A paintball harness, also known as a paintball pack, pod
pack or ball hauler, is what you wear to carry spare paintballs and other
needed items onto the field of play. A paintball harness is typically worn around
the waist and come in several designs and formats, some better for a particular
style of play over others. This Paintball Harness Buyer’s Guide will help you
make an informed decision.
What Are Paintball Pods?
Paintball Pods are also referred to as paintball tubes and
as paintball pots in Europe. They are typically plastic tubes with a lid that
hold paintballs for reloading during a game. The lid is almost always spring
loaded with a tab or recess for the thumb to pop it open. Pods come in a variety of shapes and sizes,
with the most common being 140 ball capacity. This is a convenient size to
reload the common 200 round hopper or electronic loader without having to wait
for it to be empty first. Pump and tactical players using small hoppers often
use 50 or 100 round pods, while stock class players use the old school ten
What Is A Paintball Belt Pouch?
The simplest form of paintball harness is a paintball belt
pouch. These are simple pouches with pod sleeves to hold one to three pods of
paint, with loops to attach to a belt worn around the waist. If you use a remote system then some belt
pouches are made to carry an air tank with the pods, or just an air tank.
Paintball belt pouches are cheap and effective, thus very popular with
beginners and players on a very tight budget.
How Does The Harness Fit?
Most paintball harnesses use one of three methods to secure
itself to your waist. The simplest and cheapest method is a nylon webbing or
similar strap in the front with a quick release buckle. These are quick and
easy to put on and take off. They are popular for their low cost as well as
easier fit for portly or larger players. The downside to harnesses with the
belt is they are not as snug as other designs so they tend to flop, bounce and
move around during rigorous movement.
The other lower cost design is two very wide, non-stretch
belts covered in Velcro. You simply pull each end around tight and press the
Velcro in place. These have the advantage of being easy to put on and fit
instantly. The downside to the static Velcro straps is they still flop a bit
and can’t withstand as heavy without stressing the hold on the Velcro material.
The third design is the elastic waist belt harness. These
are the most popular types for speedball and tournament players. This typical uses a double belt system of wide
and durable stretch elastic, similar to a lumbar support belt worn by workers
doing lots of heavy lifting. The first belt is stretched and velcro’d in place
to hold around the waist, then the
second belt is stretched and secured to that, pulling the back of the
harness to your back. Elastic waist belt
harnesses are the most fitting of all harness designs, staying snug against the
lower back with minimal movement and bounce as you run and dive. Many are
rubber or neoprene padded inside to both grip your clothes for a no-slip hold
and to give some lower back comfort and support. Because of their snug and
form-fitting design, these can be a bit uncomfortable for larger players with
wide waist lines.
Horizontal Vs. Vertical Paintball Harnesses
Pods are held either horizontally or vertically in the pod
pack, with advantages and disadvantages to each style. Horizontal packs usually
hold an even number of pods pointed in either direction on your back with
velcro’d flaps or straps to hold the pods in place. Horizontal pod packs are
popular with woodsball players who can’t drop a pod on the field to be picked
up later. It is easy to withdraw a pod, reload, then slide it back into the pod
sleeve and secure the flap. They can also be easier for larger players to reach
as the openings are to the sides of the body. The downside to horizontal
pods are that they typically stick out
from the sides, presenting a bigger hard target for a paintball to hit and
break on. They can make crawling, lying on your side or rolling over very
uncomfortable if not impossible.
Vertical pod packs typically keep the pods centered to the
body. The pod sleeve openings are pointed down so you pull the strap open and
withdraw the pod downwards. Because of their vertical position they rarely ever
stick out from the side, making you a smaller target when fired at from the
front. They allow for maximum movement but can be a bit tricky to efficiently
slide a pod back in after reloading . This is not a problem on the speedball
field where a player simply drops the empty pod to be picked up later, but in
the woods that is not practical. Larger players or those with shorter arms
sometimes have a problem reaching pods.
Horizontal pod packs are a common sight on a woodsball
field. Vertical pod packs are the hands-down favorite on the speedball field.
What Does It Mean When a Paintball Harness Is a +1, +2,
Paintball harnesses are usually named by the number of pod
sleeves, such as a 3 pod harness. The “+” designation indicates optional
capacity outside of the pod sleeves. When a pod pack is a “+1” this almost
always means that it has a pouch for an air tank. Thus a “4+1” paintball
harness has four pod sleeves and holds one air tank, a “6+1” holds six pods and
a tank, and so on. These types of harnesses are usually used by players using a
coiled remote hose system.
Numbers over +1 in a harness name denote how many additional
pods can be carried outside of the pod sleeves. Typically these are held either
in elastic loops between and on the ends of the sleeves, or under a wide
elastic band that holds by compressing the pods together. The elastic loop
models typical have a cord on them to slip over the thumb tab or hinge of the
pod for extra hold.
A “3+2” harness has three pods in sleeves and two more in
the loops between the sleeves for a total of five, a “4+3” a total of seven,
etc. If additional loops are on the ends of the pod sleeves then they are
typically an additional “+”, so a “3+2+2” holds three in sleeves, two in loops
between, and two in loops at the ends for a total of seven pods total.