Picking the Best Paintball Masks has Never Been Easier

Best Paintball Masks

Paintball is a sport was envisioned by three friends in the middle of a debate in the early 1980s. The discussion centered around whether or not a city person, let loose in the woods or other remote areas, could survive if being hunted by a country person, hunter, or woodsman. Fortunately, they didn’t settle this debate in a Most Dangerous Game scenario but found a more civilized way to test their theories.

As paintball evolved and grew more popular, the equipment also became more sophisticated. The earliest paintball games used rather crude guns, and limited amounts of ammunition. The markers were single-shot, typically had a maximum twelve shot magazine, and required manual cocking and loading, making for a slow and prolonged encounter.

Our Personal Best Choice

Budget Paintball Masks

Best Overall Model

Dye Special Edition Paintball Goggles

Best Value Model

NINAT Airsoft Skull Mask

Experts/Professional Paintball Masks

Best Overall Model

Virtue VIO Ascend Thermal Paintball Mask

Best Value Model

Dye Precision i4 Thermal Paintball Mask

The next generation of markers evolved with the development of a pump-action firing system, which significantly improved the speed of cocking and firing. Gas power came next, displacing some of the spring action guns that were most commonly in use at that time. At the same time, paintballs were also improving, changing to a gelatin-based coating, holding vegetable dyes for betting contact spotting visibility.

Paintball equipment can be rented at many venues, which is an excellent way to get an introduction to the sport. For those that wish to purchase their own equipment, the basic needs include a marker, paintballs, and a hopper or magazine to hold the paintballs. Other optional equipment can consist of protective vests, gloves, knee or elbow padding, and neck protection.

The one absolutely mandatory piece of personal protective equipment is a mask.

The speed at which the paintballs leave the barrel of the gun, or muzzle velocity, is quite high. Getting hit by a paintball can sting, and even leave a bruise or welt. But to get hit in the eye with a paintball could result in serious injury, even including blindness. So, given this, the focus of this article will be on paintball masks. We’ll review both budget and professional models, and give you all the details needed to help you make the best purchasing decision when you buy your mask.

Comparison Table

In this review, we will look at a total of twelve paintball masks; seven of these will fall into the budget category, with the remaining five being professional or expert models.

Learn more on how we came up with the table

In the table below, the items will be presented in the order of their customer ratings, taken from the Amazon.com website. We will also note the number of reviews that determined the score. In some cases, there are not a lot of reviews, so one or two overly good or bad ratings could skew the results. In these cases, where there are under twenty reviews, we’ll highlight the item so you can look at it in more detail.

Let’s start out with a look at the budget masks.

Product Best Features Rating (No. of Reviews) Price Range View on Amazon

Budget Paintball Masks:

BOROLA Tactical Mask

BOROLA Tactical Mask

  • polycarbonate body with UV protected,
  • motorcycle-style goggles,
  • anti-glare,
  • adjustable band

4.7 out of 5
(10)

$

Check Price

Dye Special Edition

Dye Special Edition

  • double pane lens,
  • anti-fog and distortion-free,
  • easy removal lens,
  • multi-port earpiece,
  • venting

3.9 out of 5
(2)

$

Check Price

NINAT Airsoft Skull Mask

NINAT Airsoft Skull Mask

  • polycarbonate body,
  • foam padded,
  • visor shading,
  • vented,
  • anti-fog

4.3 out of 5
(12)

$

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Empire X-Ray

Empire X-Ray

  • anti-fog lens,
  • visor,
  • vented,
  • solid faceplate with adjustable straps for comfortable fit

4.3 out of 5
(317)

$

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Invert Helix

Invert Helix

  • goggle style,
  • hard plastic lens,
  • double-density foam padding,
  • visor

4.9 out of 5
(178)

$

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JT Premise

JT Premise

  • single pane,
  • google-style anti-fog lens,
  • visor,
  • large field of vision

4.2 out of 5
(18)

$

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Empire Helix

Empire Helix

  • dual-pane thermal lens,
  • easy change out for cleaning,
  • vented,
  • adjustable strap for comfort

4.1 out of 5
(119)

$

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Experts/Professional Masks:

Virtue VIO Ascend

Virtue VIO Ascend

  • goggle-type,
  • available in multiple colors,
  • optional upgrades,
  • good ventilation

4.6 out of 5
(146)

$$

Check Price

Dye i5

Dye i5

  • goggle-type,
  • huge assortment of colors and lenses,
  • built-in camera mount,
  • 290o FOV anti-fog lens

4.6 out of 5
(99)

$$$

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Dye Precision I4

Dye Precision I4

  • goggle-type,
  • distortion-free,
  • anti-fog lens,
  • multiple colors,
  • one-year warranty

4.5 out of 5
(424)

$$$

Check Price

Virtue VIO Contour II

Virtue VIO Contour II

  • UV protection,
  • fog-resistant lens,
  • goggle-type,
  • compatible with all VIO options

4.4 out of 5
(173)

$$$

Check Price

Empire EVS

Empire EVS

  • scratch and UV resistant anti-fog lens,
  • 270o FOV,
  • ASTM approved mask,
  • goggle-type

4.2 out of 5
(47)

$$$

Check Price

Buying Guide

The purpose of this section is to list several features, terminology, and specifications you should consider when selecting your mask. You may see wide variations in performance among these masks, particularly between the budget and professional masks.

There are three levels you should consider as part of your mask selection process. The first is the must-have features; those things that you cannot live without. Maybe it’s padded straps or a visor, but you won’t buy unless it has it. Next up would be nice to have options; these are things you would probably use but aren’t completely necessary in the function of the mask. Finally, there are those items you really don’t need and won’t use; the bells and whistles that may come with a mask. One example of this might be the ability to wear glasses under the mask, which may or may not be relevant to you.

We’ll try to keep the descriptions relatively brief. If you need more detail, you can typically find information online at the manufacturer’s web site.

UV protection

UV protection

Ultraviolet rays from the sun have the potential to seriously damage your eyes, and many of these masks offer UV protection in the goggles or lens face shield. The UV protection in sunglasses is sunblock protection for your eyes. UV ratings of 400 or higher will block 99.9% of UV rays.

Field of vision (FOV)

Field of vision (FOV)

To be successful in paintball, you will need to see what is not only directly in front of you, but also with your peripheral vision. All of these masks give you some visibility to the sides, but some are better than others. Many of the better masks will have a field of vision of about 260-degrees.

Weight

Weight

As we noted, it’s imperative you wear your mask every minute you are in a paintball competition. Given that, the weight of the mask becomes a factor. This specification should be available for most of the masks in this review, either on Amazon or at the manufacturer’s website.

Overall dimensions

Overall dimensions

In addition to weight, the overall dimensions of the paintball mask are also important. A large, bulky mask will inhibit your ability to conceal yourself during the game, but a smaller style mask might also impair ear and head protection. Right-sizing the dimensions will be a combination of user preference combined with the anticipated type of paintball activities.

Lens change

Lens change

Several of the masks here allow for a lens change. There are two primary reasons for this.

First, by switching out a lens, you don’t have to be out of the competition very long to remove your mask and clean the lens.

Second, many models have upgraded masks available that can be substituted for the original equipment. These upgrades might be aesthetic, like a color change, or functional, such as higher impact resistance.

Materials of construction

Materials of construction

This is important both for the body of the mask and the lens itself. In most cases, the lens will be made of polycarbonate. This plastic has very high inherent impact resistance and is used in safety glasses and goggles in addition to paintball masks. The downside of polycarbonate is that it scratches fairly easily. This underlines the importance of the lens change discussed above. Special anti-scratch coatings may also be included in the specifications of the lens. The body of the mask will typically be made of some type of engineered polymer, such as ABS or polyethylene.

Mask style

Mask style

There are some basic mask styles on display in this review. The first is geared around the type of lens on the mask. Some of these masks have goggles, while others go with a full-face shield. There are pros and cons to each style, and ultimately individual preference will drive your decision. The other style is the protection offered. Some are face protection only, while others are full, wrap-around protection for the sides and back of your head. Again, the pros and cons of each style and your preferences will drive the decision.

Impact resistance

Impact resistance

Obviously, your paintball mask lens has to be able to withstand the impact of a paintball to protect your eyes. The ability of the lens to do this is impact resistance. There are two major testing agencies that rate impact resistance, ANSI and ASTM. The ANSI Z87.1 standard for impact resistance runs from one to three, with three the strongest. ASTM has about 15 different tests for impact resistance, with ASTM 1776-18 providing specific standards for paintball masks. The full standard is copyright protected and must be purchased, but the manufacturer should specify if the test results meet the ASTM standard or not.

Visor

Visor

paintball mask visorMany models come with a visor or have a visor that can be purchased separately. The visor itself is not a safety feature but does provide improved glare protection while in the field wearing the mask.

Lens properties

Lens properties

These are additional features of the lens itself. These features include anti-fog treatment, anti-glare, scratch-resistant coating, and distortion-free vision. They all are related to the improvement of vision while wearing the mask.

Coverage

Coverage

Some of these masks are goggle-type, and provide coverage of the face, as required. Some will extend to ear protection, but most do not offer protection for the back or top of the head. Others offer full-head coverage, but will typically weigh more than those offering partial-head coverage. If you need to wear eyeglasses while playing paintball, you’ll need a mask with sufficient interior face room to not crush against your glasses when on.

Colors

Colors

Many of these masks are available in multiple colors, and some offer a multitude of combinations of different color bodies and lenses, making them fully customizable to user preferences. Buyers should consider color for the level of contrast it provides with the expected surroundings. For example, if you are typically playing paintball in a forest environment, you would look for a neutral colored mask, rather than a bright red one.

Padding/Straps

Padding/Straps

Paintball mask strapsThe padding is what molds the mask to your head, and the straps are what hold the mask in place. There are different types of padding and padding covers to choose from. Some padding is removable and replaceable in case it gets wet or malformed. The ability of the padding to absorb moisture is also a key factor. The straps should have a reliable method of closure to hold the mask in place and be adjustable to fit different sizes.

Venting

Venting

Good ventilation is essential for a mask. If a mask does not vent properly, the difference in temperatures between the inside of the mask and outside may cause fogging. This is why many masks have a thermal lens, which is actually two lenses with an air barrier in between them. Anti-fog coatings also serve to help counteract fogging of the mask.

Communication

Communication

Paintball competitions are typically team-oriented, so communication between team members is paramount. For good communication, a series of vents usually are cut into the mask, so when you speak, other teammates can hear you clearly. Similarly, vents around the ear protection allow you to listen to your teammates. This is a key test when buying a paintball mask.

Size options

Size options

Most of these masks come in a one-size-fits-all configuration, with adjustable straps to keep them in place on both large and small heads. There are some paintball masks available, however, that are sold in different sizes, which gives them a more customized fit.

Other options

Other options

Many of these masks, particularly the professional or expert models, had either additional features as standards, such as camera mounts, or separate options available for purchase, such as replaceable foam panels, small ventilation fans, and additional lenses, visors, and protection panels. This gives the buyer the option of purchasing a fully outfitted mask or buying a base model and customizing it to meet their needs and preferences.

Bad-ass factor

Bad-ass factor

Admittedly, you won’t see this one listed in the manufacturer’s specifications or as a bullet in the Amazon reviews. But, let’s face it, while you may be prey part of the time in a paintball combination, you are predator all the time! So, you want a mask that will convey that predator instinct to your competition out there. Which of the below do you think delivers that bad-ass attitude?
bad-ass factor

Warranty and technical support

Warranty and technical support

While there is not a lot of technical complexity in these paintball masks, things can and do go wrong with them. You should be able to identify the length of the manufacturer’s warranty for the mask as part of the purchase process. In some cases, you can purchase extended warranties. And if things do go wrong, domestic customer service and tech support are preferable to international support.

Price

Price

Last, but certainly not least, is the price of the mask. In the case of the budget masks, the highest priced mask is just over double the cost of the lowest-priced mask; but in this case, the difference is only about $20. In the case of the expert masks, the highest-priced is also double the price of the lowest-priced paintball mask, but here the difference is almost $100.

We recommend you buy based on the overall value of the mask, not necessarily the lowest price. But, in most cases, we are constrained by a budget on what we can spend. We propose that you buy the mask that you want, rather than settle for something that will not make you happy in the long run.

Best Budget Paintball Masks Review

BOROLA Tactical Mask

This goggle-style mask has a removable faceplate so that the goggles can be worn separately for other activities. The mask is polycarbonate, with anti-glare and UV protection, and has a single, adjustable band to fit all sizes. It can be purchased in nine different colors and patterns.

BOROLA Tactical

Paintball Mask

Features and specifications:

- UV protection of SPF400

- vent holes on both sides of mask for good air circulation

- frame is made of ABS plastic material, foam padding for comfort

Check Price!

Pros

Pros
  • Very lightweight mask at 6.5 ounces total, goggles only are 2.7 ounces
  • Separate mask can be used for other activities, like cycling, skiing, etc.

Cons

Cons
  • Eye protection rating is 200FPS at 5-meter distance, so may not be suitable for paintball based on rules of the venue. Geared more for Nerf competition
  • 4.7 review, but only ten reviews

Dye Special Edition Paintball Goggles – Best Overall

This full-sized mask has a powerful bad-ass look. It has a double pane lens to prevent fogging, and offer distortion free sightlines. The lens design offers a wide-angle 260o field of vision, with full visor for glare shield. The design features a ten-second lens change.

Dye Special Edition

Paintball Mask

Features and specifications:

- multi-ports over ears to allow excellent hearing in surrounding area

- weight is 11.7 ounces, features foam padding for comfort

Check Price!

Pros

Pros
  • High overall rating, and also highly rated for value, ease of cleaning, and comfort
  • User reviews claim anti-fogging capability is excellent

Cons

Cons
  • Mask coverage does not cover the top or back of head
  • Single color and design only

NINAT Airsoft Skull Mask – Best Value

This mask has a polycarbonate lens and thermoplastic body for strength and durability. It is available in four color patterns, with a variety of lens colors available. The mask has a visor for glare protection and a single pane lens with anti-fogging treatment. Foam padding around the eyes and ears gives a comfortable fit.

NINAT Airsoft

Skull Mask

Features and specifications:

- rated for muzzle velocity of 310 FPS within 5 meters

- louvered vents draw warm air out to protect against fogging

- small mesh to prevent paint from getting inside the mask if hit

- lightweight at just over 11 ounces

Check Price!

Pros

Pros
  • Higher protection rating for paintball use
  • Lowest price of all the masks in this review
  • Eyeglasses can be worn under the mask

Cons

Cons
  • Users mention it is a good beginner’s mask, but not especially durable
  • Only 12 reviews

Empire X-Ray Paintball Single Lens Goggles

Sporting a visor, with a goggle-style look, this mask is highly rated for value. It has an anti-fog single pane lens, and offers protection for the face and ears, but not the top or back of the head. Foam padding and an adjustable strap give an overall good fit.

Empire X-Ray

Paintball Single

Lens Goggles

Features and specifications:

- multiple vents over ears and mouth for good communications with teammates

- lightweight, and a top twenty mask seller at Amazon

- one-piece construction; mask and goggles are fixed and not removable

Check Price!

Pros

Pros
  • Lightweight, decent rating, good mask for beginners
  • Can be used with eyeglasses, but may require some trimming of the foam padding

Cons

Cons
  • Vents near eyes can allow paint to get inside the mask near the eyes
  • Several user complaints about fogging during use

Invert Helix Thermal Paintball Mask

This mask comes in an olive-green color, to provide good camouflage in a woods or forest setting, and a lightly tinted mask to help prevent glare. It has a wide-angle field of vision, and an easy change lens system.

Invert Helix

Thermal Paintball Mask

Features and specifications:

- 270o field of vision

- non-slip, adjustable strap

- optically correct, thermal, dual pane lens to resist fogging

Check Price!

Pros

Pros
  • Dual-density foam padding for additional comfort
  • At Amazon, 5.0 ratings for value and lightweight (14 ounces)

Cons

Cons
  • Many conflicting reviews on anti-fog capability

JT Premise Headshield Paintball Mask

This mask offers full-head coverage, with removable panels for the back and top of the head. It has a single pane, clear lens in the goggles. The lens is anti-fog, and can be replaced and upgraded with other JT aftermarket lenses. It features three points of adjustment for a comfortable fit.

JT Premise

Paintball mask

Features and specifications:

- 260o field of vision

- built-in visor for glare protection

- full face ventilation for easy breathing and limited fogging risk

Check Price!

Pros

Pros
  • Quick-release lens and foam systems to facilitate removal
  • Ability to upgrade lens

Cons

Cons
  • Several complaints about fogging and overall mask ventilation
  • Highest price mask on the list (but not by much)

Empire Helix Paintball Mask

Unfortunately, this mask doesn’t do anything for me on the bad-ass scale. It has a dual-pane thermal lens and a visor/brow shield that looks more like a baseball cap. The overall reviews are good, however, with several positive comments on fit and comfort.

Empire Helix

Paintball Mask

Features and specifications:

- dual-density foam padding for user comfor

- well-placed vents avoid paint getting inside the mask

- field of vision is 270o

Check Price!

Pros

Pros
  • Woven, adjustable strap with silicone to prevent slippage
  • User comfort, ability to fit glasses inside mask

Cons

Cons
  • Some exposure of side of jaw where mask does not provide coverage

So, a quick summary of the budget paintball masks before we move on to the detailed review of the professional mask. Here are my choices:

Best Overall Model

Dye Special Edition Paintball Goggles

Best Value Model

NINAT Airsoft Skull Mask

I really liked the Dye Special Edition as the best overall mask. While it is among the priciest in the budget category, it is still only $40. It came out with high ratings in virtually every category, and users raved about the anti-fog capability. My only concern was not finding a specific protection rating, but, given Dye’s record as a quality mask producer, the assumption is that it is fully paintball qualified.

The best value was a little bit tougher to call, but you really can’t argue with a full-featured, $18 mask. It has a lot of color combination choices and a good rating from users. My only concern was the relatively low number of reviews; only twelve. The Invert Helix would have been my runner-up in this category.

Best Professional/Expert Paintball Masks Review

Let’s shift gears here, and take a look at five paintball masks for experts or professional paintballers. We do see a more significant range of prices in this group, but, as you would hope, based on the higher prices, there is a nice, tight grouping on the quality reviews. Each of the five as a significant number of reviews, so any skewed results are not really a factor.

Virtue VIO Ascend Thermal Paintball Mask – Best Value

This mask comes out as tied for the highest rating at 4.6, but shows up as first on the list by virtue of the $95 price tag, lowest of all five professional masks. It’s available in six colors, and offers partial head coverage, leaving the top and the back of the head unprotected. It can be customized with several options from the VIO mask line.

Virtue VIO Ascend

Thermal Paintball Mask

Features and specifications:

- lthermal lens with 100% UV protection

- large vents for good airflow and communication

- scratch-resistant lens coating, distortion-free optical quality, comfortable fit with eyeglasses

Check Price!

Pros

Pros
  • High ratings for comfort and value
  • Lots of upgrades for lenses, strap, visor, etc.
  • Good ear coverage

Cons

Cons
  • Depending on the user, may not cover full jaw
  • Large front vents can allow paint into the mask with a frontal hit

Dye i5 Paintball Mask

This is the first of two Dye masks in the professional category, following the selection of a different Dye mask as best overall in the budget category. Boasting over thirty body and mask color combinations, this mask has a built-in POV mount to attach a camera to record your paintball action. The quick-release foam and lens change capability allows for easy cleaning, even in the field.

Dye i5 Paintball Mask

Features and specifications:

- best in class 290o field of vision

- multi-directional venting to release heat and moisture, and provide for excellent communication

- goggle style mask, without full head protection top and back

- certified for double the ASTM minimum requirement

Check Price!

Pros

Pros
  • Exceptional safety features, including ASTM certification and extensive ear protection
  • Top five in sales at Amazon for paintball goggles
  • Soft, multi-layer foam padding

Cons

Cons
  • Lens reported to scratch easily
  • Highest price of the professional models reviewed here

Dye Precision i4 Thermal Paintball Mask – Best Overall

This paintball mask has many of the same features as the i5 above, and has a similar 4.5 rating to the 4.6 of the i5. The price, however, is $50 less. The i5 has the camera mount, and slightly better chin protection, but otherwise they are almost identical. This mask does not provide top or rear head protection.

Dye Precision i4

Thermal Paintball Mask

Features and specifications:

- thermal, anti-fog lens, with dozens of colors combinations with mask body

- soft and flexible ear protection, good ventilation in front of mask

- certified for double the ASTM minimum requirement

- foam padding system for extra comfort

Check Price!

Pros

Pros
  • Exceptional safety features, including the ASTM certification and ear protection
  • Top two in Amazon sales
  • Good fit for people who need to wear glasses

Cons

Cons
  • Some concerns about face coverage, depending on personal features
  • Complaints about lens scratching

Virtue VIO Contour II Paintball Mask

There are about a dozen color/lens combinations available, and the camo one is really bad-ass. This mask is very similar to the Ascend, reviewed above, with a quick-change, fog-resistant lens with 100% UV protection. It has a large mouth vent for easy breathing and communication and no echo ear pads. The mask can also be customized with parts from the entire VIO line.

Virtue VIO Contour II

Paintball Mask

Features and specifications:

- ASTM certified for paintball use

- lens is anti-fog, scratch-resistant coated, double pane thermal

- 3D molded ear pads with high-grade foam

- has back of head protection

Check Price!

Pros

Pros
  • One-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Woven strap with silicone treatment for better contact, no-slip
  • Back of head coverage

Cons

Cons
  • Complaints about top to bottom dimensions too small for facial coverage
  • Complaints about exterior packaging and received with damages to mask

Empire EVS Paintball Mask

With over a dozen mask and lens combinations, this partial coverage mask has style. It has a scratch-resistant, anti-reflective lens, with a quick, tool-free replacement system, with 100% UV protection. Rated highly for comfort, it has a moisture-wicking, triple-density foam padding system.

Empire EVS

Paintball Mask

Features and specifications:

- distortion-free lens offers 270o field of vision

- flexible lower skirt encourages paintball bouncing off rather than breaking

- ASTM approved for paintball eye protection

- thermo-formed ear covering for protection and excellent hearing

Check Price!

Pros

Pros
  • Plenty of room inside mask for eyeglasses
  • Large facial vents for easy breathing and communication
  • Tool-free lens replacement

Cons

Cons
  • Users complained picture shows black lens, but standard mask comes with clear (product description does state clear lens, but picture is deceiving)
  • Complaints about foam padding staying adhered to mask body

By way of summary, below are the best value and the best overall professional/expert paintball masks:

Best Overall Model

Virtue VIO Ascend Thermal Paintball Mask

Best Value Model

Dye Precision i4 Thermal Paintball Mask

The best value was a relatively easy selection for me. The Ascend has the lowest price by over $50, and is tied for the highest rating at 4.6. Amazon raters apparently agree, given the high ratings for both comfort and value.

The best overall was a bit of a toss-up. The i4 and i5 are very similar in features and performance but differ in price by over $50. The i5 gives you some improvements in chin protection, and the ability to mount a camera, but that just didn’t sway me enough to overcome the price difference. If those things are important to you due to the style of your game and personal preference, you won’t go wrong with the i5 either.

Conclusion

So, this wraps up our review of budget and professional paintball masks. We hope the information was helpful to you and will assist you in making the best value choice for your needs.

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