Hey. I’m Freddy, and I have played paintball almost every Sunday for over a decade. When I invite new players to come to play with me for the first time, they always ask me what clothes to wear when paintballing.
Don’t worry; you don’t need anything fancy or expensive. I know a pro paintballer who shops at thrift shops. If that’s good enough for pros, it’s good enough for you.
So if it’s your first time playing, here’s what you should wear on the paintball field.
What to Wear When You Go Play Paintball
Don’t worry about style.
Forget everything about looking good or being stylish. A paintball player should be prepared for a rough and dirty game and don’t mind getting their clothing full of paint and dirt. Wear clothes that you are not worried about getting stained or torn. Running, falling, slipping, and sliding across the field will splash mud, dirt, grass, and debris all over your clothes, and there’s always a chance you’ll rip through fabrics and loosen seams too.
The essentials are enough.
Many paintball beginners choose regular clothes like long sleeves or half sleeve t-shirts and jeans, which is more than sufficient. Others prefer a full-sleeve paintball shirt, a protective vest, a battle dress uniform, or clothes with knee and arm pads, but that’s not necessary if you are a beginner.
Nowadays, I opt for more protective paintball gear than before to minimize bruising, as I also have a day job and don’t want to look like I’ve been in a fight. Everyone in my company knows I play paintball on weekends, but clients don’t know. It also makes me feel safer and less worried about the pain of getting hit.
It is up to you to choose what you want to wear, but please understand that as long as you have a pair of shoes and a set of old clothes that you are not worried about getting dirty, together with a paintball mask and a paintball gun, you’re good to go. Everything else is considered extra protective gear that will make you more comfortable, less likely to get hurt or bruised, safer, and may make you look more badass on the field, but it’s not essential for first-time players.
Let’s get into the details. Here are my paintball clothing tips for beginners to pros.
A paintball mask is the single most crucial piece of protective gear. Never play without one; never take it off during a game. If you get shot in the face with paintballs without wearing a mask, it can leave you seriously injured and blind for life. Paintballs travel between 260-270 feet per second, so protect your face! The lens should also safeguard against UV rays in sunlight.
There are lots of paintball goggles, and it can be challenging to choose one, but I recommend considering these factors before you buy one:
- Anti-fog lens (thermal or dual pane lenses are less likely to fog)
- Has UV-ray protection
- A changeable lens in case it gets scratched.
- Enough space to wear glasses on the inside (only applies if you wear glasses)
- Lightweight and comfortable since you will wear it for a while.
- Ear protection with comfortable padding.
- Proper ventilation so that hot air flows out and fresh air flows in, which prevents fog.
- Chinstrap or back strap to allow for a perfect, snug fit
- Visor to reduce glare in direct sunlight
Remember that the primary purpose is to protect your eyes, face, temples, and ears from paintballs’ impact and against splashing paint, so you don’t accidentally swallow or inhale that stuff.
Most goggles only cover the lower part of the face, the eyes, and the temples, leaving your forehead, the top, and the back of your head exposed to hits. There are full-head coverage paintball helmets that will protect the mentioned areas, but they are less common.
Another life hack is to wear a headband, hat, baseball cap, or beanie to cover the exposed areas. Many players wear a cap the wrong way and have the tip pointing down to protect the back of the neck from getting hit. These products also help absorb sweat but may make you warmer and cause you to sweat more.
Don’t wear shorts, t-shirts, half-sleeve shirts, or tank tops, as they expose your skin. Kneeling, sliding, crawling, and falling happens in a paintball game, and you don’t want your bare skin to bump against hard surfaces. I recommend long rough trousers or jeans and a long-sleeve shirt or sweater.
Don’t wear too many layers of clothing. The soft fabric can absorb too much of the impact of the paintballs, so they don’t break on impact. That’s cheating.
A sweatshirt doesn’t only provide warmth but also protects your skin.
Jersey or a thick long-sleeve shirt
A jersey makes you look cool, is lightweight, has excellent ventilation and gives you extra protection. Jerseys are also customizable and come in unlimited colors and designs.
Long-sleeve shirts are also great since you can buy them from any clothing store and they are super affordable.
Most beginner players prefer a quality vest as the chest and ribs are sensitive body parts. It can be painful to get hit, and the pain can last for days since you constantly move these parts while breathing, yawning, talking, and coughing.
Also, according to this article, a young boy lost his life due to an unfortunate body shot. It is a very rare accident, but there is always a risk when playing this sport.
A vest may also have pockets to carry water bottles, car keys, snacks, extra ammo, or whatever else you need. I prefer a plain camo vest.
Lower body protection and pants
Since you will be running, slipping, and crawling, you need some rough pants. I advise against shorts. Most friends wear sweatpants, cargo pants, hiking pants, or jeans.
You can buy exclusive paintball pants that are flexible, breathable, and absorb shots well, but it’s unnecessary. Wear breathable pants during the summer.
You know it hurts to get kicked or punched in the groin, and a paintball can do even more damage, so protect your private parts by wearing a groin cup. If you don’t wear one, you will quickly regret it the day you get hit in the nuts. It doesn’t cost much and is a wise investment in protecting your “crown jewels.”
Knee and shin pads
Paintball is a sport with a lot of running, squatting, and kneeling. You can protect yourself from scratches and bruises using shin guards and knee pads. If you want to slide behind obstacles, choose protective pads with a smooth exterior surface, so there is less friction against the ground. I advise beginners to avoid sliding since it increases the risk of injury.
Arms and hands protection
Though most pros do not wear gloves, I prefer wearing them because I know how much it hurts to get shot in the fingers. Any protective gloves that cover your fingers are fine, as long as they don’t have so much extra padding that it’s hard to pull the trigger.
Arm and elbow pads
I don’t know why anyone would use arm or elbow pads, as I feel they are very restrictive and annoying, but it is an option to protect these body parts.
Wear a pair of comfortable shoes with good support and traction. A common injury is an ankle sprain, which the wrong shoes can cause.
It doesn’t matter which types of shoes you wear, and I have seen people wearing soccer shoes, cleats, hiking boots, sneakers, and army boots on the field.
It depends on your preference, but avoid sandals, crocs, flip-flops, or slippery shoes without traction.
Ghillie suit (optional)
If you are into stealth or sniping, you may consider a ghillie suit that camouflages and makes you almost invisible when you sit still.
There are different types of camouflage for snow, woods, forest, and desert.
Ghillie suits are fun to wear but unnecessary for beginners.
What to wear to play paintball in summer and hot weather?
When you go play paintball in the hot summer sun, you should wear loose-fitting and breathable clothing.
Leave your ghillie suit at home and multi-layer jacket at home. Instead, stay cool and comfortable, and remember to bring water, snacks, a bandana, and sunscreen. You may also want extra clothes for the ride home after sweating all day on the field.
Tips for Paintballing in the Summer
- Wear loose clothes with good ventilation.
- Wear a long sleeve shirt and long pants.
- Use sunscreen on exposed skin.
- Play in the shade if possible
- Drink water.
- Take breaks often to cool down and hydrate.
The summer can be blazing hot, so you must dress smart to avoid sweating, dehydration, and heatstrokes.
Dehydration is dangerous, as it can give you kidney problems and make you feel dizzy and faint. You better drink plenty of water during the day to keep yourself hydrated. I advise bringing coolers if the venue doesn’t have cooling. Keep some refreshing cold drinks and water bottles and sip between games.
Bring a cooler for your paintballs and air tank.
Scorching summer heat can cause your paintballs to melt or become softer and fragile, which may cause them to break in the barrel or jam the paintball gun.
Keep your paintballs away from direct sunlight, and if the temperatures are very high and there is no shade, wrap them in cloth and place them in a cooler.
Intense heat can also cause air tanks to burst and explode, especially if it’s a long time since you have hydrotested them, but it rarely happens. Please don’t leave them in direct sunlight all day.
What to wear to paintball in winter
Don’t let winter and cold weather put a stop to your fun. You can play this sport in any season, but winter requires extra clothing and equipment.
Tips for Playing Paintball in the Winter
Playing during cold weather is the same as in hot weather. Still, you may want insulated boots or shoes for snow, thicker clothing, wool longs, a wool long-sleeve undershirt, winter gloves, and a winter coat, or layer clothes according to the temperature and weather. Bring some extra layers if temperatures change.
If playing sports when the temperatures are freezing, be aware of frostbite. Symptoms to look out for are frostnip, cold skin, a tingling or prickling feeling, and inflamed or discolored skin.
Dress according to the weather.
Freezing weather can damage paintballs.
The gelatin or starched vegetable paintballs break in the cold as the shell becomes fragile. Fragile pellets may fail in the barrel or jam the gun.
Here are a few tricks and tips to avoid freezing ammo:
- Carry a few paintball pods under the vest, close to your body, to keep them warm with body temperature.
- Wrap pods or paintball containers in a towel to insulate them before going outdoors if it’s cold.
- Reload only when needed, so you don’t open the pods and expose them to freezing temperatures before it’s necessary.
- Bring a cooler and place heat packs or warm water bottles to keep the temperature above ambient, and use it to store your extra paintballs.
Use anti-fog goggles and a defogger spray.
Fog is more likely in the winter, as temperature differs outside and inside the mask, which causes condensation. The first line of defense is a high-quality anti-fog paintball mask with a dual-pane thermal lens.
The next step is to treat the lens with anti-fog spray before your play. Read the instructions on the defogger bottle.
What should a girl wear for paintball?
Girls should wear loose-fitting clothes for paintballing, and here is the standard outfit checklist:
- Baggy pants. Thick sweatpants or cargo pants are acceptable, but not skinny jeans or yoga pants.
- A padded sports bra.
- A long-sleeve shirt or sweater.
- A bandana, beanie, or headband.
- Neck-protection strap.
- Good shoes. Trail shoes or running shoes with good support and traction.
In addition, they need to wear a paintball mask, and an option is to add padded clothing, a protective vest, gloves, and a hairband. Add warm clothes if it’s cold, and remember sunscreen if it’s sunny.
To summarize, loose-fitting clothes are preferred.
Here is a summary of what to wear to paintball:
- An anti-fog paintball goggle
- Bandana, headband, cap, or beanie,
- Full sleeve shirts
- Long loose pants
- Sweatshirt and sweatpants
- Groin guard
- A protective vest
- Arm and knee protection are optional
Read more about what gear you need for paintball.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few questions some people asked me when I invited them to go paintballing for the first time.
What are the best clothes to wear for paintball?
Wear whatever you want. Proper paintball apparel is any clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, stained, or ruined. Wearing long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, shoes, and a protective paintball mask are the basics, and they add layers of protection or layers of clothes depending on preferences or weather conditions. If it is raining and you get wet, bring a change of clothes for the ride home to change into dry clothes since paintball fields are often located far out of town.
Do Paintball Stains Wash Out of Clothes?
Most paintballs wash out, but your clothes can still get dirty and stained from mud and grass.
Can I wear shorts for paintball?
Yes, but I advise you to wear pants.
Should I wear gloves?
Gloves are optional. Your hands and fingers are sensitive, which can hurt a lot when getting hit, so a pair of gloves can protect your hands from potential pain and bruises.