We know many of you will be attending the 2014 PSP Dallas Open on March 14-16. While I'm sure a good portion are experienced event attendees, I imagine this will be the first time for some of you. So, I have conducted a little poll around the office to discern the most often overlooked and forgotten items needed while attending a professional paintball tournament.
1. - Sunscreen.
Trust us on this one. You WILL need sunscreen. There is usually very little shade at many paintball venues. So, unless you are going to spend all day in a booth, or you happened to snag some VIP tickets, sunscreen is an often overlooked must-have item.
Remember, there is only a minor difference in UV protection once above SPF 30. So, even if you have 100 SPF sunscreen, you will need to reapply it periodically throughout the day.
2. - Sunglasses.
Once again, this is a must-have for all day events. UV ray damage is no joke, and long periods of exposure can cause permanent eye damage if you do not take proper precautions.
To be clear, we are not suggesting that you spring for a $100 pair of sunglasses. A cheap pair of sunglasses will be perfectly serviceable in this role as long as they meet the following criteria:
100% protection against UVA and UVB rays - Make sure the glasses say 100% and not just "protects against UV rays", because more often than not, glasses with a vague claim of protection only block the BARE MINIMUM amount of harmful UV rays required to protect them from a lawsuit.
Shatter Resistant or Z87.1 rated - This is a higher priority for those attending paintball events. While there are nets there to catch paintballs and protect spectators, stray paintballs do make their way over the nets from time to time. It is recommended to have a pair of sunglasses that can withstand a direct hit just in case.
Comfort is key - You're going to be wearing these sunglasses all day, make sure they fit correctly and don't squeeze your head or give you headaches after extended periods of wear. Just like paintball goggles, they can't protect your eyes if you don't wear them.
3. - Cash, not Credit.
Remember, most paintball and alternative sports events aren't often held in area with easy access to the internet. If the booth you are buying something from doesn't have internet connection via cell phone service or a wifi hot spot, then they will not be able to take credit or debit cards. Therefore, at venues such as this, cash is king.
We suggest bringing as much cash as you are comfortable spending throughout the event. This will not only be more convenient, it will help to deter impulse buys and over-spending.
4. - Camera.
These events don't happen every day. So, enjoy the moment. Snap tons of photos with friends, of the newest gear, or even pro players you happen meet without draining your phone's battery.
The type camera you bring should also fit the occasion. Preferably bring a camera that is small, light, and has a long battery life. While professional level DSLRs deliver fantastic picture quality, some venues restrict their use to those with "press passes", which can be relatively expensive.
Another issue with the use of DSLR cameras at an all-day event is the fact that you will be carrying it ALL DAY. So, unless you have a really comfortable strap, or are used to hauling a 2-3 pound camera around for hours, go with a simple point-and-shoot style of camera.
If you opt to use your phone for photos, you can also elect to bring a battery pack to charge your phone throughout the day. These handy little batteries can often take up less space than a point-and-shoot camera, but can typically only deliver 1-2 maximum charges. So, keep this in mind if your phone is a battery hog.
5. - Water and Snacks.
Another often forgotten aspect of all day outdoor events is the need to stay hydrated, especially in the summer months. During the day, you need to replace any fluids you lose due to sweat, and keeping a bottle of water close by will prove its value.
Some venues prohibit bringing in food and drinks in an attempt to make you buy from the concessions stands. $3 bottles of water and $6 hamburgers can eat into your spending budget pretty quickly. My advice is to check the event website for the venue's container policy beforehand. This will let you know if you need to pack extra cash for drinks and food or if you can save money by bringing in your own.
6. - Sharpie.
Alternative sports events, paintball in particular, are very laid back atmospheres. This coupled along with paintball players generally being very open and accessible can lead to the opportunity of meeting several professional players or important figures in the sport. This is a perfect opportunity to get something autographed by your favorite athlete or team.
To give an example of this, at last year's Dallas Open I found myself standing in line for tacos right next to former world champion, Todd Martinez of Paintball Access and Raza Life Sports. You truly never know who you may bump into.
7. - Backpack.
If you're going to an event in a sport that you are interested in, chances are you are either going to find something to buy or some booths will be giving away freebies that you'll want to hang on to.
A small backpack, or cinch bag, can really come in handy for all day events. Carrying around items you've purchased, water bottle, camera, sunscreen, and various other items can become unwieldy without the aid of a backpack or bag of some sort.
Well, that wraps up our staff's 7 most overlooked items to bring to the PSP Dallas Open. If you have any additional ideas or suggestions, feel free to mention them in the comments section. We hope to see you all at PSP Dallas!
Thanks for reading!