When you start out in the paintball game, you’re going to need some gear…and there are a lot of options. So many, in fact, that it all gets rather confusing. How do you know which products are “must-have” items, and which are “nice-to-have?”
In this post, we’ll go over one of those “must-have” pieces of equipment – the thermal mask.
What is Thermal Mask?
It sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Is it going to help you pick up heat signatures in the areas? Does it have night vision capabilities? We wish. What makes these masks “thermal” is simply the fact that they don’t fog up as easily.
It’s not nearly quite as cool as those other capabilities, but it’ll still make a great deal of difference to your play.
How Does it Work?
The tech used here is remarkably simple. Instead of having one pane, this mask has two. The two masks are placed one in front of the other, with a small pocket—only about an eighth of an inch—of air between them.
This space is sealed by a foam gasket which goes all the way around the inner lens and creates an airtight seal. The outer pane is of standard thickness and designed to protect your eyes. The inner lens is thinner because it isn’t there to protect you from impact.
The “anti-fog” concept works on a simple principle. In a regular mask, the lens fogs up thanks to condensation building up on the glass. When you’re playing and breathing hard, the temperature rises inside the mask, thus heating up the lens. When the cooler air outside hits the warmer lens, it condenses, and the lens becomes foggy.
With a thermal mask, the inner lens, rather than the outer, heats up. Thanks to the air between the panes, this heat doesn’t make it to the outer lens. The outer lens stays a lot cooler, so condensation doesn’t occur.
Is it Worth the Extra Money?
This is definitely something worth investing in. The alternative is to use an anti-fog coating on a standard mask. The problem is that this coating will need to be reapplied frequently. The thermal masks don’t require an anti-fog coating.
We recommend springing for a good quality mask. We also suggest buying a goggle fan. The combination of the two will help to prevent fogging of the lenses. (By the way—an added bonus with the fan is that you’re going to stay cooler.)
Choosing the Right Mask
It’s simple—the more comfortable you are, the better you can concentrate on taking down your enemies. As with all things, though, you do need to choose carefully. Paying a bit more is worthwhile if you’ll be able to use the mask for longer.
Here are some other factors and options to consider:
With any mask, we’d suggest that you choose something that will protect your ears as well. Considering that your eardrums are quite sensitive, extra padding here makes sense. The padding helps to absorb the impact of the shot. It doesn’t add significantly to the weight of the mask, and that added protection could come in handy.
Play hard for an hour in a cheap-quality mask and you’ll be wishing you laid out the money for a better one. There are plenty of cool-looking options on the market, but if they’re not well-ventilated, give them a pass.
If you take your game seriously, you’ll find that a mask with better ventilation is essential. The ventilation holes provide plenty of air but also have a secondary purpose: They help you communicate more easily.
Your voice will be muffled by a solid mask; it will also be harder to hear instructions from your team. Better communication means better results. Spend the extra money.
As we mentioned—there are some cheap models out there. These are fine to use, as long as you don’t take a hit. And considering the strategic advantage of blinding your opponent, it’s unlikely not to get hit in the face.
That’s another reason for us to reiterate how important it is to invest in a higher-quality option. Look for high-grade rubber and strong plastic. These options cost more, but also last a lot longer. They also provide a lot more protection against impacts.
Well, really—isn’t this the main purpose of wearing a face mask in the first place? What we’re referring to here is actually UV protection, though. It’s a good idea to get something that offers this important safety feature.
Think about it: You’ll be out playing for hours, many times in bright sunshine, so it only makes sense to consider sun protection for your eyes. Your alternative is to try and wear sunglasses inside the goggles, but that provides challenges of its own.
The Level of Distortion
When considering thermal goggles, you want to do some careful research on this. If the lenses are too thick or of low-quality, they’ll distort your view. That’s a big disadvantage when you’re in a kill-or-be-killed match. You need to be able to see exactly what’s going on.
Here’s a video you can watch:
Overall, we love our gear and gadgets as much as the next paintballer. This is not some pricey gimmick that you can easily do without, though. A thermal mask provides serious benefits in terms of comfort and play.
You get clear, fog-free vision without having to repeatedly apply an anti-fog agent. That means that you can play longer without stopping.
Are you ready to take on the enemy and win that flag? With thermal goggles, you will be.