Well, we are in the midst of summer now and while you may have some free time to play paintball more often the heat of summer can wreck havoc with your gear and body. Paintball Online wants you out there playing so here’s some suggestions for playing paintball in hot weather.
1. Coolers are your friend.
Bring or invest in two coolers, with at least one being a family-size Coleman or similar brand. I suggest one that will fit at least two cases of paint and has a slot for a padlock. Keep reading and you’ll see why.
2. HYDRATE! HYDRATE! HYDRATE!
Really, this cannot be stressed enough. Dehydration will ruin your day and is easily avoidable. Begin drinking twice as much water that you normally do for several days before game day. Drink several pints of water early in the morning before going to play, and drink at least a pint of water while gearing up. The trick to avoiding debilitating dehydration is to get fluids in you before you begin strenuous activity. Did you buy two coolers? Good, make sure one has ice and several bottles of water and real fruit juice, not soda or sugary psuedo-juices. Between games, drink a few ounces even if you’re not thirsty. If you don’t drink until you are thirsty then you’ve waited too long. For big games and scenarios definitely invest in a hydration bladder. Most tactical vests made these days have an internal sleeve for the bladder, or shop around for a water bladder pouch to attach to your MOLLE webbing. Another trick is to carry a water bottle with a spigot top in one pod slot of your paintball harness.
3. Protect your paintballs and CO2 tanks.
Did you get a big cooler? Good, because you need to store your paintballs and air tanks in there. Summer heat will cause the shell of your paint to soften and expand. They deform in your loader causing jams, swell up and cause feed problems in your marker’s breech and hit like a bean bag, refusing to break on target. Store them in a cooler and park this cooler in the shade, padlocked and chained to a tree or your car if at a public field. This will help keep them at a consistent cool temperature as long as possible. If it’s really hot, don’t put bags of ice in with the paint. The humidity from the cubes will be almost worse than the heat itself. Instead, take an ice pack or a frozen bottle of water, wrap it in a small towel and place it in the cooler. This will keep it a few degrees cooler and not ruin your paintballs.
When you come off the field, remember to set your gear down in the shade! A pod is a natural greenhouse and a few minutes of intense sunlight will transform your paintballs into a spongy mess.
CO2 tanks are especially notorious for blowing their burst disc if left in the sun. Store them in the cooler as well. HPA tanks are not as volatile in the heat but that doesn’t mean you can just leave them in the sun, either. Intense summer heat is not good on the seals in your regulator. Keep them in the shade when not playing.
4. Invest in good paintball masks and spare lenses.
Summer heat means sweating in the sun, and sweat translates into mask fogging. The more humid a locale you play in, the more likely it will happen. To alleviate this as much as possible, invest in a good paintball mask with a thermal lens. The dual pane lens helps prevent fogging much better than single lenses. Invest in a spare lens as well because a lens change is often in order in high humidity conditions. If your goggle system lens change system is slow, consider just investing in a second mask and switching between the two, letting one cool and air out while you play in the other.
Goggle fans are kind of loud and noisy but work wonders. Its better to hear a loud buzzing sound but be able to see than hear all the incoming paint whizzing by your head and not see where its coming from! You can get the JT Vortex Goggle Fan for JT goggles, or look into various universal goggle fans for other brands.
Bring several sweatbands or bandanas and wear them Karate Kid-style around your forehead. These will absorb sweat and keep it from rolling down in your eyes and evaporating on your lens. Swap them out throughout the day as they become soaked. Consider headwear that will keep you cool and vents heat. Between games, take your mask completely off your head and either hook it over loader or carry it. Don’t wear it on your forehead; the hot humid air radiating off your head will ensure you fog!
Glinting sun in your eyes will ensure you can’t see your opponents. Consider a smoke goggle lens and use your goggle visor.
5. Don’t over do it.
Heat exhaustion and dehydration will sneak up on you and then quickly lay you out. No one will think less of you for stopping under the occasional shade tree for a few minutes here and there. Good knee pads will let you kneel down and take a load off the feet comfortably. Don’t forget to drink some water while you’re stopped, too!
6. Be aware of the sun.
If you can help it, try to attack and defend through areas of trees or other shade. Once you leave the protection of the shade you can overheat quickly. The paintballs in your pods are also going to turn into gooey blobs if out in the direct sunlight, too.
Don’t forget the sunscreen! You’re going to get a serious sunburn if you do. You’re not out there to get a tan so don’t mess around and use SPF 40 or higher. Remember that you’re going to sweat a lot so look for a waterproof brand that will stay on through moisture. If it is used by surfers then it’ll work great for paintball. Apply in the morning and again during the lunch break. Make sure you get the back of the neck, tops of the ears and the forehead… nothing looks worse than a goggle tan line!
7. Dress for the heat.
Time to dress down. The last big game I was at got up to 90 degrees, and I was watching players dropping like flies all over the staging area. The problem? Besides not drinking enough water, they were completely overdressed/ over equipped for the heat. Seriously, I know that wicked, all matching camo long sleeved combat shirt, burly trousers and Delta Force-style helmet and balaclava makes you look like you’re in the Call Of Duty videogame but it’s also trapping all your body heat in! Milsim is one thing; heat stroke is another.If you know it’s going to be a scorcher then hit the field with less. A great way to go is to wear shorts and a t-shirt, protecting your exposed legs with long knee/ shin style knee pads and your arms with forearm/ elbow pads. This set up covers as much as that full tactical outfit yet vents your heat out and promotes air circulation. Ditch the helmet if you can or, if you’re really concerned about headshots, consider a full head paintball goggle like the JT Flex8 Headshield that is lighter weight and full of ventilation. Are you packing too much gear? The more weight you can save, the less your body needs to exert and heat up. Of course, don’t skimp on water weight! An extra quart of water is more important than the weight of one pod of paint.
There you go, a few tips to help keep you on the field this summer. Remember to drink that water and periodically rest!