“One more hit like this son, and I’m afraid I’ll just have to take you down for the season.” – my coach to me during one of my high school seasons.
Jeez – this was the toughest blow I took during my high school baseball season. I wanted to be a great catcher. But I never realized – never even stopped to think about – how hard it gets. The injuries, the pain, the responsibilities, the weight I have to carry every time – and it goes on and on. On the other hand, there’s also – the glory, the honor, the championship, and the walk of pride! So, it goes both ways.
When you’re a catcher, you can’t slack off. You’ll always be on your toes – thinking about what the next move’s going to be – talking to your battery mates – trying to figure out the best defensive play – while keeping yourself together – physically and mentally. So, anything and everything you CAN do to make it more comfortable for yourself – GO. FOR. IT!
And you can’t get anything done inside the diamond without the best catcher’s gear. There’s no way to look past it. You have to get your hands on the right gear if you’re serious. Yes – tee ball players and young catchers can get by with mid-tier gear. However, players from Intermediate Division and higher should get top-rated catcher’s gear. You’re likely to spend a couple of hundred bucks. But it’s always better to be safe than to risk a full-season dismissal or a career-ending injury. So, after trying out different gears – observing their endurance and flexibility – I’ll highlight some top-shelf catcher’s gears for both adults and youth.
You’ll get a complete picture of –
- What items are included in each set
- Why are they important
- How they come together to help you make the most out of your money
- How long they’ll last before you hunt for something new
Let’s get to it.
Best Catcher Gear
Before you read the catcher’s gear reviews, you should take a gander at the reference chart I have here. That’ll help you get an estimate of what size you may need for you or your kids. Although I have listed catcher’s gears here according to gender, age, size, and budget, the reference table here should put you in the right direction.
Besides, most catcher’s gear sets have three different items – helmet, protector, and leg guards. So, I’ll talk about them separately to give you a holistic idea. And once you get the entire catcher’s kit, if you can add the best catchers gloves to your repertoire – you’re all set to lead the game!
And as always, in each review, I’m going to compare different items – suggest an alternative – point out flaws and workarounds. So, even if they seem lengthy (they probably will), they’ll be well worth the read.
Please adhere to the reference table before making a decision. The tables below illustrate an average size for each major item (e.g., helmet, chest protector, & leg guards). The numbers are an estimation and subject to change. You should use proper sizing methods to check the proper gear size of your athletes. The “League” section on the Chest Protector and Leg Guards table was taken from Little League Baseball’s Division Chart.
|Fitted Hat Size||8||7-7/8||7-3/4||7-5/8||7-1/2||7-3/8||7-1/4||7-1/8||7||6-7/8||6-3/4||6-5/8|
|5-7||9-10 inches||Tee Ball – Minor League|
|7-9||11-12 inches||Minor League – Major Division|
|9-12||13-14 inches||Major Division – Intermediate (50/70)|
|12-16||15-16 inches||Junior League and Senior League|
|16+||16-18 inches||Senior League and Above|
|5-7||9-10 inches||Tee Ball – Minor League|
|7-9||11-12 inches||Minor League – Major Division|
|9-12||12.5-14.5 inches||Major Division – Intermediate (50/70)|
|12-16||14-16 inches||Junior League and Senior League|
|16+||15.5-17 inches||Senior League and Above|
Don’t worry – it’s not as complicated as it looks. Now that we’re past the *scary-looking* numbers let’s head on to the actual reviews
- ABS plastic shell + I-bar helmet = maximum protector + added vision
- NOCSAE standard chest protector is allowed in all leagues and tournaments
- Vented fabric means less heat buildup and more comfort
- Leg guards with memory foam stay on and contours perfectly to the body
- Patented hinge technology keeps the protector and leg guards stationary
Top 6 Best Catchers Gear Reviews
- Helmet Size: 7 to 7 1/2
- Chest Protector Size: 16.5 inches
- Leg Guard Size: 16.5 inches
- NOCSAE Standard: Verified
- Flexibility and Comfort: Professional
- Recommended Age: 16+ (Senior League and Beyond)
- Helmet Size: N/A
- Chest Protector Size: 14 inches
- Leg Guard Size: 14 inches
- NOCSAE Standard: Not Verified
- Flexibility and Comfort: Beginner
- Recommended Age: 9-11 (Major and Intermediate Division)
- Helmet Size: 12-16 age: 7 to 7-3/4 / 9-12 age: 7 to 7-1/8 / 7-9 age: 6-1/4 to 7
- Chest Protector Size: 12-16 age: 15.5 inches/ 9-12 age: 14.5 inches/ 7-9 age: 13.5 inches
- Leg Guard Size: 12-16 age: 14.5 inches/ 9-12 age: 13.5 inches / 7-9 age: 11.5 inches
- NOCSAE Standard: Verified
- Flexibility and Comfort: Professional (For Youth and Intermediate Players)
- Recommended Age: 7-16 (Minor to Senior League)
- Helmet Size: 6-1/2 to 7-1/4
- Chest Protector Size: Two variations – 13 and 14 inches
- Leg Guard Size: Two variations – 14 and 16 inches
- NOCSAE Standard: Verified
- Flexibility and Comfort: Professional (For Youth and Intermediate Female Players)
- Recommended Age: 9-16 (Major to Senior League)
- Helmet Size: 6-3/8 to 7-1/8
- Chest Protector Size: 12 inches
- Leg Guard Size: 13 inches
- NOCSAE Standard: Verified
- Flexibility and Comfort: Professional (For Youth and Intermediate Female Players)
- Recommended Age: 7-9 (Minor and Major Division)
- Helmet Size: Youth (9-12) - 6 1/2 - 7 1/8 / Intermediate and Adult (13-15+) - 7-1/8 to 7-1/2
- Chest Protector Size: Two variations – 15 inches/ 16 inches/ 17 inches
- Leg Guard Size: Three variations – 14 inches/ 15.5 inches/ 16.5 inches
- NOCSAE Standard: Verified
- Flexibility and Comfort: Professional (For Youth and Adult Players)
- Recommended Age: 9-15+ (Minor to Senior League)
1. All-Star Adult System7 Axis Pro Catchers Gear
I’ve been a rock-solid backstop – I’ve trained people to become even better than me. So, trust me when I say – All-Star is the top dog in catcher’s gears. There are other excellent brands – Easton, Mizuno, Rawlings, Wilson, Boombah – none of them are really far behind. However, All-Star is a cut above the rest, and the All-Star Adult System7 Axis is a testament to their quality.
The All-Star System 7 – similar to all other catcher’s gear sets – consists of three items: helmet, chest protector, and leg guard. I’ll talk about each separately because it’ll be way easier to follow. This catcher’s gear is for adults. If you want a high-school version of System 7, you can take a look at the All-Star System7 Axis Intermediate.
MVP2500 Catcher’s Helmet:
Let’s take it from the top. The first gear in the System 7 set is the helmet. As you can tell from the looks – it’s hockey-style. This design is perfect for catchers because of the all-around protection you get from it. Besides, it’s made of ABS plastic. If you’re not aware of why the ABS shell is good, let me walk you through it. The shock absorption and tensile strength of ABS are on par with polycarbonate (another high-end plastic). So, even when you take a knuckleball to the face, or a wild bat comes your way, you’ll be safe from a severe injury. You’ll still be sore, though.
Plus, the I-bar gives you a clear vision of everything that’s happening around you. You know how important it is to keep tabs on all the actions going on in the diamond. So, clear vision of the incoming balls + fielders = you can catch easily + strategize comfortably. I wore the helmet for hours without any hassle – that is – as long as you are the right size of 7 to 7/12 inches. It can get a bit sweaty inside, but that’s just the way it is. The MVP 25000 has a nice and tight fit. And yes – you can wash the inner liner (after you remove it from the helmet) – so you don’t have to let the stink sink in.
CPCC40PRO Catcher’s Chest Protector:
Next comes the chest protector. The CPCC40PRO is a professional catcher’s chest protector – no doubt about that. And I’m just putting forth a wild claim – there’s a very good reason for it. For starters, this protector – the entire System 7 Axis set – is NOCSAE approved. You can’t get yourself in the catcher’s position if you don’t have a NOCSAE standard catcher’s gear nowadays. So, you’re all set here.
The chest panel is really sturdy and impact-resistant. Just to try it out – I’ve taken a couple of hits (intentionally, of course) from a fellow pitcher. The speed varied from 70-80-90. I took the hits directly to the chest panel while wearing the protector. I felt the 90MPH fastball – phew. However, it wasn’t anything I couldn’t shake off (and I’m old now). So, the chest panel holds up. In the shoulder area, you got these flexible plates. So, as you tighten the straps on the back of the protector to get a good fit, you can adjust the shoulders. It won’t remain straight or in any weird angle once you beat it down to a fixed position.
And baseball is a sweaty game (you should know that already). With so much gear on you, the heat can get even worse. But the breathable fabric of the CPCC40PRO does help to some extent. I’m not saying it’ll make you feel all breezy down there. However, the diamond-vented fabric does make this chest protector comfortable.
You should be able to fit in the protector easily – provided you’re an adult. If you measure it from clavicle to naval – the height is 16.5 inches. And yeah – the protector looks sick! The wedged abs add more flair to it. The abs are not just there for style, though. You actually get benefits from it. If a groundball is rolling up towards your face, the wedged abs push it back to the ground. So, the ball will be right in front of you – instead of hitting your helmet.
LG40WPRO Catcher’s Leg Guard:
The final equipment of the System 7 Axis catcher’s gear set is the LG40WPRO. Now, these are your leg guards, and they’ll have a big impact on your performance. Honestly, I think leg guards dictate your performance more than helmets and chest protectors. Why? Because it affects your movement the most.
Alright, so what have we got here. If I had to sum up the LG40WPRO in two words, I’d say – flexibility monster. It’s super flexible – and with a ton of adjustment options. There are so many things all happening at once in this leg guard that I can keep yapping about the features all day. But I’ll keep it short, sweet, and simple.
Listen – the plastic material used to create the LG40WPRO has memory. What does that mean? Well, if you bend it to a certain position around your calf, it’ll stay that way. If you have big calves, you can keep them wide open or vice versa. What’s important is that – it retains shape.
Plus, you’ll find two removable paddings on the back – knees, and shin. You can remove it, wash it, put it back again, good as new. Or you can change the position, maybe a bit to the top or left, just place it the way that’ll give you maximum comfort.
And the patented hinge technology + the heavy knee and shin straps make this leg guard a treat to move around with. The kneecap and the entire leg guard don’t move even when you slide. So, you don’t have to keep adjusting it after every slide or plate block. And yeah, similar to the chest protector, the fabric here is also breathable – less sweat and more game.
The three pieces of equipment mentioned here – the MVP2500 + CPCC40PRO + LG40WPRO – are the top dogs even when you look at them individually. So, if you try to buy them separately, you’ll end up spending somewhere close to $650. However, if you get the System7 Axis Pro Catcher’s Set, you’ll save around $50. And if you wear an entire set from the same model and brand, it’s way more comfortable than trying out three different items from three brands/models.
So, I have to call it here. The title for being the best catcher’s gear for adults goes to All-Star System7 Axis Pro Catcher’s Set. It’s expensive – yes. But it’s worth the money. You have to consider it as a long-term, performance-excelling – and to some extent – even a career-saving option.
- A pro-tier catcher's gear for professionals
- Excellent comfort due to vented breathable fabrics
- NOCSAE certified – not in violation of official league rules
- No hassle in movement – putting the gears on – and using them for hours
- Expensive if you compare it to other mid-tier sets
- The Velcro strap leg guards can be troublesome for players with thick calves
2. PHINIX Catcher Chest Protector and Leg Guards (Budget-Friendly Training Gear)
Before you buy this, and curse me and my ancestors + offspring – know this – the PHINIX Catcher’s Set is meant for training ONLY. I repeat – TRAINING ONLY. I’m well aware that I’ve mentioned it in the title here, but I just wanted to double-check. I don’t want you to go out there wearing this chest protector only to be sent back to the dugout because it doesn’t meet the league standards.
So, why can’t it be used for actual games? Why just training? Short Answer: The PHINIX chest protector doesn’t meet the NOCSAE standard. And there’s no helmet. You have to buy it separately.
Every league (starting from tee-ball all the way to the majors) has different rules. So, if the league you’re in right now didn’t mandate a NOCSAE chest protector, you can take it to a real game. But most leagues want you to have a NOCSAE protector – so that’s why it’s a training catcher’s gear set.
If it’s not NOCSAE passed – you’re probably wondering why I even bothered putting it in this list, right? And that too – on the second position. In all honesty, the PHINIX Catcher’s Set can’t hold a candle against the other high-end catcher’s gears. However, it’s really cheap (and I mean r-e-a-l-l-y).
So, in scenarios where you want to get some extra training hours in but you don’t want to ruin your $600 premium catcher’s set – what do you do? Do you train without a chest protector, helmet, and leg guards? No (you can train without gears but you risk injuring yourself). So, the best option is to use the budget gear. You can roughhouse with it all you want without putting any restraints on yourself!
That’s where the PHINIX catcher’s set comes into the mix. It’s cheap but effective. The 14-inch protector can fit ages 9-12. So, whether you or your kids are in the Major Division, Intermediate Division, or Early Junior League, you can still practice with it. But as far as I’ve seen it in action, I think 9U to 11U travel is the sweet spot for this catcher’s set.
The chest protector does have good foam padding. The padding isn’t removable like you had with the All-Star System 7. So, you can’t just go ahead and machine-wash it. Besides, the protector has decent padding, but it’s not ironclad. You’ll begin to feel the fastball hits after a couple of hours of straight training.
Still, I’ve seen 9U travel ballplayers use it for a full-day training session without any complaints. Let’s face it- the average pitching speed of 9U is 40MPH or less (barely touches 50 on occasion). So, the protector is good enough to handle that speed. However, the straps are somewhat clunky. While the design of the protector’s straps resembles the All-Star System 7 to some degree – it’s still far from it. Your kid will probably have to re-adjust the protector once in a while during the game/training session to make sure it stays where it’s intended.
The best part of the PHINIX Catcher’s set is the leg guards. So, I’ve seen many people who buy it look at this catcher’s set like this – all about the leg guards with a complementary chest protector. So, if you have a protector, but your guards aren’t in working order, you can try the PHINIX Catcher’s Gear out.
The double-knee guards can help your kids move with ease – it doesn’t come off – and it can take a ton of beating without giving up. So, the leg guards are the stars of the show in this catcher’s set. Overall, the PHINIX Catcher’s Chest Protector and Leg Guards combo is not too shabby. It’s not close to a pro catcher’s gear, and that’s completely okay. Why? Because it’s less than $100. And you won’t get a protector + leg guard combo at this price point.
- Most affordable yet decent catcher's set available (I haven't seen anything that's cheaper and still good)
- Double-knee leg guards make it easy to move
- Excellent starter catcher's gear for training purposes
- Chest protector can stand strong even during heated practice sessions
- The chest protector isn't professional-grade (not even close)
- No helmet – it's a two-piece catcher's set
3. Under Armour PTH Victory Series Catching Kit
I’ve already listed an A-tier adult catcher’s gear and youth training gear. The PHINIX catcher’s set is good, but it’s not suitable for professional leagues because of the NOCSAE. So, if you want a more serious youth catcher’s gear for your champ, the Under Armour PTH Victory Series Catching Kit should be right up your alley.
If you compare the price point of the Under Armour Victory with the PHINIX catcher’s set, you’ll see what’s going on here. A standard, league-regulation-abiding, comfortable catcher’s gear set doesn’t come with a price tag of below $200. And the PHINIX’s sub-$100 is far from the price of a professional catcher’s gear.
So, the UA (Under Armour) Victory Catcher’s Kit isn’t cost-effective per se, but it’s the lowest you can go if you want to get a complete catcher’s set that meets the NOCSAE standard. And good things – the UA Victory Catching Kit has 4 items – helmet, protector, shin guards, and throat guard! So, you don’t have to spend the extra buck on getting a separate throat guard. Anyways, let’s look at all the individual pieces.
Under Armour Victory Catcher’s Helmet:
I think the helmet is the homerun hitter of this catcher’s gear pack. The chest protector, leg, and throat guards are good, but the UA catcher’s helmet is top-notch. I’m not saying this because it’s SEI certified. It does play a part, though. For instance, the SEI certification is just the little push I (or any parent really) need to go above the threshold of skepticism. If you don’t know, the SEI runs safety tests to make sure the products under their banner are foolproof.
Plus, similar to the All-Star MVP2500, it’s hockey-style with I-bar for better vision. So, you won’t have any trouble spotting the sliders and curveballs coming your way. And all of it is made of ABS plastic. I’ve already sung praises about this material – so I won’t go into the details again. But I’ll tell you this – it has the muscle and body to take a ton of big hits. So, your kid will be safe under its protection. And the fabric is breathable. You’ll see a lot of vents on the top side of the helmet as well. The vents keep the air going in and out, making it easier for the catcher to focus on the game.
Alright – now, all these features pale in comparison to the next one – the AEGIS Microbe Shield. It’s a patented technology of MICROBAN used by Under Armour in this helmet. Okay – so, what’s in it for you? The Microbe Shield is second to none when it comes to decimating bacteria. And it takes care of bad smell as well. The positive charges of the microbes get the job done – but there’s a lot of science that goes into it. If you want more details, just look into AEGIS Microbe Shield.
Coming back to the UA Victory Helmet – it’s got everything you can ask for. I-bar steel for vision, ABS plastic for durability, breathable fabric for no sweating, and a shield against smells and bacteria. It’s one of the best catcher’s helmets out there. So, this helmet is the ace in the hole of the UA Catcher’s Kit.
Under Armour Victory Catcher’s Chest Protector:
The UA Victory Chest Protector is similar to the CPCC40PRO of All-Star System 7 Axis. The real difference is – more PE plates in the CPCC40PRO. But in the UA Victory’s defense, you’d have to dish out twice as much to get the CPCC40PRO.
It doesn’t have as many plates as the elite All-Star protector, but it has enough to hold its ground against fastballs, curveballs – you name it. And the plates will keep the rebounds to a minimum. The protector is NOCSAE certified – you can take it to any league game without hesitation.
The inner fabric is vented. So, the sweat won’t overwhelm you to the point that you can’t breathe anymore. The collapsible shoulder pad makes the chest protector stay in place. And the shoulder edges are bendable – so you adjust them according to your kid’s shape.
It’s a good chest protector – does what it’s supposed to – can take a beating – and will last for a couple of seasons if you don’t drag it through the field.
Under Armour Victory Catcher’s Leg Guards:
Similar to the PHINIX leg guards, the UA Victory guards also have double-knees. The double-knee design and the collapsible underpart make this leg guard really flexible. And that’s not all. The pads are removable like the ones you find in the LG40WPRO.
So, you can wash the padding after you remove it. Plus, if the padding placement seems uncomfortable, all you have to do is change the pad’s position. And the straps are different from conventional leg guards. You have both lateral and vertical straps that keep the leg guards together. So, you don’t have to keep adjusting the guards after every slide or tackle.
The UA Victory Catching kit has three variations – ages 7 to 9 (Minor and Major League) – ages 9 to 12 (Major and Intermediate Division) – ages 12 – 16 (Junior and Senior League). So, Under Armour has the complete range of catcher’s gears to keep your kids protected from Minor to Senior League.
If you want an alternative, you should look into the Rawlings Renegade Series NOCSAE Baseball Catcher’s Set. Rawlings is one of the top-tier catcher’s gear brands – so you won’t regret getting a catcher’s set from their arsenal as well. The Renegade Series Catcher’s Set and the UA Catcher’s Kit are almost similar in quality and performance. Both these catcher’s gears are suitable for young players, and they have a range of options.
And if you want a top-shelf, high-grade, high-performance catcher’s gear under the banner of Under Armour,
I’d suggest trying out the Under Armour UA Pro 4 NOCSAE Adult Baseball Catcher’s Package.4. It’s in the same league as the All-Star System 7 Axis Adult Catcher’s Gear. And that says a lot.
Overall, the UA Victory Series is one of the best youth catcher’s gears you can find within a reasonable budget. It’s not as cheap as PHINIX – yes, but the quality of the UA Victory’s protector, guards, and helmet is on a whole other league.
- Vented chest protector will keep you free from sweating
- Padded chest panel and leg guards will hold up against repeated impact
- ABS-shell helmet is strong, and you get a free throat guard
- Flexible catcher's gear makes it easy for you to move around
- You have to be careful about sizing this catcher's gear
- The Intermediate-Age gear is a bit expensive compared to the youth and adult gears
4. Mizuno Samurai Women’s Catcher’s Gear Box Set
All the catcher’s gears I’ve talked about until now are for young and adult males. I believe it’s time to show the ladies some love, eh? And as far as I’ve seen from the girls I’ve coached over the years – Mizuno is their favorite brand. I thought it’s just an insider preference that I – as a guy – don’t know about. But I think it’s the “gender-engineered” tech of Mizuno that really makes it female-favorite.
The Mizuno Samurai Women Catcher’s Set is second to none when it comes to flexibility, feel, and function. You get all the *big* three Fs with this set. And if you can get a Mizuno catcher’s mitt to go along with it – you’ll be all set for a game. Anyways, here’s a rundown of the three individual components.
Mizuno Samurai Helmet:
What hit me when I looked at this helmet the first time was the design. It’s not a gloss finish like the UA Victory or the All-Star System 7. Instead, the Mizuno Samurai has a clear, natural, muted – and in my words – elegant finish. I have nothing against gloss finish. But I have a preference for natural color tones.
The helmet has three-layer protection. You can see it from the outside – it’s pretty visible. And I don’t think I have to tell you what three-layer padding can do against wild bats and fastball recoils. However, the extra padding does have a slight drawback. It makes the Mizuno Samurai Helmet heavier than the MVP2500.
Plus, the construction isn’t I-bar. It looks more like an H. Although a lot of advertisements out there tell you that I-bar gives greater peripheral vision, I don’t think the H-bar takes anything away. I’ve tried both, and the difference isn’t really noticeable. But you should test it out yourself to see if the bar designs matter.
And the padding inside the chin is machine washable. You can remove it, put it inside the washing machine, and you’ll be ready for the next game. Besides, the helmet has a lot of ventilation. So, you won’t have any trouble wearing it for hours on end because of the airflow. It’s a nice helmet – on par with System 7 Axis’s MVP 2500, Easton Elite X, and UA Pro 4.
Mizuno Samurai Chest Protector:
All the features that you’ve come to love and expect from a high-end chest protector are here in the Mizuno Samurai as well. For starters, the air mesh fabric. It’s a bit different from the diamond vents of System 7, but the function is pretty much the same. The mesh inside the protector lets the air pass without restriction. So, you can play the long summer baseball games without any hiccups.
The Mizuno Samurai Chest Protector also has a lot of ab-shaped plates and a chest panel. The plates and the panel work in tandem to keep the ball as close to you as possible after it rebounds off of the protector.
I love that the shoulder pads and the wings are removable. And unlike the System 7 or Easton Elite X, the Mizuno Samurai has two shoulder removable shoulder pads. You can go with the new asymmetrical one-shoulder pad look or have both on – they’re adjustable, and you can move it around any way you want.
The wings on the bottom are the same as well. They’re removable (read adjustable). It’s all Velcro. I never had to bother with straps and laces when I was adjusting the shoulder pads and wings.
There’s one slight problem with the Mizuno Samurai – and that’s the size. The protector has a minimum size of 13 inches and a maximum size of 16 inches. Most ballplayers – even taller ones – will likely fit in a 16-inch protector. However, if your son/daughter is 6’2″, you need something around 16.5 like the System 7 Axis. Apart from that, the chest protector has everything you need.
And yes – it’s gender-engineered for female ballplayers. So, the chest panel won’t cause any issues. You should fit in pretty easily.
Mizuno Samurai Leg Guards:
I’ve talked about the double-knee design of PHINIX and UA Victory Leg Guards. The Mizuno – on the other hand – has a triple-knee cup design. And it’s not just some fancy increase in numbers. It does make a difference. The three knee cups do two things – add more flexibility and make the leg guards more durable. The knee cup that’s right under your actual knee around your upper shin is what makes the leg guard last longer.
Similar to all the other top-shelf leg guards I’ve mentioned here, the Mizuno Samurai also has removable padding. And yes – removable means adjustable in this context. You can take the pads off, wash them, put them back, or even change the placement if you feel like it. Finally, there’s a little toe guard at the bottom. Nothing fancy here. It’s just a thick plastic shell that’ll keep your toes from getting crushed.
I believe the Mizuno Samurai Women’s Catcher’s Gear Set has got what it takes to satisfy all intermediate, high school, and adult ballplayers. It’s perhaps the best catcher’s gear for women. And you can use it for both baseball and softball.
It’s expensive – I get that. But any catcher’s gear worth its salt is. So, think of the Mizuno Samurai as a long-term investment. This set has the potential to serve you for years to come. And you save $20-$25 if you get the entire set instead of buying the components separately. I think it’s a really good deal.
Plus, it’s gender-engineered for all the fastpitch gals out there. If you pair this Mizuno catcher’s gear set up with a good fastpitch catcher’s mitt, you’re ready for battle!
- Three-layer helmet with a stylish matte finish will keep your head protected while looking good
- Chest protector with air mesh will help in the long summer games
- Three-knee design leg guards provide superior flexibility compared to two-knee designs
- Silicone strips on the leg guards will keep it together with the shin despite erratic movements
- Some people can have sizing problems because of the limited options
- A few color options are way expensive
5. WILSON C200 Youth Catchers Gear Kit
Wilson only has a limited amount of catcher’s gears, and most of it is suitable for youth ballplayers only. So, I gave the Wilson C200 as a Christmas gift to my youngest son and decided to put it on the list because it kicks ass! And it’s the most reasonable deal you can get if you’re a budget hunter.
Alright – you might get me wrong for calling the Wilson C200 a kick-ass when I’ve already mentioned top-of-the-line youth catcher’s gears like System 7 Youth, UA Victory, and Rawlings Renegade. I hear you. And I understand what you’re thinking.
But the C200 is a moderate youth catcher’s set. It’s what you call a *true mid-tier* set. The price, performance, durability, everything is reasonable, but it’s still not in the A-league per se. So, that’s why I listed the C200 for my fellow budget hunters. So, what can you expect from this catcher’s gear?
Wilson C200 Helmet:
You’ll notice right off the bat that it has a glossy finish – not the matte finish of Mizuno Samurai. Now, I don’t like the extra gloss, but my kids love it. I guess with age, you lean towards simplicity. Chances are – your kids will love the shiny exterior of this helmet. And there’s the ABS plastic shell. I’ve already explained the science of this material in the All-Star System 7 Axis Adult review. So, if you’re with me till now, you know ABS is the real deal. The helmet can take a ton of hits and still survive for two seasons or more.
Also, you’ve got the SEI certification. Again, I’ve discussed the value of an SEI certification and how it’s important. Just know that – you can rest easy because an authorized team has field-tested the helmet and deemed it worthy.
The Wilson C2000 doesn’t have an I-bar – more of an H-bar similar to the Mizuno Samurai. But it’s okay. There’s no noticeable difference. And the helmet’s ventilated. I’m not really a fan of the ventilation panels’ design, though. The holes seem big and clunky – doesn’t give off a “professional” vibe.
Still, it’s got what it takes to handle all the beating your kid can dish out on it. The 6-3/8 to 7-/18 size is more than enough to accommodate different youth head sizes. In short – the helmet gets the job done.
Wilson C200 Chest Protector:
Similar to all the other chest protectors in this list (except the PHINIX protector), the C200 is also NOCSAE certified. So, no league regulation-related issues.
The C200 has double shoulder pads like the Mizuno Samurai. You can remove one and get the asymmetric look or keep both on. The groin protector in the bottom is also removable, although I advise against it. But if you have a dedicated groin protector, you can put this one aside.
Wilson C200’s strap system resembles the strap system of the All-Star S7 Axis. It looks like the letter ‘Y’ when assembled. And there’s a little plastic enclosure in the middle. The strap system isn’t something to write home about. While it does mimic the style of S7 Axis, it’s not in the same league. Once you take it for a run yourself, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
The C200 chest protector has enough padding to hold back the different speeds of youth pitchers. And the fabric is soft and resists heat build-up because of the vents. It’s no bigshot like the Mizuno Samurai or All-Star S7, but it does a good job – that too – at a decent price point.
Wilson C200 Leg Guards:
C200 Leg guards have a double-knee design. So, you won’t get the three-knee flexibility of the Mizuno Samurai Leg Guards. However, youngsters can make the most out of the double-knee design because the movements are slower than adults.
The exterior is ABS shell – and you know what ABS shell can do – I won’t elaborate any further. At the bottom of the leg guard, you’ll see two circular cushions. The cushions will keep your kid’s lower calves safe while maintaining the stability of the leg guards. Besides, it functions as an additional strap alongside the traditional lace straps.
There are no removable shin pads or knee pads in this leg guard pair. All the padding is glued to the set. So, you can’t machine wash the padding even if you want to. I know it’s not ideal, but it isn’t a major dealbreaker for me. You can still find ways to keep your catcher’s gear clean.
I think the Wilson C200 Youth Catcher’s Gear is a true bang for the buck. It’s under $250 – and the performance is at a Wilson-level (yes – I used Wilson as an adjective here). If you’re familiar with the Wilson A2000, A2k, or any other high-end gloves from this brand, you already know that Wilson = quality.
Yes – it does fall short when you compare it to the All-Star S7 Youth or Mizuno Samurai Youth. But you have to consider the price point as well. It’s considerably cheaper than the S7 and Samurai. So, if you’re looking for a good catcher’s gear with a reasonable budget, I think the Wilson C200 is a no-brainer.
And if you want to stay aboard the Wilson train but want something better, I’d suggest looking into the Wilson C1K NOCSAE Catcher’s Gear Kit. There’s no youth size, though. It’s intermediate and above. In short, the Wilson C1K is a better albeit more expensive version of the Wilson C200.
6. Easton Elite X Baseball Catchers gear
I wanted to cap this review off with the Wilson C200. However, not reviewing any catcher’s gear from Easton’s stellar lineup would be an injustice. While I can’t talk about all the three Easton gears I love in detail – EASTON ELITE X/ EASTON BLACK MAGIC 2.0 Youth/ EASTON JEN SCHRO, I’m still going to touch on all of them.
Before I go into the component-by-component breakdown, I should tell you that the Easton Elite X is quite expensive. It’s not in the UA Victory or Wilson C200’s price territory. It’s in the All-Star S7, Mizuno Samurai, UA Pro territory. I had to warn you beforehand because I don’t want you to end up disappointed after loving all the delicacies that Easton Elite X brings to the table.
EASTON ELITE X Baseball Catchers Helmet
I guess the only worthy competitor of the All-Star MVP 2500 is the EASTON ELITE X Baseball Helmet. While the Mizuno Samurai Helmet is also a contender, the weight of the Mizuno Samurai can be a problem for a lot of people. That’s why the EASTON ELITE X edges out the Mizuno and is on the same pedestal as the All-Star MVP2500.
Alright – enough background story. The EASTON ELITE X has a matte finish – not the flashy gloss look. And you know how I love the muted natural tone over the gloss. So, that’s one plus, but it can be a downside for you if you’re a gloss-look fan.
Like all the top-tier helmets, this one also has an ABS plastic shell. I won’t say any further because you should know what it means by now. All the fabric inside the helmet is air mesh, and the forehead padding has EASTON’s signature BioDri. Now, air mesh takes care of sweat by maintaining a steady airflow. The BioDri, on the other hand, prevents the fabric from getting wet – it keeps the forehead padding dry.
So, if you’re a coach looking for a general helmet that a number of ballplayers will use – the EASTON ELITE X helmet can be the proper solution. Let’s face it – nobody wants to touch a sweaty helmet with a ten-foot pole.
EASTON ELITE X Baseball Catchers Chest Protector
The EASTON ELITE X Chest Protector is also NOCSAE certified. And if you’ve been through this best catcher’s gear review, you’ll see that all the catcher’s gears on this list are NOCSAE compliant except the PHINIX Catcher’s Gear. But the PHINIX is still in the top two because you can get it for peanuts as training gear.
Back to the EASTON ELITE X Chest Protector – it’s got memory foam like the All-Star S7. You should already know what memory foam does. Once your protector contours to your body, the fabric will retain shape in and of itself.
There are silicon strips on the ab-plate area. The strips keep the rebounds to a minimum. So, there’s little to no chance of the batter getting a leg up by making a break for the second base.
Similar to the All-Star S7 Axis, this protector also has a four-point strap system. And all the high-end protectors (Mizuno Samurai, All-Star S7, UA PRO 4) have an enclosure in the middle. The ELITE X is a bit different, though. The straps and the enclosure are made with neoprene. Usually, you can find neoprene in professional swimwear because this material gives you the perfect balance of durability + flexibility.
The fabric on the back is breathable mesh. So, even the never-ending summer games won’t completely drain you of stamina. There’s only one shoulder pad on this chest protector, though. So, you’re somewhat stuck with a one-shoulder asymmetric look. Still, it’s one of the best catcher’s chest protectors you’ll come across.
EASTON ELITE X Baseball Catchers Leg Guards
While it doesn’t have the unique three-knee design of the Mizuno Samurai, the ELITE X Leg Guards can hold their ground against other big-boy guards. I could easily keep yapping about the features. But it’s all the same. What I mean is – the features you’ve heard about (repeated a few times even) in all the other high-end leg guard reviews are present in the ELITE X Leg Guards as well.
So, I’m going to keep this one pretty short. The exterior is an ABS shell. It’s sturdy – can take a ton of hits before it goes down. There are vents in the exterior to keep your legs from building up heat. The straps hold up even if you move fast, slide, or tackle the runner. The shin and knee pads are removable. So, yes – you can wash the padding or even change the placement to fit your playstyle. The double-knee design gives you all the flexibility you need.
There you have it. That’s the EASTON ELITE X Catcher’s Gear for you. It’s an incredible catcher’s gear. However, I’ve recently heard a few complaints about the Easton support team. So, make sure you get the right size, or you might have to wait a while to get it changed.
And if you get the EASTON ELITE X Catcher’s Gear together instead of buying all three pieces of equipment separately, you’ll save around $40. So, if you are a long-time fan of Easton and want to give your kids or yourself an edge on the field, get the ELITE X. It’s worth it. After all, it’s one of the best adult catcher’s gears out there.
- Breathable mesh + BioDri fabric in helmet = less heat + less sweat
- Memory foam on chest protector helps with contour and rebounds
- Chest protector's Neoprene strap enclosure helps with elasticity (means you get more flexibility)
- ABS shell + removable knee + shin pad – more adjustment options without compromising durability
- The overall sizing can be tricky – 15.5 inches for intermediate age is too big
- The older version of ELITE X has an angled wedge instead of a flat – make sure to get the newer version
What Should I Look for In the Best Catchers Gear?
A quality catcher’s gear can take a decent chunk out of your wallet – I get that. So, it’s natural to check everything humanly possible to make sure you get the most out of your investment. That’s why – I didn’t want to just highlight the best baseball catcher’s gears, but I also want to give the power to you. I’m going to share the insights I gathered during my catcher’s gear questing. If you read the upcoming section, it’ll give you a peek inside a professional’s head. And you’ll get to know what features to prioritize, what to ignore, what prices are reasonable, and much more.
NOCSAE Standard (A Must If You Want to Take the Gear to the Leagues)
Before you look at all the shiny features – extra padding, ABS shell, memory foam, air mesh – you need to make sure the gears you have meet NOCSAE standards. If they don’t, you can’t take it to a proper game. End of story. NOCSAE doesn’t test the equipment. They provide a standard while a third party evaluates it. And if a catcher’s gear has the NOCSAE tag, it means you’re good to go. Almost all the high-end catching equipment carries the NOCSAE tag.
Plus, the tag is there for a good reason. Catchers are in the most vulnerable position in the diamond. According to statistics, “the average injury rate was 2.75 injuries per 1000 AEs (range, 0.82-5.14)” information source. (AE = Athlete-Exposure).
So, the NOCSAE standards function as a safeguard. If the catcher’s gears are top-notch, the chances of injuries are minimal. And the better gear is at preventing injuries, the sturdier it usually is. So, the NOCSAE standard is a testament to a gear’s overall quality. Make sure to check if it’s there or not.
And if the NOCSAE tag isn’t there, the gear is probably not meant for the field. I mean – you can use it as secondary training equipment. And that’s it. I do recommend having a separate training gear set because it takes the strain off your primary gear. So, your main catcher’s gear will last longer and will perform better for a couple of seasons.
Size (Getting it Right the First Time Will Save You a Lot of Trouble)
I know – saying that *size* is important when trying to find the best catcher’s gear seems like a cliché. But there’s no way around it. Too many people have wasted countless hours going back and forth with the manufacturer/customer team just to get the size right. So, the target should be to get it right the first time.
I have a reference chart on top of this article. It should give you some pointers and give you a ballpark number. However, you should learn how to size a catcher’s gear properly because these numbers aren’t always reliable. Think of it this way – you might have a junior youth ballplayer who’s close to 6 feet. So, the average numbers can’t help you. The numbers are there to guide you – to show you what the possibilities are/can be. But you should always use your own measurements. It’s not difficult – trust me. Just measure the person you’re buying the catcher’s gear for – and sizing should pose no trouble at all.
Still, people are lazy. That’s why they try to avoid manual sizing. And that’s the reason I’ve kept this consideration in the top three, although I’m well aware that it’s really obvious (duh!).
ABS Shell for Catcher’s Helmets and Leg Guards
This next consideration is only applicable for catcher’s masks/helmets leg/shin guards. If you’ve read through the catcher’s gear reviews I have up here, you’ve already seen me praise the durability of the ABS plastic shell.
Now, whatever helmet/mask you choose for the game, the primary material used is plastic. Plastic is almost always a frowned-upon material in the sports community. However, in the case of catcher’s masks and leg guards, the story is a bit different. There’s no better alternative than plastic.
If you consider steel/aluminum, there’s a chance of the helmet/mask becoming way heavy, and your movement can become unnatural. So, you need something that gives you protection against wild bats and curveballs. The ABS plastic shell is the answer to your prayers.
And ABS has one of the highest tensile strengths of all the plastics – so you or your kid can hold the fort even when shit hits the fan. However, just having an ABS exterior doesn’t mean your helmet is immune. A crazy rebound can trash your helmet into pieces.
So, your job is to try and make sure to avoid as much contact with the bat and ball as possible. If it does hit 9 times out of 10, your helmet will hold strong. But that one time, it just might explode. That’s why make sure your helmet is in tip-top condition.
Memory Foam + Vented/Air Mesh Fabric for Chest Protector:
Chest protectors can have two different types of fabric/padding – the standard (usual with no extra features) and the memory fabric (better at retaining a certain shape). I’m not against standard padding. In fact, I think you can play an entire season and even ace it with a standard fabric chest protector.
But the memory foam does give you a slight edge. And you know, every ballplayer worth their salt can take it a mile if you give them an inch. So, if you’re really looking to up your game, any advantage – however slight it is – can pay big dividends.
What the memory fabric does is – hold a shape. If I am to elaborate, let’s say you wear the chest protector for an hour – and you’ve squeezed the fabric into contouring with your body. So, once you do that, the protector will *remember* your body shape. You don’t have to fix the rough edges when you take it off and wear it again. And as we know, as a catcher, you do have to change a lot. So, that’s a lot of stress and extra work off your plate.
And the vented fabric is really important. It’s not just some slight advantage. Having or not having vented/mesh fabric can make or break your game. Again, why and how?
As for the why – you don’t want the protector getting all sweaty and super-hot during a game. It can – and I’m most certain it will – have a detrimental effect on your performance. As I said earlier, catchers need to do everything they can in their power to make sure they’re comfortable.
So, if you’re not feeling okay in the entire chest protector area, you’ll lose focus. Your head won’t be in the game. And that’ll lead to costly mistakes – and eventually, defeat. So, you need a chest protector that has air mesh/vented fabric.
These types of fabric allow air to pass freely within the protector. So, the heat doesn’t build up as much. The vented chest protectors aren’t some Hogwarts hocus-pocus, though. It’s not like you won’t get any sweat/heat when playing as a catcher at 72 degrees. That’s pure BS. But it does help. It does reduce the heat – and in turn – helps with sweating.
Again, any help – any comfort you can add – for yourself or your youth catchers – you go for it!
Removable Padding for Helmet/Mask and Leg/Shin Guards:
Removable padding isn’t some game-changing deal – let me tell you this right off the bat. It’s not going to affect your performance to a degree where you give a crap. So, if you don’t want to bother about it, I get it – it’s completely okay. However, removable padding is something moms love and want to have in a catcher’s gear. And it does play a role in making your catcher’s gear last longer. How? The cleaner your gears are – the higher your chances of survival.
So, it’s really simple. If you can take off the protection pad, you can wash it and put it back in. So, your gear remains clean and free of the foul odors of MORDOR (yikes!). So, common catcher’s gears that you find in different baseball/softball academies should always have removable pads. Because you dealing with your own smell and sweat – fine. But you dealing with somebody else’s sweat and smell – not fine!
Besides, there is another advantage here. You can change the position of the padding according to your personal playstyle and comfort. Let’s say the shin padding placement is good, but you want it to be half-an-inch higher. If you have removable padding, you have the option of doing it!
So, it’s not a feature that you spend hours thinking about. Just know that – removable padding helps you keep your gears clean + gives you a bit more flexibility in positioning your padding as you see fit.
A lot of questions hover when it comes to catcher’s gear. And that’s totally understandable. A decent catcher’s gear set would cost you anywhere between $200-$500. Naturally, people would want to make sure they know everything they can before they put their faith in a particular set. So, I’ve answered all the questions I got from my trainees, parents, other coaches, and the internet. You would definitely be better off and stacked with knowledge once you go through this section.
What Equipment Does a Catcher Need?
Catchers have to carry a ton of gears – more than any other player in the field. So, I’ve divided all the necessary equipment into two categories A) Primary and B) Secondary.
Primary (Must haves):
- Catcher’s Mask/Helmet
- Chest Protector
- Leg/Shin Guards
- Catcher’s Mitt
- Throat Guard
- Jock Strap or Cup (sometimes included with the chest protector)
- Knee Saver
- Catcher’s Bag
You don’t need all these items to be fully functional in the field. Once you have the primary gears, you’ll be all set. However, having the secondary items will be of big help. For instance, if you have a catcher’s gear bag by your side, you can store all your catcher’s gear with ease. Sure, you can ignore the secondary gears but getting them is beneficial. Remember, an MLB catcher will have all the items mentioned above.
What Catchers Gear Do MLB Players Use?
All the popular brands you’ve come across/heard the name of (Rawlings, All-Star, Mizuno, Wilson, Easton, etc.) are used by one or more MLB players. However, depending on what catcher’s gear we’re talking about, things change. MLB players often don’t wear a whole set from the same brand. So, there’s no fixed MLB catcher’s gear I can point you towards. Let me share some statistics here.
- Catcher’s Mitts:
Dominated by Rawlings – closely followed by Wilson, Mizuno, All-Star
- Catcher’s Helmet/Mask:
Dominated by All-Star – closely followed by Nike, Mizuno, Force 3.
- Catcher’s Chest Protector:
Dominated by All-Star – closely followed by Rawlings, Nike, Mizuno, Easton.
- Catcher’s Leg/Shin Guards:
Dominated by Nike – closely followed by All-Star, Rawlings, Easton, Mizuno.
Where Can I Get Nike Catcher’s Gear?
If you look at the MLB games, you’ll see a lot of Nike symbols – on leg guards and chest protectors. However, if you look at popular places – whether it’s online or at a physical store – you’ll be hard put to find any Nike chest protectors/guards. Why is that?
Well, Nike doesn’t really mass produce these items. They only manufacture a small amount reserved for pros only. So, even if you want to, you’re not likely to get your hands on them until Nike decides to take a different direction.
As the matter stands – although Nike does dominate a lot of categories in the catcher’s gear department, you can’t get their merchandise. So, what do you do? Look for the next best alternative – All-Star, Mizuno, Rawlings, Wilson, Easton – and other top-tier brands.
What Age Is Intermediate Catchers Gear For?
Intermediate catcher’s gears are for ballplayers of ages 12-16.
Is All-Star Catching Gear Good?
Of course. All-Star is a fire in the catcher’s gear realm. Wherever you look – helmets, protectors, shin guards – you’ll see something from All-Star pop up. And it’s not just some form of aggressive marketing. All-star is popular because they know how to live up to customer expectations.
Take the System S7 Axis catcher’s gear set, for example. It’s a great set. If you want a helmet + protector + leg guard combo that’s close to a professional level, All-Star S7 Axis is your best bet. Besides, all the really good Under Armour gears also come from the All-Star team. So, when two of the best catcher’s equipment brands come from one place, you have to believe that whatever they’re doing is working.
Is Easton Catcher’s Gear Good?
Yes. Easton – similar to All-Star – another household name. The gears from their arsenal have a solid reputation. I’ve used the Easton Elite X myself. And I must say – I was impressed. There’s also the Easton PRO X. It’s more expensive. But it’s a pro-tier gear similar to the S7 Axis.
Do Any MLB Catchers Wear Knee Savers?
In short – both yes and no. Nearly 50% of catchers prefer wearing a knee saver while the other half think they don’t need it. And trust me – there have been tons of arguments around it. So, my quick and simple suggestion to you would be – don’t follow the herd just because you think it’s going in the right direction. Every player is unique and has their own style. Find out yours. Figure out whether you feel better with or without knee savers. It’s not that difficult.
Is Wilson Catcher’s Gear Good?
Yes. But Wilson catcher’s gears aren’t in the same league as All-Star, Mizuno, Nike, Rawlings, and Easton. While Wilson is dominant in the baseball/softball gloves realm, it’s not the top dog when it comes to catcher’s gears.
How Long Does Catcher’s Gear Last?
Most high-end catcher’s gear will last for two seasons or more. You can do a few things to make sure your gears last longer. I won’t go into the details here. But the simplest recommendation would be to purchase separate training gear.
What I mean is – have a primary catcher’s gear set only to be used for serious matches – leagues and stuff. And have a training gear set – cheap, meant for everyday use and abuse. The PHINIX Catcher’s Gear I have on this list is perfect for taking the everyday hit.
Which Catcher’s Mask Is Safer?
Similar to the knee saver issue, there’s a ton of debate around catcher’s masks as well. Some like the old-school traditional mask, while others lean towards the new-and-improved hockey-style design. So, there isn’t any one-size-fits-all solution here.
If you want to get a traditional catcher’s mask, the Force 3 Defender’s Mask should be right up your alley. And if you’re a hockey-style helmet fan (just like me), I think either the MVP2500 from the All-Star S7 set or the Mizuno Samurai Helmet should be the route you take.
What Do MLB Catchers Wear Under Their Glove?
Not all catchers do this – but some wear a batting glove or catcher-specific glove. You can find them online or even in physical stores as well. The glove does help reduce fastball impact. However, a lot of pros use the catcher’s mitt only without any extra glove underneath.
Do MLB Catchers Wear Thumb Guards?
Yes. Most MLB professionals wear a high-quality catcher’s thumb guard. If you do some homework on thumb guards, you’ll see that tons of ballplayers prefer using the EvoShield thumb guard. It does help in impact reduction.
What Are the Best Brands Of Catcher’s Gear?
A list of the top catcher’s gear brands according to my personal experience and research:
- Force 3
Why Become a Catcher?
I know – being a catcher is painful. And your entire baseball/softball career is at risk if you take a big hit. However, the position is rewarding. A catcher leads the team from the back of the diamond. All the players rely on the quick judgment and wisdom of the catcher. So, you have the potential to turn a game around either through A) strategizing, B) signaling the pitcher for unorthodox deliveries, and C) boosting morale when things seem bleak.
Honestly, it’s a high-risk, high-reward position.
When All is Said and Done
This article has become a giant that I didn’t expect it to be. Anyways, I’m not going to go into another sermon here. The point is – if you want to make it big as a catcher, carry your team to victory, and climb the MLB ladder, you need the best catcher’s gear. There’s just no alternative.
“But can’t I just get a decent set of gear and work my way around it?” Perhaps.
However, there’s a risk that the average catcher’s gear comes back to bite you in the ass. And when you’re in the Majors, the skill difference is minimal. Everyone is good – everyone knows the fundamentals – everyone knows how to play the game really well. So, even the slightest outplay can make a huge difference. If you’re not comfortable in your gear while the opposing catcher is, you run the risk of making small mistakes that’ll compound as the innings progress.
So, my honest-to-God advice for both young and adult catchers would be – do yourself a favor and get the best catching gear. It’s a considerable investment – yes. But it’s crucial and will pay for itself in the long run – trust me. With that said, I hope this fat-ass article was comprehensive enough to answer everything you wanted to know about catcher’s gear. Now, go out there, play hard, lead hard, fall hard, and win. Cheers!