by David McBryan
35 Potential Expenses (Plus the Cheapest Way to Hit the Field Today)
You and your friends have decided you want to give paintball a try.
But there’s one problem: You don’t have any gear.
That leaves you asking yourself, “How much does paintball cost? Is it too expensive for me to try?”
While there’s no single number I can give you, because there’s a lot of person-to-person and field-to-field variability.
What I can do is make things simple for you.
This guide will categorize everything so you can get a sense of the costs associated with playing paintball regardless of your situation.
At the very least, we’ll answer this question:
“What’s the least I can spend to see if I like paintball?”
We’ll get to that in a minute.
First, let’s look at every conceivable paintball cost.
The table below lists every cost you could incur playing paintball.
First, a little more info on what the different labels in each column mean:
|Item||Category||Frequency||Type||Min Cost||Avg Cost||Max Cost|
|1. Primary Marker||Marker||One-time||Essential||$50||$200||$500|
|2. Backup Marker||Marker||One-time||Nice||$25||$200||$500|
|4. Barrel Cover||Marker||One-time||Essential||$4||$12||$25|
|5. CO2 or HPA Tank||Marker||One-time||Essential||$15||$25||$40|
|6. CO2 or HPA Gas||Marker||Recurring||Essential||$1||$4||$8|
|7. Paintballs (Cost for 500)||Paint||Recurring||Essential||$10||$15||$35|
|8. Pod Pack, Harness, Etc.||Paint||One-time||Essential||$5||$40||$80|
|9. Cooler (For Paint)||Paint||One-time||Personal||$15||$35||$80|
|10. Remote Line||Paint||One-time||Nice||$20||$35||$50|
|12. Loose Clothing||Clothing||One-time||Essential||$5||$35||$100|
|13. Extra Clothing||Clothing||One-time||Personal||$5||$35||$100|
|16. Head Protection||Protection||One-time||Essential||$2||$10||$30|
|17. Neck Protection||Protection||One-time||Essential||$2||$10||$25|
|18. Knee, Elbow, Forearm Protection||Protection||One-time||Nice||$12||$30||$70|
|20. First-Aid Kit||Protection||One-time||Personal||$5||$25||$50|
|22. Tools and Spare Parts||Accessories||As needed||Personal||$5||$15||$50|
|23. Lens Cleaner Spray||Accessories||As needed||Personal||$2||$5||$45|
|24. Batteries||Accessories||As needed||Personal||$2||$5||$10|
|25. Tape||Accessories||As needed||Personal||$1||$3||$5|
|26. Compact Binoculars||Accessories||One-time||Personal||$25||$60||$250|
|29. Gear Bag||Comfort||One-time||Essential||$10||$40||$240|
|30. Garbage Bag||Comfort||Recurring||Personal||$0.10||$0.20||$0.50|
|31. Hydration Pack||Comfort||One-time||Nice||$25||$40||$150|
|32. Bug Spray||Comfort||As needed||Nice||$3||$5||$15|
|33. Sunscreen||Comfort||As needed||Nice||$5||$10||$20|
|34. Talcum Powder||Comfort||As needed||Nice||$1||$4||$10|
|35. Field Fees||Facility||Essential||Recurring||$10||$20||$30|
I won’t use this space to explain what all of the above items are because our Ultimate Paintball Gear List already does that. (Check it out. It’s worth the read.)
Instead, let’s talk about a few specific items and scenarios.
Renting paintball equipment can be a great option instead of investing a ton of money upfront in your own. There are two situations when it makes a lot of sense to rent:
Let’s talk tangibly about field fees and equipment rentals using a real-life example: RHC Paintball Fields.
(I picked them because they’re first in Google if you search for “paintball field fees” so it’s easy for you to find them again.)
In addition to their $22 daily admission fee, which includes all-day HPA refills, you can also get a basic equipment rental for $20. This rental includes the following:
Then they offer an a la carte rental menu for other essential pieces of equipment:
Like many paintball fields, RHC Paintball requires you to purchase your paint through them. This is called field paint.
For the most part, this is done for safety reasons. By providing paint that RHC Paintball knows has been properly stored and taken care of, they can ensure it breaks on impact as expected. Field paint fees here are as follows:
It’s a little more expensive than purchasing paint yourself, but that’s what’s required to play at RHC Paintball.
That covers several essentials. You’ll have to provide the rest, which we’ll use low-end costs to estimate:
A gear bag isn’t required when you rent everything, so I’ll leave that out.
All told, your minimum cost to play paintball for your first time at RHC Paintball is $96 if you rent your gear, go for the used mask, skip the chest protector, buy 500 rounds of standard paint, and bargain shop for your clothing, boots/shoes, and head/neck protection.
If you’re committed to the sport and want to buy your own gear, $158 is about the least you can expect to spend. Here’s the breakdown using the numbers for the table above:
A note about minimum prices for clothing and boots/shoes: Go to your local thrift store. You don’t want ruin any of your existing clothes, so new stuff is a good idea, but you don’t want to pay top dollar for gear that’s going to get covered in paint. You can find cheap, baggy sweatshirts and pants for less than $5 apiece at a thrift store and a sturdy pair of boots or shoes is about $10.
This is where I usually find myself. I don’t need to go all-out with every nice-to-have item, like paint grenades or a hydration pack, but I like a few extra pieces of gear, like gloves.
Here are my personal must-haves, which you’ll need in addition to everything from Scenario 2 above:
That’s an extra $69.10 (if we’re nit-picking) for a grand total of $217 (I rounded this time).
The good news is that most of those expenses are one-time, upfront costs. The recurring stuff is actually pretty minimal. Below are recurring or as needed gear classified as either essential or a personal must-have:
All of that adds up to just $37.
There’s a ton of variability within this one category, and that means you have a lot of different options when deciding how much to spend.
First, if you’re new to the world of paintball, check out our guide to the 3 Types of Paintball Guns. It explains the various firing mechanisms and their pros/cons.
Our guide to the 11 Best Paintball Guns has our top pick across 11 different categories and has something for everyone.
The cheapest type of paintball marker is a pump paintball gun, which operates with a shotgun-like pump. They’re inexpensive and reliable, but they’re also slow and inaccurate. I wouldn’t recommend you buy one of these markers to start out. Skill-wise, you’re already at a disadvantage because of your inexperience. Don’t make things worse but having a slow, inaccurate marker.
You can find relatively inexpensive mechanical paintball guns, which have your standard trigger and fire using a spring-loaded mechanism. They’re a great compromise between cost and performance. In fact, the $50 min cost for your primary marker in the table above is just about the lowest-cost mechanical marker you’ll find. Personally, I’d recommend something like the Spyder Victor, which is just a touch more expensive.
At the high end are electronic paintball guns, which have a variety of different firing mechanisms but share one commonality: They use an electronic circuit board powered by either a 9V or rechargeable battery. They offer a ton of fun firing modes to help you pin down your opponent. The Planet Eclipse Etha 2 is one of the best electronic markers with a price tag to match.
Note: You may have noticed the lower minimum cost for your backup marker. That’s because I included those shotgun-like pump paintball guns. While I wouldn’t want one as my primary marker, they’ll do fine as backup markers. The JT ER2 Pump Pistol is a solid option.
Paintball is more expensive than many other hobbies, but it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, especially if you’re just getting started.
In this guide, we looked at four common scenarios:
Those serve as solid, thrifty starting points, because paintball can be as expensive as you want to make it. If you need the latest and greatest marker with realistic combat gear when you hit the field twice per month, paintball’s costs can really add up.
But for most, there are relatively inexpensive ways to get your paintball fix. For more information on paintball gear, check out our guide to 13 Key Pieces of Paintball Clothing and our Ultimate Paintball Gear List.
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