Masks, eh? You either love them or hate them.

But wearing the right kind of gear is essential for safely enjoying the sport of paintball, and the most important piece of equipment is the mask.

With pellets flying around at ridiculous speeds, you need to make sure you’re protected.

And while it’s perfectly fine to use in-house paintball gear, if you really want to get into the game – you need to pick up your own.

It will fit better, feel better, and look better. And you’ll know that you’re not sharing some other dude’s sweaty helmet.

So, check out our review on the best paintball masks available in 2022, with a buyer’s guide and FAQ section to assist you.

Virus or no virus, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

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TOP 13 Best Paintball Masks in 2022

GXG XVSN Paintball Mask

Paintball can be an expensive sport, so it’s nice to know that there are some solid options for budget-friendly equipment and gear out there.

A fine example of this is the Gen X Global XVSN mask, which is certainly not going to break the bank while offering you more than satisfactory protection.

With a single lens stealth google system, closed cell face foam, and adjustable head strap, this ASTM certified mask might be no frills – but it will get you out there ‘balling for a song.

Pros

  • Great price.
  • Durable plastic construction.
  • No fog ventilation.
  • Quick-release lens system.
  • Highly rated.

Cons

  • Not particularly stylish.
  • As basic as they get.
  • Limited coverage – stops at the forehead and ears.
  • No visor.
  • Single lens.

Takeaway

If you’re just starting out in paintball, this is an excellent way to go about it. A well put together entry-level mask that will get you off and running, and they don’t come much cheaper than this.

Empire Paintball X-Ray Goggle

Empire Paintball are a prominent, market-leading combat sports brand that offer a range of markers, equipment, and tournament grade paint.

They offer products that will suit everyone from the first-timer to the pro speedballer, and this is an example of one of their entry-level masks.

With an anti-fog, clear single lens, adjustable strap, and built-in visor, the X-Ray is a lot of mask considering the price. And the venting system helps draw warm air out to keep you comfortable and cool in hot situations.

If you’re looking for a good paintball mask to price ratio, you could do a lot worse.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Solid face plate.
  • Simple, but stylish look.
  • Hypoallergenic foam interior.
  • Highly rated.

Cons

  • Questions over the ventilation system.
  • Still pretty basic.
  • Narrow fit – no use if you have a wider head.

Takeaway

The perfect beginner’s paintball mask, this simple but effective design is all you need to get going for your first time out. Pros will want to look elsewhere, though.

JT Premise Headshield Paintball Mask

The first of our full head coverage masks now with this one-sized helmet and visor from JT Paintball. The single lens is anti-fog as you would come to expect, and they can be changed easily with a quick-release system.

The whole unit can be removed without the need for tools (which should be a given, really), and it offers you a 260 degree field of vision when you’re rocking it.

An adjustable head strap with silicone strips improve the secure fit, while soft face foam ensures you’re comfortable at all times.

You’d usually pay triple for this kind of protection – so it’s ideal for beginners who are ready to spend a little more.

Pros

  • Great price for what you get.
  • Adjustable chin strap.
  • Full head protective panels.
  • Quick-release system.
  • Suitable for large and small head sizes.

Cons

  • Can get foggy if not used correctly.

Takeaway

A great budget-friendly full coverage mask that offers excellent protection at an affordable price.

It might not be the best anti-fog paintball mask out there, but it’s worth a look if you’re new to the sport and want pro features at this level.

Valken Paintball MI-7 Mask

Based out of New Jersey, Colorado, and California, Valken Paintball has you covered (quite literally) for all kinds of tactical combat sports.

This stylish camouflage mask is part of that range, with a dual-paned, thermal lens system with hard coat treatment, fog and scratch-resistant polycarbonate construction.

Inside, dual-layer foam offers impact absorption, simultaneously wicking away moisture to keep you comfortable in the field. This SBR foam is also located at key points such as over the ears for additional protection, while the eye-catching logo design offers a nice aesthetic touch.

Pros

  • Entry-level pricing with pro features.
  • Double integrated strap and retention system.
  • Sculpted visor for ball deflection.
  • Tough and durable construction.
  • Anti-fog works well.

Cons

  • Camouflage design not for everyone.

Takeaway

Another great option for beginners who want a pro look and feel without having to sell a kidney. Made by the players, for the players, this is a top-quality mask for the money.

GI Sportz Profiler Vforce Mask

Offering 280 degrees of peripheral vision, the G1 Sportz V-Force provides you enhanced optics to really nail your targets.

The ultra-lightweight design allows for unrestricted movement without the discomfort of a heavy unit, while the quick-drying super-soft dual density foam offers additional impact protection and easy-wear.

There are plenty of vents for maximum breathability, which is ideal if you’re an older or larger player, while the low profile does its best to keep you out of the line of fire.

Pros

  • Thermal, anti-fog lens.
  • Ideal for all sizes of heads.
  • Works well for glasses wearers.
  • Built-in visor.

Cons

  • Doesn’t cover the jaw line as well as other masks.

Takeaway

An ideal mask if you have a larger face, the V-Force is also a great option if you wear specs. One of the best paintball masks for glasses out there.

Empire E-Flex Paintball Goggle System

The Empire strikes back now with another offering from one of the leading paintball brands. The E-Flex goggle system offers a thermal, anti-fog lens which provides zero optical distortion, so you can be sure your vision is never impeded.

Switching out the lens is fast and easy, while the face skirt is flexible with a reduced silhouette and plenty of breathing vents.

Hypo-allergenic super-comfortable ProFlex face foam absorbs impact and is pleasant on the skin of your face, and the lightweight design never feels cumbersome.

Pros

  • Vents, vents, vents.
  • Sleek design.
  • Choice of black and white styles.
  • Value for money for the quality.

Cons

  • No visor.
  • Not suitable for smaller heads.

Takeaway

Rightly lauded for being one of the best paintball masks for breathability, there’s a lot to like about Empire’s E-Flex goggle system that regular, experienced players look for in their face protection.

JT Spectra Flex 8 Full Head Goggles

The JT Spectra Flex 8 is one of the most popular paintball masks around, regularly praised for the quality of the dual fusion co-molding technology that has created a unique venting system.

Superior for breathability, this full head mask offers excellent protection without ever being restrictive, complete with a removable visor to keep the rain off your goggles.

The Spectra lenses offer a field of vision of 260 degrees, and the integrated soft-ear padding provides a snug, but comfortable fit.

Pros

  • Popular, highly rated design.
  • Deflection technology.
  • Compatible with other JT accessories.
  • Choice of colors.

Cons

  • Might run a little small for some.
  • Reports of some issues with the lens system.

Takeaway

An impressive and well-received full head protection mask with excellent venting and comfortable features. It just might not fully cover your ears and as such is more suitable for folks with smaller heads.

Virtue VIO Ascend Thermal Mask

By increasing the space around the nose and mouth, the VIO Ascend offers the paintballer a comfortable wearing experience, with improved breathability and maximum airflow.

Additionally, you will be able to hear more clearly, and transmit your own voice better over distance, which is highly useful for listening to calls or communication with your teammates.

The thermal lens provides a large field of view, distortion free clarity, and 100% UV protection. The Ascend is also fully compatible with a range of Virtue accessories, including visors, replacement lenses, and foam padding inserts.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Highly rated.
  • Premium quality construction.
  • Excellent venting system.
  • Choice of colors.

Cons

  • Visor sold separately.

Takeaway

Taking aim at enticing ‘ballers who like mid-range options, the VIO Ascend is a top quality mask for anyone ready to take the next step in their game and graduate from being a rookie.

Empire EVS Thermal Paintball Mask

We’re moving into the realms of the professional masks now with this popular Elevation EVS mask from Empire.

Beautifully styled, it features a super-fast, tool-free lens replacement system, with a zero-distortion lens that offers a full 270 degree field of vision.

The dual-panes prevent fogging, and the lower skirt has been co-injection molded for flexibility to encourage bounce off. Finally, the triple-density face foam has moisture-wicking technology to keep you dry in the heat of battle.

Pros

  • Silicone backed head strap.
  • Comfortable feel.
  • Thermoformed ear for protection and hearing ability.
  • Protective microfiber bag included.

Cons

  • Choice of colors would have been nice.

Takeaway

Empire have added yet another well-designed and put together paintball mask to their already impressive back catalog. Perfect for intermediate and pro players looking for quality and value.

HK Army Paintball KLR Anti-Fog Mask

As well as manufacturing some of the best paintball pants out there, HK Army offer a mean line in just about all things paintball.

Of course, that includes some world-class mask systems, and their popular KLR thermal anti-fog masks are regularly sold out.

Marketed as one of the most comfortable, innovative, and customizable masks in the sport, it features a quick-release lens system, UV shielded dual pane thermal lens, compression molded earpieces, and variable density foam lining.

If you want a mask that ticks all the boxes – then this could well be a winner.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Premium quality throughout.
  • Woven straps.
  • Over molded face shield.
  • Highly rated.

Cons

  • Regularly unavailable.
  • Pricey.

Takeaway

As you can see it’s difficult to fault this mask system from the Hostile Kids. Probably one of the best all round paintball masks there is.

Bunkerkings CMD Paintball Mask

Not to be outdone, the Bunkerkings enter the fray with their version of a pro mask, that is available in a fine choice of funky colors.

Featuring a hi-flow ventilation with multi-directional air exhaust zones, it provides up to 300% improved breathability – which is a huge bonus for pros and rookies alike.

The bounce flex zone absorb impact and can deflect pellets, while the tight jawline profile offers up as small as a target as possible. Inside, anti-echo geometry provides distortion-free hearing, with direct communication via the mouth vents.

The paintball mask is as badass as they come.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Glare reducing visor.
  • Microfiber contact layer.
  • Branded chin strap.
  • Fully removable BK foam.
  • Designer goggle bag included.

Cons

  • Expensive.

Takeaway

Another highly rated paintball mask from one of the market leaders in the field, this Bunkerkings offering is one of the most cutting edge protection systems out there. Very highly rated indeed.

Virtue VIO Paintball Mask

Speaking of very highly rated, this Virtue VIO thermal paintball mask system is up there with the best money can buy.

The lens technology offers an unparalleled field of view, and a streamlined, semi-flexible face mask with rigid color accents. The 3D foam molded pro padding adds grip, comfort, and protection, while the enlarged goggle strap and adjusters make it easy to fit to size.

No echo ear pads increase acoustics, and the direct mouth vents allow you to talk easily and clearly as well as improving overall breathability.

Pros

  • Premium quality construction.
  • One of the highest-rated masks out there.
  • Pro-level profile.
  • Fully customizable.

Cons

  • It’s not cheap.

Takeaway

Described as the most comfortable paintball mask ever designed, you’ve got to say they have a decent claim to this bold statement. Top-quality all round – and if you don’t like it, you can change everything about it.

Dye i5 Paintball Goggle

Now we really come to the crème de la crème. The Cadillac of paintball masks from arguably the best paintball brand in the business.

This has got a wealth of features that the pros go wild for, a revolutionary goggle system with unbeatable comfort and protection.

The 290 degree anti-fog lens offers unparalleled optical clarity with both vertical and horizontal peripheral vision, while the venting system has patented blade angling for moisture-wicking and effortless communication.

A universal POV camera mount is also included so you never miss a moment of your victory.

Pros

  • Pro-grade design and construction.
  • Quick release foam kit.
  • Precise tension control.
  • Anatomic fit.
  • Very highly rated.

Cons

  • Exorbitantly expensive for a paintball mask.

Takeaway

If you want to wear what the pros wear, then this is the mask of choice for you. Just don’t be surprised if your significant other has a heart attack when you bring it home – at this price, you had better be good.

What to Look for When Choosing the Best Paintball Mask

Below you’ll find an in-depth guide full of tips and advice to help you purchase the right paintball mask for you.

paintball mask and goggle

Airsoft vs Paintball vs Motocross vs BMX

To the untrained eye, you might notice little difference between the masks and goggle systems that are used in the above sports.

So much so, that one of the most frequently asked questions is “can I use X goggles for paintball?”

The fact is, each mask will have its differences, and if you’re serious about one particular sport, then you should really be using a mask that is specifically designed for that activity.

This is especially true when it comes to paintball, as the protection a dedicated, ANSI approved paintball mask will provide will be significantly safer and more suitable than any other mask solution.

Just because they might look the same – doesn’t mean they perform the same.

Coverage and Profile

Paintball masks are designed to primarily protected the face, which means that for the most part, they cover up to the hairline/edge of your forehead, around the ears, and over the jaw.

However, some paintball masks can be of a full head design, offering protection to the top and back of your head at the same time.

This option is usually preferred by woodsball players, as anyone who has taken a pellet to the back of the head in a sneak attack from behind will testify.

Speedball players will prefer a mask with a smaller profile that only protects the vital areas and offers much less of a target. Particularly as your opponent is more commonly attacking from a zone in front of you.

team of paintball players with marker guns and equipment

Lenses

Pro players will tell you that one of the most important (if not THE most important) parts of a paintball mask is the lens/goggle system.

And they come in more styles and designs than you could shake a squeegee at.

First, you need to decide between single and dual lenses. Here’s a big piece of advice to help you out:

Choose dual lenses.

Single lenses – while much cheaper – have a tendency to fog easily. Dual (or thermal) lenses, sidestep this by creating two layers which form a barrier between the warm air close to your face and the cooler air on the outside.

Thermal lenses make the best anti-fog paintball masks, because science.

While it’s unavoidable that any mask will restrict your peripheral sight lines, you want to make sure you have the maximum number of degrees possible when it comes to field of vision.

Lenses also come in a variety of colors.

The color you choose will depend on a number of factors, including the conditions on the day, the type of game and scenario, personal preference, and what you can afford.

Scratch-resistant goggles are also highly recommended, and you should look for a mask that has a quick-change lens system in case you need to switch out your optics during the day.

It’s not just all about looking cool – although there’s no reason why you can’t have the best of both worlds with a practical, badass lens system.

As this is a huge subject, check out the video below for more information from popular channel Paintball Ruined My Life.

Venting and Airflow

Paintball is a fast-paced sport. If you’ve got the stamina of a sloth, then maybe you should take up cross-stitch instead.

Being able to breathe freely is an essential part of the game, but as many people try to remind us, masks can make this challenging or difficult.

Decent paintball masks should be designed to improve breathing rather than hinder it, with plenty of vents to allow satisfactory air flow and room around the nose and mouth areas.

Look for paintball masks that allow this so your breathing is never restricted.

Likewise, this is important with acoustics and communication, and you should look for masks that allow you to hear and speak without issue.

Fit and Padding

It’s a well-known fact that we humans all have different sized heads.

Paintball masks are available in different sizes, and as I’ve outlined in the reviews above, some are better for smaller folks, while some are more suitable for larger craniums.

In more expensive, higher-end models, masks can be fully adjusted, and the padding can be removed and/or replaced to suit the wearer.

Choosing your fit should be the same as when you’re choosing the best tactical pants with knee pads – read the reviews from other consumers who have a similar sized noggin to you.

Also, look out for masks that are on the larger side if you wear glasses. Some products are designed for specifically with spectacle users in mind.

Visor

Do you need a paintball visor? Doesn’t it add more to the mask profile and thus make you more of a target?

It’s really up to you, but speedball players tend to ditch the visor in favor of a smaller profile, while woodsball players prefer it to keep the rain off the goggles.

And some will either wear or remove a visor based entirely on if it looks good or not.

If you’re a beginner, I would recommend starting out using a visor, and then you can adapt your look to suit your needs as your experience grows.

man holding paintball marker and playing woodsball

Durability and Weight

First and foremost a paintball mask is designed to protect your face – especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.

So, it should have enough strength to withstand pellet hits that are whizzing towards you at 300 fps.

If you’re a beginner, a heavier-duty mask is recommended, as you’ll likely be taking more hits and you want that peace of mind when it comes to protection.

But pro masks will be more flexible and lightweight, particularly those used for speedball and more fast-paced games.

Masks, where the lower skirt is more flexible, are designed to improve the chances of bounce – so paintballs are deflected rather than scoring a hit.

Accessories and Extras

Good paintball masks will be compatible with a number of accessories, should you wish or need to pimp them up to suit your style of play.

Look for masks that have easy-swap lenses. Having a mask that you can take apart to clean is highly recommended, and much better than a single-piece mask.

Then you can add a new lens to mix things up – and you should always have back-up replacement lenses in case of emergency.

Extra padding is useful if your mask isn’t fitting right, or you just need to add a bit of extra impact protection. Likewise, you should be able to switch out your strapping if it’s not working for you.

Camera mounts are useful if you want to be able to prove your Rambo kill streak rampage, or your mates are just not going to believe the shot you just pulled off.

Check out the video below for more suggestions on paintball mask accessories.

Aesthetics

On the field of play, there are a great many players out there who like to look good.

This is probably more true of airsofters than paintballers, because in paintball you’re likely going to get pretty messed up soon enough, and airsoft players like to be as militarily accurate as possible.

That said, there’s no reason why you have to sacrifice a stylish looking mask system for safety. Good paintball masks should cover both bases and then some.

But if it’s a choice between safety and style in paintball, give me safety any day.

Make sure the mask you choose is suitable and has been approved for hard-core paintball first – regardless of how good it looks.

Cost

Paintball isn’t a cheap game, and costs can soon add up.

However, the beauty of it is you can spend as much or as little as you like as budget-friendly masks, clothing, paintball markers, and accessories are readily available.

I would recommend purchasing a paintball mask that suits your skill level and how frequently you’re playing the sport.

There’s no need to buy a pro system if you’ve no idea what a hopper is, and you’re only doing it for a one-off bachelor party.

close up view of paintball mask with goggle

FAQs

Do I need a mask for paintball?

Yes. It’s an essential piece of kit. You will not be allowed near a field of play without one.

Paintball companies and events will likely have standard masks for you to use, but it’s much better to get your own.

Either way, the rules state that you need satisfactory face protection before you even go near a paintball marker.

Mask up people – it saves lives.

Check out this article if you want to learn more about what you should wear to play paintball.

What is the best paintball mask?

That depends on a number of factors, including what you’re using the mask for, features that are essential to you, and your budget.

As the market is swamped with literally hundreds of paintball masks, finding the very best one is something of a fruitless exercise as it’s very much subjective and will depend on personal preferences player to player.

How do I keep my paintball mask from fogging up?

The best way to prevent mask fog is to first purchase a thermal, dual-lens system that will compensate for the heat coming from your face and breath.

A mask with good ventilation is important for stopping the lens from fogging up.

Keep the lens clean with a good quality cleaner and anti-fog spray. Commercially available anti-fog products are useful if you’re really having trouble keeping your vision clear.

Mask fans are also on the market if you’re really desperate – but most players don’t recommend them as they’re more of a hindrance than a help.

Can I use ski/snowboard goggles for paintball?

Ski or snowboard goggles are not really designed for withstanding 300 fps paintball impact, so I would err on the side of caution here and say “no.”

The lenses are usually much thinner than paintball versions, and as such would likely crack or possibly shatter if taking a direct hit, especially from close range.

Feel free to use paintball goggles for skiing though, if you’re on a budget and want to save a bit of money.

Do I need a visor?

You don’t have to have a visor, and many pro players are playing without them these days.

It’s just they’re advisable to keep rain off your goggles if the heavens open, they can reduce the sun’s glare in your eyes on a bright day, and they can help deflect paintballs by their very design.

It’s up to the individual if you think any of these advantages are useful compared to reducing your mask’s profile.

What are paintball masks made of?

Typically, a paintball mask will be made with a rigid or semi-rigid plastic, with enough strength to withstand the impact of a paintball fired anywhere between 250-300 fps.

Lenses will be made of a shatterproof, polycarbonate material that has been reinforced to protect your precious peepers.

Paintball team in action rainy forest

Can you wear glasses under a paintball mask?

Providing the mask and goggles are large enough, then it is possible to wear glasses at the same time.

Some models of paintball masks are specifically designed with spectacle wearers in mind, so there’s no need to switch out to contact lenses or book laser-eye surgery if you want to play combat sports.

Can you use a mesh mask for paintball?

Paintball masks are designed to pass strict impact standards from the ANSI (American National Standards Institute).

A mesh or cloth mask isn’t going to come close to this level of protection and as such is very inadvisable for playing paintball.

Aside from that, you’ll likely get a mouthful of paint, and it would be an absolute bastard to clean, so it’s best avoided.

What is a thermal lens paintball mask?

A thermal lens paintball mask is a mask that uses two (dual) lenses to limit or totally prevent fogging up.

It acts as a barrier between the warm air close to your face, and the colder air outside.

Intermediate and pros players alike all highly recommend that you choose a thermal lens over a single version if you can.

But for casual play, or if you’re a younger, smaller player (us old fat lads tend to sweat and breathe a lot more) then a single lens paintball mask with good ventilation is fine.

Can you use a paintball mask for airsoft?

Yes. In fact, some airsoft events and fields insist on paintball masks as they offer much more protection than their airsoft counterparts.

Paintball masks are designed to take more punishment and a heavier impact, and you’ll find that a lot of new airsoft players will play with a paintball mask when just starting out.

To be on the safe side, it’s best to check with your airsoft event and specific rules as to what you can and can’t use on the field of play.

But for either sport, it’s a good idea to pick up a pair of quality shooting gloves to give you a tactical advantage and to protect your hands.

Getting shot in the little finger at close range is not a pleasant experience – trust me.

Summary

Masks have caused a lot of controversy down the years, but if there’s one place they’re an essential part of the kit – it’s on a paintball field.

That’s why choosing the best paintball mask of 2022 is important if you’re in any way interested in this fast-paced, adrenaline-fueled combat sport.

Let me know which mask system you would wear and why.

Happy paintballing – and stay safe out there!