If you play paintball long enough, at some point, your mask is going to fog up. It’s happened to all of us. It occurs when the temperature and humidity inside the mask clash with your breath’s warmth.
The problem is paintball mask fog affects your performance and safety. Most of the time, it’s just a nuisance and doesn’t greatly impact your game. Sometimes though, it can get so bad that you won’t be able to see and will want to tap out. Either way, though, we are confident that one day the conditions are going to cause your mask to fog up, and you will wish you had done something to prevent it.
Mask fog sucks. When it eventually happens, you’re going to get frustrated and annoyed. The obstructed vision can disrupt your gameplay, decrease your accuracy, and even compromise your safety. Don’t let fog ruin your paintball experience. Instead, consider investing in an anti-fog paintball mask, specially designed to provide a clearer and more enjoyable experience on the field.
We know it’s frustrating. And even though you can’t always prevent your lens from fogging up, we are confident that there are good ways that help prevent or at least minimize it.
Is A Little Paintball Mask Fog Really That Big Of A Deal?
Have you ever been driving in your car when the front windshield starts to fog up unexpectedly? It can be dangerous if you’re not able to get the defroster on and working quickly. After all, if you can’t see out of the windshield, how do you know where you’re going or what’s in front of you?
Well, it’s a similar feeling when your mask starts to fog up in the middle of a paintball game. First of all, it’s hard to be a good paintball player when you can’t see. You can’t shoot what you can’t see.
But it’s also dangerous. How so? Because many players tend to want to lift their mask up and try to wipe the lens down real quick when they can’t see. After all, it will only take a few seconds, so no harm, no foul. Right?
Hopefully, you already know the following, but it’s worth repeating: never lift or remove your mask while on the paintball field. You may think it’s only for a few seconds and no opponent is around you, but it only takes a few seconds for your opponent to fire a shot and hit you in the face. It can happen in the blink of an eye.
It might not even be an intentional shot, and it could be a stray round. But it doesn’t matter. Either way, getting hit in the face can cause serious damage to your eyes, ears, nose, etc. Please don’t risk it. If your mask fog is so bad you can’t see, call for a teammate to come help remove you from the field.
Be Proactive About Preventing Fog
Before we get into all the details regarding what causes mask fog and how to prevent it, we want to overemphasize something: the best way to prevent or minimize mask fog consistently is to be proactive about it before it happens.
Once fog starts to build up in the middle of a game, there’s not a lot you can do to combat it. By that point, you’re just along for the ride. So your whole anti-fog strategy needs to center around prevention before it starts.
And while there’s no 100% foolproof solution to prevent mask fog, taking the right precautions beforehand significantly reduces the odds. And if it does happen, it will likely be minimal instead of looking as foggy as the hills of San Francisco in the morning.
What Causes Paintball Masks To Fog Up In The Middle Of A Game?
A foggy paintball mask is simply water vapours condensing on the inside of the lens. As more humid air comes into contact with the cool lens, moisture is released. But as the moisture cools down on the lens, it goes through a phase change from vapour to condensation that you can see. There are two ways that cause your mask to fog up.
- Everybody knows that you can see your breath when it gets cold outside. But do you know what you’re seeing as you exhale breaths? Well, you are actually seeing all the water vapour in your breath. So when it’s cold outside, your warm breath has a lot of vapours in it. When wearing your paintball mask, those warm vapours don’t have anywhere to go except onto the cold lens and turn into condensation.
- Your mask can also fog up when it’s hot and humid outside. Where’s the moisture coming from? Primarily your sweat. The purpose of sweat is to remove heat from your body and cool you down. So the sweat from your skin evaporates, but once it hits the cooler lens, it condenses back into a liquid.
One Of The Biggest Contributors – Lack Of Air Circulation
The cause of condensation buildup on the lens is the temperature difference between the humid air inside your mask and the drier air outside. And what causes the temperature difference? Lack of proper air circulation inside the mask.
If there’s no air circulation, then there’s nowhere for the hot, humid air to go except to the cool lens. Instead of escaping to the atmosphere, your warm breath (with vapours) and sweat from your face and headland on the lens form condensation.
However, if there were good ventilation, it would help in 2 ways. One, it would help keep the inside of the mask cooler or in equilibrium with the outside temperature. Two, it would allow the hot, humid air to escape without landing on the lens. Masks with poor ventilation don’t allow air to circulate. It gets hot and muggy inside the mask, which eventually leads to fog.
Like we said earlier, if your mask starts fogging up in the middle of a game, there’s not much you can do. That’s why it’s important to take preventative measures before it happens. So what are the best ways to prevent fog from developing in the first place?
Fog Resistant Coating
Fog resistant coating is simply a thin layer of coating that is applied to the inside of the mask by the manufacturer. Any reputable mask should already have some level of fog-resistant coating applied on the inside of the lens when you buy it.
Fog resistance is not foolproof, but it works well as long as it remains properly applied. The problem is it is a short-term solution because most of the coating gets removed with normal wear and tear each time you clean the lens. It certainly helps when the lens is nice and new; it’s just unfortunate that the coating isn’t more permanent.
If you’re buying a decent mask, you should definitely make sure it comes with a fog-resistant coating. Just don’t expect it to last forever or to work completely by itself. It’s a good last layer of defence, but fog-resistant coating shouldn’t be the only preventative measure you’re taking.
Anti-fog Spray (Lens Cleaner)
Anti-fog spray should be a staple in every paintball player’s gear bag. What is it? It’s essentially just a cleaning spray for the lens, but it is marketed as an “anti-fog spray” instead of a cleaning spray. Like fog-resistant coating, though, anti-fog spray is not a permanent solution. It has to be applied before a game to be beneficial.
Lens cleaner could be better, but it does help. It’s really simple to use; all you have to do is spray some on the inside of your lens and then carefully wipe it down with a microfiber cloth. After applying, the lens should be clean and dry, helping to prevent or at least minimize condensation buildup.
Ensure you read the application instructions and be careful when applying and wiping it down to avoid scratching the lens. We like using a nice microfiber cloth to be on the safe side.
Again, this isn’t a long-term solution because you have to apply it regularly. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue because you’ll probably want to clean your lens before every game anyway. We normally clean our visor right before our game anyway, so this kills two birds with two stones; we get a clean lens while adding another level of anti-fog defence.
Good Ventilation and Mask Fans
Remember how we discussed that the lack of air circulation is the cause of a foggy mask? Well, there are a couple of ways you can try to make sure you’re getting good air circulation during a game.
First, buy a mask with excellent ventilation. Excellent ventilation on a mask should be one of your top priorities when shopping for a mask. Good ventilation will help you breathe better, help keep your face and head cooler and help you hear better. But it also helps circulate air better, which will help prevent condensation buildup.
And make sure your prospective mask has good ventilation throughout, not just around the mouth and ears. Excellent ventilation is a must-have for a good paintball mask. Check out our guide on buying your first paintball mask if you need more information about this.
If you bought a mask that looked like it would have great ventilation but you’re still having trouble circulating the air inside, your next option is to install a fan on your mask. After all, the sole purpose of a mask fan is to help circulate air inside the visor by constantly blowing air in and out.
Honestly, we’ve never really used mask fans, so we don’t have a strong opinion about them. In theory, they should work great; we just think they are a hassle to use.
We have heard other players say how great they work, but we have also heard others say they made no impact. Overall, mask fans get mixed reviews, and they are pretty burdensome, but they are probably worth a shot if you’re really having a tough time with air circulation.
Just be aware, though mask fans move a very small amount of air, so you have to keep the mask on and running the entire game. You can’t just turn the fan on when your mask starts fogging up. It doesn’t work like your car’s defroster.
Single-Pane Lens Versus Thermal (Dual-Pane) Lens
The easiest and most effective way we have found to prevent mask fog is to buy a mask with a dual-pane lens. Dual-pane lenses are pretty much always referred to as “thermal” masks in the paintball world, but the two words mean the same thing.
So what’s the difference between a single-pane lens and a thermal lens? And why are thermal so much better at preventing fog?
A single-pane lens design is as basic as they get; it’s one solid lens. A thermal lens is more complex; it is two separate lenses that are fused together around the edge, and there is a small pocket/layer of air between them.
With a dual-pane, the outside and inside lenses have different attributes. The outside lens is a bigger and thicker protective lens with similar properties to a single-pane lens. The inside lens is thinner and lighter. It doesn’t need to big as big and bulky; it’s just there to act as the inner pane of the dual-pane design.
The air cushion between the two lenses acts as insulation between the inside and outside lenses. This insulation allows the thin lens on the inside to warm up/stay warm without being affected by the outside temperature. This prevents a big temperature drop which needs to condensation buildup.
Dual-pane lens masks are quite a bit more expensive but significantly more efficient at preventing fog. They aren’t 100% effective (nothing is), but we think they are easily the best long-term strategy.
There are single-pane lenses on the market that do a pretty good job at preventing mask fog, but no matter how good materials they use, we don’t think their design can compete with a thermal. If you can’t afford a thermal mask, you should still research single-pane lens masks to find out which are best at preventing fog.
Regardless, fog prevention capability should be a top priority when shopping for a mask, whether you’re shopping for a single-pane or dual-pane.
5 Anti-fog (Hacks)
Spend a little time in any online paintball forum, and you will come across players claiming they have found some anti-fog hacks. Do any of these hacks actually work? Are any of them long-term solutions?
We aren’t necessarily trying to debunk any of these hacks, but we aren’t advocates for any of these methods. Some players claim they work, but we aren’t convinced. Maybe they really didn’t get any mask fog after using one of these hacks, but that doesn’t mean any of these hacks were the direct reason why no mask fog occurred.
Apply a small dab of shaving cream to the inside of your lens. Next, spread it out over the entire lens so there is a thin coat. Let it dry, and then remove the excess. What does all of this accomplish? It’s supposed to leave a thin layer of protection on the lens to prevent any vapour or moisture buildup. We worry this could possibly damage the lens. Additionally, the lens isn’t going to be crystal clear afterwards. Not ideal.
Bar of soap
The bar of soap hack is applied the same way as the shaving cream hack. Just apply a thin layer of soap to the inside of the lens and then wipe away all the excess. Again, this is supposed to build a transparent layer of protection. Again, even if it does work, there still has to be a thin layer of soap residue left on your lens for it to work. How good do you think your vision will be? Not optimal.
Are all of these hacks starting to sound the same by now? Gently rub some Vaseline on the inside of your lens, then gently remove it. Again, this should leave a thin barrier to stop any condensation buildup. And again, even if this hack does work, it will probably damper your vision. We also don’t like the fact that Vaseline is really difficult to clean off. Do you want to damage a lens by putting Vaseline on it?
Water repellent spray
Finally, a hack that doesn’t involve rubbing a personal hygiene product on the inside of your lens. Water-repellant sprays are used by many scuba divers, snowboarders, bike riders and other athletes to prevent fog, so they are effective. Our argument against using a water-repellant spray, though, is the following: why not just use a product specifically designed for paintball masks? Paintball mask lenses are very sensitive, and there is no need to use a product that might cause damage to the lens.
Ah, the good old spitshine method. Apparently, it’s not only good for shining your shoes! Many scuba divers spitshine the inside of their goggles before going down. The difference between a scuba diver’s mask and a paintball mask is that they don’t have a combination of external and internal air circulating in their goggles. Their goggles have a tight seal around the edge to keep water from getting inside. So it doesn’t directly translate to paintball. Also, why spit in your goggles and get them dirty when you can easily apply some anti-fog spray?
Prevent and Minimize Mask Fog With a Comprehensive Approach
Play paintball long enough, and eventually, your mask is going to fog up. It’s a matter of how bad it will be. And that’s ok. Because your goal should be to prevent any fog from occurring, if you take the right proactive steps, it will be minimized when it does happen.
And unfortunately, one of the best ways to prevent mask fog is by investing in a good thermal lens mask. That’s one of the reasons we recommend investing in a high-quality mask before blowing your entire budget on a paintball gun.
It sucks playing in an uncomfortable mask you can’t even see out of because it’s always fogging up. But you can still be really competitive with a solid entry-level marker.
- Thermal lens masks are significantly better designed to prevent fog. The thermal lens design prevents the dramatic temperature drop between the outside and your breath and sweat.
- Not everyone has the budget or need for a thermal lens. If you can’t or don’t want to buy a thermal lens, we recommend getting a single-pane lens that promotes anti-fog. Make sure it has great ventilation through the mask.
- Goggles cleaner and anti-fog spray should be a staple in every paintball player’s gear bag.
- Please don’t use products that are not designed for paintball mask lenses. Are you sure it’s not a tough chemical that will eat away at it? Paintball is not a cheap hobby. You’re already spending money on a marker, paint, and HPA, so why not spend just a few dollars on quality cleaning and protective products?
- Mask fans have mixed reviews, but we don’t use them and don’t really recommend them. There are extreme cases where they work, like in places with extremely high humidity, but otherwise, they are more of a hassle than anything.
- We can’t recommend investing in a good thermal lens enough. There are many affordable options. Don’t feel like you have to buy the most expensive one.
Hope you have found the answer to how to stop a paintball mask from fogging. Breathability, size, weather, and adjustment cause fogging in masks. You can prevent it by using fog-free thermal masks, lens cleaners, and good ventilation of masks. Some tricks like using shaving cream, water-repellent spray, and Vaseline are also useful to remove fog from paintball masks.