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Comfortable to wear with memory foam pads wrapped in moisture wicking fabric. Solid construction with an aluminum cage. Comes with adjustable strap. Made from a reputable sporting goods company.
Heavier than lightweight models.
Solid wire frame with a built-in throat protector. Leather pad covering. Very sturdy.
A bit heavy. Padding doesn't absorb moisture.
Weighs only 18 ounces with hollow wire construction. Includes forehead, ear, and throat guards and adjustable harness. DryTek leather pads help wick sweat.
Might not be ideal for umpires of adult games.
Hollow wire construction and pads that also wick sweat away. Weighs a total of 18 ounces. Very comfortable to wear.
The main straps could be longer for better adjustment.
A steel cage that is dipped in rubber makes this mask very sturdy. Absorbent synthetic inner keeps you comfortable. One size fits all harness.
A little heavier than other lightweight brands at 26 ounces.
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Baseball and softball aren’t contact sports, but batters face balls that travel at incredibly high speeds that can cause severe injury if they get hit. That’s why batting helmets are a critical piece of safety gear. If you’re the umpire, you’re also at risk behind the plate, which is why you need a high-quality mask to protect yourself. Umpire masks offer protection for the face and parts of the head. It’s an essential piece of gear because it allows you to focus on the pitches without worrying about getting injured.
You can choose from a couple of different types, which vary in terms of the protection they offer and the overall weight and feel on the head. Comfort is obviously important because you’ll be wearing the mask for a few hours, but the protection that a mask offers is the most important feature to consider.
If you’re in the market for an umpire mask, our buying guide can help you figure out the type that will best suit your needs, as well as what dimensions, weight, materials, and other features you might prefer.
Umpire masks are available in two styles: traditional and hockey.
Traditional: As the name implies, traditional umpire masks have been used for years. They have a lightweight design that’s meant to fit over a baseball cap. The mask protects the face from the impact of errant balls, but it doesn’t provide much protection for the rest of the head. Some traditional umpire masks allow for accessories that increase their protection, though you’ll pay extra for these items.
Hockey: These umpire masks (hockey-style or HSM) have gained in popularity over the last decade because they provide more protection for the head and face than a traditional mask. That’s because an HSM also covers the top of the head and sides of the face to further limit injuries, including those from a foul ball or broken bat. An HSM is heavier than a traditional umpire mask, which can take some getting used to. However, it also sits closer to the face, so visibility is better.
Most umpire masks measure approximately 8.5 to 9 inches wide and 10 to 11 inches long. These differences in dimensions might seem minor, but they can make a significant difference in the way a mask fits and how comfortable it feels. You might need to try on a few masks to figure out which one best fits your head and face.
You should also pay attention to a mask’s depth, which is the distance between your eyes and the frame. HSMs usually have less depth, which improves visibility. However, you can also find traditional umpire masks with a low profile that sit closer to the face and offer better visibility. A mask that sits closer to the face can be more effective at absorbing impact too.
Most umpire masks weigh 1.5 pounds or less.
Traditional umpire masks are usually lighter, some weighing under a pound.
HSMs are heavier, and some weigh over 2 pounds. The added weight is typically due to padding, so you might want to wear a slightly heavier mask for the increased protection it provides. It’s also important to note that HSMs are typically more effective at distributing their weight than traditional masks. That means that while they may weigh more, they feel lighter and more comfortable on the head.
Umpire masks use a variety of materials for their frame and padding.
Frame: Many umpires prefer a mask with a hollow-core steel frame because it effectively absorbs impact so your head doesn’t have to. Other masks have a frame made of magnesium, aluminum, or titanium. Titanium frames have the best strength-to-weight ratio, but they’re generally more expensive. HSMs usually have an ABS plastic shell with their frame, which offers excellent impact absorption.
Padding: When it comes to padding, most masks use either leather or fabric. Leather pads are more durable and provide a more comfortable fit because they stretch over time, but these masks tend to weigh more. Masks with fabric pads are typically lighter and more effective at absorbing sweat.
Most softball or baseball leagues have guidelines for the protective gear and uniform that umpires must wear.
Umpire masks are available in two different designs: single bar and double bar.
Double-bar umpire masks generally provide the most protection. The design makes the mask stronger and more durable, so it’s better able to absorb impact. A double-bar mask isn’t necessarily any heavier, but some users find that the design can reduce visibility. Fortunately, some double-bar masks have flat corners around the bars that help improve visibility.
Some umpire mask manufacturers also offer different designs for the mask shape. Newer models are often shaped to better conform to the face to minimize visibility issues and provide a more comfortable fit.
Throat guard: Some umpire masks come with a throat guard. This attaches to the bottom of the mask to cover the gap between the edge of the mask’s frame and the chest protector. The best throat guards measure about 4 to 6 inches long. If your mask doesn’t include a throat guard, you can purchase one separately to use with it.
Sun visor: If you often struggle with glare from the sun while umpiring, you might want a mask that includes a sun visor. This shield sits at the top of the mask frame and keeps the sun out of your eyes and protects your face from the rain. As with a throat guard, you can purchase a sun visor separately if your model doesn’t come with one.
Baseball cap: Adidas Ultimate Relaxed Hat
Most umpire uniforms require some type of baseball cap, and we love this one from Adidas. It offers an adjustable fit and a moisture-wicking sweatband and is available in several shades, including black and gray.
Baseball cleats: New Balance Men’s 3000 V4 TPU Molded Baseball Shoe
Most umpires prefer to wear rubber baseball cleats when working, and these from New Balance are a great option. They have a close-fitting bootie design that’s comfortable and lightweight. They also offer plush midsole cushioning and a padded collar to prevent ankle injuries.
Athletic socks: Balega Hidden Comfort Athletic No-Show Running Socks
A comfortable pair of athletic socks should also be part of your umpire uniform. This pair from Balega is a favorite because the socks have seamless toes to reduce blisters. The cushioned soles help increase comfort too, and the socks are surprisingly lightweight.
Umpire masks vary in price based on style, materials, and other features. Most masks cost between $15 and $220.
Inexpensive: The most affordable umpire masks have a traditional style with a single- or double-bar design. They typically have a solid wire frame and fabric or faux leather pads. They don’t include any extras, such as a throat guard or sun visor. You’ll usually pay between $15 and $40 for these masks.
Mid-range: These umpire masks typically have a traditional double-bar or hockey-style design. Most in this price range are designed to maximize visibility. They feature a magnesium, aluminum, or steel frame and leather or fabric pads. Some include extras like a throat guard or sun visor too. You’ll typically pay between $40 and $99 for these masks.
Expensive: The most expensive umpire masks are high-end traditional double-bar styles or HSMs that provide the best visibility. They usually feature a solid steel or titanium frame and leather pads. Some masks in this price range also include extras like a throat guard or sun visor. You’ll generally pay between $99 and $220 for these masks.
It’s a good idea to invest in an equipment bag for your umpire gear. It protects your mask, chest protector, and other safety gear when you travel back and forth to the field.
A. Simply put, yes. If you’re stationed behind home plate to call balls and strikes, you face various hazards. Depending on the level of baseball or softball you’re umpiring, you can see balls at speeds of 50 to 100 miles per hour. If you can’t get out of the way of an errant pitch, you can suffer a serious head injury.
In addition to pitches, home plate umpires can also be hit by foul tips or broken bats. A mask offers protection for your face and head from any type of injury that might result from impact.
A. After each game, wipe down the mask’s frame with a damp cloth to remove dirt, sweat, and other residue. Some fabric padding may be machine washable, but leather pads should only be spot cleaned with a leather-safe cleaner. Make sure to let your mask dry thoroughly after each use before storing it. Putting your mask away when the pads are damp can cause mold and mildew to grow.
A. While a mask is the most critical piece of safety gear because it protects the head, you’ll also want a chest protector. It offers cushioning for your chest if a pitch, foul ball, or bat hits you. A good protector starts at the neck and covers down to the ribs. You should also wear leg guards to protect your feet, ankles, shins, upper knees, and lower thighs.
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