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Playing the Snake - What Paintball Gear do I choose?

Posted by Mike Smith on 3/3/2012 to Paintball Tips

A great question came up on our Facebook page from Hayden Lafreniere, asking what equipment we would recommend for a snake player. This is a great question and we really felt that it was worth taking the time to answer in depth. Thanks for the question, Hayden!  


Snake players, and front players in general, should have paintball gear that is primarily compact and lightweight. If this is your style of play, then you need to be able to move quickly and explosively up the field off the break, and periodically throughout the game. The less weight you are carrying, the easier it will be to make those moves. For this reason, snake players favor paintball equipment that is lighter and less bulky. And, since snake players will also spend more time diving, sliding and crawling around trying to get into an optimal position to break open the game, investing in a quality set of paintball padding to protect your body is a definite must!


Paintball Padding


The wear and tear that results from constantly diving into the ground at full speed will pile up quickly throughout the day, especially without adequate protection. Whatever part of your body that first makes contact with the ground will take the brunt of the force of impact, so you need protection to soften this impact with the playing surface. Anyone who has ever played on a concrete surface knows just how rough diving can get! A good set of paintball pads will protect your body from these impacts, and help prevent injuries from slowing you down as the day progresses. You need a set of paintball pads that are thick enough to give you adequate protection, without being too bulky or restrictive. Badlands recommends a set of paintball elbow/forearm pads, and a set of paintball knee pads as the bare minimum. A set of paintball slide shorts will give you some helpful padding across your hips, as well as a soft cup to protect you where it really counts.


Everyone’s body is different, so the best way to find the paintball pads that are right for you is to go to your local Badlands store and try them on. Planet Eclipse makes a popular line of paintball pads, including elbow, knee, and slide shorts. Empire offers some very intelligent design features, and their Grind series of paintball elbow pads now incorporate a strap to help tighten the pad in place, and which also acts as a wrist support. Empire paintball pads, however, tend to be more bulky than Eclipse pads, so we recommend that you try your pads on before you buy, to ensure a comfortable and secure fit.


Paintball Clothing


For paintball clothing, you need gear designed to handle some serious diving and sliding. Thankfully, most paintball tournament gear comes with some integrated padding. This additional protection complements whatever padding you are wearing underneath, and helps cushion your body during impact. Remember, the padding built into paintball jerseys and paintball pants should not be relied upon as your primary padding. This padding will always be lighter than dedicated pads, and because they are attached to the clothing and free-floating as a result, they might not be in place when you crash into the ground. Whatever you choose to wear, make sure that it is not too bulky or heavy.


Empire Prevail paintball clothing is a great choice for an inexpensive and lightweight set of tournament paintball pants and jersey that comes with integrated padding. If you need something with more padding and heavy duty fabrics that can really stand up to abuse, then look at paintball pants and jerseys in the Empire Contact, or Eclipse clothing lines; both are excellent options.


Personal preference will play a big part in deciding whether or not you want to wear paintball gloves. Some players prefer not to wear paintball gloves, because they prefer a more tactile feel on their paintball gun. Not wearing paintball gloves, however, leaves your hands unprotected and more likely to get hurt. A great compromise is a partial paintball glove, such as the Freedom or Contact LTD gloves in the Empire line, or the Gauntlet gloves in the Eclipse line. They still provide protection across the knuckles and back of the hand, but because they are fingerless, they will not interfere with your trigger finger(s).




Always wear a good pair of shoes chosen to match the surfaces that you play on. It does not matter how fast you are, if you cannot get any traction. Be it a paintball cleat, or a traditional sports cleat, you will have a ton of choices, and your decision will come down to what you find comfortable and prefer. If you play on numerous surfaces, a great option is a cleat that has removable spikes, so that you can change them out to suit your playing surface. Metal spikes are the best choice, but there are a number of playing surfaces that they will damage permanently, and so they are often banned.


Paintball Pod Pack


One of the most common places to see an inexperienced snake player get shot in is the paintball pack. A bulky paintball pack poking up as you crawl down the snake makes an easy target for most paintball players, and will get you eliminated quickly. Since a snake player does not need to carry a large amount of paint, your pack does not have to have a large capacity; the smaller and more compact the better. The NXE 3+2+2 is a small paintball pack, and has the added versatility of 4 secondary pod holders, which comes in handy when you are not playing the snake, so you can still hold enough paint to play a backline position.


Paintball Mask


The correct choice of paintball mask is important for a snake player. The more compact your paintball mask is, the more it will reduce your profile. When you come out from behind your bunker, the leading edge of your mask is visible to anyone downfield before you are able to see around the bunker. The more your paintball mask sticks out from your face, the larger that leading edge becomes, and the more time your opponents have to target and shoot at you, before you are able to see them, as you come out from behind cover. The Dye I4 offers the most aggressive and streamlined profile of any paintball mask on the market. However, this reduced profile comes at the cost of reduced protective coverage. This is usually not an issue when being shot at from straight on, but can become a liability when shot at from the sides. The more prominent your jaw line, the more exposed the sides of your face will be. Badlands recommends that you try on a paintball mask before you purchase, to make sure that it fits comfortably, and to ensure that you are happy with the balance between reduced profile and protective coverage.


Make sure to also pick up some form of forehead protection. Most headbands and sandanas come with a built-in pad to both protect your forehead from impacts, and to soak up sweat. Even a thin layer of protection will save the day if you get shot in the forehead, so don’t forget to protect your noggin’!


Paintball Gun


A simple rule for putting together a paintball gun setup for playing the snake is to keep it light and compact. Front players will generally not carry a large amount of paint, so efficiency is not a crucial factor when selecting a marker; accuracy and consistency are more important. If you are able to move unnoticed into a strong position, you will often only have one chance to capitalize on it before the other team notices you, and you do not want that chance to be wasted because you were not able to make the shot.


When choosing a paintball gun, do not overlook the conditions the gun will be exposed to. With all of the diving and crawling, dirt, dust, and debris are more likely to get into your paintball gun and affect its performance. If you play in wet, muddy conditions, this becomes an even larger factor. To prevent this, choose a paintball gun that has a sealed bolt assembly, which will keep the elements out of your gun. One of the most popular guns for this application is the Geo, by Planet Eclipse. With incredible consistency and a compact design, this paintball gun appeals to many players, but perfectly meets the demands of a snake player. If the Geo is out of your price range, excellent lower cost alternatives are the Empire Axe, the Eclipse Etha, the Invert Mini, and the Dangerous Power G4.


Paintball Loader


You want your paintball loader to be as compact and streamlined as possible, so selecting a paintball loader with a lower profile is a must. In addition, make sure that the loader you choose will be able to handle the abuse from the impact of diving and sliding. Most paintball loaders on the market today are able to handle all but the most severe abuse. Consider a gated feed upgrade for your paintball loader, so that you can load quicker in those high pressure situations. Two excellent options for loaders that will prove ideal for any player are the Dye Rotor, and the Empire Prophecy Z2. Both are durable, reliable, and able to take a gated feed, so once again your choice will come down to personal preference. If you are looking for a less expensive alternative, we recommend the Invert Halo Too.


High Pressure Air (HPA) Paintball Tank


Last but not least, you need an HPA tank. Sticking with the mantra of “lightweight and compact”, a carbon fiber tank is the obvious choice. A smaller tank is fine because you will be carrying a smaller amount of paint. Just make sure that you have the ability to shoot all of the paint that you are carrying with the paintball gun and tank combination that you select. A smaller tank, such as the Ninja 50/4500 is a popular choice, but some players find the shorter tank uncomfortable. In this case, you would simply select a longer tank such as the Ninja 68/4500, or invest in some aftermarket bottom line components to adjust where your tank sits on your paintball gun so that you can find a tank position that is comfortable for you. Regardless of the paintball tank that you choose, we highly recommend investing in a fill nipple cover to keep dirt and debris from being pushed into your paintball tank regulator when you fill up, and a paintball tank cover to both protect your paintball tank and also provide a gripping surface on the back end of the tank for your shoulder.


We hope that you found this helpful. If you have any questions, stop in by your local Badlands store, and any of our helpful staff will be glad to answer your questions. Or, email us at, or visit us on Facebook.


See you on the field!


Date 7/2/2014
That is a helpful site. Thank you for the information.

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