[dropcap size=small]I[/dropcap]m a sucker for a good deal. I love the mid-range paintball guns like the Empire Axe and the Planet Eclipse Gtek, so naturally, I was thrilled when Virtue announced the Vio Ascend. There is just something about getting a good deal that I love. Maybe it is that I don’t take care of things well, and if it is a bit cheaper I don’t feel as bad about it. Or maybe I’m just cheap….
If I wanted to build the best paintball mask: what would it be? It would be lightweight, yet be built from high-quality materials, it would have good ventilation, quick change lenses and would be priced under $100. Does the Ascend ticks all the boxes for my perfect mask?
I’m a huge fan of the JT ProFlex and Empire E-Flex masks. I like how the E-Flex and ProFlex are a bit wider than normal. The wider fit takes most of the pressure off of my ears and makes the mask fit a bit looser.
I have never been a fan of the newer masks from Dye, Virtue or HK Army. I found the newer styles masks to be a bit to restrictive. As companies started to make their masks smaller, along with smaller sizes, comfort was sacrificed. Comfort has always been very important to me so, I stuck with what worked for me and that was JT and Empire.
The Vio Ascend uses the same exact goggle frame as the other Vio, the mask is about 3/4 inch wider than the other higher-end Vios. This slight difference makes all the difference. The Ascend feels like a completely different mask. The Ascend fits much looser on my head, rather than snugly fitting like the Contour or XS. The Ascend now feels much more like my E-Flex or ProFlex.
The wider fit makes the mask much more comfortable, but if you have a small head than the Ascend may not fit you that well.
I say it over and over again, “I just want a mask that breathes well”. It seems that a lot of paintball masks on the market today, just don’t breathe well. The designers of today’s modern paintball masks seem to take aesthetics more into account than the actual function. With some of the paintball masks, I feel like I’m going to hyperventilate after I just ran up a hill or after running some quick points back to back. I need to be able to get air in and out of the mask quickly!
Breathability is another reason why I haven’t owned any of the high-end paintball masks, none of them breathe as well as my ProFlex or E-Flex.
When I first saw the Ascend, it looked like it was going to breathe well. Thankfully my eyes were right and the Ascend breathes fantastically. The Vio Ascend breathes better than almost all the other masks on the market, excluding the ProFlex and E-Flex. A large number of vents on the front allow air to enter and exit very well.
Really, I’m shocked at how well the Ascend breathes. I have just gotten so used to the newer more modern paintball masks not breathing well.
The lens system on the Ascend shouldn’t be a huge surprise for anyone that is familiar with Virtue masks. The Ascend uses the same great lenses and lens retention system that is found in the Contour, Extend and XS masks.
The Ascend has a very easy to use and quick lens retention system. You simply push down on two tabs (see picture below) on the inside of each ear and the lens comes out, super simple.
Virtue also has a lot of lens colors and tint options. In total Virtue have 16 lenses: 9 mirror finish and 7 non-mirror.
The Ascend comes with a smoke lens, which I’m a fan of. I normally always use a smoke lens, the middle of winter in the woods and I still use a smoke lens.
The Ascend is almost half the price of Virtues next mask the Contour. You would think that Virtue may try to save a bit of money and use fewer materials or uses some cheaper manufacturing methods, but nothing of the sort has been done with the Ascend. The Ascend is made just as well as Virtue’s high-end masks and uses the same great materials.
There is zero skimping on materials on the Ascend, high-end materials are used throughout the mask. I really have nothing bad to say about the quality of the Ascend, it is just great.
The Ascend may be less money they the Vio Contour, Dye I5 or EVS but it sure doesn’t feel like it.
Is the Ascend the most comfortable mask? No. Is it the cheapest? No. Does it breathe the best? No. Is it the best looking? No. The Ascend is not the best at anything, but it is great at everything.
As with most things, the price is everything. If the Ascend was $180, it would be a terrible buy, but the Ascend is only $80 and there is nothing on the market that comes close to that price for the level of quality you are getting.
Simply put, the Vio Ascend in the best mask in paintball.