I've been looking at a bunch of threads popping up in the new players section and other areas, and the two big questions that get asked this time of year are:
"How do you play paintball when its cold out?"
"What do you do when its too cold to play?"
Well, I figured that I'd try to give some advice to those people asking questions, and just try to sepread some knowledge in general.
First, about me:
I've been playing since 2006, and live up in Montana. It gets cold in Montana. (Current temperature as I'm typing this, 8 degrees below zero.) I'm lucky, and have an indoor field, so I don't have to deal with wind, snow, and the like, but the building is not insulated, so we play in the ambient air temperature. Last year (2007) we played in temperatures ranging from 40 degrees, to -15 in the months of November to February. Just last week, we were playing in 15 degree weather, and the field parking lot had two feet of snow in it. So, I've played in weather thats pretty cold.
So, the first thing is, what is cold? I've found that you can play paintball in weather down to about 40 degrees and the only thing you have to change is if you have a hoodie or a t-shirt underneath your jersey. When the temperature drops below freezing though, things get, interesting. I want to spend most of this guide covering playing speedball in temperatures from 32 degrees to about 10 degrees. Below 10 degrees, my advice is to ask yourself if you really need to be outside playing paintball.
Alright, so having decided that it's cold, but still warm enough to play paintball, the first thing you need to think about is what gear to bring. Here's my cold weather setup:
From top to bottom:
Dye C5 Jersey
Cold Weather Marker (More on this later)
Cold Weather Paint (More on this later)
08 Proto Pants
Cold Weather Boots
So, starting from the top of the list:
Your mask: Air holes and venting are great for the summer, but all they do in the winter time is let cold air in close to your face. Flexes, Grills, and I3s are great masks, but not recomended for winter. I've found that E-vents stay close to my face, keeping the warm air next to my body, and the venting is enough to keep the lense from fogging, but still keeps me warm.
Headgear: I usualy bring about four different hats when its cold, because if you start overheating, your mask fogs. If I get cold, I wear the Santa hat, (Beanies work fine though
) and if I start getting hot, I'll swap to just the headband, or a headband and a sandana. It all depends on how you feel, and how warm you are.
Thermal Underwear: Gods gift to mankind. Depending on how strict your field is about layering, you may be stuck with only this, or you might be able to throw on a sweatshirt over it. Good thermal underwear will make life so much more bearable. I 've played in 10 degree weather with thermals, basketball shorts and a t-shirt, and all my stuff on, and been so warm I had to take off the jersey. Remember, when it comes to cold weather, more thin layers are better than less thick layers.
Jersey: I know some guys who just throw on a winter coat or a longsleeve shirt, but I'd rather not get a winter coat dirty, and I'm not a big fan of longsleeves. Right now, the thing with jerseys is more mesh, less fabric. That works great when you're playing in 75 degree weather with a nice light breeze, but when it's 15 degrees and windy, you might as well go naked.
I've found that older jerseys with heavier fabric tend to work better at keeping you warm. Hence, the C5. It's slightly windproof, and I bought it slightly small. Normaly I play in an XL, this is a L. The tighter fit helps trap warm air closer to your body, and makes it so you have less air to warm up between you and your clothes.
With that said, if you are going to be playing where the wind is really blowing, put something windproof over the jersey. Or, ask yourself if it's really worth playing. I've played durring a blizzard, and it's really not that much fun.
Pads: I wear pads all the time, but in the winter, pads are one more layer of insulation between you and the cold air.
Your marker: This, your paint, and your gear, are going to be what decides if you have a cold but fun day, or if your day is going to suck. With markers, simple is better.
Matrixes do not react to cold weather well. The o-rings in them tend to contract, they leak, the lube stiffens up, and they generaly crap out on you when it hits freezing. As much as I love it, my PM8 gets put away in November and taken back out in March.
Egos react alittle better, they have less seals, so they leak less, but they wind up being harder on paint, which is forgivable in the summer, but can lead to headaches in the winter (More about this later).
What you want in a winter gun is a marker that has the fewest amount of moving parts that can leak, and is easy on paint. For me, thats my Ion. Its got a Tech T bolt, so theres only three o-rings that can leak, and I have a 693 insert in my Freak. Add in some cold weather paint, and you shouldn't have very many problems. Cockers, and Minis also perform pretty well in the cold.
Air: If you have CO2, stay home whenever it gets below freezing.
Hoppers: Say it with me: Forcefeed hoppers = blenders. You want a hopper that is gentle on paint. Rotors, Velocitiy, Pulses, and any hopper that puts constant pressure on paint will turn into dripping, oozing messes. The three best hoppers for cold weather are the Halo, the Egg, and when all else fails, the Revi. THe less your hopper has to shake or move the paint, the better.
Gloves: I know alot of people (Me included) are moving away from gloves. In the winter, wear them. Like I've been saying, the more stuff between you and the cold air, the better.
Paint: The last part of "Make your day suck" trio, paint is what is going to give you the most problems. The first thing you need to do, is accept that you are going to break paint. The only thing you can do, is make it so you break the least ammount of paint, in the easiset to clean places.
When you are looking for a winter paint, you want to buy one with the thickest shell you can find. When it's about 20-30 degrees, I've had really good luck with Triumph. When it drops down below 20, I only use one brand. Stryker. Yup, you heard me, Wal-Mart brand Stryker. Its thick enough that it won't break in you hopper, and it flys pretty well for $20 a case, and when its 15 degrees, it breaks pretty well too. (On a side note, at -15 Monsterballs still will not break.)
Aside from picking the right hopper, the other thing you can do to make your life much easier is to pick the right barrel. The magic words here: Overbore. The bigger the bore size, the less time the paint spends in contact with the barrel wall. Less time in contact means less stress on the shell, and that means less chance of breaking paint.
When you aren't on the field, keep your paint as warm as possible. Keep your case in your car, or in a cooler with some hot packs. Also, at most sporting goods stores, they sell bootwarmers that have an adhesive side to stick to your socks. If you put about two of these on your hopper, and then tape them on with electrical tape, it helps keep the paint warm.
Pants: Same with Jerseys, the less venting, the better. I haven't had a problem with the Protos yet.
Shoes: Good shoes, and warm socks make life much better. Cleats don't have the insulation you need to keep your feet warm, and tennis shoes don't have enough traction. Solution? Hiking boots. They weigh a bit more, so you run slower, but I find the tradeoff is worth it.
So, overall, when you're playing in the cold, try to keep yourself and your gear as warm as possible, especially your paint. Make sure you dess in layers, and use a marker that is as gentle on paint as possible, but has the least ammount of moving parts possible. Use a hopper that puts as little pressue on the paint as possible, and use paint that has a thick shell.
Well, thats all I've got! If you have any other questions about Cold weather play, I'll try to answer them. Hope this helps!