Choosing a new baseball glove for a fresh new season often comes with many predicaments. Take me, for instance – I am not exactly known for how much I take care of my gloves. Usually, at the end of a game, I just give them a wipe and throw them in the locker until the next game or practice. So naturally, my gloves wear out sooner than most.
So last year, I wanted to get a set of gloves that would survive my abuse for at least the next few seasons. My choice came down to either a Kip leather glove or a Steerhide glove. Both were good choices, but the question remained – which one is more deserving of my money?
Well, I decided to go with Kip leather in the end. But while I was doing my research, I had to dive deep into what each leather type offered. So, if you are struggling with the same dilemma, let me lend you a helping hand.
Kip vs Steerhide Baseball Glove Overview
|Weight||Lightweight||Heaviest leather type|
|Break-in time||Low to Medium||High|
|Used By||College, Professionals||High-school, college, Professionals|
Both Kip and Steerhide leather are considered premium materials for making baseball or softball gloves. So, if your glove is made of either material, you probably spent a lot to get it.
Now if you ask me, I will choose Kip over Steerhide any day of the year. But then again, Kip leather baseball gloves are not as easily available nor as affordable as Steerhide gloves. The chart above should already give you a basic idea of the key differences between Kip and Steerhide. So, let’s take things further and allow me to give you a thorough rundown of the two materials.
What is Kip Leather for Baseball Gloves
Kip leather is all the rage these days, both among the manufacturers and the players. As opposed to Cowhide or Steerhide leather, where the manufacturers use adult animals, Kip leather is made using young cows aged anywhere between six months to a year.
Since the animal is so young, the resulting leather is lighter, softer, and thinner compared to Cowhide or Steerhide. You might already know how Steerhide leather is considered the premium version of leather used in gloves. Well, as it turns out, sometimes, Kip leather gloves feel a lot smoother than even Steerhide gloves.
Because of the softness of this type of leather, the gloves made using it requires very minimal break-in. In fact, if you just bought a high-end Kip leather baseball glove, you might be able to start playing with it right away without any break-in at all. Of course, this is not always the case, so go with what feels right to you.
The best part about Kip leather is that though it is considered a softer and more luxurious version of Cowhide leather, it is not as expensive. Yes, it’s not cheap either, but compared to some of the other premium Steerhide baseball gloves, these are actually quite affordable.
Japanese Kip Leather
If you want the true experience of Kip leather gloves, try looking for gloves made using Japanese Kip leather instead of American Kip. Those are a lot pricier, sure, but they are the preferred choice for most professional players.
Typically, if you want Japanese Kip leather gloves, you would have to place a custom order. Japanese Kip leather gloves are quite rare, and manufacturers only produce a limited quantity because of their price.
These days, more and more manufacturers are switching to Kip leather for making their gloves because of its good performance and excellent durability. It is a lot better compared to Cowhide and also manages to exceed the durability of Steerhide to some extent.
What is Steerhide for Baseball Gloves
Steerhide is another premium quality leather used in manufacturing baseball and softball gloves. While Kid is made from young calves, Steerhide is made using male cow’s hide aged over two years. It has a consistent grain, and its weight is also even throughout the hide.
Typically, Steerhide leather has a subtle glossy finish. It is a result of the resins and natural oils that are used in the tanning process. If you know your gloves, you should already know that many MLB professionals lean towards Steerhide leather as the material of choice for their gloves.
The main advantage of Steerhide leather is that it is stronger and a lot more compared to Cowhide. If you bought a Steerhide leather glove, you could expect it to stay with you a couple of seasons easily if you treat it well.
However, there are a couple of major drawbacks to this leather type. First of all, Steerhide is extremely heavy. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call it the heaviest leather of them all.
And on top of that, breaking in a new Steerhide baseball glove can take a long time. So you would have to wait a while before your fresh Steerhide glove is game-ready. Of course, there are ways you can cut down the break-in time. For instance, you can use a mallet to speed up the process.
Steerhide gloves also look pretty nice because of the natural grainy, glossy finish of the leather. While the leather is pretty stiff, it is still a popular choice among the pros because of how reliable it is.
Is Kip Leather Good for Baseball Gloves?
Yes, Kip leather is a fantastic choice for top-tier baseball gloves. But since it is expensive and relatively difficult to find, most people usually rather go with Steerhide gloves. Of course, if you manage to place a custom order for a Kip leather glove, then that might be the best investment in your baseball career.
Is Kip Leather Better than Steerhide?
Truth be told, Kip leather is considered by many to be the better choice. Since Kip takes very little time and effort to break in, you can start playing with it the moment you buy it. And because of its lighter weight, it is also a lot more comfortable compared to Steerhide.
What is the Best Leather for Baseball Gloves?
The common consensus is that Kip leather is the superior choice, but don’t count out Steerhide leather before you try it out. If you ask me, both materials are excellent choices and well-deserving of the price they ask.
While Kip is great and all, it is pretty expensive, especially if you are going with the Japanese Kip. And because of how rare it is, sometimes, going with Steerhide saves you a lot of hassle.
The only issue I ever had with Steerhide gloves was their long break-in time. But some people do not have a problem with that. The weight of these gloves may seem a bit too much at first, but if you give it time, you will get used to it pretty soon. Most of the Pros in the MLB use Steerhide gloves, after all, and that should be a clear indication of how good these gloves are.
Hopefully, my in-depth look into the differences between Kip and Steerhide baseball gloves could help you figure out where you want to invest your money. Cheers!