When you step onto the paintball field, your eyes – the only two you have – should be completely protected. Since eye protection is crucial during a paintball game, a paintball mask is an essential safety accessory. Because of this, comfort and quality should always enjoy a higher priority than the price tag. If your mask is uncomfortable, fogs up causes itching or scratches your forehead, you will be tempted to take it off now and then and risk facial injury.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on a new paintball mask. In this buyer’s guide, we will be taking an extensive look at some of the most popular paintball masks available today as well as their pros and cons and buying considerations such as price, quality, durability, and comfort. Keep reading to find the best paintball mask for your needs.
Top 8 Product Reviews
Virtue VIO Ascend
VIO Ascend is Virtue’s new paintball mask and is packed with many features to ensure a comfortable and safe game of paintball. The VIO Ascend has a somewhat wider fit than the other masks from Virtue. The wider design takes some of the pressure off your ears and doesn’t feel as restrictive as some masks, such as the latest masks from Dye or HK Army.
Although the VIO Ascend has the same goggle as other masks in the VIO range, it is around ¾ of an inch wider, making it more comfortable. If you have a smaller head, however, you may not find the VIO Ascend to be as comfortable.
Perhaps the most astounding feature of the VIO Ascend is that it breathes incredibly well. The designers of this mask went the extra mile to ensure that the mask has large vents to allow for sufficient airflow so that you won’t have to inhale your carbon dioxide while running around.
The VIO Ascend features the same lens retention system as other Virtue masks and is compatible with nine mirror finish lenses and seven non-mirror lenses. You can also attach a smoke lens for winter games.
Virtue VIO Contour Thermal
The Contour is similar to the VIO Ascend in many ways, but there are some standout features to consider when shopping for a new mask. The first advantage of the Contour is its fog resistance. Not being able to see out of your mask can be frustrating, and that is why this mask comes with a thermal pane lens that has an anti-fog coating.
Another additional advantage of the Contour is its durability. The mask consists of foam and hard plastic components that absorb shocks and increases its strength. According to several reviews, the mask’s shock absorbing abilities are so effective that you can hardly feel a paintball hitting you in the face.
The large, UV-protected lens is a popular feature that gives players an advantage in the field. The lens has VIO’s optics to ensure optimal clarity and perception. The VIO Contour is also one of the most comfortable masks for the price with its large vents, lightweight, and compact, streamlined design.
Empire X-Ray V2.1
Empire is one of the most prominent companies in the paintball industry and offers a wide range of high-end paintball masks. One of their most popular products is the X-Ray V2.1, an affordable and well-rounded paintball mask that has a lot to offer players of all levels.
The X-Ray V2.1 is fitted with a dual-pane thermal lens that prevents the build-up of fog much more effectively than single pane lenses. The X-Ray V2.1 lens is not as wide as the ones from the Virtue VIO ranges, however.
An advantage that the X-Ray does have over the Virtue VIO Contour is that it covers the full length of the face. This mask is incredibly durable and does a great job of protecting your face and eyes against flying paintballs.
Although the X-Ray isn’t particularly lightweight, it is not as bulky as most other masks in this price range. The mask also has ample venting – not only at the mouth to allow for sufficient airflow, but also around your ears to help you hear your teammates better.
Dye Precision I4
The Precision I4 from Dye with its anatomic look is one of the most popular paintball masks available and is often compared to products in the VIO range from Virtue. Its popularity is mainly due to its level of sturdiness and the fact that it can be used for airsoft as well as paintball.
Since protection is one of this mask’s strong points, it may be worth taking a look at some of its materials. When you wear the mask, your jawline and mouth are protected by a thick, moveable rubber that is flexible and strong enough to withstand any paintball, even at close range.
The ear protectors consist of so-called “E-flex thermo foam earpieces,” a spandex-like material that is flexible and sturdy, but that also allows for sound waves to reach your ears. The mask also features a dual anti-fog thermal lens with an inner layer of air. Around the lens is a durable plastic frame that contributes to the protection that the mask has to offer.
The most notable feature of the Empire EVS is its flexible lower skirt. The rubber bottom is similar to the one on the Empire E-Flex and makes the EVS much more comfortable than, say, Virtue’s VIO masks.
Another stand-out element of the Empire EVS is that it allows for free airflow, comfortable breathing, and effortless communication between you and your teammates. The EVS has many vents and doesn’t fit as tightly to the face as, for example, the KLR I4.
The prominent vents in combination with the high-quality dual-pane lens also mean that you will never have to deal with fog. Removing and replacing the lens is also incredibly easy and quick. The EVS has a quick lens removal system that is comparable to the Dye I4.
There is a lot to love about the Empire EVS. Its flexibility doesn’t compromise the protection that it offers. The lens is spherical and has a 270-degree curve, allowing you complete peripheral vision.
If you are good at math, you will know that the Dye I5 is one up from the Dye I4. The Dye I5 is not, however, definitively better than its earlier version, and there are some features of the Dye I4 that you may prefer.
The first thing to note is that the Dye I5 has a high price tag. To make up for this, the manufacturer packed the mask with almost every feature possible.
The Dye I5 also comes with a replaceable snap-on foam kit. If your mask’s inner foam layer starts to disintegrate, you can replace it, which will increase the lifespan and long-term value you get from your mask.
The inner foam layer plays a big part in the comfort that you get with this mask. The foam also absorbs your sweat to prevent condensation and lens fogging. The mask is also fitted with a high-quality GSR strap that distributes the mask’s pressure on your face evenly.
On the mask is a single-hand adjustment that allows you to easily and quickly secure your mask in place while you are running around. You can also insert an e.VOKE wireless air sync into your mask to receive audio alerts and attach a POV camera on the mask’s mount.
This high-end mask doesn’t come without drawbacks, however. If you want full-face protection, or if you have a small head, this may not be the best paintball mask for you. Otherwise, the Dye I5 is comfortable, durable, and lightweight. If you want a mask that you can use for a lifetime, this is it.
HK Army KLR Thermal Mask
The HK Army paintball mask with its KLR thermal mask doesn’t only provide you with complete protection and comfort, but also impeccable style. Of all the products in this list, the HK Army is probably the best-looking one with its thermoplastic elastomer and customizable KLR goggle system.
The HK Army KLR Goggle is fitted with a PVT Lock system that allows you to replace your lens within seconds. It also has a tri-layer of 3d memory foam that conforms to your facial profile for optimal comfort.
The three layers of foam are laminated in a velvet microfiber liner that absorbs sweat, prevents heat from entering the ocular cavity, and that prevents condensation and lens fogging. The mask also features low-profile, high-density EVA foam earpieces that protect your ears from impact.
With the HK Army, you can choose from several KLR lenses. Each KLR lens is made from optical-grade GE polycarbonate that is UVA, UVB, and IR shielded to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays. The KLR lens also has an inner layer of cool insulating air to prevent fogging.
The HK Army offers sufficient ventilation for easy breathing and talking, and you get plenty of options to make your mask unique.
The V-Force Profiler has a single pane lens. Although some paintball players may regard this as a drawback, many may prefer this type of lens, especially if they regularly play in bright sunlight since single pane lenses typically have a better fog resistance in sunny conditions.
Another feature that makes the V-Force Profiler the paintball mask of choice for players in sunny areas is the visor that reduces glare.
The Profiler is as comfortable as many of the high-end masks, as it is lightweight, low profile, and comfortable straps. The mask fits securely to most face profiles, and you won’t always feel as if you want to take it off.
The Profiler has large air vents and offers full face protection. If you have a bigger head, want value for money, and live in a sunny area, look no further than the V-Force Profiler.
The Dye I5 has its drawback in terms of face coverage and price, but its visibility, ventilation, and comfort features are the best you can find.
Another aspect that helps the Dye I5 stand apart from many other products on the market is that you can use it in combination with a wide range of other accessories, including a tactical helmet and POV camera.
Quality refers to the ability of all the paintball mask’s components to perform according to desired standards. Mask quality is one of the most significant buying considerations as it determines how well the product will hold up during a game of paintball.
For example, if the strap connections’ quality is lacking, your mask may fall off mid-game, leaving your eyes and face vulnerable to injury. If the mask’s quality is not up to par, it can also ruin your experience.
Do some research beforehand by reading guides like this one or reviews from people that own the specific model to ensure that you purchase a high-quality mask. Also, stick to reputable brands and dealers.
There are several factors to keep in mind regarding paintball mask lenses.
The first is the field of view. A wide lens is always preferable, especially for indoor or close quarter applications. A wider lens allows for peripheral vision and prevents other players from catching you off-guard.
Thermal anti-fog lenses typically consist of two outer coated lenses and a layer of cold air in the middle. If your lens fogs up, you will not be able to see what is going on around you, and you will be at a disadvantage.
Also keep in mind that some masks allow you to replace your lens, depending on the appearance you prefer or the weather conditions. Some lenses are designed for cloudy or bright and sunny days.
Your paintball mask frame houses the lens. You can choose from two types of frames, namely fixed frames or quick lens release systems. Many people prefer the rapid release systems as they allow for easier cleaning and maintenance.
Make sure that the quality of the frame foam is good as well. The foam seals the lens and prevents fogging from the outside of the mask. Dense dual foam layers are better for frame protection and comfort than hard, single foam layers that low-end masks typically include.
As far as paintball mask buying considerations are concerned, protection is a biggie. If you are a beginner, choose a mask that offers full-face protection. Make sure that the mask you choose covers your jawline, ears, forehead, and chin.
Since a beginner mask covers the entire face, it will typically be heavier and less flexible than a mask for an advanced player. Beginner masks are usually made from semi-rigid plastic that offers optimal impact protection. An example of a high-quality beginner mask is the V-Force Profiler.
As a tournament player, you can get away with a more streamlined mask that may expose your forehead or chin. Although masks for advanced players are typically made from softer and more flexible materials, they still offer complete impact protection.
Examples of high-end paintball masks for advanced players include the Dye I5 and the HK Army KLR.
Since you have a unique facial profile, you have to choose a mask that fits you comfortably. The fit is not only crucial for optimal comfort but also to ensure that the mask protects your face entirely and that it doesn’t hurt you or fall off while you are in the field.
Paintball mask durability is essential for a wide variety of reasons. The most important is to ensure that paintballs traveling toward your face don’t injure you. A durable mask will be able to take many blows without losing its ability to protect your face effectively.
Another reason to consider only highly durable paintball masks is to reduce the frequency that you have to replace them. Your new mask should be an investment. A mask is one of the more expensive paintball accessories, and you want your mask to last for at least a few years.
Your lens should also be durable to ensure maximum eye protection. Generally speaking, dual pane lenses are more durable than single pane lenses.
A paintball mask shouldn’t restrict your movements, and it should be comfortable to wear in all conditions.
Ventilation is a crucial contributor to comfort. Without vents at your mouth and ears, the inside of your mask will become warm, and your breath and sweat condensation will fog up your lens. If there are not enough vents, you may also not have enough fresh air, which can be tiring.
A mask that doesn’t sit comfortably on your face can also take the fun out of the experience and inhibit your performance.
Many paintball helmets are fitted with sun visors to reduce glare from the sun. If you regularly play in bright and sunny conditions, and if your mask has a single pane lens, this extra feature may be especially valuable.
POV Camera Mount
If you are a tournament player or if you post your experiences on social media or other platforms, choosing a mask with a camera mount can make it much easier to attach a camera.