Most paintball players will spend hours looking for the perfect gun to get an edge over their opponents. They’ll do their research to find the most highly-rated paintball arena within a 30-mile radius. But, picking out their shoes seems to be an afterthought.
Best shoes for paintball are Rugged, wet, and dirty arenas call for heavy-duty combat or military-style boots. Paintball and athletic cleats are perfect for keeping traction on the slick grass and muddy areas. For a more flexible shoe with a little breathability, running or hiking shoes are your best options.
You have plenty of choices when it comes to the shoes you can wear when playing paintball. So, let’s go over exactly what you should be looking for and the types of footwear you’ll want to consider.
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What to Look For
To understand what the ideal paintball shoes are, you need to consider the types of movements and environments you’ll see during a match. So, here are a few things you need to consider.
- Running (both long-distance and sprints)
- Sudden accelerations and stopping
- Swift changes in direction and agile motions
- Wet, muddy, and dirty fields
So, what does that mean when it comes to picking out shoes?
Well, that depends on your playing style and where you tend to play.
You’ll want a paintball shoe that’s lightweight and breathable when it comes to running long distances or even sprints. This can keep your legs from getting tired while also preventing your feet from getting overly sweaty or overheated during a long match.
For sudden changes in direction like when you’re dodging or ducking for cover, you’ll want a paintball shoe that offers incredible ankle support. This can limit the risk of rolling or spraining your ankle during a match.
And, wet and muddy environments call for paintball shoes that are slip-resistant or provide fantastic traction. You’ll want a shoe that keeps you firmly gripped to the ground, no matter what movements you’re making.
Lastly, you want comfortable shoes. Having uncomfortable paintball shoes not only causes aches and pains but can also severely impact your performance.
Military-style boots, sometimes called combat boots, are the most durable footwear you can use when playing paintball. This boot style is usually constructed of tough leather material, so you don’t have to worry about them becoming damaged during an intense match. In fact, some are built to last for years without falling apart.
What’s even better is that the leather in military boots is often waterproof. That means you can sprint through puddles or mud in the arena without ruining the strength of the leather. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the water soaking into your boots and leaving your boots waterlogged for the rest of the match.
Combat boots are also known for having steel toes or steel caps. These won’t improve your performance as much as they’ll provide protection to your feet during a match. If you happen to trip over a log or bang your foot into a wall, you probably won’t feel a thing.
Most importantly, combat boots extend way past the ankle. When they’re laced up properly and tightened snugly, they’ll keep you from rolling your ankle during a match.
But, the problem with combat boots is that they tend to be a little bulky. Though this is what makes them so durable, they can get a little tiring to run around in when you find yourself on the field for hours a day.
Related: Top 10 Best Paintball Boots 2020
Running Shoes & Hiking Shoes
Running shoes don’t provide the most protection during paintball, but they sure have their benefits if you trek across the arena dozens of times per match.
The key feature of running shoes is just how lightweight they are. Not only does this keep your feet from being weighed down when running, but it also allows you to run much quicker for a much longer period of time. They also tend to have great interior cushioning, which makes for a much more comfortable match.
The breathability of running shoes is truly what you might be seeking. Wearing combat boots or even cleats can be taxing on your feet. During a long match, you might notice that your feet are overheating or sweating uncontrollably. Since running shoes usually have a mesh exterior, they freely allow air in and out, meaning you don’t have to worry about blisters any longer.
If you think running shoes seem a little flimsy, you might want to try out hiking shoes instead. Hiking shoes are usually built with tougher outsoles, so you won’t feel each and every rock or notch that you encounter on the field.
And, you have a ton of options for running and ankle shoes. That means you can choose a style that supports the arches of your feet and the exact amount of grip that you need.
What you’ll notice about running and hiking shoes is that they usually don’t cover the ankles. While this definitely gives you a greater range of motion and flexibility in your movements, it does put you at risk for spraining your ankle in rougher areas.
Paintball cleats are the ideal choice in footwear in particularly muddy or wet fields. What’s great about them is that they’re built specifically with paintball in mind, so you can be sure that they target each and every one of your needs when playing.
At the bottom of paintball, cleats are sharp spikes. These spikes allow your feet to dig into the ground at all times. This can help you keep traction while you’re running and keep your feet from slipping out. Cleats also come in handy when it comes to planting your feet to make sudden twists and turns to avoid an opponent.
What also makes paintball cleats such a great choice is that you have both low and high-top options. That means you can choose a style that’s best for your match. Low-tops would be better for ankle flexibility and range of motion. High-tops are great for protecting your ankles.
Related: Top 10 Best Painball Cleats 2020
When it comes to athletic cleats for major sports, you want to do a little bit of research before trying them in paintball. That’s because not all styles of athletic cleats are the same, with some providing much better paintball benefits than others.
Here’s what you need to know before we go over each type.
- High ankle support is great for protecting your ankles from rolling during a match.
- Low ankle support gives you a greater range of motion and flexibility.
- Toe cleats have cleats at the front portion, which allows you to get a better grip into the ground when sprinting.
- No toe cleats are safer for instances where you happen to trample another player.
Here’s what makes each style of cleat different.
- Football: High ankle support and no toe cleats
- Soccer: Low ankle support and no toe cleats
- Lacrosse: High ankle support and toe cleats
- Baseball: Low ankle support and toe cleats
Decide what’s most important to you in a paintball shoe and make an educated choice!
Generally speaking, any type of shoe can work when you’re playing paintball. You just have to choose a shoe or boot that matches your playing style and your ideal arena. Here’s a quick guide for choosing the perfect shoes.
- For wet and muddy fields with little traction: Athletic or paintball cleats
- For long matches and overall foot comfort: Running or hiking shoes
- For unsurpassed durability and dependability: Combat boots
- Reddit: What kind of shoes do you guys wear?
- PB Nation: Best footwear for paintball?
- AC Paintball: What to Wear to Play Paintball
- Wikipedia: Combat Boot
- Active: Running Shoe Guide for Dummies
- REI: Hiking Boots vs. Trail Runners: The Great Debate