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How To Look After Your Paintball Mask
Your paintball mask is your first line of defense. A quality mask will last for many years if it is properly maintained and cared for. Fortunately, this is a simple process that is not too time-intensive!
Follow these tips to keep your mask in good condition.
Clean off the paint
This might seem like a no-brainer, but when you leave the field of play, make sure that you wipe off any paint splatter before it has a chance to dry. This applies to all types of masks, ranging from smaller models to full coverage choices like the Empire Thermal. Paintball matches can leave you feeling exhausted, but taking a few minutes to clean your mask will work wonders in the long run.
Paint dries fast, so you’ll need to act quickly. Leaving paint on your mask will degrade it, and some paint will leave stains. Even if it doesn't stain, dried paint damages the lenses, and once it’s dry, paint is notoriously difficult to remove. It might require a final push of post-match energy, but scrubbing your mask clean while the paint is still wet will dramatically increase its lifespan.
Maintain the anti fog coating
Paintball masks like the Empire Helix come with anti-fog technology, but it isn’t enough to leave all the hard work to the mask. Single lens masks need their anti-fog layers topped up regularly. Forget to do this, and you’ll get an unfriendly reminder the next time you take to the field and your lenses fog up!
Simply re-applying anti-fog spray after a match is usually enough. This will make your vision clearer and ensure that your mask is ready to use next time. The last thing you want to do is apply the spray hurriedly in the middle of a match because your vision has begun to fog.
Regardless of their quality, all paintball lenses will eventually need changing. Among the rough and tumble action of a paintball match, those lenses can be scratched, damaged or irreversibly stained. There’s no need to change the whole mask since replacement lenses, such as these Thermal Replacement Lenses, are readily available. Changing the lenses is much cheaper than changing the mask, and doing so will give your gear a whole new lease of life.
Take special care with thermal lenses. These actually consist of two lenses with space in between. If you get water in that space, it’s hard to get it out again, which usually renders the lenses useless. Never immerse thermal lenses. Clean the outside with a damp cloth and use a microfiber cloth on the inside.
Which brings us to our next point…
Microfiber is king
Invest in a good microfiber cloth to clean your mask. There are plenty available, and many are customized with the names and logos of your favorite paintball brands, such as these HK Army Goggle Rags. There are several advantages of microfiber. These cloths won’t scratch or scrape the surface of your mask, so you can clean the lenses safely. Traditional cloths also have a tendency to smear dirt rather than actually remove it. Microfiber sweeps paint and debris away without leaving a trace.
We always recommend that players take a microfiber cloth into the field with them. You will inevitably have to wipe down your lenses at some point during play, and microfiber is the safest and most efficient way of doing this. The same applies to anti-fog spray. Apply it using microfiber to avoid smudges and inconsistencies.
Choose your cleaning products carefully
This applies specifically to the lenses. Never use glass cleaning products like Windex. These abrasive chemicals were not designed for lenses and aren’t suitable for polycarbonate materials. Not only will they provide an insufficient cleaning, but they’ll damage your lenses - potentially quite seriously. Opt for more traditional cleaning methods; just warm water and soap will usually do the trick!
As a general rule, if it wasn’t designed to clean glasses, don’t use it on your paintball mask. Masks might look robust but they’re more sensitive to damage than they seem.
And finally…choose carefully
The first step to maintaining a mask’s longevity is buying a quality product! Not all paintball masks are created equal. Economy masks are likely to break, show signs of stress and generally degrade quicker than premium models. Do your research and opt for brands with a long history and strong market presence. It’s always worth spending a little more to make long-term savings, and it’s much easier to maintain an already high-quality mask.