How to Dress for Paintball

So, you’re ready to hit the field, eh? The calendar is marked and your first paintball experience is waiting just around the demolished car. Visions of your closest friends covered in rainbow carnage flash before your eyes.

Now back to reality.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a former navy seal or a teen with hundreds of hours on COD; a successful paintball campaign starts in the same place: your closet.

Choosing what to wear for paintball is one of the most important off-field decisions you will make.

So wipe the drool off of your new paintball gun and focus on your first objective: assembling an optimized gear list that’s right for you.

How to Dress for Paintball Using What’s Already in Your Closet

You are about to embark on a journey that may include mud, grass-stains, paint, blood, sweat, and maybe some tears (no judgement here). While most paintball paint doesn’t stain, you probably want to leave your white Gucci t-shirt at home. In the land of the flying paint, hand-me-downs and back-closet garments reign supreme.

Dress for the Mess: A Head to Toe Guide

Upper Body

Paintball Upper Body

Long-Sleeve Shirts

Paintball is not like a swimsuit competition. Showing more skin on the field does not improve your chances of winning. Limit your vulnerability by wearing layers and long garments that offer full coverage of your body to avoid paintball bruises.

We recommend dressing for the course and weather. If it's cold, heavier garments like sweatshirts or flannels would suffice on top of an undershirt. Regardless of the weather, wearing a synthetic undershirt is recommended for breathability. Materials like polyester, spandex, and acrylic wick moisture away from your body, thus increasing comfort and mobility.

Search Your Closet For:

  • Synthetic Undershirts
  • Sweatshirts
  • Flannels
  • Wind Breakers
  • Jerseys
  • Sports Bras

Paintball Gloves


Hand gear comes down to personal preference. If you're a serious paintballer there is more to gain from the increased mobility of a naked hand or paintball gloves. Noobs and office monkeys who want to keep their digits pristine will probably want the added protection of gloves. If you don't want to spend money on a new pair, here are some alternatives that you already might own...

Search Your Closet For:

  • Golf Gloves
  • Gardening Gloves
  • Thin Winter Gloves
  • Baseball Gloves

Pro Tip: Find old gloves and cut the fingers off for added dexterity


Paintball Pants


In paintball, movement is essential.

And how do humans move?

With their legs of course.

Let's take our upper body principles and direct them south. Loose-fitting pants with a durable exterior will help you stay mobile and comfortable as you kneel, squat, and sprint your way around the course. This is where your secondhand clothes come in handy: if there's any piece of clothing that will get dirty, it's your pants.

Search Your Closet For:

  • Sweatpants
  • Wind-breaking Pants
  • Athletic Pants
  • Soft Shell Pants
  • Jeans [that offer mobility]

Paintball Shoes


Be prepared: paint is gonna get everywhere. This includes shoes and socks. Because shoes are a chore to clean in the paintball aftermath, we recommend using an old pair of shoes or boots that can afford a rainbow shower. Keep your feet comfortable and eliminate blister possibilities by wearing thick crew socks combined with supportive shoes/boots.

Shoe choice is much more important than you might think.

You might assume that due to its projectile violence, gunshot wounds would be the most common injury on the field; that is where you'd be wrong. In fact, high-ankle sprains are the most frequently reported injuries. Oftentimes the course is uneven and players are more focused on what's happening above ground level. Keep your paint-spreading spree going all game long with a pair of well-fitting shoes.

Search Your Closet For:

  • Running Shoes
  • Athletic Shoes
  • Combat Boots
  • Cleats (depending on surface)

Paintball Headwear


This is a closet guide, so don't worry if you don't have a face mask. You can rent those from most fields anyways (read our comprehensive gear list below). What you should have is full head coverage, especially if you're opting for a partial face mask.

Protect the top of your head with something that can cushion the blow of a paintball. This will only benefit your paintball experience.

Search Your Closet For:

  • Beanies
  • Baseball Hats
  • Du rags

Beyond the Closet: An Advanced Paintballer’s Gear List

Specialized Paintball Goggles/Mask

That’s the sound of a 200 mph ball of paint making contact with your face…mask. Face protection is so important that most normal venues (and all of America’s best paintball courses) require the use of a helmet or mask.

You can get as fancy or as simple as you want with head protection. Basic helmets start at less than $10, while the high end helmets easily top $100. Luxury versions include UV protection, enhanced breathing features, and even anti-fogging options.

Our Recommendation: If you’re going to drop big money on any piece of equipment (other than your gun), proper head gear will provide a large advantage.

BDU Combat Uniforms

Unleash your inner soldier on the paintball field with some coordinated camo gear. BDU stands for Battle Dress Uniform and it was the standard camouflage uniform adopted by American Armed Forces for over 30 years.

Usually BDUs come in a package so that you can blend in from head to toes. Search your local Army Surplus store for a good deal on some official BDUs. Benefits of BDUs include:

  • Increased Camouflage
  • Fully Matching Gear
  • Thicker Material
  • Optimal for Paintball Combat

Paintball Vests

Vests exist for two reasons:

1) Added Protection

2) Increased Carrying Capacity

A vest is only necessary if you want to carry extra items on your body (cartridges, pods, snacks, etc.) or upgrade your armor.

A vest has many functions and can be a great addition to your gear list, depending on your style of play. It is important to note that they can be bulky, which leads to decreased mobility, especially when running and rolling.

Pod Packs/Belts

As long as you have a pod, you have a chance. Unless you’re the John Wayne of paintball, you’ll probably be going through ammo pretty quickly. These little boxes of balls give you the extra ammo you need to keep your hopes and dreams alive…

Like vests, the downside of pod belts lay in their bulkiness. It’s extra surface area that your opponent can hit and it limits mobility.

Neck Protectors

No, that’s not a hickie…

Save the awkward conversations and get a paintball-optimized neck protector.

When you think about what to wear for paintball, a “scarf” probably isn’t on the top of the list, and that’s exactly why it’s on the bottom here. Still, it can save you from those painful neck shots that will sting for days.

Pro Tip
Many paintball fields will offer protective gear for rent. This is a great option if you’re only a casual player or testing out paintball for the first time. Any legitimate field will require using a paintball-specific mask or goggle set, so make sure you look up the requirements and pricing before your first match.

What to Wear for Paintball: Your Questions Answered

Can I Wear Shorts for Paintball?

Paintball Shorts


In theory you can wear anything you want within the rules of the course. Does that make it a good idea?

No. Serious paintball matches include running, sliding, diving, and getting shot with paintballs (duh). Shorts may increase mobility, but they also increase your risk of injury, scrapes, and bruises. Skip the shorts and opt for one of our closet choices above for leg-wear.

Can I Wear Jeans to Paintball?


Can i wear jeans to paintball

Yes. Jeans offer great protection from bruises and have a durable material that won't tear easily. If opting for jeans, just make sure they aren't too tight. You should be able to easily sprint or dive without issues.


Can Paintballs Stain Clothes?

Paintballs are typically stain-free, however in some situations they can leave stains on light colored T-shirts. We recommend leaving your Guccis at home and wearing clothes that you're comfortable ripping and getting dirty.

What Should Girls Wear for Paintball?

Paintball Girls

Read our comprehensive clothing guide for both men and women listed in our Head to Toe Guide above.

Additional gear for women includes:

  • Sports/Athletic Bra
  • Hair Ties
  • Mouth Guard
  • Optimized Gloves
How Many Layers Should I Wear for Paintball?

Should I wear layers for paintball?

In warm weather one layer should suffice, although we recommend a synthetic undershirt to pad the blows and wick moisture out.

In cold weather at least two layers is ideal. Pair a synthetic undershirt with a pair of synthetic long underwear for optimal performance.

Course Checklist: What to Bring to Survive Your First Paintball Experience

A Change of Clean Clothes
A Bag for Dirty Clothes
Wallet with ID
Weather App
Rain Gear
Towels and Rags
Water and Snacks
Extra Shoes
First Aid Kit