Best Youth Catchers Gears

6 Best Youth Catchers Gear Options for 2022

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The late winter-early spring period is a wonderful time for parents for a number of reasons, among them … youth baseball gets started! And for the more “seasoned” parents ~ that is, moms and dads who already survived at least a full youth baseball season ~ it’s a time to review their kids’ gear.

Today we’re talking about the single position in all of the major sports that commands a lot of equipment: catcher. We decided to take a deep look into the tools of ignorance, and forward to you the best youth catchers gear for 2022 and beyond.

Note that this is a review of catcher’s gear sets ~ of at least a mask, chest protector, and leg guards. The products outlined below come as sets, offered by various manufacturers, and many offer different features for little players to choose from. (Reviews of individual pieces of these sets are planned for a future review article).

Summary of the Best Catchers Gear for 2022

Who Needs Catcher’s Gear?

In all honesty, brand new players probably don’t have to worry about catcher’s gear. Most youth baseball leagues provide the younger-aged divisions with a “team” set of a catcher’s mask, chest protector, and shin guards. Some even might toss in a protective cup into the coach’s gear bag.

Of course, anyone who plays the position of catcher in baseball needs catcher’s gear. It is not possible to play the position without significant protection. Catchers in the developmental years of baseball, in the second half of the 1800s, played without all the equipment. They did not play in the same location as today’s catchers ~ and throws did not travel as fast as today.

At the beginning of Major League Baseball, pitchers threw underhanded; and the catcher stood (actually kind of bent forward a little, but not squatting) several feet behind home plate. Basically, early catchers were not as prone to taking baseballs off their body parts, because they were back far enough to react to the pitch.

The Jefferson R. Burdick Collection, Gift of Jefferson R. Burdick by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Then the MLB allowed overhand pitching, and hurlers began to really huck the baseball, and catchers were forced to move up closer to the plate ~ as players learned the strategic value of bunting and base stealing.

From that point on, catchers’ gear was developed in response to a consistent problem. Shots to the face, groin, or any bone could knock a catcher from a game immediately ~ and just like today, new catchers are not always easy to find.

Hard foul-tips to the chest caused cracked ribs, or even heart-injury concerns, hence the chest protector. And it doesn’t take much imagination to understand why someone started wearing a mask over their face.

In later years the protective cup was invented to protect a player’s private parts, and many years after that other protection devices were introduced including the neck guard, and behind-the-knee pads to help “save” the knee joints. Individual catchers found or devised all kinds of things to protect body parts including the fingers, wrists, forearms, upper shoulders, and feet (notably, the toes).

(See the end of this article for tips on what to look for when purchasing catchers’ gear for young baseball players).

Best Catchers’ Gear for 2022 ~ Our Recommendations

1. Best Catcher’s Gear for Baseball Overall ~ Under Armour PTH Victory Series Catching Kit

Analysis

Topping our list is the Under Armour PTH Victory Series Catching Kit, with everything you’d expect in a full catcher’s equipment set, at a reasonable price. The pieces all meet sports equipment standards, and the set comes with a throat guard and warranty. The hockey-style catcher’s mask is eye-catching cool, and comfort is all but guaranteed from this manufacturer. That Under Armour catcher’s gear is seen on many Major League Baseball catchers says much, and the model’s user reviews are very solid.

Specifications

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

What We Like

  • Reasonable pricing
  • 1-year warranty
  • Design elements for comfort

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2. Best Up-and-Coming Catcher’s Gear Manufacturer for 2022 ~ All-Star System7 Axis Baseball Catchers Set

Analysis

Not far off the top spot is the System7 Axis Baseball Catchers Set from All-Star, a rising star in production of catcher-safety gear. Among all the catchers sets we reviewed, this model had the most positive reviews by users ~ so word is spreading. Aside from the comfort and safety features, check out the huge selection in color schemes! Note: All Star offers System 7 sets for young adults as well as intermediate ages (e.g. 12-15), and for this list they are identical in value. Make sure to check models for recommended ages.

Specifications

  • Items: Hockey-style catcher’s helmet, chest protector, leg guards, throat guard
  • Weight(s): 8 lbs.
  • Primary Materials: Nylon, foam
  • Special: I-bar visitation steel cage mask style; removable groin protector

What We Like

  • 13 color schemes
  • Motocross-inspired LINQ pivoting hinge on leg guards
  • 1-year warranty

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3. Best Catcher’s Gear for Durability for 2022 ~ Wilson C1K Catcher’s Gear Kit

Analysis

Another catchers gear set with superb user ratings is the Wilson C1K Catcher’s Gear Kit. This manufacturer produces a lot of equipment for youth baseball, so having a solid offering here is no surprise whatsoever. As with the Under Armour model above, you’ll see plenty of Wilson-logo’d gear on MLB catchers, which youngsters will appreciate. That this was modeled after the Wilson Pro Stock Catcher’s Gear tells us this model is plenty sturdy, yet with a cool pro-style feel.

Specifications

  • Items: Helmet/mask, chest protector, leg guards
  • Weight(s): 8 lbs.
  • Primary Materials: ABS plastic
  • Special: Removable items, like leg guard inner knee pads for washing, or shoulder caps to boost mobility

What We Like

  • Excellent brand history for baseball protective gear
  • Removable and washable parts
  • 1-year limited warranty

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4. Best Catcher’s Gear for Style for 2022 ~ Easton ELITE X Baseball Catcher’s Equipment Box Set

Analysis

The manufacturer is known more for its softball gear lineup, but the Easton ELITE X Baseball Catcher’s Equipment Box Set fares quite well in our comparison process. Easton carries a good reputation for delivering equipment that looks good on diamonds, and this set is no exception with the matte finish on the futuristic hockey-style helmet, or the space-age design on the chest protector’s front. Bonus: available in 12 colors/color combos ~ including the stars and stripes motif.

Specifications

  • Items: Catcher’s helmet/mask, chest protector, leg guards
  • Weight(s): 12 lbs.
  • Primary Materials: Blend
  • Special: Attention to interior and interior details to enhance comfort

What We Like

  • 1-year limited warranty
  • Style: Easton’s matte finish helmets, accents on chest protector, secondary-colored side flaps on leg guards
  • 13 colors including not always typical maroon, green, and Carolina blue; plus stars and stripes pattern

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5. Best Catcher’s Gear for Innovation for 2022 ~ Mizuno Samurai Adult Baseball Boxed Catcher’s Gear Set

Analysis

Ever since Mizuno cracked the American market in the early 1980s, the Japanese manufacturer has focused greatly on enhancing performance. And there is much to like in that realm with the Mizuno Samurai Adult Baseball Boxed Catcher’s Gear Set. As examples we point to the low-rebound foam, and grippe front surface, of the chest protector to keep balls in front; or the triple-knee cup construction in the leg guards. Add to that comfort inside the helmet with a strategic ventilation system, and 3-layer EVA foam padding, and you have a quality set of gear.

Specifications

  • Items: Chest protector, shin guards, helmet/mask.
  • Weight(s): 13.7 lbs.
  • Primary Materials: EVA foam, plastic
  • Special: Patented K-Pad on the inside of the leg guards

What We Like

  • Mizuno’s application of innovations
  • Snug helmet and leg-guard comfort
  • 1-year limited warranty

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6. Best Catcher’s Gear for Protection for 2022 ~ Rawlings | Velo 2.0 Baseball Catcher’s Set

Analysis

No list of the top catcher’s gear would be complete without making a suggestion for the most protection possible. For that we tap a mainstay manufacturer of baseball equipment, and direct you to the Rawlings Velo 2.0 Baseball Catcher’s Set. Impact-absorbing foam behind the chest protector, the patented Supertoe at the bottom of the leg guards for optimal instep protection, impact-resistant and recessed helmet cage ~ this set has a lot of features to keep your little catcher safe back there.

Specifications

  • Items: Chest protector, shin guards, hockey-style helmet/mask
  • Weight(s): 9 lbs.
  • Primary Materials: Plastic
  • Special: Arc Reactor Core technology in the foam behind the chest protector

What We Like

  • Super-enhanced leg guards, ultra-padded chest protector
  • Attention to ventilation and air flow, as well as light weight, to boost comfort

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What to Look for Catchers Gear Sets for Youth Baseball

For youth baseball, early players will spend at least a season trying the position out, to see if he or she likes it. Once a player is committed to catching, parents might want to individualize their little player, or provide equipment that’s better-looking and more protective, than the well-used gear provided by leagues.

People looking for their own new catchers’ gear can take the following into consideration when perusing models.

Face Mask

Perhaps the most important piece of catchers’ equipment, since it prevents hard balls traveling at excessive speeds from smashing faces and teeth. Modern masks are often built into helmets, a trick borrowed from hockey goalies starting in the 1980s.

Young players will want a face mask/helmet that is snug, and not loose or the mask could slip to the side and impair vision. Also look for quality padding inside, especially on the forehead, and chin. Players will not want their mouth right on a pad, if possible, so this is a fitting detail to pay attention to.

Some face masks also have protruding thick wires laterally beyond the ears, offering more protection there. And, as outlined more below, some helmet-masks are designed with chin protection extending downward to block the neck.

Comfort and weight are probably the biggest things to look for, followed by look and style.

Leg Guards

These are the long half-tubes strapped to the front side of a player’s shins, which come with hinged extensions to cover the knee caps, and usually the top of the shoes. Some have little extensions outward laterally to protect the upper-ankles; and still others might have more hinged extensions to protect more of the foot, or upper thigh.

They have grown in length over the years; what once were “shin guards” are now leg guards.

Fit and comfort are important here, as too-long leg guards make it hard to play. Catchers do have to run in all that gear now and then, and running in shin guards can take some getting used to.

Chest Protectors

With chest protectors, look for those that cover the most area, and are not too heavy. Foul-tips or bounced pitches off the upper chest are more shocking than painful, and getting hit in the belly area even more so. Some chest protectors have hinged extensions that cover the shoulder joint of the throwing arm, a key part of a catchers’ body.

Still others have very thick padded edges in strategic areas like around the neck, or even straight down the middle vertically to protect the sternum. As with chin guards, chest protectors should fit snugly, and they are easily adjustable so parents don’t have to worry about buying a new one every year.

Accessories for Catchers’ Equipment

Not every set we mention below comes with the same accessories ~ if any at all. Some sets come with a neck or throat guard, an elongated piece of plastic that is tied to the bottom chin of a face mask so it hangs down in front of the Adam’s Apple area of the neck.

A lot of newfangled masks are designed with extended chins or other design elements to automatically provide the same type of protection as the old hanging guards. Additionally, chest protectors often come with thick strips of padding around the collar to protect the lower neck better.

Catchers’ Gear Fashion

Old-school dads might be shocked to see today’s catcher’s gear for kids, with all the color schemes, and space-age-looking mask-helmets. Even modern shin guards come with flairs at the bottom to protect the ankles.

For many years, youth catchers’ gear looked pretty much the same. No longer. Consider these details:

  • Team Colors. Today it’s easy to find chest protectors, shin guards, and helmet-masks that match in color. Also, many sets are offered in a number of color schemes, including even a Stars ‘n’ Stripes design for those Independence Day tournaments!
  • Personalized Helmets. As most catchers shifted to the face mask built-in to a helmet, designers began eyeing the space on the outside of those helmets not just for protection, but to make them look cool. Think of those early hockey goalie masks that were painted in a vicious tiger’s face to scare away approaching opponents. The exterior of baseball catcher’s helmets can have flames, the team logo, polka dots, or whatever design the player wants.

What Does ‘NOCSAE Approved’ Mean?

For our list we assume each product is certified or approved for youth baseball play by the top authorities. The main stamp to look for is NOCSAE approval. There also are SEI-certifications, particularly for helmet/masks, which stands for Safety Equipment Institute.

It is suggested that parents learn about the equipment requirements of the league their children will be playing in. The NOCSAE is a national standard required of most youth baseball leagues; but some leagues could tack on further safety testing requirements.

See Also:
7 Best Baseball Cleats for Youths
4 Factors Why Baseball Bats are So Expensive
Pony Baseball vs. Little League: What’s the Difference?
Do MLB Players Wear Cups? (Detailed Explanation)
5 Ways to Break in Baseball Cleats
EvoShield Thumb Guard Review: ‘Catcher’s Best Friend’