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Guide to Best Catchers Mitts and Protective Gear

Catcher's gear; the best catcher's mask recommended by pro baseball player; the best catchers glove

Gear recommendations by PJ Pilittere, former catcher and current coach for the NY Yankees. Image by Frank Lauri

Tips and insider info for choosing your best catchers mitt and protective gear, featuring recommendations by PJ Pilittere.

PJ was drafted in 2004 by the New York Yankees and spent 7 years as a professional catcher. He retired after the 2011 season and took a position as a coach in the NY Yankees organization.

Best Catchers Mitts

Things to think about when choosing your best catchers mitt. 
  • Leather Quality. Quality leather is extremely important for catchers mitts. Most catchers do not like when their glove gets too flimsy. Cheaper leather loses its shape and strength, making it harder to catch baseballs. Also, good leather makes a loud pop when you catch the baseball (pitchers love the sound). Quality leather stays stiff longer, making for a longer break in period, but it lasts longer.
  • Break in time. Some gloves come with more shaping/break-in done at the factory before the glove is purchased. This means means the glove will be game-ready faster. Some guys love this. Others, like myself, prefer to break in gloves themselves.
  • Palm protection. Some guys like extra padding in the palm area of the glove, while others do not because they feel the ball better without it.
  • You get what you pay for. When you buy a nice glove it may cost a little more, but it will cost about the same if you need to buy two average gloves because the first one broke down.
  • The Big Four. In the pros, you really only see catchers using Rawlings, All-Star, Louisville Slugger, and Wilson gloves. These models are time-tested and the quality is there to make them worth the higher price. They’ll last longer so you’ll buy fewer gloves in the long run. Also, stronger leather means fewer mistakes in the field.

“Overall, I like how All-Star fits. It’s not too bulky, and it fits the body well. It’s pretty much the standard for catchers gear.” - PJ Pilittere

Rawlings Catchers Mitts

Rawlings Primo Catchers mitt, glove comparisons in plain english, best catchers mitt

Primo Catchers Mitt

The break-in ratio (% Factory / % Player) tells you if the leather is going to be harder or softer when you pull it out of the box. Some players like to know that the glove is almost game ready when they pull it out of the box (Factory %). Other players like to do the breaking in themselves. They feel the glove lasts longer and is more conformed to their specific preferences (Player %).

Primo Series -$399

  • Rawlings most elite glove
  • Made of Italian calfskin leather (the best leather you can find for catchers mitts)
  • Extra strong laces help give the mitt more durability (15% stronger)
  • Break in is 20% Factory/80% player, so you’ll have to do some work to get it game ready
  • Price is steep but you won’t find better leather on a high quality mitt.
Rawlings pro preferred catchers mitt, Comparing the best catchers mitts pros and cons

Pro Preferred Catchers Mitt

Pro Preferred Series – $329

  • Made of high quality Kipskin leather.
  • Has extra palm protection reducing ball impact.
  • Extra strong laces help give the mitt more durability (15% stronger)
  • One of best catchers mitts on the market.
  • Break in is 30% Factory/70% Player
  • Get it Custom made

Heart of the Hide Series – $209

  • Made of top 5% of steer hides
  • Catcher’s glove comes in several sizes, but the 33″ is exclusive to RG
  • Minimal break in effort needed (50% Factory/50% Player)
  • Nice quality leather at a good price
  • The catcher’s mitt comes with extra palm protection to reduce impact
Answering what are the best catchers mitts by comparing pros and cons, includes professional player recommendations

Heart of the Hide Catchers Mitt

Heart of the Hide Series, Pro Mesh – $229

  • Has mesh on back of fingers and thumb making mitt feel lighter.
  • Overall nice mitt
  • Minimal break in effort needed (60% Factory/40% Player)

Heart of the Hide Series, Dual Core – $229

  • The quickest break in catchers mitt they offer (25% player break-in). Almost ready to go out of the box.
  • Made from Heart of the Hide soft leather.
  • Comes with extra palm protection reducing ball impact.
  • Remember, you’ll sacrifice some durability for a quicker break in.

More detail on each series at Rawlingsgear.com

Where to BuyBaseball Rampage | Rawlings Gear (We like that Baseball Rampage has free shipping AND free return shipping, but if you want an off size, Rawlings Gear has way more selection.  And they do free shipping over $125)

All-Star Catchers Mitts

Yankee PJ Piliterre does a product review for best catcher's mitts.  He recommends the All-star 3000 SBT 33 ½ inch glove

All-star 3000 SBT 33 ½ inch glove

All-star CM3000 series

  • One of the most used and trusted, best catchers mitts around. The 3000 series is used by many professional catchers.
  • Exclusive Japanese tanned leather gives it a relatively quick break in and good durability.
  • Black leather in the back is stiffer helping with durability.
  • Each mitt is handmade.

Note: Don’t get the 3000 series confused with the 3100, 3200, or the 3030 series. The 3000 is their “Pro-elite” series and by far the best catchers mitt sold by All-star.

Wilson Catchers Mitts

A2k wilson catchers mitt, product reviews and recommendations from the pros

Wilson A2K catchers mitt

A2K – $339.95

  • The only A2K catchers mitt is the Pudge  32.5″
  • Most premium glove model they offer.
  • They use only the top 5% of pro stock leather selection (best quality leather available)
  • Easier break in and very durable.

A2000 – $229.95

  • Pro stock leather
  • Very durable. This one will take a little more work to break in than the A2K.
  • The regular A2000 comes in 32.5″ and 33.5″

 A2000 Super Skin or “SS”- $229.95

  • The “SS” on the end of the model number (A2403 1790-SS) stands for “superskin”
  • The superskin on the back of the fingers and thumb is half the weight and twice the strength of leather. It means a shorter break in time and repels moisture.
  • Comes in 33 1/2″ or 34″ models

A2000 Showcase or “SC” – $199

  • The “SC” at the end of the model number stands for “showcase”
  • All showcase gloves and mitts are made for smaller hands.
In total, Wilson has 1 A2k catcher’s mitt and 6 models of the A2000.  You can find them all at Baseball Rampage, or most of them at Baseball Express, or HomeRunMonkey

Louisville Catchers Mitts

Louisville Slugger CMCC TPX Pro Flare 32.5 Inch Catcher's Mitt

TPX pro flare series – $199

  • Made of top grade oil-infused Horween Leather.
  • Takes time to break in, but when it is ready it makes for a nice and long lasting mitt.
  • The Catcher’s Mitt in this series only comes in 32.5″

TPX silver slugger flare series

  • Made of top grade oil-infused Horween Leather.
  • Mesh back gives glove a lighter feel.
  • Catcher’s mitt only comes in 32.5″Louisville Slugger SSCM Silver Slugger 32.5 Inch Catcher's Mitt

PJ Pilittere likes:

“The pocket size is good. Extremely easy to break in, almost game ready out of the bag” – PJ Pilittere

Best Catchers Mask

“I like the Hockey Mask style catchers mask. Vision is maximized, so you never have to take it off for pop ups, bunts, balls in dirt, etc. Plus, it covers all of your jaw for back swings and if you turn your head on a ball in the dirt.”- PJ Pilittere

all-star catchers headgear, hockey mask style

All Star MVP4000TI Professional Titanium Catchers Helmet

1.) Hockey-Style Catcher’s Helmet

The protection level is about the same between the top brands, so choosing the right mask for you is more about fit, weight, look, and feel. These are all personal preference, so you’ll have to figure out what works for you.

traditional catchers mask

All Star FM25TI Traditional Catcher’s Mask

2.) Traditional Catchers Mask

The traditional catchers mask is preferred by many professionals. Again, it’s all personal preference. The protection for these is about the same also, so you’ll have to decide which fit, weight, look, and feel you like best.

Trusted Brands. These are the major catcher mask producers that the pro catchers I play with would feel comfortable using: Rawlings | All-star | Diamond |Easton | Louisville | Mizuno | Under Armour | Wilson

“As a final note, I would caution you that fit is the most important thing to consider. It’s tough to find decent catcher’s gear stocked in the average sports store, so you usually have to buy online. Luckily, most online stores have good return policies, and some even have free return shipping. Be sure to use this feature. If you order something that looks sweet but doesn’t fit right, return it and try something else.” - PJ Pilittere

Shop for Catchers Gear at:

More awesome free info for baseball catchers:

About the Author: Doug Bernier

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 11 years. After hitting .361 with the New York Yankees this 2012 spring training where he relieved Derek Jeter at shortstop, Doug spent the 2012 season with the Yankees’ triple A team. Click here to get personal, one-on-one instruction with Doug Bernier

12 Comments

  1. What do you think about the Nakona Mitts?

  2. I’ve come down to 2 options for my next mitt. A custom Heart of the Hide with the old school super stiff tan at 34″ and the stock All Star 33.5″. Which one would you recommend?

    • G,
      I talked to former catcher PJ Pilitiere who I played with and is now a coach in the Yankees organization. He was saying that it depends on how long you want to use this mitt. In his experience the rawlings mitt takes longer and is more difficult to break in and shape. But it lasts a while. The All Star breaks in quickly and easily but doesn’t last as long. They are both great quality mitts but it depends on what sort of longevity you are looking for in your catchers mitt. Hope this helps.
      Doug Bernier

      • Thanks Doug. I already have a Rawlings HOH and it’s great but I’ve heard that the All Star has amazing patterns and great leather. I also think that a 33.5″ mitt would be better than a 34″. I’d give the all Star a try but I can get a custom Rawlings significantly cheaper in comparaison to the $325 that the All Star costs. My question is: Does the All Star have better leather/feel?

        • G,
          I asked your question to two different catchers. One used the rawlings and one used the all star. The all star leather is going to be a little softer. I can’t say “better” because some people like the softer leather and some people like the harder leather to break in. The all star mitt will be lighter than the heart of the hide rawlings, which many catchers really like. Both catchers agreed that they liked the feel of the all star mitt better, but the guy that used the rawlings said that overall he wouldn’t switch to the all star because he likes his rawlings. Its 100% a personal preference, if you aren’t quite sure if you love your rawlings and are willing to pay the extra money to try the all star, you will most likely be very happy. If you will like it better than your rawlings, only you will know that answer. I hope this helps you in your choice of catchers mitts.
          Doug Bernier

          • Thank you very much, Doug, it was indeed very helpful.

  3. Im thinking about getting an Allstar cm3000 what size did you use 33.5 or 35?

    • Matthew,

      Allstar makes great catchers mitts. I talked to two friends of mine that I work out with in the off season and they (both catchers) recommended and use the 33.5 inch glove.

      They said that 33 and 33.5 inch catchers mitts are the most common sizes for catchers. Its a great blend of being small enough to get a good transition when throwing runners out at second and third base. But it is also large enough to deal with pitchers who have good movement on their pitches.

      Thanks for your question
      Doug Bernier

  4. i was most impressed about the new Akadema line mostly the catchers mitt while all the other companies are still using 1950 styles this company has come up with a mitt that is by far more advanced in style and protection and the quality is better that mitts twice the price as an old catcher who went through every season with some sort of a thumb injury i can’t see why every catcher is not using this mitt

    • Joe,
      Thanks for the comment about the Akadema catchers mitts. There was another person asking about their mitts and I am in the process of getting reviews from catchers that are using their mitts. I have heard good things and I hope to find out more from some professional catchers that are using their mitts.

      I know there are a lot of catchers that are in your situation that have a beat up thumb. I know that goes with the job. Some catchers, especially ones with thumb problems, use a plaster mold that slides over their thumb they can wear under their mitt. This will help protect the thumb from getting bent in ways it is not supposed to bend. It would be great if the Akadema mitt helped keep the thumb protected. Thanks for your insight and I hope to know more so I can put it out on our website.

      Thanks, Doug

  5. Have you tried any of the Akadema catchers mitts. I am looking for a new mitt and have heard good things about them from some of my coaches/friends.

    • Alex,
      I have not personally tried the Akadema catchers mitts. However, I have played with 2 catchers that use Akadema catchers mitts. They like them. They liked the way they broke in and kept their shape without getting too flimsy. When it comes to Akadema, they seem to be a lot more popular with catchers than any other position on the field. I’ll look into their catchers mitts a little more. Once I get feedback from some catchers about which models they like I’ll add it to the catchers mitt page. If you go with the Akadema write back and let us know how you like it and what model you selected.

      Thanks, Doug

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