Posted on January 06 2022
Paintball masks are the most important part of paintball gear that any player can invest in. Choosing the best paintball mask not only offers protection but can also offer great comfort and be the difference between a great paintball experience or a horrible one. The best paintball mask offers great protection, ventilation, customizability, comfort, visibility, and features. Punisher's PB is here to designate the best paintball masks in certain categories including best budget paintball mask, best paintball mask for glasses, the lightest weight paintball mask, the paintball mask with best features, the most comfortable paintball mask, and overall best paintball mask.
Other factors that are important when considering a paintball mask:
Visibility with a paintball mask may seem like an obvious one, but there are definitely different levels of visibility depending upon which mask you choose. Some masks have larger lens which allow for a greater field of view for peripheral vision. Other masks have smaller lenses which make it harder for players to see the outlying events going on around them and only what's right in front of them
Another key element to a good paintball mask is being able to hear easily. This ultimately will depend upon the type of materials used for the mask. Cheaper paintball masks will feature a harder plastic which make hearing more difficult. Some masks offer soft rubber ears, like the JT Proflex and Bunkerkings CMD mask, which make hearing easier. While other masks offer a foam soft ear which are soft of the skin and generally easy to hear with.
Ventilation with paintball masks refers to how easy it is to breathe when wearing the mask. This becomes an important aspect for a paintball mask when you are running, diving, and yelling quite frequently while playing. Different factors affect how easy it is to breathe including the styling of the face mask (where the venting is and how large is the venting) as well as the actual mask composition. It seems that masks that are not hard plastic but rather soft rubber make it easier to breathe.
Fogging with a paintball mask refers to fog formed with the paintball lens during play. This makes it very difficult to see field obstacles, tree stumps, and most importantly players shooting at you! A dual pane thermal lens refers to 2 individual panes of the lens separated by a thin layer about 1/8" of an inch. The inside lens pane is thinner and light weight while the outer pane is thicker for full eye protection. Other things to consider with fogging include weather conditions and ventilation. Colder weather can still cause thermal lenses to fog when breathing heavily. A mask that ventilates well will help with fogging in cold weather as warm breathe dissipates into the environment more quickly.
Before we start to designate the best paintball masks, we would like to mention that none of these masks mentioned below will be offered with a single pane lens. As we have mentioned above, a paintball mask can definitely affect the experience of any player. Although many single pane paintball masks say that they will not fog, they do. Rental paintball masks are often single pane lens due to cost savings and often take away from the experience due to recreational players not being able to see their opponent or even where they are running! This is not only a horrible experience but also a potential safety hazard. The take away: please be sure to have a thermal dual pane lens with whatever paintball goggle system that you choose.
Another thing that can help with fogging is paintball masks that offer a vent. Virtue paintball masks offer the stealth visor fan upgrade which continues to cycle the air between your face and lens. This will help with extreme weather conditions as well as players who wear glasses! A lot of people often confuse a paintball mask fogging when it's actually their eyeglasses.
The most comfortable paintball mask can be a very subjective matter. Each player will have different facial structures as well as head sizes. This will affect what makes one mask comfortable for one player while another player may hate it. However, there are some common features that most people can agree on. One of those factors is better goggle foam. Thicker multi layer goggle foam can make a big difference. Another factor is the type of material used for the ears. Some paintball masks use a padded foam, such as the Empire EVS and Virtue Contour 2. Other masks just offer a soft rubber which makes it very comfortable on the ears as well. The overall stucture and size of a mask can affect comfortability. As a general rule of thumb, a larger person will require a larger paintball mask while a smaller person will need a smaller paintball mask.
Some paintball masks offer a full coverage option, such as the Carbon OPR goggle, JT Premise Headshield, and the Flex 8 Full Coverage. These masks are going to offer better head protection as they have a full plastic shield that basically forms a helmet. Most other masks will offer a visor option which can offer some forehead protection.
Mask Flexibility / Sturdiness
Mask flexibility / sturdiness can be thought of based upon the composition of the mask and how well the mask will do when shot. Some masks have soft rubber, such as the JT Proflex, which will make it much more prone to hurt when getting shot in the face mask. Masks with harder plastic, which are usually cheaper paintball masks, offer more protection.
Mask profile can be important to more experienced players. A larger mask can leave players susceptible to getting hit more than needed due to a mask that sticks out further than a mask that fits tighter to the face. Some players like masks that are very tight to the face while others like a mask that are looser and not as close to the mouth or eyes. This is a subjective matter that leaves it open to player preference
Lens scratch resistance
Some lenses offer a HDR feature which is a reflective mirror with cool colors such as silver mirror, gold mirror, fire mirror (red mirror), green mirror, blue mirror, purple mirror, and more. These lenses can often be more prone to scratching the outermost mirror layer. Clear, smoke, and yellow lenses that do not have this outer coat do not seem to scratch as easily. Also, certain brand lenses do seem to be more scratch prone than others.
1. Best Budget Paintball Mask - HK Army HSTL Paintball Mask ($44.95)
This mask barely wins over the Carbon OPR mask. Ultimately, it is $5 cheaper than the OPR mask ($44.95 for the HK Army HSTL and $49.95 for the Carbon OPR) and has some great features. The HK Army HSTL mask offers a thermal dual pane lens and comes with a clear lens. HK Army also gives players the option to upgrade to a smoke lens if so desired. Another reason that this mask wins the best budget mask is due to the relatively large size of the mask. The extended chin protection will protect not only your chin but even a portion of your neck. On the top of the mask, the HSTL mask visor does a good job of protecting the forehead. Another safety feature exclusive to this mask is the adjustable strap that goes over the top of the head to keep the mask secured tightly to the head during running, diving, and vigorous play. A chin strap is also included for the underneath the jaw so this mask is extremely secure to the head. Lastly, the goggle foam can easily be replaced as the foam has a plastic bracket which secures into the mask. Simply remove the old foam and replace with new without any glue necessary!
For $64.95, HK Army also has recently released some graphic options including a money, skull, fracture (different colors available), and carbon fiber design!
Best Paintball Mask for Glasses - Virtue Vio Ascend ($99.95 - $124.95)
The Virtue Vio Ascend is a great mid level paintball mask. The Vio Ascend features soft rubber construction and is a decent sized mask which will fit many different sized heads. However, the Virtue Ascend has 2 features which make it the best paintball mask for glasses. First, the mask features a space where there is no goggle foam on the inside of the mask where the temple for eyeglasses would be. This means that the player with eyeglasses won't be smooshed and potentially damage the glasses due to foam pushing in the temples of the glasses. Secondly, the Virtue Vio Ascend also features the Virtue Stealth Visor Fan Upgrade. As discussed in the fogging section, this helps players who wear glasses from fogging up their glasses during extraneous play by circulating fresh air into the mask. This extra feature makes the Vio Ascend the best mask. There are other masks offered by Virtue Paintball as well, but this mask offers the best value.
Lightest Weight Paintball Mask - Push Unite Basic / Virtue Vio Ascend
Both the Push Unite Basic and Virtue Vio Ascend come in as the lightest paintball masks of 2022 at a weight of 10.7 ounces. Here are the weight of the other paintball masks that were considered:
Push Unite Basic - 10.7 ounces
Virtue Vio Ascend - 10.7 ounces
Bunkerkings CMD Paintball Mask - 10.8 ounces
HK Army KLR Mask - 10.8 ounces
Virtue XS 2 Paintball Mask - 11.2 ounces
V-Force Grill Paintball Mask - 11.4 ounces
Carbon OPR Paintball Mask - 11.5 ounces
JT Proflex 8 Paintball Mask - 11.6 ounces
Virtue Vio Contour 2 - 11.8 ounces
JT Proflex Paintball Mask - 12.1 ounces
Push Unite Mask - 12.3 ounces
V-Force Grill 2.0 Mask - 12.4 ounces
HK Army SLR Mask - 12.5 ounces
JT Proflex X Mask - 12.9 ounces
V-Force Armor Field Mask - 13.0 ounces
Dye I5 Paintball Mask - 13.7 ounces
Empire Helix Paintball Mask - 14.1 ounces
Valken MI-7 Mask - 14.3 ounces
Empire EVS Mask - 14.9 ounces
HK Army HSTL Paintball Mask - 15.1 ounces
All of these paintball masks are relatively lightweight, but can be noticeable when comparing the heaviest to the lightest.
Paintball Mask with the Best Features - Push Unite Paintball Mask - $214.95 - $244.95
The Push Unite paintball mask takes the award for offering the best features of any paintball mask. The Unite has taken the paintball world by storm with some revolutionary ideas as well as really awesome designs. The Push Unite offers the adjustable nose bridge which allows players to adjust for ultimate comfort how tight the goggle foam fits around the nose for players with different nose sizes.
Secondly, the Unite goggle system also features the ability to add a chin extension which makes it more suitable for players of all head/face sizes. The Push is a relatively smaller mask which can eliminate larger players from wearing it but the chin extension allows players to get more protection around the jaw line.
The magnetic chin strap of the Push Unite is also a revolutionary feature which makes it very simple to attach your chin strap. Simply get the 2 ends of the chin strap close and the magnet does the rest of the work!
Next, the Push Unite is the only paintball mask that comes standard with a contoured to profile goggle case. While most other aftermarket goggle cases are bulky, the Push Unite goggle case fits only the mask which makes it easy for storage. It is also a harder case so that it does not compromise the shape of the mask and possibly get smashed in your gearbag!
Lastly, extra Push lenses come in a nice lens sleeve that protects the lenses instead of a plastic wrapper. You can use these to protect excess lenses in your gearbag.
One surprising downside is that the Push Unite does not offer a factory visor. While there are some other mask visors that can be used, Push does not offer a visor which is extremely surprising and is definitely a major issue. Since this mask has been out for over a year, we expected to see a visor released but to date there is still no factory option.
Most Comfortable Paintball Mask - Bunkerkings CMD - $200
The Bunkerkings CMD is subjectively our most comfortable paintball mask of 2022. The CMD mask offers great ventilation with a soft rubber 1 piece face mask that has great face and ear protection. The soft rubber is comfortable even when in direct contact with skin. The CMD also features a multi layer goggle foam which makes it very comfortable.
Overall Best Paintball Mask of 2022
The Push Unite paintball mask is the best paintball mask currently available. Although it is the most expensive, you get a lot of value with your paintball mask. The Push Unite will fit different faces due to its chin extension upgrades. Unique to this mask, the nose bridge adjustability along with the magnetic chin strap make this mask's comfort tunable and makes tournament paintball play seamless by quickly taking off and attaching your chin strap. Lastly, it comes with many great designs and a contoured hard goggle case that is not offered with any other mask in the industry.