A photo of different paintball protective gear. Arm pads, knee pads, slide shorts, slide pants all adorn the table.

Paintball is an absolute blast, that we can all agree on. But the welts, scrapes, scratches, and battle wounds can be annoying and painful afterwards. Luckily, there are tons of options when it comes to paintball protective gear to help alleviate some of these issues. With that said, here's a full guide when it comes to shopping for the best paintball protective gear.

Upper Body and Arm Protection

Arm pads, elbow pads, how good are they?

Paintball arm pads and elbow pads come in a variety of different styles. There are bulkier pads that offer exceptional impact protection, and some arms pads have minimal protection but are super malleable and mold to your shape. A key example of a more protective paintball elbow pad would be the Exalt FreeFlex Elbow Pads. With a half gauntlet to protect your hands, these pads offer amazing impact protection from paintballs, diving into cover, or sliding around on the field. The Infamous Pro DNA Elbow Pads offer less impact protection, but the compression style fit combined with padding that molds around your arm ensures that they stay on your arms and don't move around. If you like the compression style fit, there are also full compression tops that have some built in padding in the elbow area (The CRBN SC Protective Top is the perfect example to show this).

A photo showing off a bulky and protective armpad, and showing off a compression style fit armpad.

What about chest protectors?

Paintball chest protectors are great for helping eliminate impact to the torso area. They won't fully take away the sting of getting hit by a paintball, but they do help immensely. The best paintball chest protector out there is the HK Army Crash Chest Protector. It's breathable, flexible, and has dual-layered impact padding that softens the blow exceptionally well.

The HK Army chest protector. Padded panels and flexible material create freedom of movement without being obstructive during play.

How about neck protection?

There are a variety of paintball neck protectors available from multiple brands. Neck protectors offer the same kind of protection as any other padding, not fully taking away the impact, but certainly helps to soften the blow. The NXE Neck Protector is a one size fits most and is flexible to allow free head movement with zero obstructions.

Lower Body and Knee/Leg Protection

What's the difference between slide shorts, slide pants, and knee pads?

This is a very common question asked by many beginner players. The one word answer is coverage. Paintball knee pads only cover your knees, but paintball slide pants cover your groin, hips, and knees. Paintball slide shorts tend to be a happy medium between the two, covering your groin and hips. 

From the top left to the right; Exalt Slide shorts, Dye Knee pads, and Infamous Pro DNA Slide pants.

How much protection do these offer?

Just like with paintball chest protectors and arm pads, the amount of protection you'd want is entirely up to you! Similar material and padding is used on paintball knee pads, slide shorts, or slide pants. The amount of padding and protection can vary. If you're looking for the best paintball knee pad in terms of protection, then I would look at a bulkier knee pad like the Dye Performance Knee Pads. But if you're more of a fan of compression style fit, then something like the Carbon SC Protective Bottoms would be more ideal.

An image of Sam wearing the CRBN SC Protective bottoms. Highlighted are the knees, groin, and hip areas, which is where the protective padding is located.

What should I get?

Now this question can be difficult to answer. It does ultimately depend on how much you play, and how hard you play. If you play recreationally or not as often, then paintball knee pads would be recommended. If you like to play more frequently or play more speedball, then paintball slide pants or shorts would be best for you. Some brands do make combos of their paintball protective gear, like HK Army's CTX Armored Compression Pants and Shirt

Closing Remarks

Overall, there are a lot of different brands to choose from. Among those brands also come a variety of different paintball protective equipment to fulfill your needs. From elbow pads and knee pads to full compression coverage, minimalist padding to bulky and protective padding, there is truly something out there that will fit you perfectly. The best advice I can give is if you're able to try any paintball protective padding on, do it! It's best to get a first-hand experience with protective equipment, that way you can feel how everything fits and make a final decision on what to purchase!

Check out our selection of paintball protective gear and padding HERE


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