Playing Paintball in the Summer Heat – What to Wear and Bring to the Field

As a paintballer who has played in the Florida summer heat for 20 years, I am no stranger to hitting the field in 100 degree temperatures. On these days you really have to know how to dress, what to bring, and know when to call it for the day.

Picking the Proper Clothing

There is no getting around it, you will have to wear different clothing if you want to play paintball in the summer. You can’t layer the clothing like you would on cooler days as you run the risk of overheating.

When playing paintball in the summer heat wear lightweight single layer clothing with lighter colors. Use removable knee and elbow pads for protection and remove any excess gear you don’t need, like chest rigs and large pod packs, to reduce the weight you are carrying.

Try and avoid wearing darker colored clothing as they are more likely to absorb the heat compared to lighter colored clothing. I recommend at least wearing a brighter color shirt to keep your core temperature cooler instead of a dark shirt.

Moisture Wicking Clothes

Lightweight moisture wicking clothes will help you stay cooler than a standard shirt while on the field. They help transfer the sweat from your skin and allow them to evaporate, cooling your core temperature.

Again, wear lighter color shirts to prevent the suns heat from warming you up too quickly.

Removable Protective Gear (Arm Pads, Gloves, ect)

If you are wearing a short sleeve shirt and shorts, you can wear knee and elbow padding for protection. This provides protection while on the field and can be removed when off the field.

You don’t need to wear these if you don’t want to, while they are nice to have they aren’t needed and just not wearing gloves or arm pads for a few games will help you stay cool.

Light Weight and Thin Clothing

Usually, I suggest thicker clothing or wearing layers, but during the summer it is not suggested. Wear light weight, single layer clothing that allows you to stay cool.

You won’t be as protected from the paintballs with thinner clothing, but you will be protecting yourself from a far greater danger, heat exhaustion and hyperthermia. I have seen many people collapse on the field because of overheating, ending their paintballing experience for the weekend.

Play on Shaded Fields

Most of the paintball fields I have been to have multiple field layouts, with a few of these fields in the shade. These fields are ideal for those hot days as you can safely play without the sun beating down on you.

Just tell your ref that you and your group would like to stick to the shaded fields instead of the open fields. They will understand and most likely be happy to be in the shade as well.

Take Long Breaks Between Games

You don’t have to play every game or have constant back to back games. Take a break when you need it, even if another game is starting up.

It is more enjoyable to play paintball while cool and refreshed, don’t push yourself too hard. Paintball is about having fun, and it is harder to enjoy yourself when you are overheating.

Keep Your Gear Out Of Direct Sunlight

This is a mistake that I see lots of newer players making, don’t leave your paintball gear in direct sunlight while in the staging area!

Paintballs and compressed air tanks are effected by heat, and the summer sun can really start to effect your gear if left in the sun for too long. Paintballs may start to deform and melt together, causing jams and barrel breaks. Plus your tanks may start increasing in pressure and blow a burst disk or over pressurize your paintball gun.

Try and find a shaded place to store your gear. If you can’t, just cover them with something like a box or towel.

Use Light Weight Paintball Gear

Using heavy gear can and will wear you out faster, especially if you have heavy vests and are carrying lots of paint on you. If at all possible, use the lightest gear you have and only bring the bare minimum equipment you need to play paintball.

The combination of heat and the strain of heavy paintball equipment will be enough to cause any regular paintball player to stop playing early. There is no need to have the full tactical loadout if you are just playing a quick skirmish with friends. Go light and have fun playing paintball.

Play Hopperball and Don’t Use a Pack

Sometimes, the best way to play paintball is to play short games with limited paint. Have everyone only bring enough paint to fill their hoppers and use no extra pods. This way, the games will be shorter but the fun factor is still high as the games will sometimes get more intense!

Bring the Right Food and Water

The title of this section was worded with a purpose, bring the RIGHT food and water with you to play paintball during the summer. Do not bring sodas, greasy, and overly salty foods as they do not contribute to staying hydrated in the heat.

Below are my personal requirements for an active day (or weekend) of paintball here in Florida.

Two Gallons of Water Per Person, Per Day!

It is extremely important to drink water for outdoor activities during the summer, but it is even more critical to bring the RIGHT AMOUNT OF WATER with you so everyone has enough to drink. This is an extremely common problem that I see the majority of players, both new and experienced, making every time I go to the field.

To some of you, two gallons of water per person may seem excessive. For me it is not, I can consume 2 gallons very easily during a very hot day and will sometimes bring another gallon just to splash on my face and chest.

Staying hydrated is super important and will be the deciding factor for some players if they can continue playing for the day.

Small, Light Snacks with Minimal Salt

It is very important to bring food with you on extended paintball outings, but not just any food will work. You need to pick food and snacks that are beneficial to high activity outdoor activities, if you pick something heavy, greasy, or really salty you will probably have to sit to digest it longer or risk getting sick.

For me, the best options have low salt, small portions, and are easy to digest. My favorite options are half of a sandwich and individually packed soft granola bars. These are easy to pack in a cooler or small lunchbox and can be eaten slowly throughout the day.

Bring Pedialyte

The best tip I can give you is to bring a bottle of Pedialyte or the powdered Pedialyte mix to put into your water. This alone has saved me and my team from serious bouts of dehydration and are a perfect way to hydrate after a long day of paintball.

They sell them at the grocery store for adults with really tasty flavors that most anyone will enjoy and work better than any other sports drink I have used. You can save them for emergencies, but I use them either in the middle of the day or after I am done playing for the day to keep me going strong.

Bring Your Own Staging Area

There will be times that your local field may not have enough tables and shade for everyone, so it is beneficial to bring your own if you have it. I would call ahead of time to see if they expect to have enough staging area available for you so you can plan properly.

Bring a Canopy or Large Umbrella

Shade is going to be your main concern during the summer. Make sure you bring something like an open air canopy or large party umbrella to give you and your group adequate shade to rest under.

Camping Chairs

There is nothing like a good, comfortable camping chair when out at a paintball field. Some fields will have benches to sit on, but just sitting back in your camping chair in the shade just allows you to enjoy yourself that much more.

Tables and Coolers

If you have your own folding table I suggest bringing it, especially if you have a large group you are going with. This allows you to have an extra place to store gear, food, and basic supplies without overcrowding the tables.

Coolers are the perfect way to keep your food and water out of the sun and prevent them from heating up. I sometimes don’t even put ice in mine and use them just to store paintballs and keep the water out direct sunlight.

Bring Extra Clothes and a Towel

There is no getting around it, paintball is messy and the summer heat will make you very sweaty. Not a great combination for getting back in your moms car now is it?

Most fields will have a bathroom, or even a shower, to clean off and change into fresh clothes for the journey back home. This will make the trip back much more comfortable as you feel cleaner and your mother isn’t getting on to you about how filthy you are.

If you don’t have a place to change, I suggest bringing a large towel to sit on so you don’t get the car seat dirty.

Know when to Stop Playing

You can follow all of the best recommendations to the letter, but the most important thing to keep in mind is to know when to stop playing for the day.

You want to keep checking in with yourself before and after each game making sure you aren’t experiencing any sort of dehydration, excessive fatigue, or dizziness when standing up and moving around. If you start feeling any unusual symptoms, take it easy for a while or just stop playing for the day.

I have had instances where I have been on the field for too long or been playing in the brutal Florida heat and felt my body tell me in no uncertain terms “you are done for the day” with the major warning signs like dizziness, major headaches, and loss of breath. It is times like these where you immediately remove yourself from the field or ask someone for assistance to help you off the field.

If you don’t keep checking in with yourself you may all of a sudden get hit with heat exhaustion and your body will give out and collapse. I have seen this happen several times on the field, including with my wife at a major scenario event. Pay attention to yourself, stay hydrated, and just know when to call it quits before it gets too bad.


Florida based paintball player with 20 years of experience playing everything from recball to 24 hour scenario events.

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