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It's all about the pads....

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In another post, @wolfe_man mentions that we need to get good pads.  He is hardly alone - many other Senior forum folks have made the same comment that the biggest thing to consider for your mask are the pads that you put on the mask.  They act as the buffer between the blunt force of the ball impact and your melon.  Good set of pads and your all set, bad set of pads and you might not remember your last birthday.

So let's talk about the pads.  Rather than say - get some good pads, can we make a list of the pads that the community thinks are acceptable and ones that are not?  Although part of it is personal preference as we all "like" a type or brand of pad, we should be able to name the ones that are acceptable and should, under normal circumstances, keep us safe.

So looking at Ump-Attire's offerings, they have:

  • Wilson MLB Wrap Around Leather Pads
  • Wilson MLB Pads
  • Team Wendy Pads
  • Wilson Memory Foam

Other offerings:

  • Honig's Black MicroFiber Pads
  • All Star LUC Pads
  • All Star FM4000-Mag Pads
  • Davis Quick Dry Pads
  • +POS BB43MB Pads

I just bought a +POS ZroG (thanks @MadMax for helping me make contact).  It came with the BB43MB pads.  Are those pads going to do the job for me or do I need more protection?  What should I put on the mask that would be the best?  I Umpire at the D1 level (softball) with pitches in the 65-70 MPH range.  I'm leaning towards the Wilson Wrap Around Pads, but am very open to other's thoughts.

 

 

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TW fan myself. I understand some may find them overly firm, especially in colder weather, but for me that's not a concern. I wear my mask loose, so the firmness of the pads doesn't bother my  face at all.  

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@AL-Ump, I can tell you right now that the default +POS pads (which I nicknamed “AirChambers”) and the All-Star LUC pads are virtually identical. They’re rather good. Several of my colleagues use them (supplied by me).

My Vultures are a different lot. Most of us use Team Wendys, Wilson Wraparounds, or Wilson MemFoams. In Arizona, the one limitation of Team Wendys is largely negated – temperature. When cold, TWs are hard as rock. To be effective, and not cause soreness if impacted, TWs need to be over about 50°. Wilson MemFoams don’t suffer as badly in the cold, but when warm, they actually crush too easily.

 

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36 minutes ago, BlueRanger said:

Aren't the iX3 and Davis pads the same thing?... 

-BR

Yup. Just a Davis chin tag stitched on.

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6 hours ago, MadMax said:

@AL-Ump, I can tell you right now that the default +POS pads (which I nicknamed “AirChambers”) and the All-Star LUC pads are virtually identical. They’re rather good. Several of my colleagues use them (supplied by me).

My Vultures are a different lot. Most of us use Team Wendys, Wilson Wraparounds, or Wilson MemFoams. In Arizona, the one limitation of Team Wendys is largely negated – temperature. When cold, TWs are hard as rock. To be effective, and not cause soreness if impacted, TWs need to be over about 50°. Wilson MemFoams don’t suffer as badly in the cold, but when warm, they actually crush too easily.

 

Just as a note and reminder, that All-Star is the only company that tests their own equipment with an air-gun on anthropomorphic dummy heads and real baseballs at 90+mph.  I concur w/ @MadMax on this ..... the All-Star LUC pads (both standard and MAG) and very nice, light, and comfy.

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26 minutes ago, Thunderheads said:

Just as a note and reminder, that All-Star is the only company that tests their own equipment with an air-gun on anthropomorphic dummy heads and real baseballs at 90+mph.  I concur w/ @MadMax on this ..... the All-Star LUC pads (both standard and MAG) and very nice, light, and comfy.

If they could just get their website to work!  I've been trying to buy pads all weekend and keep getting an error message when trying to add to my cart.

I agree that TW and All Star pads are very comfy.

Honig's calfskin and microfiber backed pads are also very comfortable, look great and offer good protection.   They get overlooked a lot I can only assume due to only being available from Honig's and no one enjoys their shipping costs.

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TW fan here.

*Note - These pads are not particularly fond of cold weather.  I'm sure the gear junkies on here can explain the composition of them much better than I.  Cold = hard pads, warmer weather = comfortable pads.

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Looks like most of the pads I originally listed have been given thumbs up by the board.  Maybe an easier question - what pads should be avoided?  When we say "you need to have good pads" which ones are we NOT talking about?

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18 hours ago, MadMax said:

@AL-Ump, I can tell you right now that the default +POS pads (which I nicknamed “AirChambers”) and the All-Star LUC pads are virtually identical. They’re rather good. Several of my colleagues use them (supplied by me).

My Vultures are a different lot. Most of us use Team Wendys, Wilson Wraparounds, or Wilson MemFoams. In Arizona, the one limitation of Team Wendys is largely negated – temperature. When cold, TWs are hard as rock. To be effective, and not cause soreness if impacted, TWs need to be over about 50°. Wilson MemFoams don’t suffer as badly in the cold, but when warm, they actually crush too easily.

 

@MadMax I’m interested by you classifying the Wilson wraparounds as good pads. I thought those were mostly just foam stuffed into leather. Lacking the kind of advanced padding technology in the team wendy’s Or even the Wilson memory foams. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the Wilson wraparounds 

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4 hours ago, AL-Ump said:

Looks like most of the pads I originally listed have been given thumbs up by the board.  Maybe an easier question - what pads should be avoided?  When we say "you need to have good pads" which ones are we NOT talking about?

I will start with the two that I commonly see and have experience with. The Diamond iX3 (non Big League pads) and the pads that come on any Champro frame including the magnesium. 

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I live my Champro magnesium frame. But the pads are less then worthless. TW's go in all my frames, as I like the science that went into them, AND I live in San Diego, so the weather is rarely a concern. 

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TWs in the warm (above 55 degrees) weather, and Wilson or All-Star leathers (like warm couch cushions) in the cooler/cold weather. Threw out others immediately like the ones that came with my Rampage frame and my Diamond AL frame. I did not like the memory foam, felt like it was going to going to lose integrity pretty quickly, but that was just my opinion, i don't have any info or witness statements to that matter.

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On 6/10/2019 at 9:37 PM, kylejt said:

I live my Champro magnesium frame. But the pads are less then worthless. TW's go in all my frames, as I like the science that went into them, AND I live in San Diego, so the weather is rarely a concern. 

I have the same frame.  I had planned to replace the pads but didn't take the time to get around to it.  I was working a 12U tournament last weekend.  Took a hit from a lightly hit foul ball off the top of my mask and felt a bar make contact with my head.  I have TW's on the way.  I am really considering getting a skull cap also.  

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On 6/10/2019 at 6:32 PM, grk17 said:

@MadMax I’m interested by you classifying the Wilson wraparounds as good pads. I thought those were mostly just foam stuffed into leather. Lacking the kind of advanced padding technology in the team wendy’s Or even the Wilson memory foams. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the Wilson wraparounds 

Very true, @grk17, Wilson Wraparounds are not much more than open-cell foam and wool yarn in a leather casing. However, despite being antiquated, these pads have density on their side. They also have a great deal of surface area. Thus, when a ball impacts the mask, the frame takes the brunt of the energy and distributes it to the pads. With more surface area than other pads, there’s more contact between the frame and the pads. The All-Star LUC-MAG pads have that internal distributor plate in them for this reason. Then, because of the heft of the foam, wool, and leather the pads dampen that energy rather well. The problem becomes that they are heavier than other synthetic pads, and when damp, that weight goes up.

Other than personal preference, there is no technical merit to leather over synthetic fabric. Synthetic fabrics wick better, dry faster, don’t rot, and are lighter. Leather does hold up against dirt abrasion, which catchers masks often are subject to, getting tossed on the ground repeatedly. But when does (or should) an umpire’s mask ever hits the ground???

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