Best Catchers Gear

Best Catchers Gear for 2023: Our 11 Suggestions

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The turn of a new year means something to a lot of people, and for an unknown number of baseball players and parents, the coming of the new year means … new baseball equipment! Considering this, we decided to invest some energy to present solid gear suggestions for the position that needs the most stuff: the catcher.

For our look into the best catchers gear for 2023 and years immediately following, we took time to investigate the most-desired features, and present a solid list of new equipment items for catchers that will last as well as supplement play and protect the body.

Among all the major team sports, the catcher in baseball is among the short list of positions that require a good number of items for protection during play: a catcher’s mitt , leg guards, chest protector, mask alone, mask and helmet combo, etc.

Believe it or not, there is much more, some of which we include toward the bottom of our list of  suggestions.

Altogether, these items are known in baseball vernacular as the tools of ignorance. It is quite ironic that a player who must be intelligent to play the position well would irresponsibly choose the spot on the field requiring the most safety gear.

You would expect the really smart guys and gals to play it safe on the field ~ but that’s not how it works. So, to help, here’s a list of solid catcher’s gear sets, or items for backstops that are expected to sell well starting in 2023.

Summary

CATCHER’S GEAR SETS

CATCHERS’ HELMETS/MASKS

CATCHER’S SAFETY ACCESSORIES

The Need for Catcher’s Gear

For the uninitiated, a very young player who is set at catcher for the first time will probably be provided with the gear by the league, usually in a team bag with a variety of items like old used bats and balls. This is like the “starter bag” for young youth baseball teams.

This bag inevitably will include a chest protector, leg guards, and a mask (and, if you’re lucky, a catcher’s helmet).

In the old days that would suffice, pretty much all the way up to the high school level of play. However, since around the 1980s, manufacturers began really pushing specialized baseball equipment, from gloves with dimples specially for outfielders, to cleats mainly for pitchers, to … full sets of brand-matching catcher’s gear items.

Players who want to keep catching will inevitably need their own catcher’s gear. Why? Comfort and durability come to mind.

But perhaps more importantly, whoever plays this position will sweat a lot and have a lot of dust sticking to the parts. It is not recommended to share catcher’s equipment items too much between players at older ages. There’s a grody factor.

An experienced catcher will develop an almost friendly relationship with his mitt, and all the protective parts. (For the record, we’re skipping catcher’s mitts in this review; they are so very important for catchers that we consider them separately).

He or she likes how the mask fits snuggly yet without points that pinch or bind; and also trusts the bars of the mask to protect the face. The chest protector is like a security blanket between the sensitive abdominal skin and fast-approaching hard balls. Leg guards over the shins and knees feel almost like military gear.

With all that plastic, steel, and textile covering the front side of the body, the catcher then at least feels almost comfortable enough to start taking the beating that is being a backstop in baseball.

Why Catchers Gear is Designed that Way

Why Catchers Gear is Designed that Way

While today’s modern catcher’s equipment might look kind of high-tech or even space-age, in reality the pieces have been around for about a century at least: face mask, chest protector, leg guards for the knees, shins and tops of feet. (The mitt has been around as long as regular fielding gloves, with even more changes and advancements over the years).

In very early baseball, like before the last quarter of the 1800s, baseball catchers used NO gear, not even gloves! Then again, the pitchers threw underhanded, and the catchers stood well back behind the plate which gave them a little more time to avoid foul-tips.

Still, catchers in the early days took plenty of beatings, with baseballs caroming off body parts and the like. Luckily the pitch velocities were nowhere near what they are today.

Then Major League Baseball made a rule change that, well, changed everything. The league began to allow overhand pitching. Because of this, the velocity of pitched balls increased significantly ~ along with it the potential for injuries to the batter, catcher, and even umpire.

At the same time, the style of the game with a lot of bunting made catchers move forward toward the pitcher, right up to home plate like today. That made taking foul-tips even worse.

It didn’t take long for catchers to think, “Enough is enough!” The pain and injuries could no longer be ignored. So a few catchers began using small gloves (to the ridicule of other catchers, the ones with really sore hands).

Years after catcher’s gloves became commonplace, padding to protect the chest and abdomen surfaced, followed by new gizmos to guard shins and knees.

Once these safety items were introduced, it didn’t take very long for them to be accepted by almost all the other backstops. Managers almost demanded it, as there are only so many players on a roster who can catch, and they often get knocked from games due to shots to joints, the groin, or any exposed bone.

The list of injuries catchers sustain in play is long: cracked ribs or small wrist bones, broken fingers or toes, deep bruises making it impossible to move joints, and concussions are just some. All the way up to the potential to bruise the heart, if protection is not there.

Anyone who has watched even a few minutes of baseball understands fully the need for catchers to wear masks in games.

Later years brought the protective cup to protect a catcher’s private parts; and other safety devices like the hanging neck guard. Accessories for comfort or to prevent injuries, like the back-of-the-knee pads to preserve knee joints, were invented.

Catchers at all levels discovered or created different things to protect body parts, including wrist bands, tape on the fingers and wrists, forearm guards, and hard plastic coverings for the feet and toes.

We start here with full catchers gear sets you can find, but also will include individual items that can be considered in the debate for the best catchers gear for 2023. We made sure to include suggestions specific to youth catcher’s gear, as well as for buying stand-alone items like a mask.

Best Catchers’ Gear for 2023 ~ Our Suggestions

BEST FULL CATCHER’S GEAR SETS

We’ll start with 5 solid recommendations for full sets of catchers’ gear, considering different factors including protection, weight, and price ranges.

1. Best Catcher’s Gear for 2023 Overall ~ All-Star System7 Axis NOCSAE Baseball Catchers Set

Analysis

The young catcher firmly decided to play the position, and so far has played it pretty darn well. That’s when parents (or even high school or college catchers) can go with the All-Star System7 Axis NOCSAE Baseball Catchers Set. We feel that, overall for all the pieces in a single purchase, this is the best recommendation we could offer.

User reviews of this model are almost off-the-charts positive, with the average rating among the highest we have ever seen for a luxury-priced item. Catchers who use this gear are almost universally very happy with the product. There is a lot to like here, from the selection among 20 2-tone color schemes, to MLB catcher endorsements, and more.

Note: As with almost all full sets for catcher’s gear, this System7 Axis model comes in a variety of sizes. This review is about the version for adults. Also note that “Senior League” in youth baseball parlance means older kids, or the ages right before high school play.

Specifications

  • Items: Mask/helmet, chest protector, leg guards
  • Weight(s): 9 lbs.
  • Materials: Various, including I-bar steel mask
  • Special Feature: PE plates in the chest protector to further protect vulnerable body areas

What We Like

  • Very lightweight, and designed to allow for maximum mobility
  • Plenty of breathable mesh and other features to let air flow through and keep the player cool
  • Top-of-the-line helmet and steel mask

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2. Best Youth Catcher’s Gear for 2023 ~ Under Armour PTH Victory Series Catching Kit

Analysis

The best all-in-one catcher’s gear set on our list especially for youth play is the Under Armour PTH Victory Series Catching Kit. It’s a complete catcher’s equipment set, by a trusted manufacturer, at a decent price. And with Under Armour, the player is certain to get the best comfort possible.

The individual pieces meet baseball equipment standards, and this set comes with warranty ~ and on top of it all, a throat guard to hang off the bottom of the mask! Which is the biggest piece here, a hockey-style mask attached to a helmet, that just looks awesome. (Parents will learn that seemingly half the battle is for your little players to look cool to friends, foes, and even girls).

It’s important to note that Under Armour equipment items for catchers are easily seen on Major League Baseball players, which serves as a pretty solid endorsement. This package has been around a while, and user reviews and comments continue to remain very good. Those familiar with other UA sports gear and the company’s attention to comfort will notice some attractive features here.

Specifications

  • Items: Mask/helmet, chest protector, leg guards, throat guard
  • Weight(s): 7 lbs.
  • Primary Materials: Nylon, plastic, foam
  • Special: Distinguishable padding in leg guards for added comfort

What We Like

  • Decent pricing for the quality
  • Added design details to boost comfort
  • 1-year warranty

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3. Best Catcher’s Gear for 2023 Overall Runner-Up ~ Wilson C200 Youth Catcher’s Gear Kit

Analysis

For those who want to take no chances with a full catchers’ gear set, we suggest the Wilson C200 Youth Catcher’s Gear Kit, for many reasons including the brand’s long history of delivering quality baseball equipment.

Wilson makes the most popular baseball glove on the planet, the A2000, so the naming of its catcher’s gear kit comes as no surprise. You’ll see the bit white “W” on the foreheads and center of chest protectors all the time with MLB players. It’s a solid brand, including meeting the needs of catchers.

The details: The helmet has a premium-grade ABS shell, and includes a chin pad that wicks away moisture which is cool. The leg guards are very light in weight, also strong with the ABS plastic (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene thermoplastic polymer, to be precise). And a chest protector designed to knock pitches downward in proper catching form.

Specifications

  • Items: Mask/helmet, chest protector, leg guards
  • Weight(s): 7.7 lbs.
  • Primary Materials: Nylon, hard plastic
  • Special: ABS super-hard plastic in helmet and leg guards

What We Like

  • A brand you can trust greatly for baseball equipment
  • Design elements engaged specific to catcher play
  • 1-year limited warranty

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4. Best Catcher’s Gear on a Budget for 2023 ~ Jadekylin Youth Baseball & Softball Catcher Gear

Analysis

Parents of young catchers often get concerned with the cost of all the gear. A tip: just beyond tee-ball, the “team” mask could suffice up top, so you might make your little player with his or her own protectors for the chest and legs. For those parents we suggest taking a close look at the Jadekylin Youth Baseball & Softball Catcher Gear.

This set is just the couple of pieces we mentioned above: a chest protector, and leg guards (often called shin guards, but in reality they protect much more than that). At a very reasonable price, parents can get their little player(s) their very own pieces of safety gear, which have attracted above-average reviews from users so far.

Despite the low price, these items come with plenty of feature details to make a player comfortable and safe, like closure attachment style clips for fast on and off while avoiding pinching; hot press molding and high-density foam in the chest protector; and optional (removable) shoulder pads and tail.

Specifications

  • Items: Chest protector, leg guards
  • Weight(s): 2.7 lbs.
  • Materials: Various including hard plastic and foam
  • Special Feature: Detachable shoulder pads and tail for optional, additional protection (which most young players will take advantage of)

What We Like

  • Gives very young catchers a sense of belonging, or individuality for a position jammed with the same ol’ filthy used catchers gear
  • Good for baseball or softball
  • Nicely priced

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5. Best Catcher’s Gear for 2023 for Light Weight ~ Easton Gametime Baseball Catcher’s Equipment Box Set

Analysis

Easton has been making excellent equipment for baseball and softball for years, and its full set for backstops, the Easton Gametime Baseball Catcher’s Equipment Box Set, is commendable for numerous reasons. We’re going to focus on its very light weight.

Playing the position of catcher in baseball is very physically demanding. A catcher can squat 120 to 140 times per game, and throw the baseball 150 times or more. More than any other player on the diamond, the catcher benefits from gear items that cut even a few ounces off the weight.

Catchers need light-weighted gear to protect their stamina. The trick for manufacturers is to make the items light without sacrificing the protection or durability. We feel Easton really figured out the formula with the Gametime box set.

Specifications

  • Items: Chest protector, leg guards, mask/helmet
  • Weight(s): 2.2 lbs.
  • Materials: Blend
  • Special Feature: Triple knee design on the leg guards for protection of the knees in any situation

What We Like

  • Nice appearance, with a slick and streamlined helmet
  • Multi-layer foams in chest protector
  • Built for “elite” level of play, and we believe it!

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BEST CATCHERS’ HELMETS/MASKS

A lot of young catchers aren’t afraid to just go with the team-provided leg guards and chest protector ~ but really want their own helmet and mask. Here are a couple we really recommend.

6. Best Catcher’s Gear for 2023, Top Helmet/Mask ~ Mizuno G4 Youth Samurai Catcher’s Helmet

Analysis

The Easton G4 Youth Samurai Catcher’s Helmet just looks cool. For any young player who wants to somehow stand out from all the other backstops in the league, without breaking their parents’ bank, we really recommend this superb model.

And it’s not just the sleek, futuristic appearance. It’s Mizuno, after all, so you can count on durability and a major focus on safety. We like how the hockey goalie-style mask has edges at the bottom side that are curved ~ because Mizuno knows human bodies are not all straight.

Notice how many bars make up that mask ~ a sure sign of protection. This model is engineered specifically for performance in baseball, with design input from top-level players.

Specifications

  • Items: Mask/helmet
  • Weight(s): 3 lbs.
  • Materials: Hard plastic and metal mask
  • Special Feature: Design elements created with feedback from top baseball players

What We Like

  • Stylish in look
  • Snug fit
  • Plenty of elongated vents up top for ventilation

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7. Best Catcher’s Gear for 2023, Top Helmet/Mask Runner-Up ~ All-Star MVP2310 Hockey Style Mask

Analysis

Want to look like a Major League Baseball catcher as much as possible? Then try the All-Star Baseball Player’s Series Catching Helmet. Not only is it cool-looking in its hockey goalie style, it’s what most big league catchers trust on their heads.

Take a close look at the build of this item, especially the hookups of the mask to the helmet. We also appreciate the helmet’s design with decent ventilation cuts up top. It’s very light for how well it is built, and the price seems just right for the quality and trust of this brand.

Specifications

  • Items: Mask/helmet
  • Weight(s): 2.45 lbs.
  • Materials: Hard plastic and metal mask
  • Special Feature: I-Bar Vision mask design

What We Like

  • Endorsed by lots of Major League Baseball players
  • Mask designed with enhancing eyesight in mind
  • Lots of ventilation cuts

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BEST CATCHERS’ SAFETY ACCESSORIES

As catchers grow and progress, they will learn which of their body parts needs extra protection. They will also discover what the chicks dig, and for that reason we offer a few extra points for style.

8. Best Catcher’s Gear Accessory for 2023 ~ Champion Sports Catcher’s Knee Support

Analysis

We mentioned this above, but in modern times, most catchers use these foam-filled wedges of equipment generally called knee savers. Among all the various models, designs, and styles, we suggest the Champion Sports Catcher’s Knee Support.

It may be hard to distinguish among all the different types of these comfort wedges, but we prefer the Champion model for how well it’s constructed and for the company’s history of delivering durable products.

Specifications

  • Items: Knee Support
  • Weight(s): Light
  • Materials: Vinyl and foam
  • Special Feature: Very easy ring/loop system for connecting to the leg guards

What We Like

  • Super light
  • Trust of the brand
  • Excellent connection system

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9. Best Catcher’s Gear Accessory for 2023, Runner-Up ~ Mizuno Catcher’s Helmet Throat Guard

Analysis

Okay, maybe the chicks won’t quite notice that thing dangling down from the mask. But we think that the Mizuno Catcher’s Helmet Throat Guard looks as cool as possible as a dangling piece of plastic.

Note the modern-style of the plastic look, plus the holes for excellent ventilation. But overall, since this involved protecting the throat and Adam’s Apple, we like that it’s made by Mizuno so we get peace of mind that the protection is there.

Specifications

  • Item: Catcher’s helmet throat guard
  • Weight(s): Light
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Special Feature: Much-ventilated protection piece (it’s unusual compared with the normal solid piece)

What We Like

  • Cool look
  • Sturdy design by known manufacturer

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10. Best Catcher’s Gear Accessory for 2023 for Transport ~ Rawlings Wheeled Catcher’s Backpack

Analysis

How could we forget the biggest challenge for players and parents alike, when the kid plays catcher? Why, getting all that gear to and from games and practices! Plus, storing it all. For all that, plus wheels for rolling, we suggest the Rawlings Wheeled Catcher’s Backpack.

Just look at this thing, and any catcher would love it! It has separate compartments for the mitt and chest protector, and the leg guards can be hauled while attached on the outside. Use a telescoping handle to pull out, and pull it along easily on its wheels.

The price is right, too. There are a lot of catcher’s gear bags out there, some double the price of this one, and this is a backpack style which is more popular now. Forget about lugging big bags by a strap over the shoulder. Get this thing and don’t worry about keeping all that gear together.

Specifications

  • Item: Catcher’s backpack gear bag
  • Weight(s): 6 lbs.
  • Materials: Textile
  • Special Feature: Also holds up to 4 bats!

What We Like

  • Backpack-style bag just for catchers
  • Holds all equipment for catching, plus still space for other baseball needs like bats
  • Top-line baseball equipment manufacturer

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11. Best Catcher’s Gear Accessory for 2023 for Thumbs ~ EvoShield MLB Catcher’s Thumb Guard

Analysis

After years behind the plate, catchers may run out of regular accessories to collect, and at that point they look for that single item that will address the area that seems to take the most pounding. That would be the thumb on the glove hand, and for that take a look at the EvoShield MLB Catcher’s Thumb Guard.

As the model name suggests, this is big leagues-quality protection of the digit where most catcher injuries persist. For catchers, the thumb is alone at the bottom of the mitt, where misjudgements in catching a ball, or errant foul tips, can strike the joint awkwardly and cause a lot of problems.

Catchers who hurt their thumbs suffer in their game overall, as it’s nearly impossible to hit, too. So why chance it? Let EvoShield do the protecting, and gain even more confidence behind the dish.

Specifications

  • Item: Guard for thumb on glove hand to wear underneath mitt
  • Weight(s): Light
  • Materials: Various
  • Special Feature: Gel to shell technology

What We Like

  • MLB-backed
  • Manufacturer that exists for making things that shield and protect players
  • Top-line baseball equipment manufacturer

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