July 28, 2020
EvoShield has teased the introduction of an entire line of catcher’s gear for a year. That tease turns to reveal July 29, as the Wilson-owned brand releases a complete catcher’s gear kit for both baseball and softball. And, as expected, there’s an EvoShield-specific twist.
For the first time, the leg guard comes as two pieces, allowing EvoShield to feature its patented gel-to-shell technology on the lower leg guard to help create a better custom fit in the gear. “We wanted to incorporate the gel-to-shell technology into the product somehow,” says Krista Lenss, EvoShield product line manager. “The proper application for it was the leg guard. You are able to get a custom-molded fit on the bottom part of the leg and as a result it keeps the entire leg guard on nice and firm without shifting around. That is the first huge point of difference and the second part of the gel-to-shell piece is a separate piece from the upper. When you pair the two you are able to achieve a custom fit.”
EvoShield, already known for its protection equipment from elbow guards to leg guards, is worn by 75 percent of all Major League Baseball players who wear protective gear. The introduction of the catcher’s gear—also the official catcher’s gear of MLB—gives the brand a wider range of options.
The gel-to-shell technology means the equipment comes malleable to start and once taken out of the protective packaging starts to harden within 30 to 60 minutes, giving the wearer time to mold it to their body. Within 24 hours the guard is “hard as a rock,” says Tom Bolle, EvoShield brand manager.
To get that technology into catcher’s equipment, EvoShield separated the leg guard, making the lower portion gel-to-shell and the upper portion an injection-molded plastic. And keeping true to EvoShield’s customization platform, the lower portion comes in 11 different colors, while the upper guard has five color options, offering 55 different color combinations. The stock colors are black, charcoal, royal blue, navy blue and scarlet. The additional colors include dark green, maroon, white and yellow. Lenss says they are calling the color range “stock custom,” meaning customers can order it and have it within a day instead of waiting weeks for customization.
With the leg guard locked in, the chest protector also includes EvoShield-specific points. The ergonomically designed protector incorporates a moldable wire along the waist to adjust to the player’s body shape. Coupled with adjustable back straps, Lenss says players get the perfect fit and ensure the protector sits exactly where needed. EvoShield partnered with Fidlock for a fit lock system that includes a magnetic-assist buckle. The two-piece clasp uses magnetics to snap shut and the mechanical design means it won’t come apart unless the slide release is activated. Lenss says it speeds up the gear-up process.
In keeping with the new NOCSAE certification requirements, EvoShield opted to instead of building in the NOCSAE guard in the protector, offer a removable option, allowing players to choose to wear, for example, the brand’s NOCSAE-certified compression shirt instead of having the technology in the chest protector.
The chest protector design includes a specific fit for female athletes. The design was improved by collaborating with Team USA softball players such as Aubree Munro during engineering.
The helmet comes in both a one-piece hockey-style design and a mask. EvoShield partnered with Windpact, a company that works extensively in the NFL, to install the company’s Crash Cloud technology in key impact zones on the helmet. The grey Crash Clouds and black compression pads combine for a snug fit and to provide maximum air flow, providing a cooler option on the head than other brands, Lenss says. The Windpact pad features air to absorb impact and reduce the level of force felt on the head, Lenss says.
The chin pad is also a Windpact pad embedded in a compression pad, which sits on the tip of the chin to allow for clear communication.
The partnership with MLB allows EvoShield to market their players—expect to see Tyler Stephenson, a catcher on the 60-man roster for the Cincinnati Reds, don the EvoShield catcher’s gear—while wearing the product, use the MLB logos on actual gear and feature official MLB marks throughout the brand’s marketing material. “That helps give us other avenues to have gear seen on the field and in games like the Home Run Derby,” Bolle says. “We can do a ton of different things.”