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Rawlings MACH Jr. Catcher Helmet Review

May 7, 2015
125
28
SoCal
I'm always on the lookout for the best catcher helmet (to me) in terms of safety features. DD uses a discontinued Wilson Shock-FX 2.0 S/M. It is such a great helmet, but is such a diva in terms of maintenance. Pads are always falling out, if any part of the steel cage gets bent it throws the suspension action out the window. I like the helmet so much that I've bought a L/XL when my daughter inevitably outgrows her current one. However, the soft padding of the S/M that I really liked was replaced by that hard backing with about 1/8" of soft padding, no good. (already ripped out the junk and have replaced it with Schutt padding which is awesome).

Anyway, my son is starting to catch and I've done some research and I've ended up with the Rawlings Mach Jr Helmet for him. There are some features that I really like and some features that I'm open to seeing if it pans out. What I really like from the top... To me, the helmet looks really good. Clean lines and not too narrow through the face mask part. The weight of the helmet in youth size is 2.786lbs, definitely not a feather but not as heavy as the schutt.

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Besides the asthetics, I really like the no cage mounts on the forehead, and I really really appreciate the way that the cage is mounted. The chin mount is horizontal allowing the forces from a ball strike to the cage to rotate backwards (moment) into the rear mounts which are also horizontal, albeit in another plane. The rear bar then pushes down into the fastener... Engineering wise, it makes sense to me.

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Also, I really like the padding. Out layer is very soft, inner layer is harder but definitely moveable as can be seen by my thumb pushing down into it. Ha, it seems like yellow is the universal (hey look at how safe this padding is!)

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What I'm intrigued about, but makes sense is the chin cup instead of the generic chin pad. Along the same lines of the impact transmitting forces immediately through to the back of the helmet for the cage, same for a hit to the chin. The helmet chin opening is way below the catchers chin allowing the catchers voice out way way easier. Some helmets are notoriously quiet in this regard.

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The helmet fits my son and my DD (DD is 13 and son is 7) equally with simple adjustments to the chin cup and back straps. Son says the chin cup is really comfortable, DD puts it on and says no way, my wilson is so much better, and immediately goes off the deep end thinking that I bought it for her. When she found out that it was for brother, she calmed down and talked me through it. Chin cup is comfortable, but front is way more open than the wilson.

Anyway, hope this may help if anyone is looking for good gear.
 
May 24, 2013
10,289
113
So Cal
Nice write-up, EK!

That looks like a really well thought-out design. Props to Rawlings! I think the chin up design makes a TON of sense for directing shock away from the chin/jaw area.

I really like the current trend in the industry, and the fact that they are incorporating a lot of the safety elements that get discussed by us gear geeks.

In related news...I had a chance to look at the Wilson Pro Stock helmet up close last weekend. It is another one that has eliminated the forehead mounting points, and uses multi-density padding. Although the Shock FX-2.0 was better in a lot of ways, the Pro Stock seems to be in the mix with All-Star, Easton Pro-X, and this Rawlings.
 
May 29, 2015
906
93
Interesting move to add a chin cup ... it does allow for the extension of the mask to be just that, an extension rather than an impact point.

I’m a fan of the concept of the rubberized mounts, but I don’t like that the top ones are horizontally mounted. Those rubber mounts are notorious for losing their grip which will allow the cage to slide backwards on an impact and push back into the helmet. A vertical front-facing mount would allow the rubber to to flex and absorb some of the forces.
 
May 7, 2015
125
28
SoCal
Interesting move to add a chin cup ... it does allow for the extension of the mask to be just that, an extension rather than an impact point.

I’m a fan of the concept of the rubberized mounts, but I don’t like that the top ones are horizontally mounted. Those rubber mounts are notorious for losing their grip which will allow the cage to slide backwards on an impact and push back into the helmet. A vertical front-facing mount would allow the rubber to to flex and absorb some of the forces.
I know i wasn't clear enough, but the way the mounts are utilized makes sense, load bearing wise. The chin mount, obviously on the bottom basically constrains the cage from moving towards the catchers face and instead, allows the cage to rotate around the mount. Opposing that rotation, the ear mount of the cage are horizontal and point straight back. The rotation would then push the horizontal and straight back ear mount DOWNWARDS not forwards / backwards that i think you infered in the post above. The downward motion pushes the mount down into the screw with a little give from the eurethane (guessing) mount. Hope that makes it clearer...

Either way I hope I've conveyed the design points of the helmet well enough. I'm really happy with it, maybe even enough to de-Rawlings it so my DD can use it!
 

4 girl's dad

Finding my way
Apr 5, 2013
1,852
48
In the stands...
I’m a fan of the concept of the rubberized mounts, but I don’t like that the top ones are horizontally mounted. Those rubber mounts are notorious for losing their grip which will allow the cage to slide backwards on an impact and push back into the helmet. A vertical front-facing mount would allow the rubber to to flex and absorb some of the forces.
By allowing the mask to move, it absorbs some of the impact. In actuality, its a better design by allowing it to move some. If it was stiff, it would move the whole helmet with force.

Looks like a very nice design. I can see the chin strap being a big adjustment for many older pitchers, but newer ones will adapt easily I would guess.

Nice write up!
 
May 29, 2015
906
93
Right, that’s why I like the rubberized mounts, because they can act as a bit of a shock absorber. But look at batting helmets that use them and you will see that they lose their grip over time, allowing the cage to slide around.

With the top mounts facing down (cage tubing running through horizontally), it is going to allow the cage to push back into the helmet. If they were mounted vertically, the cage would push back into the rubber mount.

Honestly, a rubber gasket between the cage and the helmet (all the way around) would be a good idea.
 
Feb 19, 2016
273
28
Texas
Thanks for the awesome review. I'm really going to have to check out that chin strap up close.



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