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Uncle Bill

Opinions on All Star CPU30 Cp

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I work everything from High School, both baseball and softball, little league and some travel ball.  My go to CP is a system-7, and I love it's protection.  But it is a little overkill for softball and the little guys.  In the market to try a high quality soft shell,   but not in the mood to dump $275 for the Force3.  I am drawn to the All Star CPU30 but don't know any one with personal knowledge of it.  If any one out there has one, tried one, or knows someone who has, your opinions will be appreciated. 

And as usual here in Nor-Cal the rainy season begins with the start of High school ball!! 

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I’ve got a Honig’s K1 that is very light but protective. Has a Velcro attached sternum area “lift” pad that keeps most of the protector’s padding off of your chest about ¾ of an inch for airflow so It’s very cool. Uses Velcro straps in the front to keep it very secure. Does not move or bounce around. I’ve worn it for D1 but it’s more suited for high school and below in my opinion. I took a direct hit to the center chest foul ball in it during a D1 game and felt the hit but had no bruising or I’ll effects. I started flinching after that so I got a hard shell. It’s available for sale if interested. 

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Ah, yes the All-Star CPU30. I’m surprised, with a name like that, Lucasfilm hasn’t descended upon All-Star and cited them with a C&D writ for trademark infringement. I guess, though, that because the CP looks nothing at all like the intergalactic protocol droid, it’s not such a big issue.

This softshell has been discussed before (we even have a Mike Taylor ( @mstaylor ) and Mike Prince ( @Mike Prince ) sighting!) here:

There’s also a Review article for it here, but it lacks user feedback:

The whole point of this, like any softshell from All-Star, Diamond, Champion, Champro, Schutt, TAG Sports, MacGregor, or Pro-9, is to offer protection to umpires reflective of the level of batsports being called, while – this is key – reducing bulk, weight, and cost while increasing breathability and dexterity.

Granted, not all softshells are classified the same. Some amount to little else than a foam washboard and two shoulder caps. Would I take one of these into a baseball game? No. Softball at best. But upper-tier models, like the All-Star CPU30, the Diamond DCP-iX3, or the Champro Pro Plus CP14, are using foam laminates (that means modern, advanced foam of multiple types), encased in technical mesh skins, with strategically placed (embedded) plastic “blast” plates (most often over the sternum and at the clavicle sections).

The Force3 UnEqual follows this perspective, but as @tpatience points out, it is not a typical softshell, nor does it outright belong in the Softshell class. It is more of a hybrid. What makes it so? That answer lies in the cost, wherein Force3 uses Kevlar – perhaps the best energy absorbing fabric on the market – as a major component of its laminate sandwich. Due to user feedback, Force3 further installed plastic blast plates to give the Kevlar more structure and to further disperse the impacting energy laterally. Also, due to user feedback, the harness was updated to a Flex-style harness, further improving the rather conforming fit. The UnEqual represents one of the “latest and greatest” pieces of protective gear available to umpires. But is it for everyone? No, and certainly the outright cost dissuades many, but also the unfamiliarity with the Force3 brand and the context within which it’s going to be used – eg. an UnEqual would be utter overkill for a season of LIttle League baseball, Minors or Majors.

Do softshells have their place in the baseball landscape? Certainly! If they didn’t, why would Wilson debut the softshell Wilson Guardian? I mean, they make the (supposed, purported, ballyhooed) “best” hardshell CP in the market with the WV Gold and Platinum, don’t they? I’ll tell you this, the latest top-tier softshells – like I listed above – are years ahead of the WestVests in materials and technical practices, will give better performance (that’s weight + fit + breathability + protection together), and be a better value for your money at time of purchase. 

So, to bring the discussion back to the All-Star CPU30, this is a very capable softshell that has been waiting “offstage” for its time to shine. Might it change further, or become something else in a few years? Possible. Its role is very easy to define, because it isn’t trying to compete with or replace its more capable sibling, the System 7 CPU4000. The vertical sizing / coverage might be a bit limited, at 13.5”, and if you’re getting a softshell, you may opt for more torso coverage (“might as well”) and consider a Diamond or Champro, both of which are taller.

Would I get one? Kindly, no, because I have no need of one. I already have a light, Advanced-foam, low profile, extremely well ventilated hardshell CP at a killer price point that I can take into any and every type of baseball game...

... I have a Schutt XV.

 

However, if I keep getting these Little League Minors Games dropped on me, I may consider getting a softshell, just to take the wear-and-tear off my XV before I go to Independent league ball. So too, I would also use an inexpensive mask so I don’t risk chipping or bending my primary gamers, along with some black steel toed work shoes (what coach cares about how my shoes look in local kiddie ball???) so my New Balance 460v3’s don’t get stepped on and filled with dust, dirt, and sand.

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