Umpire Masks & Helmets Buying Guide

Feb 13th, 2020

Note: Look for red italics for important safety warnings.

Picking the right umpire mask or helmet depends on what you want out of your umpire headgear. Find the header below that reflects what means the most to you:

You'll also find information below on: Sizing | Replacment Pads & Parts | Throat Guards | Sun Visors | Caps Related

Protection

In general, umpire helmets protect best due to their 360 degree protection. Backswings at all levels and balls from the backstop at some parks do happen. Helmets also deflect more force when balls impact the sides due to their extreme angles. However, helmets will be hotter, heavier and more cumbersome to manage than masks - so they take more getting used to.

WARNING: Not all umpire helmets are built the same. Entry level helmets, not provided here, have thin shells and padding. 

Of umpire helmets that you can rely on for protection, the two most protective ones tested for baseballs at 100 MPH are:

  • All-Star MVP 4000All-Star Pro Series Umpire Helmet
    • Vinyl Nitrile forehead band absorbs more force than standard forehead helmet padding. Polycarbonate shell provides better protection than standard ABS plastic.

  • Force3 Defender HelmetsForce3 Hocky Style Umpire Helmet
    • Patented dual mask Shock Suspension System and patented cage over forehead for added protection. Padding lined with DuPont™ Kevlar®.

If you want the highest level of protection, we suggest you order both helmets, try them out at home and send back your least favorite.

Of umpire masks, the most protective are:

  • All-Star Magnesium MasksAll-Star Magnesium Masks
    ABS insert in an extended bottom pad plus angles within no-weld frame for more deflection


  • Force3 Defender MasksForce3 Defender Masks
    Double-frame shock absorption with advanced padding technology that includes kevlar; Added weight absorbs more force

In the second-tier of protection are:

You might notice that we did not include 3 masks in tier 1 or 2:

  • Wilson New View Chrome Moliben: With a flatter profile, you'll receive much less force deflection than a traditional curved profile.
  • Wilson Titanium: Titanium does not give as much as Aluminum, Magnesium or Steel. Therefore, more force is transfered in titanium than the other metals.
  • Diamond iX3: This is a great mask at youth levels. Its frame set the standard in aluminum mask frames, plus it has a U-bar at the top. However, you'll want a padding upgrade at high school or above. If you do add Team Wendy or Wilson Wrap-Around Pads, you'll get a nice protection upgrade.

Lightest Weight
The umpire helmets that are the lightest in weight are:

Wilson Umpire Helmets

  • Wilson Pro Stock Titanium - 2.2 lbs
  • Wilson Pro Stock Steel - 2.5 lbs
  • All-Star MVP 4000 - 2.75 lbs

Of umpire masks, you'll find that every brand claims to have a dyna-lite, super-light or featherweight mask, but what's true is that most mask frames now are made of lightweight material. Our traditional style masks are just under 1.0 to 1.6 lbs (without harness - harnesses typically weigh around 0.3 lbs). A few ounces may not sound like much but your neck might appreciate a lighter mask over several hours of plate work.

See the complete blog for Best Lightweight Umpire Masks.

BEST IN COMFORT

In umpire helmets, comfort is in the head of the beholder. Within brands, the higher model has padding upgrades and/or is lighter making it more comfortable than the lower. For example:

  • All-Star: MVP 4000 > MVP2500
  • Wilson Pro Stock: Titanium > Steel

Umpire masks with leather padding (most Wilson masks on steel or titanium frames and Diamond Big League) are more comfortable and better absorb perspiration. The soft synthetic pads in Wilson Aluminum Dynalite Masks with memory foam pads and Diamond featherweight wick away perspiration. As a result, none of these will slide around your face as you perspire.

Wilson Memory Foam Pads Closeup

Lighter color pads such as doeskin (actually calfskin leather) have the added benefit of being cooler in hotter conditions.

Best Vision

You would be surprised to know that traditional umpire helmets have better vision than umpire masks. The helmets' angled frames sit closer to the face from all sides.

Of umpire helmets, the best for vision are in order of:

  1. Wilson Helmets
  2. All-Star Helmets
  3. Force3 Helmets

In umpire masks, the best vision ones have a trade-off in protection and vice-versa:

  • Wilson Chrome MolibenWilson New View Umpire Mask
    Sometimes referred to as the "New View" is made with a lower profile or flatter frame. The bars closeness to the face results in about a 15% increase in your field of vision.

  • Wilson TitaniumWilson Titanium Umpire Mask
    Because titanium is denser and stronger than other metals, the bars’ circumference is smaller than that of standard frames.

Also, you'll find that silver frame masks and helmets provide a better perceptual vision than that of black frames.

In umpire masks, those with the least vision are the ones that sit farthest from your face. These include the Force3 Defenders and Wilson models with wrap-around pads. Their double-frame and pad thickness - the features that make them more protective - are the (good) reasons for the trade-off.  

Best Value

All-Star MVP 2500

The best value umpire helmet is the All-Star 2500. It is in the midrange of protection, weight and vision. It has a lower price point plus its removable & replaceable padding makes it a better longer term investment than those without replaceable padding (which is not found at that price point).

The best value umpire masks are the ones that strike a compromise in the above benefits, especially protection and vision. If you paid attention, you can probably figure those out by now. Let's put best value in 2 categories of entry-level and advanced-level.

Advanced-Level

Entry-Level

SIZING

While masks are considered one-size-fits all, helmets have a more limited range of hat sizes - roughly 7 to 7 1/2. If you are out of range, you could still try one on and see if it works.

REPLACEMENT PADDING

Umpire helmets by default have a replaceable chin pad. Those with fully removable padding are considered a better longer term investment and include:

  • All-Star MVP4000
  • All-Star 2500
  • Wilson Pro Stock Titanium (note: replacement padding not curently available for retail)

Umpire masks have Velcro straps that allow you to replace or upgrade your padding. For optimal safety, you should replace your pads every 1 or 2 years as padding's protective properties diminish with time. For more details on replacement padding, including which pads fit which mask, visit the mask pads buying guide.

REPLACEMENT MASK HARNESSES

All masks come with adjustable harnesses. Multiple universal replacement harnesses are available that can be used on any mask.

THROAT GUARDS

For throat protection, mainly from balls in the dirt, we highly recommend a 4 inch or 6 inch throat guard. These will attach to your umpire mask or helmet to cut down on the gap that results between the bottom of your frame and chest protector. For best safety, we show you where to place your throat guard on your mask and how to size for it in this article. View All Throat Guards.

SUN VISORS

Some like adding a sun visor (also called a shield) at the top of their mask frame. This adds no protective qualities. It is done mostly for appearance, but it also keeps sun glare out and light rain off your face.

Traditional sun visors will fit traditional umpire mask styles, but will not fit helmets, low profile masks or no-mold magnesium masks due to differences in frame shape. Force3 Defender masks have a sun visor made just for those masks. See each sun visor product page for details.

caps WiTH helmets & MASKS

You will not need a cap if you wear a helmet, although some have mastered the art of wearing one. Learn how they do it here if you prefer to cover your head & hair with a cap. However, your 4-stitch and 6-stitch caps will stick out of most umpire helmets, leaving the bill exposed beyond the frame for a direct shot.

All of our masks will allow for umpire caps up to 4-inch bills (combo style). You'll look better in a 4-inch bill than a 2-inch beanie cap. Some veteran umpires wear a 6-stitch bill cap. We warn you to make sure the cap has room between the bill and mask frame for safety's sake. Note that just because you can fit a 6-stich under one style mask, does not mean it will fit under another.

Umpire Helmets or MasksWeight*ShellPadding TypeFrameProtection
All-Star System 7 Pro Model Helmet #MVP4000-SL 2.75 lbs Poly-carbonate Vinyl Nitrile forehead band and ArmorClad liner / Full Padding is removable, washable & has replacements available (sold at All-Star) Steel Complete
All-Star System 7 Pro Model Helmet #MVP2500 3.2 lbs  ABS  ArmorClad liner / Full Padding is removable, washable & has replacements available (sold at All-Star) Steel  Complete
Force3 Defender Helmet #HSMv2  3.6 lbs ABS  Lined with Kevlar with Leather Chin Padding / Chin Pad is removable  Steel Complete 
Wilson MLB Pro Stock Titanium Helmet #A5800 2.2 lbs ABS Standard foam with moisture-wicking fabric / Full Padding is removable & washable Titanium Complete
Wilson MLB Pro Stock Steel Helmet #A5801 2.5 lbs ABS Standard foam / Chin Padding is removable & washable Steel Complete

 

All-Star Magnesium Umpire Masks #FM4000-MAG-UMP

 1.05 lbs Lightweight Ultra Cool Foam Padding with Moisture Barrier / Synthetic Moisture-Wicking Outer Lining / Extended Bottom Pad with Additional ABS Plastic Layer  Magnesium Ears and Throat

Champro #72B Umpire Masks

1.1 lbs Synthetic Ergofit Foam Pads / Vinyl Outer Lining Steel Tube Ears and Throat plus U-Bar
Champro Rampage Masks #CM84 1.05 lbs  Ergofit Pads Encompassed in Memory Foam / Moisture Wicking Outer Lining  Magnesium Ears and Throat 
Diamond iX3 Umpire Masks #DFM-UMP 1.0 lb Traditional Foam Padding / Quik-Dry Synthetic Moisture-Wicking Outer Lining Aluminum Ears, Throat plus U-Bar
Diamond Big League Umpire Masks #DFM-BL 1.05 lb Traditional Foam Padding / Full-Grain Leather Outer Lining Aluminum Ears, Throat plus U-Bar
Force3 Defender Umpire Masks #F3-DEF  1.7 lbs Pads Lined with Kevlar with Lower Pad Inner Lined with Full Grain Leather  Chrome Alloy Ears and Throat 
Under Armour Windpact Umpire Mask #UA-FM2-WP 1.4 lbs Air Bladder Padding System / Synthetic Moisture-Wicking Outer Lining Steel Tube Ears and Throat
 Wilson MLB Dynalite Aluminum Umpire Masks #A3009 1.3 lbs  OPTIONS: Memory Foam with Synthetic Moisture-Wicking Outer OR
Wrap-Around Leather with PU** Leather Outer
 Aluminum  Ears and Throat
Wilson MLB Titanium Mask with Two-Tone Padding #A3007T 1.1 lbs Traditional Foam Padding / Full Grain Leather Inner & PU** Leather Outer Lining Titanium Ears and Throat
Wilson Chrome Moliben Umpire Mask #A3077 1.4 lbs Traditional Foam Padding / Tan Leather Inner & PU** Leather Outer Lining Chrome Alloy Ears and Throat
Wilson Dynalite Steel Umpire Mask #A3017 1.5 lbs Traditional Foam Padding / Poly Satin Moisture-Wicking Inner & Vinyl Outer Lining Steel Tube Ears and Throat

*Weight of masks is shown without harness

**PU Leather is a bicast leather (not full grain)

WARNING: Participants in any sports activity assume risk of injury. This equipment may be used to help aid in preventing or reducing the extent of injury. No equipment can guarantee umpire or player safety from injury during participation, and use of this equipment carries no such guarantee. Do not use any umpire equipment that is damaged in any way.

About the Author

Picture of Jim Kirk

President Jim Kirk

Jim has a heart for sports officials and is a leading expert on umpire gear, safety and apparel. After playing baseball at Centre College, he worked as a high school umpire during the Elbeco shirt years. He became involved in E-Commerce while working on an MBA in the early 2000s and bought Ump-Attire.com in 2006. Jim is proud of Ump-Attire.com's success, staff and support for multiple groups including Minor League Baseball Umpires, Minor League Baseball Umpire Training Academy, the Wounded Warriors Umpire Academy and UMPS CARE, the charity of MLB umpires. He served on the UMPS CARE board of directors and was named their 2015 Ambassador Award recipient.

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