Purchasing paintball armor is an essential step to the world of paintballing. Whether you are a young or older newcomer, or an experienced player, it is important to buy the right type of protective armor to prevent bruising and injury.
As anyone who has been hit by a paintball will know, they can hurt enough to create a bruise depending on the speed and range of the hit and the position of the body.
Nobody enjoys getting hit by a paintball, so it’s important to protect yourself with the right armor to continue playing.
This armor has to be snug and padded enough whilst remaining lightweight and breathable for long games of paintball, because the last thing you want is to be running around with a heavily padded chest protector.
You also need the right amount of storage for pellets or any other accessories.
We have found the 7 best paintball armors to protect the body and improve the quality of the game, along with a handy buyers’ guide and FAQ section for any unanswered questions.
In a rush?Our top pick is the GZ XINXING Black Tactical Airsoft Paintball Vest. This vest is ideal for paintball, as it is made of a durable nylon and featuring all of the necessary storage pouches, including a flashlight pouch and 3 magazine pouches.
The sizing can be adjusted with buckles and velcro for a comfortable fit. This is a high quality and comfortable vest that does not break the bank.
OUR TOP PICK
The GZ XINXING is an all-rounder paintball vest that is ideal for both beginner and regular paintball players.
Made of 900D durable nylon, this vest is built to last against exploding pellets that would otherwise break cheaper material. This nylon is also wear-resisting, so it is built to last a long time.
The sizing itself can range between small and extra extra large with a maximum chest size of 50 inches depending on the customisable buckle and velcro straps, making it versatile for both children and adults of any size.
Although it is advertised for men, women can also benefit from this adjustability.
The vest itself offers 3 magazine pouches, a pouch for a flashlight or map, a medic pouch for band-aids and other products, and 2 communication pouches for radios and walkie-talkies.
This is a versatile vest that can also be used for cosplay, hunting, fishing, or shooting.
- Durable and comfortable nylon material
- Adjustable sizing
- All the necessary detachable pouches for accessories
- Only 30 day refund warranty
If you want to look intimidating and serious when playing paintball, this is the vest for you.
The ActionUnion tactical vest looks the most like a military vest due to its padded protective plate design.
Made from high density sponge cloth and EVA material, this vest is as protective as it is durable.
This sponge also allows breathability for longer paintball games and hot temperatures, so you have the freedom of movement without feeling completely restricted.
The sizing is adjustable between small and extra large in men’s US sizing, and can be changed to fit the shoulder and waist properly.
The protective plates are the best for preventing paintball pellets from bruising sensitive areas such as the ribs or chest.
The vest is easy to put on and take off with its military level zipper. It is waterproof, shockproof, and wear-resistant - making it incredibly versatile for paintballing, hunting, training, cosplay, and target shooting.
- Protective plates are ideal for preventing bruising and pain
- Shockproof and waterproof
- Breathable material
- No protection on the back
Maddog is a trusted brand from paintball and airsoft activities.
This chest protector is lightweight and features an elastic velcro belt, meaning it will fit to size and is adjustable with the velcro.
The shoulder straps are also elastic to prevent rubbing or pain in the neck, shoulders, or back. As it has an elastic fitting, this is a one size fits most design.
The padded protection itself runs all the way around the vest, including the back, allowing for complete protection from every angle.
This vest is designed to prevent impact, meaning you won’t feel the pain from the paintball pellets.
This is also beneficial for the kickback of a paintball gun, which could push against the chest or ribs. This armor is flexible and comes in either a black or camo design.
- Lightweight and flexible
- One size fits most with elastic and velcro belt, and elastic shoulder straps
- Prevents the impact of pellets all around the torso, including the back
- One size fits most design may be too large or too small for some
- People over 6’ may struggle with the length of the vest
The MGFLASHFORCE tactical vest stands out for its multiple functionalities.
Made of 600D encryption polyester, this vest is breathable and stitched to a high quality to prevent itself from wear resistance and damage from pellets.
The vest has pouches that are a suitable Molle system, which can be adjusted, removed, and moved around the vest for comfort and practicality.
Everything about this design is adjustable, from the chest size to the length, allowing it to fit a variety of different body types.
The sizing ranges from medium to extra extra large in US men’s clothing size.
The front of the vest features magic tape, allowing for identifier patches to quickly decipher teammates.
The padding itself is 10mm PE foam, making it suitable for protecting the body against pellets.
This vest is designed to fit comfortably in any position the user finds themselves in - whether it’s finding shelter behind a boulder or running through a woodland area from the opposition.
This vest is versatile for paintball, airsoft, tools, law enforcement, or cosplay.
- Comfortable and durable
- Good Molle system
- Adjustable sizing
- Protects all areas of the torso, including the back
- Only 30 day warranty
This Maddog product stands out for its combination of chest protector and neck protector. As most are usually purchased separately, this is an added bonus.
The chest protector itself is designed like a padded t-shirt, which offers more protection to the upper arms which can so easily bruise at the impact of a paintball pellet.
This padding follows all the way around the vest, including the back and shoulders, making it fully protective of the whole torso.
WHilst this is a t-shirt, it is still recommended to wear a long sleeved shirt underneath, or clothing over the top.
As with the other Maddog product on our list, this vest is breathable and moveable for any type of situation. The neck protector is also padded, with a velcro closure to fit accordingly.
This is an ideal shirt for beginner paintballers, as it does not feature a Molle system for extra accessories that tend to only be used by experienced players.
- T-shirt padded design offers protection of whole torse
- Breathable and moveable fabric
- Comes with additional neck protection
- Does not have pouches or a Molle system
Another GZ XINXING product on our list, this is the type of vest for players who want to take paintball seriously.
Paintball is an awesome and safe way of replicating a warzone, and this vest effectively replicates military protection.
Made of 600D encryption polyester and a mesh material, this vest is as protective as it is breathable - ideal for comfort. It also has nylon features for extra security.
It has a fully adjustable and practical Molle system for accessories and extra gear, and whilst this may look heavy or uncomfortable, the vest is actually very lightweight.
The sizing can be customized by an adjustable belt and shoulder straps, and is ideal for the taller players above 6’. It is versatile for paintball, airsoft, or even law enforcement training.
- High quality durable and breathable materials
- Advanced Molle system
- Military appearance
- May be too big for children
The final product on our list is the Himal tactical vest.
This vest is made of a high quality 600D encrypted polyester for durability, and features mesh for ventilation and comfort - so your movements are not restricted when playing.
This vest has a good Molle system, with several detachable pouches for accessories and D-rings to hold carabiners.
The shoulders and waist are adjustable to fit accordingly, as well as adjustable torso straps.
This adjustability allows for complete comfort and freedom of movement depending on the game.
All of the extra functions of the pouches makes this ideal for paintball, airsoft, target practice, or law enforcement.
- High quality durable and breathing materials
- Good Molle system
- Adjustable pouches and sizing for comfort
- May be too big for children
Best Paintball Armor Buying Guide
Why You Need Protective Armor
Paintball is a contact sport that involves shooting pellets of paint at the opposing team to replicate a warzone or military training. It’s both a fun game as well as a tactical professional sport.
Whilst the pellet shots do not simulate actual bullet wounds, they are still fairly impactful and can actually cause bruising or pain depending on where the target is hit. It is therefore important to invest in the right type of protective armor to prevent injury.
Fortunately, most paintball centers offer protective gear for group games, but this gear can often be old and overused.
If you are looking to start paintball as a sport, it is recommended to buy your own equipment.
Areas to Protect
The most important areas to protect on the body are the most sensitive parts, for example:
- Upper thighs
These are the areas that are more prone to bruising and, whilst the pain will eventually go away after a day or two, it can still hurt. Armor in the form of protective chest vests are the most vital form of protection in paintball, as the vests protect the majority of vital organs in the body.
We recommend looking for a vest that has padding all the way around the body, including the back and sides, which can often be overlooked and forgotten about. Not only is this safer, but also provides an exciting element to the gameplay.
As paintball is there to mimic whatever scenario you want it to be, whether it’s a post-apocalyptic landscape or a warzone, these vests can provide an element of realism and cosplay to enhance the game. They also help to increase endurance and stamina for longer games.
Face shields, gloves, protective neck gear, goggles, and elbow and knee pads are also essential pieces of armor for paintball. The whole idea is that you don’t want any skin showing, because there is always a risk of damage.
Although there is usually a rule of shooting distance in a paintball game, a trigger could accidentally be pulled at a close range which could damage the skin.
These pieces of armor also enhance gameplay, because the user will feel protected to crawl around, climb trees, find shelter, and run around without risk of scratching the skin in natural environments.
These also work to prevent damage to ligaments and joints. This allows you to do things you wouldn’t normally do without protective gear, such as hide in a thorny bush or army crawl quickly across rough gravel.
What to Look for in Protective Armor
The material of protective armor needs to be durable and heavy duty, without weighing down the user. The best quality protective vests are made of either nylon or encrypted polyester, as they are lightweight, soft to the touch, and can withstand the impact of paintball pellets without breaking.
They are designed for wear resistance, especially if they have double or triple-layered stitching. This means they also have a long lifespan.
The protective pads themselves are usually made of a thicker version of these materials, as anything heavier could weigh down the vest - for example, sand bags are not recommended unless for weight training.
Some protective vests come with mesh features, which is ideal for ventilation. Paintball is an active game and it can get warm, so mesh offers a level of breathability as it does not restrict the entire body.
This is also comfortable for movement, as the mesh can change its shape easily without tearing. Comfort is one of the most important factors when looking for paintball armor, because the last thing you want is for a chest protector to rub or stab the skin in any way.
Molle System and Accessories
The term ‘Molle system’ has come up several times in our product reviews. Molle stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, and is usually used by the military and law enforcement.
Molle systems essentially offer adjustable pouches for accessories, such as magazines (or paintball pellets), water bottles, phones, maps, or even other paintball guns.
As the acronym suggests, these pouches are designed to be lightweight and non-invasive whilst carrying useful and necessary items that enhance gameplay.
Paintball protective vests with Molle are ideal for creating a sense of realism, providing practicality, and looking the part. As most paintball players like the idea of replicating a military environment, having the same aesthetic can be a fun advancement for the game.
For those looking to start paintball as a sport, we recommend the following accessories to enhance gameplay:
- Reusable pellets for training
- Lens cloth for face shield or goggles
- Anti-fog spray for face shield or goggles
- Extra ammunition
- Water bottle (nothing too bright)
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need a chest protector in paintball?
Chest protective armor is a vital piece of equipment when playing paintball.
Whilst paintballs don’t hurt enough to cause severe damage to the body, a chest protector will allow an advanced layer of protection to prevent the paintballs from creating bruises. This will enhance gameplay as the vests will be beneficial for longer games, provide an extreme level of safety, and replicate a warzone.
They also allow players to use the natural environment to their advantage, as protective gear allows them to crawl, climb, hide, and run without damaging the body from harsh terrains and textures.
How bad do paintballs hurt?
Paintballs definitely hurt more on bare skin than covered or protected skin. They won’t simulate the pain of a real bullet, but they can cause bruising at most. It depends on pain tolerance and where the player is hit, because some areas of the body are more sensitive than others.
For example, a paintball shot will hurt more on the upper thigh than it would on the shin. There is usually a rule to not shoot a player at a very close distance, but if this happens for whatever reason, it will hurt more. Protective gear will lessen the blow of paintball shots hugely.
Do paintballs ruin your clothes?
Exploded paintballs have the potential to stain clothing, but these can fortunately be washed out quickly. It is recommended to wear old and comfortable clothes so stains won’t be a problem.
Keep in mind that whilst paintball stains may be the main concern, clothes are more likely to be stained and damaged from grass, sharp sticks, trees, and gravel also. We also recommend to never wear bright clothing as this will be obvious to your opposition.
Can you wear jeans to paintball?
This comes down to the player’s individual comfort levels. If you are wearing baggy jeans that you can move around in without restricting the body, then of course!
Be prepared to move around, risk ripping the jeans from different positions and movements, and most of all - be prepared to get muddy and dirty.
It is recommended to purchase protective paintball pants if you are looking to get involved with the sport, but as long as your legs are protected (don’t wear shorts) and comfortable then jeans are fine.
Can 12 year olds play paintball?
12 is generally the minimum recommended age to start playing paintball. This is because kids at this age will have a clearer understanding of safety and rules as opposed to younger children.
As paintballs don’t really hurt too much, 12 year olds can definitely play paintball.
What do I wear for paintball so I don’t get hurt?
Protective armor is a must. This includes chest protective vests, face shields and/or goggles, gloves, knee and elbow pads, and a good pair of trainers or boots.
The clothing underneath or on top can either be a military-style jumpsuit or everyday clothing. The key things to remember are comfort, earthy colors, no skin on show, and protective gear especially over sensitive areas.
Whilst the paintballs are usually the main source of concern for beginners, you have to remember that the environments of the game can also cause potential pain - for example, some games involve varying terrains from post-apocalyptic wastelands to woodland areas.
How many layers should I wear for paintball?
This depends on the player’s comfort level. It is recommended to definitely wear long sleeved shirts and pants to cover any bare skin. In hotter climates, you won’t need to wear multiple layers as this will affect gameplay.
Some players tend to wear a long sleeve top, protective armor, and a jacket over the top. Whatever makes the player comfortable and most secure, because nobody enjoys getting hit by paintballs.