Friday, February 10, 2012

A step into the world of paintball masks

Paintball masks; quite possibly the most important piece of equipment on your person, which not only allows you to stay in the game, but stay in the game safely. Without a mask, you could lose your vision, and perhaps, your life.

So how do you go into deciding which paintball mask is best for you?
There are many factors that contribute to the terribly hard decision of choosing a paintball mask. To compare masks, we will look at protection, comfort, value, ventilation, and maintenance.   If you frequent the TechPB forums this might sound as revitalization for you from Hebiki’s epic mask showdown, but I will put in my opinions.

    Considering that you have the cash to purchase a quality mask, I will only compare the top of the line masks of modern paintball.

    The JT proflex, Sly Profit, Empire Event, and the Dye i4.
The JT proflex is a wonderful option, which many experienced players roll with. The customization allows for people to mix and match frames and bottoms as they please. Some popular colors you may have heard of are “Cash Money” and “ Cotton Candy.” The foam, although extremely comfortable, can very easily fall apart The foam can almost be considered cheap, compared to other “high-end” masks. Probably one of the greatest factors of this mask is the ventilation. The abundance of vents in the lower part allows for some of the best ventilation on the market. This bottom is made of a soft rubbery material, which leads me to my next point. Because of the softness, it allows for occasional bounces, the key word being occasional. I’ve heard stories of the lower part getting hit, compressing, thus making the paintball roll down, and hit you in the neck, and possibly break. In addition, the Proflex bottom is soft enough to compress and hit your mouth, so at a close enough range, you could have a busted lip. The soft ears provide protection to a very low degree, because the ears are so small, they expose the bottom of your ear and the area under the ear.  In contrast, the value of the Proflex is amazing, retailing around 60 dollars brand new, you have a perfect budget baller goggle system. Taking apart this mask to clean the lenses could be a bit of a trouble, even with the right know-how. All in all, the mask is a great choice, for any situation.

The Sly Profit, one of the more controversial masks on the market. Many professional players use this mask, and it provides many benefits, although some negatives. The lens in my opinion is the best out of the list, because the dual-pane looks and feels very top-of-the-line, and the comfort is phenomenal. This mask feels like you are sitting in a first class airplane. From the double straps, to the velvety goggle foam and ears, you are pretty much wearing a nice beanie, but a beanie that is covering your mouth and nose. The stories are true. No matter how much you argue it, the ventilation is horrible on the Profit, because of the lack of large ventilation holes and vents directly in front of the mouth. Also, because of the bottom caving in a bit, makes it extremely hard to breath out of. Removal of the lens is just plain simple. You can look at the mask and pretty much figure out how to take out the lens. In addition, the mask has amazing protection all around. The ears are well protected with a thick layer of padding, and the mask comes up a bit high to protect the forehead.  With the recent price increase, the value of the mask went down a bit at 100. This mask definitely feels like a top tier mask and putting it on in the pro shop feels nothing like it does out on the field. In the pro shop it just seems like an amazing mask, but on the field it feels like a sauna. The aforementioned ear foam makes it somewhat hard to hear, and the lack of ventilation makes it feel as if you are breathing through a blanket. Although you can rip out the ears, and allow you to hear a bit better, it is still an extremely warm mask. So, to the people who live up north, and you are cold while out on the field this is the mask for you.

    The Empire E-vents. I have had the most experience with these, and they are amazing. Perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it is a nice mask. This one is going to be short, because it’s quite generic, because there is nothing particularly amazing with this mask, but nothing bad either. Ventilation is great, protects your face, comfort is phenomenal, Value, sitting right at 100 dollars is decent, comfort is up there, and dismantling this mask is easy. I have had only a few griefs with the Events. For one, it has an annoying gorilla mouth. When i try to line up my tank with my gun, it hits the nose of my mask, and being a snake player, it’s not exactly comfortable to not be compact when shooting the wire. If you like longer tanks then what I just said was irrelevant. Another slight problem i have with this mask is that when I am taking out the lens, the little retaining clips are annoying. I’ve broken one, and lost another, and it is quite annoying. Put these two little personal annoyances behind, and you’ve got a solid mask.
My personal favorite, the Dye i4. Although the most subjective and expensive option, it is an amazing goggle system. The ventilation is great and it is extremely comfortable, because of how light it is. It feels like a pair of snowboarding goggles that has an extra plastic piece on the bottom. Now here is where Dye loses a lot of customers. The i4’s were made specifically for people with tiny faces. To maintain a low profile, Dye made a small mask. For people with big faces, sorry but you are out of luck, unless you are okay with eating paint and getting shot in the chin constantly, i suggest you veer away from the i4. This mask is made for tiny faces. By contrast, removal of the lenses is a breeze. Push in two clips and the lens comes out. Nothing else leaves the body but the lens. I also mentioned the price earlier. It is the most expensive goggle system on the market. The solid colors are 110, and the 2012 colors are 120. IN MY OPINION, they are worth it if they fit you properly. If you try them on and your face fits in the mask comfortably then you are golden, otherwise, look at the other options. The i4 is a wonderfully made mask, but is very subjective and expensive.

Well, that right about concludes my surface scratch on masks. Just remember these are my opinions, and i do currently own all of these masks. Based on this info (and more) you should decide on what mask is right for you. Go to a pro shop and try them on, or ask a friend who owns them to let you try them on. Paintball in general is subjective, and you can do what you want. Have fun and stay safe!

This article was written by guest blogger xSilent / Snakestripe.