Selecting the best youth catcher’s gear for your son or daughter is never an easy decision. Not only do you need to navigate hundreds of different products, but you also need to understand the jargon used in these reviews. In 2021 alone there are several new youth catcher’s sets. The purpose of this guide is to provide you with the very best youth catcher’s gear sets for ages 7-12, as well as offer some need-to-know information about selecting the right set for your young catcher.
Before wasting any more time, let’s get into the youth catcher’s gear reviews. Each review will have a unique award that suggests what it does better than all the rest. Please note that this list of reviews is listed in no particular order and is designed to include options for all age groups, budgets and player preferences.
Here are the best youth catcher’s gear sets 2021:
- Louisville Slugger Series 5
- Wilson C1K Intermediate
- Easton Elite X
- Rawling Velo 2.0
- Rawlings Renegade 2.0
- Rawlings Players Junior
- Mizuno Samurai
- All-Star S7 Axis
- Wilson EZ Gear
- Easton Black Magic 2.0
1. Louisville Slugger Series 5
The best value youth catcher’s gear for ages 7-10
Louisville Slugger is most recognized for their baseball bats. However, the bat company does manufacture an effective youth catcher’s set – the Louisville Slugger Series 5. This 3-piece set has the protection and maneuverability that players need from catcher’s equipment. It also comes in 11 color options.
High-density padding in the helmet, chest protector and leg guards not only protects the player, but also helps control rebounds. This keeps the ball close to the catcher and limits runners advancing. The Series 5 youth helmet meets NOCSAE protection standards and offers sizes between 6 3/8 and 7 1/8.
For maneuverability, the size 12-inch chest protector features an over-the-shoulder harness that fits better than many traditional designs. It also creates a more comfortable wear for the player. The 13-inch leg guards also keep the catcher mobile with a double-knee design and gaps that fit the anatomical shape of the leg better.
The Louisville Slugger Series 5 youth set also features moisture wicking technology in the chest liner, chin pad and other places. This aims to control sweat, even during the hottest day games. Based on the size of this affordable youth catcher’s equipment, it is a great set of catcher’s gear for players in the 7-10 age group.
What we like (and don’t like) about the Series 5 set:
- Plenty of performance features for a low price.
- Foam padding pulls double duty by protecting the player and controlling rebounds.
- Design offers excellent maneuverability and natural movements.
- A slightly dated set compared to the newest 2021 youth catcher’s gear.
- May be too small for older youth players.
Not everyone wants to invest in high-end catcher’s gear for youth baseball. Luckily, the Louisville Slugger Series 5 youth 3-piece catcher’s set offers many of the same features as the most expensive youth catcher’s gear sets, but at an affordable price point.
2. Wilson C1K Intermediate
The best catcher’s set for ages 13+
Some older youth players need a catcher’s kit that will carry them beyond the younger leagues, even to the high school level. The Wilson C1K Intermediate catcher’s kit is designed specifically to go the distance, whether as a high-end youth catcher’s set, or as a young high school catcher’s equipment.
The Wilson C1K follows the same design as the Pro Stock gear that the professionals use. This means that the set is both durable and protective, so it will withstand heavy play until your son or daughter outgrows it.
The helmet is NOCSAE-certified and will fit hat sizes between 7 1/8 and 7 1/2. Many of the interior pads are removable and can be washed with ease. The glossy finish adds a nice aesthetic touch.
The 13.5-inch chest protector is built from high-density foam padding that offers supreme shielding. You can remove the shoulder caps for added mobility or keep them on for a wider frame of protection. And, the over-the-shoulder harness is adjustable to create a customized fit for each wearer.
Wrapping up the Wilson C1K kit is the leg guards. The inner knee pads offer ample comfort and protection and are also removable for easy washing. The protective plates on the exterior of the leg guards are made from a lightweight, ABS plastic. The overlapping thigh design ensures complete shielding from balls. The leg guards measure 14 inches and feature metal buckles for easy transitions between innings.
The Wilson C1K Intermediate catcher’s gear kit comes in 7 color options.
What we like (and don’t like) about the C1K Intermediate set:
- Removable padding in the helmet and leg guards for easy washing.
- NOCSAE-certified equipment to meet protective standards of today.
- Form-fitting chest protector for comfort and mobility.
- Not all padding can be removed for washing.
- Large sizes only fit older youth players preparing to move into more competitive leagues.
Players in the 11-13 age group won’t be playing in youth leagues for much longer. These players need catcher’s gear like the Wilson C1K Intermediate because it will carry them through to the end of their youth careers and into the next stage.
3. Easton Elite X
The best overall youth catcher’s gear for ages 9-12
If you love the Easton brand, but need a little more from your youth catcher’s equipment, then the Elite X set is ideal. It is arguably the best Little League catcher’s gear evidenced by the 2018 Little League Baseball World Series.
The Elite X catcher’s helmet focuses on comfort and protection. The ABS plastic outer shell has air vents placed in key areas to cause cool air to flow through the helmet and keep the player’s head comfortable and sweat-free. The internal padding is also breathable thanks to BioDri moisture controlling fabric and breathable air mesh materials. For a secure fit, the chin cup and extra-wide, rear-top strap are completely adjustable and offer a form-fitting design that will fit sizes 6 1/2 to 7 1/8. It also has a nice looking matte finish!
The chest protector uses the same layered foam padding as the Easton M7 Set. This padding system offers both protection and rebound control for peak performance behind the plate. The Elite X chest protector uses a 4-point webbing strap system and heavy-duty clips to guarantee an optimal and durable fit. An adjustable shoulder cap and neoprene back liner further add to the promise of protection and comfort.
At the foundation of this top-rated youth catcher’s gear is the Elite X leg guards. The wide-set knee design offers a huge blocking surface to keep balls from passing by, but it doesn’t restrict movements. The catcher still has excellent range to all sides. When moving in and out of the squat position, the knee-thigh connection provides maneuverability and comfort. Similar to the helmet, the leg guards are also strategically vented for airflow. Many of the features of the leg guards, like inner knee and shin pads, can be removed or adjusted for a customized wear.
This is a top-end youth catcher’s gear for the 9-12 age group with 15 color options to choose from!
What we like (and don’t like) about the Elite X set:
- An all-around great set for catchers in the 9-12 age group.
- Comfortable wear from helmet to leg guards.
- The best youth baseball catcher’s gear in the 2018 Little League Baseball World Series.
- Equipment sizes may be too large for younger youth players.
- More expensive than many of the other youth catcher’s sets.
If you’re a larger player in the 9-12 age range, the Easton Elite X youth catcher’s gear is a great pick. It is incredibly comfortable, offers the protection that you want and will help you handle your duties behind the plate!
4. Rawlings Velo 2.0
A good-quality set for ages 11, 12 and older
Rawlings is another immediately recognizable brand in the baseball world. The Velo 2.0 youth catcher’s set is designed for players under 12 years of age. That said, the size of the helmet, chest protector and leg guards suggest that it is top-rated catcher’s gear for youth players in the 9-12 age group.
The helmet size ranges between 6 1/2 to 7 and has a hockey-style mask that doesn’t sacrifice protection or visibility. For fit, the helmet has an adjustable chin pad and a 3-way back plate that can be loosened or tightened for any desired fit. To add comfort, the helmet has strategic ventilation holes and a liner that is designed to minimize moisture and sweat.
The NOCSAE-approved chest protector measures 13.5 inches and features one of the coolest-sounding technologies in catchers equipment: the Arc Reactor Core. This is what grants the chest that crucial protection over the heart. It also absorbs the energy of the ball to help keep rebounds closeby. No one will dare to try and advance! The Dynamic Fit System 2.0 delivers a comfortable and form-fitting harness with over-the-shoulder flexibility that allows the player to maneuver without hesitation.
Rawlings equipped the Velo 2.0 youth catcher’s leg guards with Heat Exchange foam technology that will stay cool and keep the player comfortable during the hottest day games. The increased airflow will feel nice too! It has an overall lightweight design to keep the player agile. These 13.75-inch leg guards also feature a toe cap, which is rare but nice in youth catcher’s equipment.
What we like (and don’t like) about the Velo 2.0 set:
- NOCSAE-approved chest protector with Arc Reactor Core technology.
- Hockey-style mask protects the face but maximizes visibility behind the plate.
- Leg guards feature Heat Exchange foam technology for exceptional temperature control.
- Only sized for older youth players.
- Available in only a handful of color options.
Because of its size, the Rawlings Velo 2.0 is a perfect fit for players that are looking to transition into an older, intermediate league. The Arc Reactor Core will stand up to intermediate play and the size of this equipment means it is good catcher’s gear for a 13-year-old, perhaps even older!
5. Rawlings Renegade 2.0
A good-quality set for 10-year-olds
Rawlings understands that one-size never fits all. The Renegade 2.0 youth set has many of the same design elements as the Velo 2.0, but with smaller leg guards and a larger chest piece. Not only does this help it fit a wider age range, but it may suit some body types better than the Velo 2.0 model. It’s also more affordable!
The catcher’s helmet has the same hockey-style mask with CoolFlo ventilation to keep the player comfortable and not too hot. The cage of the mask is developed to protect from even the hardest of pitches at this age.
The chest features the same awesome-sounding Arc Reactor Core, which ensures NOCSAE certification. Again, this tech pulls double-duty by protecting the player and controlling rebounds. The Renegade 2.0’s chest protector is designed with anatomical breaks to offer more natural movement.
The 13-inch leg guards of this Rawlings catcher’s set also have natural breaks that allow the player to move more freely, especially to the side. It’s also worth mentioning that the Youth Renegade 2.0 catcher’s set also has a limited number of color options (even less than the Velo 2.0).
What we like (and don’t like) about the Renegade 2.0 set:
- A NOCSAE-certified chest protector with great maneuverability.
- Lightweight leg guards that don’t restrict side-to-side movement.
- CoolFlo helmet keeps the player comfortable and safe.
- Only available in 4 basic color options.
- May still be too large for younger players.
The Rawlings Youth Renegade 2.0 catcher’s set is a great alternative to the Velo 2.0. It is more affordable and it fits a different body type. It is arguably one of the best youth catcher’s gear for 10-year-olds that haven’t hit that big growth spurt yet.
6. Rawlings Players Junior
The best catcher’s gear set for youth teams
Aside from the Velo 2.0 and Renegade 2.0 catcher’s sets, Rawlings also offers cheap youth catcher’s gear for the 6-8 age group. The Rawlings Players Junior catcher’s set is designed for younger players in less competitive leagues.
The Junior is a youth catcher’s gear set designed for players in the 6-8 age group. While it offers protection and adjustable features for a good fit, it does not have many of the performance-enhancing features as the other models. Nor does the chest protector feature the NOCSAE certification that is becoming increasingly necessary in leagues.
The 6 1/2 – 7 size helmet has the same hockey-style face guard that many of the pros at the MLB level use. The leg guards measure at 11.5 inches and are designed to offer some flexibility. The 13-inch chest protector is lightweight and still offers good protection, especially at younger, less competitive levels of play. It even has an adjustable shoulder cap!
What we like (and don’t like) about the Players Junior set:
- Affordable catcher’s equipment for beginner age groups.
- Relatively lightweight for easier movement.
- Hockey-style mask in the helmet is the same style many pros use.
- Very few performance features.
- Does not carry the NOCSAE certification.
Rawlings designed the Players Junior catcher’s set for beginners. Its simple design and price also make it an attractive option for coaches that want youth catcher’s equipment that the whole team can use.
7. Mizuno Samurai
The best youth catcher’s gear for large players
Mizuno is well known for having top-quality products with very simple, straightforward designs. The Mizuno Samurai youth baseball catcher’s set follows this reputation well. Mizuno’s goal for this top-rated youth catcher’s gear was to make a durable set that offered both performance and comfort.
The Samurai helmet has 3-layer EVA foam padding to cradle the players head and protect this crucial point on the body. Meanwhile, carefully placed ventilation holes provide consistent airflow to keep the player’s head cool. Finally, a strong, steel mask in the front protect’s the player’s face, without inhibiting their ability to see the entire field.
Next, the Mizuno Samurai youth chest protector steps to the plate with its Low Rebound Foam padding. Not only does this dampen the energy of the ball and protect the player’s body, but Mizuno engineered it to be particularly grippy on the surface, which will further help keep the ball close to the catcher.
The shin guards of this best youth catcher’s gear from Mizuno features the company’s patented K-Pad and Triple Knee Cup design. Together, these features offer comfort behind the plate and exceptional maneuverability, whether coming out of the squat or ranging to either side to block a ball or the plate.
This set has 8 color options. The helmet fits hat sizes between 6 1/2 and 7 1/4. The shin guards measure at 14.5 inches and the chest protector has a 14-inch size. This set is best suited for older youth players. It is one of the most popular youth catcher’s gear sets for the 9-12 age group.
What we like (and don’t like) about the Samurai set:
- An all-around great catcher’s set for older youth leagues.
- Chest protector offers exceptional rebound control thanks to unique foam padding.
- 8 color options means you can match the gear to your team’s uniform.
- One of the most expensive youth catcher’s gear kits on the market.
- Large sizes do not fit smaller, younger youth players.
Due to the size of the Mizuno Samurai youth 14-inch baseball catcher’s set, it is arguably the best catcher’s gear for 12-year-olds. The only drawback is the price tag.
8. All-Star S7 Axis
A high-end set for excellent performance
The first thing to realize about the All-Star S7 Axis youth catcher’s system is that it is the most expensive youth catcher’s set on the list. It is designed for very competitive, youth travel leagues. If you aren’t looking to pay a lot for your son or daughter’s equipment in 2021, then there are definitely cheaper alternatives on this list.
The All-Star S7 Axis Youth Catcher’s System is focused on keeping the player mobile behind the plate, but still heavily protected. Right off the bat, this high-end youth catcher’s gear carries the NOCSAE certification that is becoming a necessity in today’s game.
What sets the All-Star S7 system apart from the rest is the ability to offer such protection and padding with thinner, more lightweight equipment. The chest protector, for example, has a form-fitting design because of the DeltaFlex Harness. It really clings to the player’s body! And, the diamond-shaped vents offer breathability and further weight reduction.
The All-Star MVP youth helmet in this kit features a high-impact-resistant ABS shell and mask that will keep the player’s precious head well protected. Inside the helmet, a 3D mesh liner helps eliminate sweat, while also remaining lightweight to further reduce the weight of this 2021 youth catcher’s set.
Perhaps the most notable part of this set is the All-Star S7 Axis leg guards and their LINQ Hinge System. This feature allows the catcher to move without restriction, whether coming out of the squat or diving to block a ball to either side. The leg guards also feature wider protective plates. Not only does this provide added protection for the player, but it also helps them block balls in the dirt.
The All-Star S7 Axis catching system for youth players has a number of design options and different model numbers. It’s worth noting that there are no performance or design differences between these different models, only cosmetic.
What we like (and don’t like) about the S7 Axis set:
- LINQ Hinge System provides extreme mobility to all sides.
- NOCSAE certified protection with a lightweight design.
- Lots of design and color options to match any team uniform.
- The most expensive youth catcher’s gear on the list.
- Sized for larger, older youth players.
While the All-Star S7 Axis youth catcher’s system is one of the most expensive on the market, it has great performance elements that really help a young catcher excel behind the plate.
9. Wilson EZ Gear
The best affordable catcher’s gear for ages 6-8
The Wilson EZ Gear kit has been on the market for years, yet it remains the most popular youth catcher’s gear for the 6-8 age group. For many players, their first set of catcher’s equipment is the Wilson EZ Gear.
Similar to the Rawlings Players Junior set, the Wilson EZ Gear is also a very basic product with very few high-quality features. The padding offers more than enough protection for Little League play, but it may not hold up to older and more competitive leagues where the level of pitching and play is much harder.
The one standout feature of this best-selling youth catcher’s gear is the EZ QuickChange Technology. This utilizes simple straps and hooks for extremely fast equipment changes. Once you adjust the equipment to your body, it holds that shape and all you need to do is clip it on or off. It’s a great feature for beginners that are not used to putting their equipment on and taking it off very quickly.
The helmet meets NOCSAE standards thanks to a glossy ABS shell. It is also ventilated to keep the player’s head cool. The chest guard has removable shoulder caps for an extra range of protection. It has the same form-fitting design that the Wilson MLB catcher’s gear uses.
What we like (and don’t like) about the EZ Gear kit:
- EZ Quick Change Technology means you can take off or put on the gear in seconds.
- Removable shoulder caps for a custom fit.
- NOCSAE-approved helmet.
- Doesn’t have the quality of padding necessary for higher levels of play.
- May not fit a larger youth player.
The Wilson EZ Gear catcher’s set is extremely affordable, lightweight and easy to use. It is arguably the best catcher’s gear for 6-8-year-olds that are new to the game.
10. Easton Black Magic 2.0
The best youth catcher’s gear for 8-year-olds
Competing with sets like the Wilson EZ and Rawlings Players Junior is Easton’s Black Magic 2.0 junior catcher’s set. The junior size is perfect catcher’s gear for the 6-8 age range. There is also a youth model that is designed for 9-12-year-olds.
The Easton Black Magic 2.0 helmet has a hockey-style mask and an ABS shell for supreme protection. The liner inside the helmet is made from dual-density foam to provide both a snug fit and shock absorption, which is important should the player take a ball or even a bat to the head. Thanks to these protective measures, this helmet meets the NOCSAE standard.
The chest protector for this youth catcher’s set has a full foam padding system to protect from ball impacts. The velcro closures means you can easily remove the chest protector and the equipment adjusts with a simple mechanism, so it is easy to find that snug, comfortable fit. The junior size measures 12 inches.
For leg protection, the Easton Black Magic 2.0 leg guards feature a PE shin plate and double-knee design. The double-knee design is popular even at the MLB-level! It offers ample protection and good mobility behind the dish. Similar to the chest protector, the leg guards have an easy-on, easy-off closure system. The leg guards also measure 12 inches.
What we like (and don’t like) about the Black Magic 2.0 set:
- A new youth catcher’s gear set that rivals the Wilson EZ and Rawlings Players products.
- Each piece of equipment is easy to adjust, put on and take off.
- NOCSAE certified helmet is ultra-protective.
- Slightly more expensive than other catcher’s gear for 6-8-year-olds.
- No protection to the shoulders.
The Easton Black Magic 2.0 junior catcher’s set is arguably the best catcher’s gear for 8-year-olds in a travel league that need a little more quality than what Wilson or Rawlings offers.
A Brief History of Catcher’s Equipment
Catcher’s equipment and its role in the game of baseball has changed over the years.
When baseball was young, catcher’s stood far behind the plate. Largely, this was because they wore no padding of any kind and needed to be out of the line of direct fire.
Prehistoric catchers didn’t even have good catcher’s mitts with added padding; they wore the same gloves as other players.
As the game progressed, these players found that the closer they dared to stand to the plate and the batter, the bigger their competitive edge was.
But, this close proximity to the action came at a price, as was routine for players like Nat Hicks and others that adopted this strategy. Hicks almost lost his right eye in 1873 during a game.
Because of cases like Hicks’, catchers began to look for protective equipment that would allow them to stand even closer and not risk permanent harm.
The first piece of protective catcher’s gear was a mouth guard, which seems barbaric given the high-quality catcher’s sets that we have today.
The helmet soon followed. The earliest catcher’s mask was a modified fencing mask. Later, Spalding Company would list the same mask in their catalog.
From there, new adaptations were created and the product evolved until it became the best catcher’s helmet that we know today.
The earliest, open appearance of the catcher’s chest protector happened in 1883, when the wife of a Detroit catcher stitched together a chest pad to shield her husband.
Some players reportedly wore protectors earlier than ‘83, but always under their jersey. Many of these were made from sheepskin, with later adaptations using air-filled rubber tubes.
These primitive designs are far from what catcher’s enjoy now.
In their earliest form, leg guards (more appropriately shin guards, at the time) were designed to protect catcher’s from baserunners spiking during their slide into home.
Some catcher’s wrapped newspaper or other material around their shins to inconspicuously hide their protection.
The early forms of catcher’s gear point to perhaps the most interesting part of the history of catcher’s equipment.
Every new piece of gear was often met with mockery. The first catchers to don their apparel in games were laughed at and had their manliness questioned.
The catcher was supposed to have thick skin and “deal with it.” Thus, the earliest forms of catcher gear had to be protective, but also easy to hide beneath a uniform.
What to Look for In the Best Catcher’s Gear?
Every catcher’s situation is unique, in terms of what qualities to look for.
Between the league you play in, which hand you use to throw the ball, your budget and other preferences, the best youth catcher’s gear varies.
Here are some qualities to look for when selecting the best catcher gear for you:
The entire purpose of catcher’s equipment is to protect the youth player. And, every set of catcher’s gear fulfills this goal. Every helmet is made from ABS plastic, chest protectors all have dense foam to dull impacts, etc.
Price can determine the quality of this protection and how much of the player’s body is covered. How protective you need the gear to be depends on the level of play.
Youth players on advanced, travel teams may want to invest in a set that offers more complete shielding from balls because pitchers throw harder, hitters swing harder and there’s greater potential danger.
Catcher’s gear has to be protective, but that protection has to be carefully applied to not hinder the player’s range of motion.
Cheaper equipment is often stiffer and harder to move around in.
The best intermediate catcher’s gear uses high-quality padding that is thinner and enhances flexibility.
Similar to flexibility and reducing how much a player is restricted, lightweight gear is better than heavier, clunky gear.
A lightweight catcher’s mask is especially important because a player may have to remove it quickly to throw a player out or find a ball in the dirt.
Players, especially at the youth level, are always growing. Catcher’s gear needs to be adjustable so that different sized players can use the same set and be comfortable.
It’s always important to look at the sizes of different gear, in order to determine the appropriate model or version for your size.
Some of the most expensive catcher’s gear even has removable features, which creates an even more customized fit.
If you’ve ever sat in full catcher’s gear during a mid-July or August game when the sun is hammering down, you know the agony of how sweaty and miserable the equipment can get.
You can also experience this terror if you’ve ever had to clean a catcher’s gear or equipment bag after a hot game.
The best catcher’s gear uses strategic venting systems and other tactics to produce cool, circulated air inside the gear for a fresher, more comfortable feeling.
6. Rebound Control
One of the most frustrating times for a catcher is losing track of where a ball deflected too.
High-end catcher’s equipment tries to eliminate this aggravation by using specially engineered padding that absorbs the energy of the ball to deaden any potential rebounds.
This keeps the ball always close to the catcher and can reduce stolen bases.
Why Become a Catcher?
Given the physical nature of the number two position, some people wonder why be a catcher at all. The catcher is a unique role for a number of reasons.
There is the bond between pitcher and catcher. This relationship teaches cooperation and communication.
The position of the catcher on the field gives him or her sight of each teammate. This viewpoint allows the player to see things others miss and puts the catcher in a leadership-type role as the gatekeeper to home plate.
A lot of responsibility rests on the catcher that other positions don’t have, but that is what makes this position so fun to play.
With plenty of 2021 reviews of catcher’s sets available, finding the best youth catcher’s gear for your son or daughter is difficult. We hope that the list of the top 10 youth catcher’s sets listed above has helped you narrow down your options. Remember, you want this equipment to protect the player, but also help them with their duties behind the plate. Products that offer both mobility and protection are some of the best youth catcher’s sets out there.