Wintertime Paintball Tips
You Don't Have To Stop Playing Paintball Just Because It's Cold Outside!
If you take paintball seriously, you don't need to let little things like subfreezing temperatures and deep snow stop you from playing. Players who live in the deep South don't know how easy they have it with their mild winters. But just because you do have serious winter weather doesn't mean you have to wait until the spring thaw. Snowy weather adds a dimension to paintball play that make it more interesting and challenging if you prepare for it. Winter play requires a bit more preparation and careful decisions about which gear to use than summer however; there's more to it than just grabbing your marker, air tank and mask and hitting the field!
Winter Time Paintball Equipment Changes
You will have to modify your gear to play in the winter....
First consider what equipment changes you need to make to handle colder weather. Although it's more expensive, you definitely have to use a high pressure air (hpa) tank as opposed to the less costly, but more commonly used CO2 tank. Even in warm weather, CO2 tanks are known to freeze up after rapid shooting, so you can imagine how they'll behave in cold weather. Don't get caught with a non-functional tank in the middle of the action.
Paintball gun high pressure air tanks deliver a constant air pressure no matter what temperature it is outside. CO2 must convert from a liquid to a gas when released into the gun and the phase changes causes the temperature to drop. This will happen much faster and more often with CO2 in cold weather; not to mention it taking longer for the tank to warm up again once frozen. Most paintball guns can use either CO2 or high pressure air, however you will have to invest in an hpa tank if you want to enjoy winter paintball. Most carbon fiber tanks run between $150-$200, with the cheaper aluminum hpa tanks costing as little as $50. The difference between the two is life; carbon fiber tanks are much sturdier and last much longer than aluminum hpa tanks.
Don't Let Your Balls Get Too Cold!
Standard paintballs freeze and become damaged in cold temps....
Cold weather will also cause your paintballs to freeze up. Frozen paintballs that won't break upon impact are just a mean trick to play on someone! Do not shoot frozen paintballs as it is very painful, will leave a mark on the body and may even break some of your protective gear when hit. Paintballs also warp and change shape when their temperature changes drastically, so it's rare that a frozen paintball will fly straight. If you don’t like being stung by frozen paint bullets, show some consideration for the other players by using Winter Formula. There are a few companies that sell winter formula paintballs designed for playing in very cold temperatures; Karnage is one. Valken is another that offers several varieties. These paintballs have a much lower freeze temperature and will remain consistent in extreme winter temps. Winter Formula paintballs generally cost the same as the standard kind used in warmer months and are a must for cold weather paintball.
Dressing For Success In Cold Winter Play
Winter wear paintball gear is different than summer!
Even more important to consider in winter play is how to dress for it. Hypothermia and even frostbite can be serious issues if you don’t take care of yourself. Winter clothing can actually be quite helpful in replacing much of your typical protective paintball gear. A huge winter coat and or ski bibs work excellent as a layer of body armor, extra padding for the elbows and knees and even as chest and neck protectors. You still must wear a paintball mask however to protect the eyes. The key factor in outfitting yourself for cold weather play involves dressing in layers, so you can shed a layer or two if you get too warm. It’s easy to exert yourself to the point of having sweat dripping off the end of your nose even when the ambient temperature is only in the teens. So dressing in layers makes sense, just make sure there aren't so many layers it slows you down or reduces motion too much.
Taking care of your extremities is vitally important to avoid frostbite. Insulated and waterproof hiking boots with deep lug soles to provide traction in snow will make all the difference between a fun outing with your friends and a miserable one. However, if the weather is not too extreme, ordinary combat boots with thermal socks should work well. Don’t forget to protect your head with a warm hat or balaclava since that’s where a great deal of heat is lost in cold weather. Your hands, also, are particularly vulnerable to the cold, so be sure to wear insulated gloves. Regardless of how much you spend on your winter wear, it’s always best to err on the side of caution when equipping yourself for winter play.
Blending into the background in warm weather play requires camouflage fatigues you can purchase at any military surplus store. The key is to wear clothing that's roughly the same color as your playing environment. In winter time, you may have to change your camo gear to patterns with dried leaves and dead woods; camouflage outfits worn by hunters work perfect. When there's snow on the ground, olive drab and woodland camo will stick out like a sore thumb! Wear white from head to toe to become invisible in a snowy environment.
Snow Paintball Fields Are Fun!
Make your own bunkers and forts out of snow!
Snowy weather also offers an opportunity you won’t find in any other season: reliving your childhood by building your own fortresses and bunkers to add more interest to an open field. This does involve extra effort and time, but the potential fun is well worth it. Keep it simple and dig a few holes to hide or make an elaborate snow fort equipped with booby traps! At the very minimum, snow is fairly easy to mold and several awesome, strong walls can be built in no time.
If you really enjoy paintballing, you don’t have to let winter weather stop you from practicing the game. All it takes is a little extra preparation and some common sense to ensure you have a great time. Playing throughout the winter will also ensure your game will be tight and farther ahead than the slackers who stopped their training. You may find yourself playing an even better game and impressing your hibernating associates.