design allows for rapid lens changes and a maximum number of comfort adjustments.
Why is it special?
Great breathability and voice projection
Barely distorts hearing at all
True thermal lenses will protect eyes from all harmful UV light
The Virtue VIO mask is semi-flexible with rigid protection zones around the chin, eyes, and ears. While it will fully protect your face and comfortably fit over any user’s head with manual adjustments, this mask isn’t the best for adjustments while you’re on the move in high-stress combat. Its design features an efficient single piece with maximum airflow through ventilation slots around the mouth, nose, and sides of the face. Ventilation keeps the mask from fogging but also allows for easier breathing and clear hearing with great transmission of your voice. On the interior this mask offers two layers of protective and comfortable eye foam, though with the option of removing the second layer when you get too hot or you find it restrictive. Additionally, this mask is compatible with all V10 line visors, straps, replacement foams, and lenses.
Why is it special?
True thermal lenses protect from all harmful UV light
Lenses are anti-reflective and allow for constant vision
This mask features a rather bulky design that couples a hard exterior and deep vent with a thick interior foam and velvet lining. The foam itself is impact absorbent SBR foam for maximum absorption of all blows, as well as for added bounce potential and the wearers personal comfort. Backing of this mask includes a double strap so you can control the maximum angle adjustment and overall retention of the mask. Exterior components are made from durable and stylish nylon and allow for fast lens changes at a moments notice. All earpieces are made from foam and provide pillow-like impact absorption and bounce back while not greatly inhibiting your hearing. The ventilation system is made from molded TPR and creates optimal heat dissipation along your nose and mouth; a factory thermal sealed gradient lens keeps excess heat from fogging up your vision. Finishing touches include an abrasion resistant coating, moisture wicking coating, and a purchase included velour anti-scratch carry bag.
What stands out?
Prescription glasses friendly
Most water-resistant mask
Great breathability and voice projection
What cons did we manage to find?
Somewhat limits wearers hearing ability
Double strap’s are difficult to tighten and loosen on your own
This is one of the friendliest helmets/masks for prescription glasses. It’ll fit your glasses just fine and side tabs also allow you to manually adjust the outer visor for the most comfort and protection. However, the design is rather more like a tactical helmet than a mask, and it may not be nearly as comfortable or easy to put-on/remove. It’s high strength and lightweight hard-shell design are made from ABS plastic with breathable mesh made from low-carbon steel. Lenses are made from thick PC material which is scratch resistant and will take loads of damage with no adverse effect on wearer, however PC lenses are more likely to fog up in cold weather. Built with a helmet head-lock system, this mask will stayin place at all times with high stability, and the G4 facial system can be completely released or attached during and between battles. What’s most unique about this helmet is its platform compatibility for attaching cameras, flashlights, night vision goggles, helmet camouflage, and so forth.
What do we love it for?
Most friendly for prescription glasses
Platform compatibility for multiple attachments
Full protective helmet with maximum breathability and air flow
What were we disappointed with?
Helmet headlock system makes removal a little more difficult
In even the harshest condition this mask will keep you protected and dry with its water wicking QuickChange foam that easily clicks into place and is dry every time. Additional detachments can be made with the forehead comfort pads, comfort chin strap, and close contact Posi-Clip head strap. This mask is designed for featherweight comfort and increased stability with an excellent view of your surroundings. The Provisor is designed to keep sun, rain, and paint off of the lenses while in use, and if bright light or splattering does occur these tinted lenses are treated for thermal protection and abrasion resistance. For added face protection this mask also includes and integrated VFlector forehead bounce panel, meaning you’ll never experience a hard shock to the head which puts you out of the game. The ventilation system allows for soft airflow around the nose, mouth, and sides of the face; this will mostly keep your mask from fogging, but periodically you may need to remove it from your face to fully flush the lenses out with cold air.
What makes it stand out?
Makes for great breathability and voice projection
Does not hamper hearing
Peak condition for at least the first entire season of use
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Not very prescription glasses friendly
Thermocured lenses, not true thermal lenses. Will work well for a while
Extended use (after about 6 months) will result in fogging
Things to Consider
The remainder or our guide is designed to answer customers typical questions and thoughts, as well as provide advice of our own. Below you can also find detailed descriptions and qualifiers for any of the features which might have been mentioned with certain products above. It’s our hope this guide assists you in the buying process.
Why do you need a paintball mask
High-end paintball guns can launch their paint pellets at around 300 feet per second, that’s a lot of force which can do a lot of damage. Just on your exposed skin alone, that amount of force it’s enough to cause bruising or make welts. Usually, you cover up all your skin during a paintball war, though some people just get used to the bruising and play with thin clothing and exposed arms or legs. The face, on the other hand, has far too many soft areas that can and will get damaged if hit directly. You can lose an eye playing paintball, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Protecting your face is a number one concern perhaps even before buying a paintball gun, and that’s where paintball masks come in. Also, not only will these masks protect your eyes, but they cover you from eating paint, paint getting in your ears, and sometimes can even fully protect your hair.
Types of paintball masks
This isn’t just the brand of the mask, instead, it’s the way the mask is designed to protect you and your eyes. You’ll never see a mask type which leaves the eyes exposed, but with simple single paintball goggle lenses, players only have protection for their eyes and nothing else. Typically, these lenses are weaker, slip more easily, and need replacement and cleaning more frequently. Goggle lenses also leave your cheeks, forehead, chin, mouth, and ears open to taking damage.
Goggle frames are a similar type but include thick foam around the sides and back for comfort but also so that the frames are more universally friendly for all face types. Goggle frames are less likely to slip, but they still don’t provide much more protection than just of the eyes. Also, like goggle lenses, these simple designs are rarely abrasion resistant, non-fogging, or protective from UV rays.
What we’ve mostly reviewed on this list are Paintball Protective Masks. This type of paintball mask tends to cover from the chin upward until your hairline. The goggle lenses are integrated into the entire mask, the outer part of the mask is usually made from nylon or different plastics, and the insides include foam that’s more comfortable, typically water wicking, and offers some bounce to fully protect your face when you take a headshot. These masks are also generally expected to provide UV protection, interchangeable lenses, breathability around the mouth and nose, fog reduction technology, and increased impact and abrasion resistance. A great example for all these features is the Empire EVS paintball mask, which also gives added protection around the forehead and chin areas, with padded channels for your ears that don’t completely reduce your hearing. These masks include a strong strap or multiple straps to keep the product flush with your face, and often chin straps as well.
One final mask type which sometimes enters the paintball arena is the Full Head Paintball mask. In addition to the previously listed perks of full-face masks, the full head type further protects the sides of your face and chin with added protection for the back of your head and neck. Our one Full Head reviewed product is the H World Shopping Tactical Protective Helmet.
How to protect yourself during the paintball game
Beyond wearing a mask there are some simple precautions you can take before you start battling for your life. Paintball is a fun and exciting game, but safety measures such as always wearing your mask at all times until guns are stowed away will ensure you keep having fun while avoiding major injuries. Another thing that you can do to protect others is – always aim before you fire; blind aiming can just as easily hit a bystander, referee, or friend adjusting their mask. When not in battle use your safety, though since these safety’s don’t always work, consider the additional use of a barrel plug or even a sock. Other body protection can and really should include: long pants, a thick shirt with long sleeves, gloves, and even a beanie hat if you’re only wearing a half mask. At the end of the day store your guns unloaded in a place that kids can’t reach or can’t open.
Features to consider while choosing a paintball mask
Features are essentially everything that will make up your mask, and many of the listed features were previously mentioned in the above reviews of our masks. Below you can find descriptions for each particular feature, including how each facet of your mask might affect your overall paintballing experience.
1.5 pounds, that’s the ideal weight for any mask or helmet resting on your head and shoulders while you’re running, ducking, jumping, rolling, and any other physically active motion which is necessary to paintballing. Anything heavier will greatly reduce your performance and ability to move; be particularly cautious of full head masks because these tend to be marginally heavier than face masks. For instance, the H World Shopping Tactical Protective Helmet is fully protective but still weighs 2.8lbs.
No one wants a paintball projected into their ear; it stings a lot, is hard to clean out, and muddles your hearing during a battle. A good mask should provide adequate ear padding that conforms around the ears without dampening hearing and communication too badly. Rule of thumb: if you have to yell to communicate, you might want to invest in a mask with better ear padding. One such mask is the V-Force Grill Paintball Mask which protects your ears but doesn’t reduce sound, although this masks eye piece isn’t nearly as good as others. An even better option is the Dye Precision I4.
Because paintball revolves mainly around vision – being able to see your targets – it’s understandable that the lens is the most important part to consider on any mask. First and foremost, you’ll want to see a target quickly and clearly before they see you. Masks with a lot of glare and reflection, or which fog over quickly, will often distort your vision enough that someone else takes a shot at you before you can take one at them. These masks include the Virtue VIO Ascend, Sly Profit, Empire EVS and many others on our list. Another important aspect is the lens size and shape itself and the range of eyesight it allows at a time. Two of our best masks allow an amazing range of 270 degrees, they are the Empire E-Flex and Empire EVS; with an extended sight range you’ll be more able to aim your gun without distraction, and you’ll be able to keep an eye on your peripherals for normally out-of-sight enemies. Finally, certain lens types may make a drastic difference in how you play; most of the lenses on our list are ‘clear lenses’ which are great for overcast outdoor lighting and any interior lighting. Other lens types include ‘smoke’ and ‘mirror’ lenses, which are great for the brightest days outside. ‘Dual lenses’ are better at fog reducing as well; consider the Empire masks for all your dual lens needs.
With a strap, it’s not just the size but also the fit; a good strap will be snug with good straps that are suitable or adjustable for every head. Double straps are even better because one typically allows for vertical head adjustments, while the other provides for horizontal adjustments. The Sly Profit mask has excellent double straps.
Some, but not all, masks come with a useful chin strap which adds extra support and stops slippage. Though this extra strap is not necessary and many paintballers actually find it rather annoying, it will ensure the mask doesn’t fall off your face during various combat maneuvers. The Push Unite Paintball Mask comes with a magnetic chin guard strap.
A mask visor will provide additional protection from paint, water, and bright overhead sunlight. If you want that eagle eye sight on a target, a visor coupled with goggles can give you that edge. For a great example of how a visor should behave and look, take a second glance at the budget friendly V-Force Grill Paintball Mask.
Breathability is very important, after all aren’t you going to be running from shooters and dodging paintballs? Masks which don’t provide enough ventilation will greatly restrict the way you play, additionally the heat from your mouth and nose breathing will greatly increased the amount of fogging along your lenses; ventilation allows hot airflow to escape the mask naturally without causing fogging or extra moisture. Another great reason to have extra vents is the added communication it will give you, whereas masks with little ventilation are harder to talk through while still being understood. However, make sure you also know that the more vents you have – or the wider those vents are – the more paint that will get in your mouth. During the hot summer you’ll want masks with a wide number of holes so that you can get air in and out very quickly – front ventilation, like with the Dye Precision I4, is great for this – where if you want added side ventilation any E-flex masks are the way to go.
Where masks are concerned, mainly this will concern foam. Although many do claim foam is only for protection while paintballing, a good foam material and construction should not only be comfortable, but also breathable and insulating. Some of the best foams actually assist in reducing physical damage by bouncing an impact, other great foams are water wicking and won’t degrade in value over time. Some masks even offer foams which are removable or replaceable. Whatever your needs, each of our masks has a unique type of foam or interesting foam construction that will assist paintballing in a number of different ways.
Rule of thumb: fit the mask to your face and not your face to the mask. A truly good paintballing mask will match your body requirements without needing to be unbelievably too tight or too loose.
Judge the mask by its looks
Style will set you apart as an individual and as a particular player. If you’re playing competitively in an environment where your competitors will remember your name, make sure they also remember your look and associate you with it. Additionally, the style you choose can often promote fear in an enemy, and fear is priceless.
Other features which might sway your decision might include ultraviolet protection and quick-change lenses. The first feature will protect your skin from most harmful UV rays, though this is really only necessary if your paintballing games are lasting a long time – at least over two hours – and you need the added protection. Additionally, if you’re playing on the beach or other reflective surfaces, UV protection is a must. Quick change lenses are great because they’re easily cleanable and can be replaced with shaded lenses, fog-free lenses, etcetera.
Most paintball mask manufacturers provide a warranty on their products over $100.00, although this isn’t a rule, instead its just a general courtesy the distributor should provide with their higher expense products. If there is no listed warranty, make sure you ask your buyer before making your final decision or final purchase.
Not necessarily, no, instead you need a mask which has foam that will conform comfortably around your glasses while still allowing you the full range of vision the mask offers. Above for each product you’ll find listed each of our masks which are prescription friendly, the most glasses friendly candidate is the H World Shopping Tactical Protective Helmet.
The recommended way to clean your paintball mask is with a rag and water along with paintball lens cleaner – typically you can find the exact type of lens cleaner approved by the manufacturer on their website. Other foam cleaners can potentially damage a lens, and so can polishing and other cleaning materials (such as windex or 409) which may actually increase lens fogging later on.
Some common methods are anti-fog spray or thermal lenses, the first which prevents vapor from settling on the lens surfaces and is easily more affordable. Thermal lenses, on the other hand, are dual lenses which share an air-filled space between them that is a different temperature than the outside elements. A rarer method of preventing fogging is with a mask-fan. Essentially this is a fan placed on top of the goggles and built into the mask which runs off a battery and causes evaporation on the condensed moisture.
We always love to leave our readers with the top three contenders, in our opinion, for the best paintball mask.
Empire EVS. Easily the best mask on our list, it’s also distributed by a trustworthy brand with some of the most industry leading paintballing products. It offers a 270-degree field of vision while playing while also providing airflow that keeps the mask from fogging and helps you breath easily during intense battling.
Push Unite Paintball Mask. The Push Unite mask offers ground breaking technology which increases the entire masks breathability and also adds to it’s anti-fogging designed lenses. Additionally, it’s protective against UV rays and uses moisture wicking super comfortable foam.
V-Force Grill Paintball Mask. This is a great starter mask for anyone just picking up paintball. It comes with a unique visor that gives added protection against harmful rays of the sun, moisture, and overhead firing. It’s also very comfortable and treated with fog-resistant coating.