Whenever someone asks what mask they should get on TechPB, they'll usually hear some variation of the following points:
- We can't tell you what mask to buy.
- You have to try them all on to see what fits you best.
- Masks are your most important piece of equipment, so...
- You have to find the very best one, and...
- Forget your budget. Spend whatever it takes to get the best mask for you.
I fully agree with points one through three, and I've probably offered them as advice dozens of times. But I only half agree with point four, and I'm pretty sure I disagree with point five.
Here's my thinking: over the course of my time playing paintball, I've worn a bunch of masks while playing. I've owned a few masks. I've rented masks. I've tried on a bunch more. I have been miserable because of masks for only two reasons: 1) because the masks were shitty rentals that were scratched up, fogged, and/or didn't fit because the foam was yoked or the straps didn't have any elastic left, and 2) because a mask that I owned didn't have a thermal lens (yet) and fogged up. My first mask was a low end Vents that my daughter gave me for Christmas one year after I'd come home bitching about a rental mask. Bless her (then) little heart. I think that mask cost her $20. It was nothing special, but once I put a thermal lens on it, it was fine. I wore it for years without a problem. I still loan it out when I bring my daughters or friends, and I've never had any complaints. Years passed. My growing love for paintball conspired with my growing disposable income (or maybe it was my credit limit), and I became a minor gear whore. I bought more masks for all sorts of reasons, none of which were necessity.
Here's the thing: all of the masks I own are fine. Some are a little more comfy, some have a little better coverage, some are easier to mount a camera on, some are easier to change lenses, some look cooler than others. If I had to pick just one, sure, I'd pick the one that happens to be the most expensive. But if I had to play with the many-years-old Vents, it would work fine and I wouldn't give it a second thought on the field. Same for the others. I guess I don't believe that there's One True Love out there for everyone with regard to masks, and that everyone absolutely has to pay as much as it takes to own it.
The new players who come here looking for advice tend to be young and they tend to be on a budget. Does it really make sense for us to tell them they have to spend $125 for their perfect mask, when maybe they can get 95% of the way there for $80 or less?
If you read this far, thanks. Why am I wrong about this?