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Field Rental Masks

By Ryan Fitzgerald
Published Thursday, March 6, 2014.
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One of the never ending battles we as field operators have, is finding a good suitable mask for our rental fleet.

We have been through at least a dozen different masks, trying to find one that is cost effective, both for the lense and mask itself - easy to maintain, clean, and fix.

The first option we tried JT Proflex Full Headshield ($75 retail)

Though these masks were good for kids, especially considering we have three two floor buildings, and those top of the head shots always hurt the most. It was definitely a good option, and customers liked them. However; the cons definitely outweight the positive on this one as a rental mask.

Pros:

  • Good coverage for the top of the head, and back of the head. Provides a stock duel-pane thermal lense, and they are comfortable. Mothers will be more incincled to allow their children to play if this is given out. It can also make for a good upgrade mask.

Cons:

  • OPEN CELL FOAM. This is the "soft" foam. This easily tears, especially when customers consistantly wipe them clean without knowing what they are doing.
  • Replacement costs, though we pay wholesale - this number adds up quickly. Especially considering you can't just go out and buy proper open cell foam to replace the foam if it tears, which it eventually will do.
  • Fogging issues. Yes, all masks fog. But when you have a closed envrionment and get a little rain through, combined with moisture, what will happen? No thermal lense will save you from the consistent fogging issues, unless you replace the thermals consistently, which is also not cost effective.

Next we tried the JT Proflex's ($79 retail)

Pros:

  • Another thermal lense, same as the full headshield, without the headshield. Nice and comfortable, with a good strap and soft ears makes this a great mask, if it wasn't for the purchase price. Also good for kids' heads.

Cons:

  • When you're buying 100 of them, this can really take away from the other necessities you need to operate a field. The lenses are also not cheap, wholesaling at over $20 each, can really stack up when the thermal lense separates. Also, the open foam lense is difficult to clean and a pain to replace.

Empire Helix ($40 retail)

Pros:

  • Great for players who use glasses. They fit nicely on (most) heads. Good field view, and a lot cheaper than your middle-grade Proflex.
  • Great closed cell foam. The foam is really easy to clean and replace if necessary. The glue they used on these masks is quite strong, and it takes a lot of wears to actually start to fall off, and easily fixed.

Cons:

  • We did use these masks for awhile (6-8 months) but slowly we started seeing the clip on the back of the strap start breaking. This would mean a whole new strap, or tying it up. This is definitely not cost effective when you are trying to replace straps more than lenses.
  • The lenses are bigger, so they scratch more easily, unless you have the visor on top.
  • Time consuming to take the mask apart to clean them every day, with more parts that could go missing.
  • They don't fit kids heads. If they are under the age of 15, these puppies will fall right off their ears, and is of course a colossal safety issue. 

Proto Switch Field Goggles: (Not available for retail sale - wholesale only)

Pros: 

  • Cheaper by the dozen, these masks fit any head. They have a good solid strap, with a comfortable design. Thermal lenses are available and could be used as a good upgrade mask. 
  • Another mask with closed cell foam. The foam lasts a lot longer the JT's, and are easy to clean.

Cons:

  • Not good with glasses, the space between the nose and the top bridge of the nose is not big enough for most glasses to fit in, which makes it almost unwearable to anyone whom doesn't bring contact lenses.
  • They actually break. The plastic used on these don't seem as durable as most of the flexible masks used (Proflex, Helix, etc.) So when the visor is banged around for too long, they will actually break off and make the mask useless.
  • They also have a tendancy to fog quicker for players, as they trap in moisture from heavy breathing a lot quicker, as the bottoms fold under the chin to an extent, and don't release the heavy breathing as they should.

Tippmann Valor Mask (Not available for retail - wholesale only)

Pros:

  • Great field vision and breathability.
  • Good strap, and closed cell foam make this an easy mask to replace lenses, clean and keep sanitary for consistant turn over.
  • They also have a good price point, and last a lot longer than the Proto Switch masks.

Cons:

  • Lenses seem to scratch a lot easier than most masks.
  • They don't look good on your head. Yeah, I said it.. these things just don't look very badass.
  • The glue on the foam is not very good. It doesn't take long for the foam to start peeling away and needs to be replaced or glued back on. It is a nice foam, though. It's almost a rubber, and is easy to replace.

And last but not least.. the mask we've been carrying for years!

VForce Armor Rental Mask (Wholesale only)

Pros:

  • These puppies are cheap! about $5 less than the valors. The lense replacements are also cheap. They come with a single pane lense, or you could do a rental ugprade and add thermal lenses.
  • Great strap, fits all heads
  • Good breathability
  • Easy to clean and sanitize
  • Closed cell foam allows sanitation prior to lending out again, as well as easy and cheap to replace the foam when needed (under $2 to replace the foam - using weather stripping and super glue, a subject I will touch on at a later date).

Cons:

  • If you don't stay on top of lense replacements, they will start to be damaged quickly, and any film left on the lense will quickly disapear.
  • Won't fit all glasses types on the bridge of the nose
  • Without the visor, the lense will scratch easily. Stay on top of it, and these will last you a long time.

Hope this helped you make a good informed decision when it comes to masks for your rental fleet. Feel free to email me with any comments or questions regarding any of these masks!

Ryan Fitzgerald

Paintballgear.ca
Canada's Favourite Paintball Store
1-866-805-9385





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