Force3 Pro Gear is a relatively new company that makes incredibly safe and high quality equipment for both catchers and umpires.
This comprehensive post provides an introduction to the company and their safety technology, and it features reviews of all the Force3 catchers gear currently on the market.
Keep scrolling to learn more about this innovative gear!
Please Note: Some links in this post may be affiliate links. Please see our disclaimer for more information.
FORCE3 CATCHERS GEAR
Background on Force3
Force3 Pro Gear was founded by a former minor league umpire named Jason Klein, following the end of his umpiring career in 2009.
In a 2016 interview, Klein said that he started the company “out of necessity to combat traumatic head injuries.”
He went on to say:
“I was tired of getting hit in the head by a baseball off the bat and feeling like my skull was going to explode, or teeth knocked out. Nothing had been done to effectively reduce these kinds of impacts, and I thought it was time for change” (source: NH Register).
The company, based in Connecticut, began by producing protective equipment for umpires. But soon enough, their sights turned to making a safer, traditional catcher’s facemask.
After years of work, the Force3 team released an innovative catcher’s mask called the Defender. The mask has a unique design that’s been proven to be safer than other masks on the market.
The Defender is increasingly being used by major league catchers, with both Chicago White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal and former Atlanta Braves catcher Tyler Flowers serving as part owners, wearers, and advocates of the brand.
While the Defender mask is indeed Force3’s most well known product, they have since released a more diverse range of catcher’s gear.
Why They’re Different
Force3 is different than other equipment manufacturers because they are laser focused on user safety. In fact, they differentiate themselves as a brand specifically on this point.
The company claims that their Defender Mask (and similarly, the Defender catcher’s helmet) is the safest of its type on the market today.
This claim is backed up by testing results, which shows that the mask indeed does a better job than other masks of reducing the amount of impact to the head and face.
The specific measure used in this test is something called the "Severity Index".
Originally created to assess football helmets, the Severity Index (or SI) is a research-backed method developed by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE)
that measures the ability of a helmet to minimize the negative effects of an impact to the head.
Independent testers were used, and the resulting test showed that the Defender mask reduced the Severity Index score by more than 50% over traditional masks. These test results were verified by NOCSAE.
Check out the video below to learn more.
Its tremendous safety numbers are due primarily to the design of the mask and helmet. Each has a “Shock Suspension System” (also known as S3) which is a patent pending construction using a series of springs to absorb shock.The S3 feature helps to keep the head from being as violently rocked as it might be in a traditional mask.
Catchers are the most likely position on the field to be hit in the head or face with an extremely fast ball. Unfortunately, concussions are a risk and they have happened to catchers.
This mask, however, is a game changer. It is currently the best resource on the market to help prevent catcher concussions. (Please note though, that no mask is "concussion proof". More on that below.)
Pro Catchers That Use Force3 Equipment
A growing number of MLB catchers wear Force3 masks or helmets, and a handful even wear Force3 chest protectors, leg guards, and/or use their catcher’s mitts. The list of those catchers is below (note: this is not an all inclusive list).
- Will Smith
- Yasmani Grandal
- Mitch Garver
- Christian Vazquez
- Jorge Alfaro
- Robinson Chirinos
- Salvador Perez
- Drew Butera
- Travis d'Arnaud
- Kyle Farmer
- Kurt Suzuki
- Austin Hedges
- Tyler Heineman
(Click here to see our comprehensive list of brands used by current MLB catchers.)
Many minor league catchers also use Force3 products, as do catchers at the college, high school, junior high level and below.
Like the MLB, the list of Force3 users seems to keep expanding more and more at the amateur level. For example, you can take a peek at Force3’s twitter account to see players, umpires and coaches giving the company shout outs about their gear.
Reviews of All Force3 Catchers Gear
Now that we’ve got a bit of background on Force3, lets shift gears and look closer at the products themselves.
This next section examines each of the products that Force3 makes for catchers, as of the date of publication. Keep reading to learn more!
Please note: Force3 doesn't always sell their products on Amazon. If you have trouble finding Force3 products on Amazon, please also click our eBay links as you may have better luck there.
We have already written a bit earlier in this post about the Defender catcher’s mask made by Force3. It really is a mask unlike any other.
As mentioned earlier, the Defender has the (patent pending) S3 shock suspension system - containing strategically placed springs - and four, distributed memory foam pads.
Together, the Defender mask reduces impact by up to 50% over standard masks, verified by independent tests. Impressive.
The padding on the mask includes lining from Unequal Technologies, which is a company that specializes in making shock absorbing materials for military and athletic use.
The Defender mask is lightweight and feels no different than a typical catcher’s facemask. Additionally, the field of view is slightly bigger than what you see in most masks.
With concussions historically being a problem among catchers, a mask that can help prevent concussions and reduce head injuries is a welcome and needed innovation.
It’s important to be very clear, though: no mask is concussion proof. There will always be risk when playing behind the plate, no matter what mask or helmet you wear.
The Defender is simply a mask that currently does the best job at preventing concussions when compared to traditional masks.
Like the mask, Force3 makes a catcher’s helmet called the Defender helmet. It uses the same S3 technology as the mask, which immediately makes it stand out among other catcher’s helmets in the market due to its improved ability to reduce frontal impact.
This helmet has an acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (or ABS) shell, which is a hard plastic used on many other helmets. The mask component is made out of a strong, durable steel.
The chin pad on the helmet is made of leather and comes with a comfort liner and the padding has Unequal Technologies lining, just like the Defender mask.
It has strategic vents on the back of the helmet which helps keep the user cooler than they would otherwise be. The helmet is also pretty lightweight and does not seem to weigh any more than a more "traditional" catcher’s helmet.
Lastly, the helmet meets all NOCSAE safety standards for catcher’s helmets.
Please Note: This helmet can be used by both Baseball and Fastpitch Softball catchers
The chest protector made by Force3 comes in two sizes (adult and youth) and three colors (black, royal blue and red).
The adult size chest protector measures 16.5″L x 13″W and the youth size measures 14″L x 11.5″W.
It has a solid color design with two gray stripes in an elongated V shape on the front. F3’s white logo appears above the sternum, slightly below the collarbone.
The uppermost gray V pattern contains a special “aramid fiber” construction, which is a material that essentially helps to disburse force.
The chest protector has a tough, but comfortable, memory foam core, with venting on the backside designed to maximize airflow.
It comes with two removable shoulder caps, and has an adjustable 3 point harness system to keep the chest protector firmly in place during games.
Please note: The youth size currently comes only in black.
Similar to its chest protector, Force3 makes a set of leg guards that currently come in two sizes (adult and youth) and three colors (black, royal blue and red), depending on the marketplace that is selling it. The youth size only comes in black.
They have a solid color design with the F3 logo imprinted above the knee, and a gray stripe appearing below the knee containing the label FORCE3 PRO GEAR.
The leg guards are lightweight and conform to your legs really well. They offer solid knee protection, with an aramid fiber based disc covering the vulnerable spots over and slightly below the knee.
Force3 currently makes two types of catcher’s mitts: a “stock” mitt, and a custom mitt.
The stock mitt, shown in the picture above, measures 34 inches and is made with a high quality Japanese steer hide. It has black leather with yellow/gold embroidery in the pocket, including gold stitching, a gold F3 logo at the base of the hand and the word FORCE3 stitched near the side of the mitt. (Please note: some versions have different colored stitching.)
It is a durable mitt that should stand up to a beating without a problem. Force3 designed it so that it can be broken in fairly quickly, as well.
Additionally, you can order a custom catcher’s mitt on Force3’s website. It will cost more than the stock mitt since it’s customized and hand made by the company.
However, Force3 allows you to customize practically every aspect of the mitt to your own liking down to even the smallest of details, which is pretty cool. If you'd like to read more about customization options, see our article on customized gear.
In short, Force3 is a good option for those interested in getting a custom mitt.
Catcher's Gear Set
Force3 sells a complete catcher’s gear set which comes with the Defender catcher’s helmet, chest protector and leg guards.
Those three pieces are the same models described above. As a result, the adult size comes in either black, royal blue or red, and the youth size comes only in black, depending on the marketplace you are buying from.
The full set is a good buying option for catchers needing a replacement set and for players new to the position who need their first set of catcher's gear.
Other Gear and Accessories
At this point in the post we have addressed all the core components of catcher’s gear that Force3 manufactures. This last section will briefly highlight the other pieces of gear and accessories that the company makes for catchers.
Pro Mask Sun Shield
The Sun Shield is designed to be used in catcher’s masks (including non Force3 masks) and is used to reduce glare associated with the sun and/or bright lights.
It is made of strong, shatter resistant materials and comes with the F3 logo at the top center etched in black.
Pro Catcher's Harness
This harness is used for chest protectors and is available in 7 colors, each coming in a white trim.
Force3 makes three different bags designed to carry catcher's gear. The largest is called the Ultimate Equipment Bag. It is indeed a large bag - the main gear compartment is 32" x 15" x 9" - and it has a telescopic handle and wheels.
They also sell the Pro Player's Equipment Bag, which is a duffel bag that's large enough to carry catcher's gear. Lastly, they make a Mini Ultimate Equipment Bag which is more like a smaller bag you would see someone roll on an airplane. It's a cool looking bag, but it's not large enough for catcher's gear.
Mask/Helmet Carrying Bag
This is a black, drawstring bag that comes either in regular or large size. It has a simple design made to carry a catcher’s mask or helmet. The word FORCE3 appears at the bottom in white and red.
Replacement Defender Pads
These replacement pads are designed to be used only in Defender masks. They are made of a synthetic leather, contain an Unequal Technologies liner, and are available in many different colors.
Pro Knee Savers
These are Force3’s foam based, solid color knee savers. There is a white F3 logo on the bottom left. The knee savers connect to the straps on leg guards.
F3 Mask Harness
This is a nylon based harness for catcher’s masks. It fits the Defender mask, as well as several non Force3 masks.
Force3 makes a unique looking F3 branded throat guard that can be attached to any catcher's mask. It weighs roughly three ounces and is made in either silver or black.
Thigh Protection Tights
These gray tights are built with two openings on the inside thighs (one on each side), containing lightweight, kevlar plates in those openings. The purpose of these plates is to protect catchers and umpires from wild pitches that could strike that particular part of the leg.
F3 Mask/Utility Carrying Bag
This is a smaller drawstring bag that can carry a mask or a handful of small items. This nylon bag is black and has the F3 logo and words “FORCE3 PRO GEAR” printed on the front in white and red.
Pro Batting Gloves
These batting gloves are made out of genuine leather and come in multiple colors and sizes. The neon yellow F3 logo features prominently on the front of the hand, with FORCE3 printed on the wrist strap.
Force3 Laundry Bag
Force3 also makes a bag designed to hold your dirty uniform (or other clothes) needing to be washed. It is made out of polyester and has vented holes. It is built with a strong carrying strap and has the F3 logo on the front.
That Wraps It Up!
That's all the Force3 catcher's gear currently available that we wanted to share with you. We hope this post was helpful to you and answered some of your questions.
If you have any questions for us, don't hesitate to reach out by heading over to the Contact Us page or by sending an email to scott [at] catchershome [dot] com.
Thank you for reading, and thanks for taking the time to stop by Catchers Home!