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Official Review: Force3 Defender Umpire Mask


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Alright, here we go... 

  1. I like how Force3 keeps pushing the envelope on making this thing lighter. Before someone suggests it – no, aluminum would not be a good option for either of the frames involved. The outer frame wouldn't remain elastic enough (over time and repeat impacts) so as to reliably transfer the impact energy (IE) waves to the springs and shocks mechanisms. The welds would have to be larger. And, on the inner frame, that weld between the frame and the the spring-&-shock assemblies would have to robust and incredibly well-done, because that's where the majority of the IE stress would occur. Titanium might be an option, but how much benefit would we get – in lightness and weight saving – for the increased cost? Magnesium is actually too light, since it wouldn't even activate the shocks and springs in their current construct. Most of the IE would resonate within magnesium's inherit dampening characteristics. 
  2. It was mentioned, but it needs to be stressed – this mask is worn differently than typical. We want this to be a snug fit, bordering on tight. Why? Because we want it to be as linear and solid of a path as possible for the IE to travel. Outer frame -> springs-&-shocks -> inner frame -> pads... and then any minuscule remaining energy goes to your facial tissues. Only then. We don't want to wear it loose, because that introduces space that the IE will drive the entirety of the mask back to cover and your facial tissues will experience more than intended. The softness of the pads does encourage you to wear the mask tighter. To this, we do appreciate this being improved; however, if they're doing a "softer" leather face panel, why can't that be technical fabric?? Outer skin, robust leather – more hardy, more resilient to abrasion (from the bars, etc.). But why can't the inner skin, the part that contacts your face, be technical fabric? This mask isn't going to contact the ground very much, if at all (especially if worn by umpires). 🤔 
  3. Charcoal grey pads; sky blue pads. FTW. 
  4. While I'm appreciative and respectful of Force3 submitting it to a NOCSAE testing lab to be tested out and evaluated, it really can't tell us much that will affect the NFHS "one-piece" rule. Oh sure, I'd like to read/hear that this latest Defender has the highest G-load / Newton reduction of any mask on the market. I genuinely believe that it does. I'd especially want to see what it does when combined with a Skuly (modified / arranged so the "Concussifoam" is at the front! Where it belongs!). The only issue is, no matter what that number is, it cannot guarantee protection against a concussion. Why? Because all external things being equal, it is the individual user's reaction to the impact that induces a true concussion. And every individual is different. Every impact is different. What the one-piece (HSM, et. al.) helmet-mask does is prevent head injury (fractures, lacerations, BFT, etc.) not – and I have to repeat – not concussions. NOCSAE's steering committee has determined a threshold value that the submitted helmet-mask must reduce the IE down to (in G or Newtons, IIRC), otherwise it is not approved. This value is not concussion-proof, it is fracture-proof. 

Here's a photo I took of a dissected Force3 Defender jaw pad. 

Eat yer heart out with those cheap sausages, Wilson. 

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Just now, Thunderheads said:

throw the 'W' around in a post that has nothing to do with 'W'

Oh but it does! MLB recently (last year?) bestowed an "Official" designation on Force3's gear, especially the Defender! So, we should start seeing Lou Gehrig's silhouette showing up on Defender harnesses throughout MLB catchers and umpires alike! And not that stoooopid Wilson harness either; it should be one of these Force3 harnesses. 


I suppose I'm just sick'n'tired of tuning in to MLB broadcasts and seeing the PU wearing a really nifty mask, such as a Nike Icon, or a Rampage, or a Mizuno, and yet, there's that stoooopid gold W on the pads. You know damned well that those aren't Wilson pads!!!

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Any idea when the other colors are coming in?  I'd love to get me a grey-frame/black pad combo to replace my current one (which is showings its age).

Also, any idea if they fixed the clamps sliding around problem? @JimKirk?

Edited by Thunderheads
added Jim Kirk to Erich's question
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  • 3 weeks later...

I JUST got this in today, after ordering last week (thanks to the high-pressure Sock-related sale :D) ! 

I got the 'silver', which is a significantly different color from my old mask (which was more of a grey, this is a shiny silver).  It looks like they redesigned where the springs at the top clamp on a little, though I might have to look more closely at it/compare it to the one in my bag. 

Overall, still a really great mask!  I won't be able to use it this weekend thanks to not working games, but I'm looking forward to using it!  The reduced weight isn't noticeable to me, but the weight of my V2 never really bothered me anyway, so *shrug*.

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