Sunday, May 16, 2010

Goggleflage - Camouflage Week

Despite the shift in trends back towards woodsball and milsim paintball, most paintball manufacturers haven't caught up just yet. Camouflage still seems to be looked at in paintball as a sort of novelty, and manufacturers continue to crank out products in bright blue, red, and yellow, as if speedball was the be-all and end-all of the sport.

Some companies are wising up and producing camo masks to meet demand. The problem with a lot of these masks is that the camouflage is often some proprietary camouflage that will match only that brand's apparel (or not), but not the gear you already own.

Other manufacturers will camouflage only a part of the mask, and sell it as a "camo" version.

This clash of black and a camo pattern is almost as visible as a fully black mask. Most paintballers settle for a black mask, thinking that black won't stick out that much. This is a mistake, as Connor pointed out in his recent Grey Ops post, The Problem With Black. Not to mention we all know a nice black mask outline really makes for a great target in the woods. So what's a serious woodsballer or milsim paintballer to do?

Well the simplest thing to do is to find a mask that's available in OD green or tan, and see if it fits you and your loadout. A few companies are selling OD green masks, or a mix of OD green and tan. But if you don't like the design of any of these masks for whatever reason (be it for an improper fit or you don't like the looks), or you'd much rather have one in a camo pattern rather than a solid colour, then you have a couple of options available to you.

Option 1 is to paint the mask yourself. Krylon offers a camouflage spray paint that bonds well to plastic, and this is suitable for hard masks (look for the "Fusion" logo on the paint can). For our purposes, this paint is available in khaki/tan, olive green, and brown, and has a really flat finish so it won't reflect light. You can pick it up at Wal-Mart or Crappy Tire for around $7.

Painting the mask all one colour is really not that hard; just take off the parts you don't want painted, and spray on the paint in thin coats. 3 coats should do the trick, with each coat left 30 minutes to dry. Try not to play in the mask for a week, so the paint can harden properly and be more chip-resistant. You might want to keep a small paint brush handy so that you can fill in any tight spots.

If you'd rather paint a camouflage pattern on your mask, it's going to be a lot more complicated. You'll need to cut out stencils, wait for a lot of layers to dry, and you'll need to safeguard your hard work with some sort of matte sealant when you're done. The whole process could take a week or more. Because of the complexity of the task, I suggest you research the project throroughly - start by searching "paint mask camo" on YouTube to learn from others who've gone before, and to find some how-to guides.

Option 2 is to put a camouflage cover on your goggles. This is the best choice when you have a really flexible mask that won't hold paint well without cracking when it flexes, or if you just couldn't be bothered to spend a week painting your mask when you have other things to do.

Special Ops Paintball sells universal mask covers that will more or less fit most masks on the market. Alternatively, you could also make your own mask cover. This was a project I undertook recently with my shiny, flexible JT Proflex Revolution mask. I wanted a Multicam mask to match a Multicam loadout, but with the mask being as flexible as it is, painting it was out of the question. And that blinding shine definitely needed to be hidden.

First, you'll need to find the right cloth. I ordered a "TMC Multicam Face Veil" from EB Airsoft. This is basically a 60" x 20" piece of light, perforated cloth, for under $10 shipped. They also carry an ACU and a woodland-patterned version.

OPSGEAR also carries some perforated camouflage cloth that might be suited for the job, but I haven't personally seen it firsthand (search "sniper veil" at the OPSGEAR store). It's important that the cloth you use be perforated, so that it doesn't block off your mask's venting and cause it to fog up.
After you've received your cloth, cut a piece roughly the size and shape needed to cover your mask, with extra material around the edges:

Find a spot on the mask where you can anchor the cloth, and make a small hole(s) to anchor the front of the mask cover. Most paintball goggles have a post or two of some sort to anchor the lens, and this is a good place to hang the cover:

Once you have the material anchored on the goggles, fold the rest around and see how much you actually need to cover the rest of the mask. Trim the excess fabric from the edges, and leave extra if you want to sew the borders (this is optional, but it'll save the cover from fraying over time, and will help the mask last longer).

Once you've got the mask cover's shape all set, pick up some adhesive velcro from Home Depot (available for under $3). Cut the soft and rough strips into at least 10 squares each, and stick the SOFT squares at several places on the inside edges of the mask (this way you won't scratch yourself up if you decide to play without the cover). Then stick the rough squares of the velcro face-down onto the soft squares, and peel off the backing. Anchor your mask cover at the front of the mask, then very carefully start folding the sides of the cover over the edges of the mask, sticking the mask cover to the sticky side of the velcro one square at a time. Keep it tight to eliminate wrinkles, and put a lot of pressure on each square to make sure the glue on the velcro adheres to the fabric.

Once you're done, the end result should looks something like this:

From here you can paint the lens frame of your goggles tan or OD green with Krylon if you want, just to give yourself extra concealment. With the extra strips of fabric and velcro left over, you can even make a goggle band to wrap around your black goggle strap.

After a day of play, carefully pry the cover off of the mask's velcro, and rinse it by hand under warm water. Never let it see the inside of a dryer!

Last but not least, there's a product called Goggle Skinz on the market that you can apply to your lens itself, to cut the reflection and improve your camouflage:

You can find info on this product at Alternatively, an eBay seller named advancedpaintballconcepts1 sells similar goggle films on eBay, and can even do custom complete goggleflage as well.

And there you have it! Good luck on camouflaging your goggles, and see you on the field!

Actually, if you follow the directions in this post...I probably won't.

1 comment:

  1. If you're looking for a means to paint ghetto tiger stripes on your goggles, I have a small how-to here: