How Does a Thermal Paintball Lens Work?

How Does a Thermal Paintball Lens Work?

As a paintballer, you need some kind of eyewear protection for your own safety and quality performance while on the field. If you’re using a mask, then it matters the kind of lens that comes with it. This is because heated paintball battles cause you to release a lot of fumes that can quickly fog up your headgear.

Any visor that you wear over your face fogs when moisture from your body condenses onto its internal surface. The same applies to your mask’s lens. Typically, this happens when you’re either sweating a lot or when your face is significantly warmer than the outside air.

Mask fogs are frustrating. They make it hard for you to see your opponents and to carry out your own operations while on the field. This can greatly affect your accuracy and get you out of the game earlier than you’re supposed to. Once you’re frustrated, you may want to remove your mask on the field to wipe away the fog, and this can be dangerous.

There are a few remedies out there that can help reduce fogging issues. They include the use of anti-fog spray and the installation of a small mask fan. Manufacturers have also tried to prevent fogging by integrating an anti-fog coating on single pane lens. However, none of these methods is as effective as a thermal (or dual pane) lens.

What is a Thermal Paintball Lens?

A thermal paintball lens is a protective mask lens that comprises of two separate lenses. That’s why it is called a dual pane lens. A glued foam gasket that goes around about the inner lens’ edge separates the lenses 1/8” apart. The outer lens has the same standard and thickness as that of a normal lens, while the inner lens is thinner and lighter in weight.

The thermal paintball lens, just like the single pane option, contains a polycarbonate material that helps in preventing shattering and breakage. It also adds strength to the protective piece. Additionally, the thermal lens has an anti-scratch and anti-glare coating.

Here’s comparison of thermal lens and anti-fog lens:

How Thermal Lens Work

Have you ever noticed how moisture covers objects when they come from a colder area into a warmer one? It is the drastic temperature differences that cause the vapor in the air to condense on a cool object. That’s how your paintball mask lens fogs. Once the warm moist air from your face and breath contacts the cool lens, fog forms from condensation.

A thermal lens can greatly reduce this fogging by regulating the panes’ temperature. This is because it has a second lens that offers a degree of insulation, much like a storm or dual pane window. The two lenses have an air space between them, which helps prevent the occurrence of condensation.

Protective helmets for paintball

This insulating function helps to keep the inner thinner lens warm, while at the same time preventing the moisture from your body from contacting the outer cooler lens. This effect is much more efficient and long-lasting as compared to what the anti-fog coating of a single pane lens does. 

You can never achieve this kind of insulation with a single pane lens. While it offers the same level of protection from oncoming paintballs as the thermal lens, it is more prone to fogging. A fog is not just a nuisance. It can turn into a disaster if you get frustrated and decide to take off the goggles during the action for wiping. It can also affect your performance.

That’s why you should avoid going for entry-level paintball masks as most of them come with a single pane lens. Instead, purchase a mask that comes with a thermal lens, though it might be a bit expensive. Nevertheless, if it prevents fog issues even in humid conditions, then it’s worth buying. 

However, not all masks with single pane lenses have trouble with fogging. The VForce line of products especially has great features that are worth considering. Their design and high-quality anti-fog coatings have made them choice masks for many players. In fact, these paintballers claim that goggle systems with such lenses never fog.

Here’s a quick review of some paintball masks:

One thing to note is that thermal lenses are not the ultimate solution for fogging issues. You may have some problems in extremely high humid conditions. In such circumstances, you’ll need to combine your thermal lens with a paintball goggle fan in order to get a clear view.

Be Careful With Thermal Lens

It matters how you clean your thermal lens. Never submerge it under water. Otherwise, the water may get in between the two lenses and stay without drying. This can destroy the thermal properties of your lens, making it necessary for you to replace it. That’s why you should exercise a lot of care.

A tough anti-scratch coating covers the outer lens of your thermal lens, effectively protecting it from scratches. The inner lens, on the other hand, is delicate and prone to scratching since it lacks this protective material.

Considering the fragility of the inside lens of your thermal lens, it’s wise to always use a super-clean microfiber cloth to wipe it carefully whenever it’s dirty. You can spray it with water before wiping (never immerse it in water). It’s also important that you ensure that the lens is dry before keeping it as it can leave spots.

Thermal Lens Can Be Expensive Though

Thermal lenses are typically more expensive than their single pane brothers. However, most players find that they’re cost-effective in the long run. This is because they enable you to perform at your best, saving you of ammo. The thermal lens can also give you a good game experience that’s worth your money.

Ready for an Upgrade?

Most paintball masks come with an option to upgrade to thermal lenses. Only the basic headgears lack this feature. If you’ve decided to go for a mask with a thermal lens, there are still many factors to consider. They include the quality of visibility, ease of changing lens, flexibility, comfort, and coverage. Choose wisely.


There are so many reasons why you should go for a thermal lens rather than a single pane option. The most important is its capability to deal with fogging more efficiently and faster. This is because the air space between the two lenses acts to control the outer and inner temperatures.

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