As we mentioned in our review of catcher’s mitts, the position of a catcher is probably the most difficult one in fastpitch softball.
Because fastpitch softball is a high-speed sport, catchers must wear protective gear that will provide protection but also allow for more comfortable movement.
You can purchase the protective gear in pieces or, even better, get the whole set. Like with all parts of fastpitch equipment, there are many different options when it comes to softball catcher gear sets. We have tested numerous ones and have come up with a list of the best ones, for adult and youth players.
Let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
- 6 Top Rated Softball Catcher’s Sets For 2023
- Fastpitch Catcher’s Gear Sizing Guide
6 Top Rated Softball Catcher’s Sets For 2023
Easton The Fundamental By Jen Schro Catcher’s Set
Easton is one of the most popular softball brands and almost all of their products feature some amazing technologies, including this one, the Fundamental Set By Jen Schro. It is a very popular catcher’s set that comes in three sizes: small, medium, and large.
The helmet is made from ABS plastic and has dual-density foam so you can expect a high level of durability and comfort. With the strap adjustment, you can get a great fit. Of course, the cage is made from steel, as you would expect from a brand of this quality and it also has a nice-looking design.
Moving on to the Fundamental Chest Protector, as it is called. It has great mobility and a great level of protection since the usage of foam can absorb shocks. The downside is that the size can run small, so you should keep that in mind.
The leg guards are fantastic; they have an amazing shell design that wraps around the shins and that gives the catcher better performance. They also have a sleek design and are quite durable.
To wrap things around; the Fundamental Set by Jen Schro is a great one – it is comfortable, durable, and looks great. It also comes in 5 different colors, including Black, Navy, Royal, Red, and White. The only downside to this set is its price; we feel it is a bit too much but in their defense, you are getting a top-quality softball catcher’s set.
- Helmet: ABS plastic shell, dual-density foam padding
- Chest Protector: Chest silhouette
- Leg Guards: Improved shell design
- Designed for female players
- Comes in 3 sizes
- Great leg guards design
- 5 different colorways
- Can run small
Easton Jen Schro THE VERY BEST Fastpitch Catcher’s Set
Another entry from Easton is on this list, and this time it’s their Jen Schro THE VERY BEST catcher’s set. This is their top-of-the-line set, and it has some pretty neat features in it to make you feel comfortable and perform better.
Let’s start with the helmet. This helmet is one of the best looking and our favorite helmet, regarding the looks. The “fast” design and the “fast” lines with this clean white colorway will make you feel invincible. Regarding the construction and technology used in it, it has an ABS plastic shell for strength and durability, like most other helmets. The cage is made from steel, and it has this nice matte finish that fits great with the white colorway of the helmet. Easton has put in this helmet two great technologies that will hold off your sweat that arises when playing a competitive game, and bacteria also. Those are called AEGIS Anti-Microbial and CLEAR DRI; truly much-needed features for a catcher.
The chest protector has a silhouette that is created to fit the female player, and in the fit department, only a few can beat the Easton Jen Schro THE VERY BEST. Another department in which this chest protector excels is mobility. This protector is made from two pieces and is has a three-way easy tightening system to help you easily fit the proper fit. Another great feature is the mesh over the shoulders. Mesh is a material that helps in comfort and breathability, much needed when playing competitively.
The VERY BEST Leg guards have a design that is made to better fit your knee and shins. The shin area also has more padding that will provide you with comfort. They will also keep you cool as they feature a breathable liner. And, they feature a new technology called the IKP+, which helps in reducing the bruising on the knee.
You can see why this catcher set is one of the best in the game, and it’s no surprise that we would recommend it to every high-school and collage fastpitch catcher.
- Helmet: ABS plastic shell, steel cage, CLEAR DRI and AEGIS Anti-Microbial
- Chest Protector: Designed for female players, mesh over shoulders
- Leg Guards: IKP+
- They offer the best fit
- Quite comfortable
- Great features that will battle bacteria
- Nice design
We are continuing this list with a great set made by a fantastic Japanese company, Mizuno. This set shares the name with legendary Japanese warriors, the Samurais and we must say, it looks very cool, like the Samurais armor. It comes in a variety of color combinations but our favorite is the Black/Grey and Grey/Cardinal.
Now, let’s talk about the parts of this set. We will start with the helmet; it is made from ABS plastic, like other high-quality catcher’s helmets. The thing that sets this one apart is its ventilation system, a system that allows for more breathability and comfort for the catcher, an important feature to have during long, competitive games when you are sweating much. Comfort to the side, the catcher is also very protected because the Samurai helmet has a three-layer EVA foam padding. The mask is, like all high-quality masks, made from steel.
We are resuming with the chest protector. This one is truly high-quality, as we expected. Since it is designed specifically for female players, the fit is great and the protector is true to size. The foam used to make this protector is the Low Rebound Foam and it also has a mesh liner that will keep you cool throughout the game. It is not bulky at all and that allows for a quick movement. Great job by Mizuno.
Let’s finish with the shin guards. They have K-Pad construction, a patented Mizuno construction that gives these shin guards durability and comfort. You will also have a lot of protection because these guards have a Triple Knee Cup design, which also allows for better and more flexible movement.
Mizuno Samurai is just a fantastic catcher’s set; it protects the catcher (which is the most important), has enough breathability and flexibility, and is one of the most comfortable sets. The only downside is… you guessed it, the price. But, with these high-performance sets, the price can’t be lower and this one is truly a great investment, a quality set that will last you a long time.
- Helmet: Steel mask, three-layer EVA foam padding, strategic ventilation system
- Chest Protector: Low Rebound Foam
- Leg Guards: K-Pad construction
- One of the best looking sets
- Great build quality
- Ton of different colorways
Wilson C1K Catcher’s Gear Kit
All sets until now are made specifically for fastpitch softball, but this one, the Wilson C1K is made for baseball and softball together. It is one of, if not the best catcher’s set that Wilson makes, a well-respected and popular brand that makes equipment for a wide range of sports, including softball (their fastpitch softball gloves are one of the best in the game).
The helmet is one of the rare ones that have a glossy finish, something that maybe not everyone will welcome with open arms, but we did and it looks amazing to us. But, that is not the most important thing when it comes to catcher’s helmets; that is the level of protection it has and this one is great in that department. That is thanks to the multi-layered padding and the steel cage it has. It also offers a lot of ventilation, an important matter when playing on a hot, summer day. The helmet has a moisture-wicking chin pad which is removable.
Moving on to the chest protector. It is one of the most comfortable ones of all the protectors we have tested and that is thanks to its lightweight construction and high-density foam padding. It also has removable shoulder caps that increase movement and versatility.
Finishing with the leg guards. These are made from ABS plastic, which is lightweight and durable. You can get a remarkably snug and good fit with these since they have adjustable metal buckles. And another great thing about these is that they are washable, so don’t be scared when you get them dirty.
This Wilson catcher’s set is a good-looking, two-tone set (comes in different colorways) and a rather comfortable one that we would highly recommend to anyone that needs a new set that will last a couple of seasons.
- Helmet: Glossy finish, adjustable straps
- Chest Protector: High-density foam padding, removable shoulder caps
- Leg Guards: Inner knee pad, lightweight premium grade ABS plastic
- Helmet has a glossy finish
- Padding in the chest protector
- They provide great value
- The design could’ve been better
- We wished for more padding in the helmet
All-Star Adult System7 Axis Pro Catcher’s Set
This is the absolute most expensive fastpitch catcher’s set on this list and is made by a well-renowned and known company called All-Star. This is their Axis Pro model which is advised for catchers older than 16 years. Since it is the most expensive, you can expect it to be one of the most advanced and professional sets around. And it comes in a ton of different color options, so you can easily match it to the color of your team.
The helmet you get with this set is made from ABS plastic, like the others on this list, and has the I-BAR steel mask like the Vela Pro set. We absolutely like the style of this helmet as it has a similar helmet style to the ones used in hockey. It also has a two-tone finish, so that is a nice touch. The backplate has a strap so you can easily find the perfect fit. And, like on the one found on the All-Star Vela Pro, this one also has a washable inner liner.
Moving on to the review of the chest protector; this one is probably the best we have ever tested and used, it is in its category regarding comfort and protection. The hardware is made from stainless steel and it has protective plates which need a little time to get fully broken in. Generally, the protector is super lightweight and offers superior protection, plus you can get the perfect fit because this one has a thin DeltaFlex harness system. The vents on the back help in maximizing the breathability of the protector.
The leg guards on this set are one of the best ones in terms of mobility. That is credited to the LINQ pivoting hinge system, a system that offers the catcher a higher range of movement and more freewheeling mobility. The hardware is made from stainless steel, as you would expect from a set with this price tag. They also, like the chest protector, have vents for better breathability and the D3O knee padding.
If you want the absolute best in terms of technology and quality and can afford this set we would highly recommend it. It has superior protection, comfort and is durable enough to last you years and years to come.
- Helmet: I-BAR steel mask, washable inner liner
- Chest Protector: Diamond vents on back, internal PE protective plates
- Leg Guards: Wider knee, pivoting hinge system
- Perfect fit
- Fantastic build quality
- Ton of technologies for protection and performance
- Multiple different colorways
- High price
All-Star Youth System7 Axis Catcher’s Set – Best Youth Softball Catcher’s Gear
We finish this list with this youth set from All-Star (no big surprises), which gets our number one spot for the best fastpitch catcher’s gear set for youth players, and we will now tell you why is it so. This one is recommended for players aged 9 to 12.
The helmet that you get with this set is the similarly hockey-style helmet that you get with the System7 Axis Pro set. Other features are pretty much the same as the other All-Star helmets; its made from ABS plastic, its high impact-resistant, and has an I-BAR steel mask that is more durable than others and improves the vision of the youth catcher. It also has a backplate with a star to help you find a great fit and a washable liner.
The chest protector and leg guards are very similar to the more expensive, adult All-Star catcher set. They have the same great features that provide the catcher with the protection they need and with comfort and durability.
The only issue that this set could have is that the helmet can be a bit small. Other than that, this is a perfect set for a youth softball catcher because of its great technology and the amount of protection and comfort it has.
- Helmet: ABS plastic shell, I-BAR steel mask
- Chest Protector: Stainless steel matte black hardware, form-fitting DeltaFlex harness
- Leg Guards: LINQ pivoting hinge system, diamond vents on back
- Best set for youth players
- Top-of-the-line build quality
- Provides much protection
- Helmet can run small
Choosing the Right Fastpitch Catcher’s Gear
There are several important factors you should consider when planning on purchasing a new fastpitch catcher’s gear set. Those include the level of protection a set offers, how comfortable it is, and is it durable to last you a long time.
This gear is essential for the success of the catcher, so our advice is to consider every detail of the set before you decide to purchase it.
Let’s get into the detail of every factor you need to consider.
Hands down, the most important factor to consider is the protection, or the level of protection a gear set offers. For instance, the hockey-style mask has a much better level of protection than the classic one, since it gives the player fuller protection. You should also look for a chest protector that has a lot of padding and added shoulder pads because that offers much more protection.
When purchasing a new softball catcher’s gear set you can expect to spend a significant amount, so you don’t want to spend a lot of money on something that will not last. All of the gear sets on this list are durable, some more than others, but all of them will last you many many years. Look at the technology the set has and from which material is it made so you can get a sense of how durable it is and will it last. And also, look for a set made by a trustworthy brand like All-Star, Easton, Wilson, or Mizuno.
A gear set must have enough padding and protect the catcher but it also must be comfortable, because a catcher is the only person that will be on the field for every play, having more game time than others. So, the helmet, chest protectors, and leg(shin) guards must be lightweight and breathable so the catcher can be comfortable throughout the game. An ABS plastic used to make the helmets is a good example of this; it is a durable material yet lightweight enough.
Fastpitch Catcher’s Gear Sizing Guide
The fit is one more very important factor you should consider. Like the other factors, we mentioned, getting a good fit is also vital for performing great on the field. Too tight and small and you will be uncomfortable to perform your best, too big and bulky and you will be slowed down and exposed to injuries. So, by now you know that only the perfect, comfortable fit will allow you to reach your peak performance.
We will explain how to measure yourself so you can get the perfect fit for your helmet, chest protectors, and leg (shin) guards. Also, there are sizing charts for every part of the catcher’s gear set.
Helmet – Headgear
We start with the helmet, an essential piece that covers the head and guards it along with the neck. You should measure the circumference of your head and you do that by using a tape measure that you should place an inch above your eyebrows and getting it around your head. In the sizing chart below you can easily find your size. The youth ones usually go to 22 inches and the adult ones go to 23 1/2 inches.
|Inches||19 3/4||20 1/8||20 1/2||20 7/8||21 1/4||21 5/8||22||22||22 3/8||22 3/4||23 1/8||23 1/2|
|Hat Size||6 1/4||6 3/8||6 1/2||6 5/8||6 3/4||6 7/8||7||7||7 1/8||7 1/4||7 3/8||7 1/2|
The chest protectors are the biggest piece of catcher’s set and they protect your entire torso. You should measure from the top of the sternum to the player’s naval. Also, you must adjust it properly with the straps so that it doesn’t move around and can provide you with needed protection.
There is a sizing chart below so you can see the length of the chest protector and the age it is intended for.
Fastpitch leg guards are designed specifically for woman’s legs so they offer a better fit. How to measure your legs so you can get the right size? You should do this in a sitting position and measure for the center of the knee cap all the way to your ankle. This is probably the piece of equipment it is easiest to get the right size for.
Best Brands for Softball Catcher’s Gear
All-Star, a brand that exists for over then 60 years is certainly one of the best, if not the best brand for fastpitch softball catcher’s gear and also for baseball catcher’s gear. It is well known throughout the softball and baseball world because of the quality of its gear, the technology it has, and the protection, comfort, and durability it has. Their gear sets are an investment but will last you seasons to come.
When it comes to softball gear, fastpitch, and slowpitch, there is an Mt. Rushmore of brands and Easton is definitely on it. Well known for the exceptional technology they put into all of their products, they make all kinds of softball equipment; from fastpitch bats to catcher’s gear.
There is a very small number of sports equipment brands that are older than Mizuno. A Japanese sports equipment company founded in 1906 in Osaka, produces equipment for a huge variety of sports, including our beloved fastpitch softball. Their softball cleats are some of the best on the market and their catcher’s gear also definitely up there with the best of them.
Founded by Thomas Wilson in 1913, Wilson Sporting Goods is one of the most well-known and respected brands in the sports world. What started as a company that produces tennis racket strings is now one of the, as we said, most well-known sports brands in the world that produce equipment for a ton of the most popular sports in the world, including fastpitch, baseball, basketball, tennis, and many others. In the softball world, they are known for the quality and craftsmanship they put into their gloves and catcher’s gear.