The games of baseball and softball are a good bit harder than a lot of people realize. From hitting, fielding, and pitching, it’s hard enough. And then you have the daily grind of it that puts strain upon both your mind and your body. For catchers, this is ramped up even further. The catcher is the focal point of the entire game, along with the pitcher, so much is placed upon his or her shoulders to succeed. At the early levels of the game, it’s absolutely crucial to make sure that the catcher is protected. So today, we are going to be talking about the best youth catcher’s gear sets on the market in 2019. We’ll be going over the ins and outs to help you make a decision on which is the best for you, and then we will review the top ten examples out there. Let’s play ball!
Top Youth Catcher’s Gear Sets Comparison Chart
|Name||Highlighted Features||Price||Where to Buy?|
|Easton Youth Black Magic Catcher Box Set||Catchers protective equipment||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Louisville Slugger Youth PG Series 5 Catcher’s Set||Precision pad designed chest protector||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Under Armour PTH Victory Catcher’s Set||High-impact-resistant ABS plastic shell||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Mizuno Boys Youth Samurai Box Set Catcher’s Gear||Great rebound from chest protector||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Rawlings Renegade Intermediate Catcher’s Set||Easy-on, easy-off attachment||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Wilson EZ Gear Catcher’s Kit||Double padded chest||$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Easton M3 Series Black Box Set||M3 Chest Protector & Leg Guards||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|MacGregor Youth Catcher’s Gear Pack||Double knee protection||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Easton Prowess Qwikfit Fast Pitch Catcher’s Box Set||Specifically designed for females||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|All-Star Youth League Series Catcher’s Gear Set||Super tough ABS plastic construction||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
Youth Catcher’s Gear Sets Buying Guide
Why A Set?
There are a lot of different things that come within a catcher’s gear set. This means that it can get quite expensive for a parent or player since each item is so vitally important to not only comfort but also protection of the catcher. This is exactly why sets are such a good option at the lower and younger levels of the game. While you can always buy a helmet or whatever item you need separately, by doing so you will end up paying more. By buying your gear in a set, the cost is going to be cheaper over the long run. Even the more expensive sets are going to cost you less money than purchasing your gear individually in most, if not all, cases. A lot of youth catchers are not going to be able to fit in their gear within a year or to anyway, so it’s important to not have to spend way too much money, especially if you are the rec ball level and don’t need the most premium choices available. So, not only do you save money but you also will be saving a lot of time and trouble as well by doing it this way since you don’t have as much shopping to do for specialized items. Lastly, you also have the added benefit of making sure that your gear matches up precisely with the rest of the ensemble. Sometimes, you will find that a helmet might be black but doesn’t quite match up with the leg guards that are also black. This is more proof that a set is ideal for you.
What’s In A Set?
The catcher has always been an essential part of the game. From the old days where catchers stood far behind the batter, to the days of technological advancement, they have remained a powerful force in both strategy and the prevention of runs. With this, a lot of items have been introduced and are now part of the wardrobe that you must have behind the plate. Some sets will not include all of the items you need, but all of these items are still needed to be worn in order to keep you protected as best as you can be. We will make sure to mention them in the next section, as well as making sure to point out in our reviews if something that is typically included is left out of a particular set.
The helmet, if you had to pick one single piece of the puzzle, is going to be the most vital aspect of the entire setup. While the others are also very necessary, you just couldn’t imagine what it would be like to play without a helmet. This element protects you not only from getting scratches and the like, but also from getting very serious and devastating injuries to the temple and all other sorts of spots. Today’s helmets are very protective, but it must be said that a batted ball will still leave you reeling a little bit if it’s hit hard enough. The look and design of the modern helmet means that it’s almost always going to be a one piece look for you with youth gear. The old two piece design is fading in popularity, and it’s just so much easier at this level to allow the player to have the ability to simply fit the helmet over his or her own head and get to the field without any fuss.
Just think for a moment what it would feel like to have a ball struck into the sternum without a chest protector on. It’s almost unfathomable. We’ve all been struck and had the ‘wind knocked out of us,’ but this would be downright excruciating to say the least. A chest protector stops this from occurring by using dense foam that cushions the blow of the ball. One thing that you should be keeping in mind and considering is the coverage area of the chest protector. All of them are going to cover the essential parts, the sternum and stomach areas fully. However, not all of them are going to have additional coverage in the shoulders. This is where price is going to come into play. The more expensive ones will generally cover more area. You don’t necessarily need this feature, but it’s recommended to add more surface area to your ‘armor’ as you go up in age and the level of players you are playing against, since they will be hitting the ball harder and much more consistently as they progress.
Leg guards might not be as important as the helmet, but go ahead and try to play without them and see what the umpires tell you. They won’t even let you stand on the field, nor should they, such is the sheer level of danger that it would bring. Leg guards have come a long, long way in over a century of play. Originally, they were built a lot like chain mail armor from the medieval ages. One big piece that didn’t bend at all. They then developed hinges in them to let you squat down and get back up again without too much of a problem. Even the stiffer, more generic and cheap versions out there today are so much more better than in olden times at allowing you to move around and ‘flex.’ Like with the chest protector, you will have to look at each individual pair of leg guards to determine if it offers enough coverage for you. Some leg guards feature wider knee protection, while others have layers to them. Some also will wrap better around the calves and heels, or they will have a toe flap. How much you need is based upon the level you play at and the tolerance for pain you have as well.
Other Items You Must Have
Just because it’s not included in the set doesn’t mean that you don’t need or shouldn’t have a few other things. First and foremost, you have to mention the cup. Youth males need to be protected in their most precious area, and this is the way to do that. This is a must have that umpires will require you to have, so if you do not have it, you will not be allowed to play. The glove is also very important, since no one wants to try and use their bare hands. With that said, you need a special glove that is designed for catchers. A catcher’s mitt is larger and is shaped differently, and with a deeper web, to allow you to reel in more balls and to keep them stuck in once they hit the mitt. The last item we will bring up are knee savers. These are huge, huge lifesavers in all honesty. These protect and support the knees from wear and tear and abuse. They also do a heck of a job at taking the strain and pressure off the back and neck as well. These go between the knees and the back of your leg guards, and they are just absolute necessities nowadays. You aren’t required by the rules of the game to wear them, but you really should be. They don’t cost that much extra, and they will save you from a lot of pain in the present and the future.
Helmet aside, you can’t really get much flexibility out of that, this is an important factor that you must weigh on your own personal scale when deciding which set to buy. With chest protectors and leg guards, you will have a ranging flexibilities to consider. Some of them are going to be more flexible than others. Usually, sets that are more expensive will be more flexible, while cheaper sets will be stiffer. You still will be protected no matter which way you decide to go, but if you want a little bit of extra comfort and performance, then stepping up a little and paying more is the way in which you should be looking to go. Intermediate and advanced gear is made out of thinner materials, which means it’s more possible for you to bend and scoop up balls than with the starter choices.
We have talked about this a little bit all over this guide so far, and that is for a very good reason. The whole idea behind catcher’s gear is to make sure that you are fully, or as close to, protected as you can be. Nearly all sets are going to offer you an adequate amount of protection while meeting the requirements of the rules of the game. With that said, you are going to get various amounts depending on how much you spend. Generally speaking, you will have more protection afforded to you by paying more money. Like with the issue of flexibility, this will just have to be something you weigh. If you are playing against strictly recreational teams, this is probably not going to be that big of a deal. Players won’t hit the ball very much, and when they do it won’t usually be as hard as more advanced players. As you move up a little, though, more is going to be needed, and that will take a bit of extra money.
A lot of people would overlook this feature, but that would be a very big, perilous decision to make to do so. Breathability refers to how well you are able to breathe, basically. It’s the act of getting air to the body so that you don’t overheat. It’s hot enough in the middle of summer as an outfield player, but it’s even worse for the catcher. Some gear is better than others at providing much-needed ventilation. This isn’t as much dependent upon price. It just comes down to each set and what the company has decided to prioritize. Leg guards, chest protectors, and helmets all can have ventilation built in to them to help you have a more enjoyable experience on those very warm days.
One must never forget this factor when it comes to catcher’s gear. Being able to adjust on the fly in any sport is crucial. Just think about what it would be like to have a pair of shoes that you could not alter after the first time you laced them up. That would be truly awful. Much like that, you need catcher’s gear that you can adjust. Maybe there are going to be multiple players using the gear, or maybe you have grown slightly. Kids grow quickly, and this could well be the case before very long after you made the purchase. Furthermore, being able to adjust is also going to affect how well, or poorly, you can put the gear on and take it off. If the gear has very little adjustability to it, it’s going to be a tremendous pain to deal with. In a perfect world, you’d like it to be easier for kids to do themselves, so this, too, has to be something that you think about.
Lastly before our reviews is about sizing. This is an aspect that shouldn’t be rushed over at all. You need to have the best possible fit, with an eye toward growing into them as well. This doesn’t mean that you should go too far, however, by taking a size that is meant for a 12 year old and saddling it on an 8 year old player. This will slow them down with added weight and just look strange. Sizing can be tough, so going in person is ideal and recommended, even if you do decide to go with an online purchase in the end. Keep in mind that some sets go by age, while others go by size and measurements, so be sure to read over the sizing guides and take all information into account should you not try them on in person.
The Top Ten Youth Catcher’s Gear Sets Reviews
1. Easton Youth Black Magic Catcher Box Set
Coming in at a fairly low price is this set from Easton, a leader in catching gear for youth ball players all over. This set is very easy to adjust from top to bottom and is just what you need for a beginner to have behind the plate for the first season. With leg guards that have double layered knee protection and a shin plate, they are going to be mobile and generously protective of the body in a wide array of areas. The metal clips used are easy to take on and off and won’t have a lot of leeway to get messed up, while the chest protector uses Velcro to easily snap on and off in an instant. Be aware that using knee savers with them can be a bit tricky, so adjustments and slight alterations might need to be made by you in order to use them effectively. With that said, there’s just so much to like here that it’s hard to pass this offer over.
- Easily adjustable
- Good price
- Plenty of protection
- Knee savers take some tinkering to affix properly
2. Louisville Slugger Youth PG Series 5 Catcher’s Set
With a ton of colors to pick from, Louisville Slugger have really gone out of their way to make it easy to style-ify your player! On top of that, they have made a decently priced option that has a ton of upside to it. With a chest protector that also covers the shoulders and leg guards that have double knee protection, you can see that they have gone out of their way to add in some attention to detail that many others just don’t have. Better yet, the shin guards are made to fit the individual better, making it less about you squeezing in and more about them conforming to you and your needs. One of the nice things to note is that the materials do a great job at staying in place while you play, meaning you don’t have to worry about them flopping around all over the place in game while still being flexible at the same time. Some have noted that certain pieces fit better than others, so just be cautious in regards to sizing.
- Plethora of colors
- Conforms to you
- Flexible but stays in place
- Size issues with certain pieces
3. Under Armour PTH Victory Catcher’s Set
There aren’t as many color choices here but for a set there is an ample number of selections from Under Armour, allowing you to match your team with four basic colors. This set is aimed toward 9-12 year olds, so it is for a bit older age group. On top of that, the price is higher, so it’s going to be geared toward a little more advanced crowd than previous ones. That means you get the same protection but you get a bit more flexibility due to it being lighter and thinner. Each of the components are very absorbent to shocks, while they have included a microbe shield to help ward off bacteria and the awful smells associated with them. The biggest deterrent to this set is going to be the price, so that will have to be weighed against its merits by you.
- Thinner and more flexible
- More advanced set
- Easy to clean and won’t smell as much
- On the expensive side
4. Mizuno Boys Youth Samurai Box Set Catcher’s Gear
In the same sort of price range as the one before, Mizuno brings a great offering to the plate for the youth player. The helmet included is one of the more plush and comfortable ones that you will find, with three layers of EVA being used to pad and also to make it as light as possible, a serious advancement over technology from bygone eras. As the price would suggest, this is going to cover more area that a typical set would do. This means a lot of catchers have stuck with playing the position because they are a lot more protected. The rebound of the chest protector is exceptional as well, allowing the ball to fall right to the ground in front of you to scoop up and dart to wherever you need to throw. Sizing issues with various pieces are the main problem to look out for.
- Very comfy helmet
- Great rebound from chest protector
- Covers more area than most
- Sizing issues
- Cost is fairly high
5. Rawlings Renegade Intermediate Catcher’s Set
This set is for a more advanced and older player, but it still falls within the range of a youth set. For 12-15 year olds, the price is going to be higher than a beginner set but is not as prohibitive as the two above it. This is natural if you think about it, since bigger kids will need bigger materials after all and the price has to be offset for it. This set is very easy to use and put on thanks to Velcro, but some have found that to be a problem relating to the leg guards as it tends to get dirty trapped inside of them and causes issues with knee savers. The helmet, like the rest of the gear, does a good job at providing much needed ventilation as well, another necessity come summer time.
- Good price for intermediate players
- Great ventilation
- Easy to get on and off
- Velcro causes a problem or two
6. Wilson EZ Gear Catcher’s Kit
If you are looking for a great started set at a very reasonable price that is below what you would pay, just about, for just one piece of the set, then this is the way to look. It’s ultra cheap, but you don’t see a lack of quality in it. With a vented helmet and a quick closure system that they guarantee will be able to be put on in ten seconds or less, you can’t do much better. Because let’s just face the facts. A youth player is going to need help and you will need to get it on as quick as you can to keep the game rolling. That will help. Unlike what the price suggests, it covers a fairly wide area in the shoulders and has extra padding in the chest for the younger players.
- Double padded chest
- Quick to put on
- Very good price
- Not going to be as flexible
7. Easton M3 Series Black Box Set
This second set from Easton comes in at a lower price than the first one and can be comparable with the Wilson above at the right size. With a slightly heavier set, it won’t be quite as flexible, but you will still have all the same protection that you must have. Even if you think you might be unable to fit, each of the components have a ton of adjustability built in to allow you to fix it the way it needs to be done. It’s also a good set for taking on and getting off, which is a huge relief that so many out there just cannot offer. Customer service is a big bonus, too, so you have that in your corner with this selection should you go with it.
- Very good price
- A lot of ability to adjust
- Great customer service
- Not as flexible
8. MacGregor Youth Catcher’s Gear Pack
MacGregor has long been a brand you could count on to bring low costing but quality gear to the table, and that’s the case here with this set. The look are great with two colors to pick from that stand out. The helmet comes equipped with a throat guard as well, something that a lot of sets do not include, covering more of the body. The leg guards have double knee protection and the chest protector is quite hefty as well. One thing that might be a bit of a negative is the overall weight, which seems to be among the highest out there. This, as well as the set naturally not being as flexible, might hold back a slightly more advanced player from progressing further. The straps on the helmet have caused small problems as well, so keep that in mind.
- Good price
- Covers a lot of the body
- Double knee protection
- Heavier than most
- Helmet straps
9. Easton Prowess Qwikfit Fast Pitch Catcher’s Box Set
Our first and only softball only set comes in here and is from Easton with the Prowess. Designed specifically for the female, this is very much preferable rather than trying to fit awkwardly into a baseball set. This is for the 9-12 crowd and falls within a middle range price point, all while allowing the player to have more control and ability to adjust and put them on herself. This is a major help for coaches who just don’t have time to do any one task for too long. Like the other Easton box set, the knee savers might give you some problems and could use some alterations depending on the kind that you get. Apart from that, with the right fit this is an excellent set.
- Made specifically for females
- Easy to get on and off alone
- Decent price
- Knee savers might annoy a bit
10. All-Star Youth League Series Catcher’s Gear Set
All-Star, as apt a baseball name as any, rounds out our list here with a lower priced set that will cover the essentials without going overboard. With a chest protector that covers just what it needs to, leaving out the shoulders, you won’t get a ton of extras thrown in. The helmet has been constructed, however, to help the player see better by moving the bars a little further apart, which seems to have helped a great deal while still making it close enough that the ball can’t come through there. The straps are metal, which is preferred by a lot of people, despite making it slightly harder to put on and take off alone. At the end of the day, this is a great set for young players just getting a start that don’t need wider coverage than what it offers.
- Better visibility via the helmet
- Metal straps more comfortable
- Good, low price
- Not gonna cover a ton of area
- Not as flexible
Conclusion And Final Youth Catcher’s Gear Sets Recommendations
Keeping yourself, or your child, safe behind the plate is first and foremost when they are catching. Baseball is a fun game, sure, but it wouldn’t be much fun at all if you continually got the dubious distinction of having to see your child pelted with ball after ball. With that said, you don’t want to be spending untold amounts of money on gear that will be too small for them in a season or two. That’s where a good catcher’s gear set comes in. With the right set, you can find a great deal, that is comfortable, fairly easy to get on, and will keep them protected. You can’t ask for much more than that, can you?! So, get to it and hit the field!