Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Review of Wilson Gold Umpire Chest Protector

This is the second in the series of hard shell chest protector reviews. This series will conclude with the Midwest Ump selection for the Midwest Ump 2010 Umpire Merchandise Product of the Year award winner (UMPY Award) in the Chest Protector category.

The Wilson West Vest Gold Umpire Chest Protector (A3210) is one of two top-of-the-line hard shell chest protectors designed by MLB Umpire Joe West and made by Wilson. The Gold is available in three sizes: Small (for sizes under 38”); Medium to Large (for sizes 38-44); and Large to Extra Large (for sizes 46-54). While it is available in different widths corresponding to your jacket size, it is only available in one length, 12” measured from the neck opening to the bottom of the protector.

The Wilson Gold is black with black painted rivets. Unlike other silver chest protectors, there is little chance of your black Wilson Gold bleeding through your shirt (unless perhaps you wear an open hole cream shirt).

The padding for the Wilson Gold is more substantial (thicker) than the Wilson Platinum. My caliper measures 1.125" for the padding and plate. Oddly, the Gold fits tighter to your body than the Platinum, but not nearly as well as the Schutt AiR Flex Umpire Chest Protector (review here). The Gold fits closer to the body than the Platinum, but sits higher and tighter to the neck than other hard shell chest protectors. I wasn’t entirely happy with the fit of the Wilson Gold. I felt that it was necessary to adjust this CP to sit high near the clavicle to obtain adequate protection. That pushed the CP near my mask which made it more challenging to look straight down while wearing the mask.

Mobility was very good with this CP. I did not feel constrained (other than around the neck) and there was only minimal slippage.

The Wilson Gold is protected by 3mm hard plastic plates. The chest plate is large and measures 12" x 6". The clavicle protection is adequate, although there is no extra padding in that area. The Wilson Gold Umpire Chest Protector features removable plates for cleaning. The Gold and the Schutt AiR Flex share a similar design and use separate plates. There is no significant gapping around the plates.

After my experience with the Schutt AiR Flex, I was bewildered to see that the Wilson Gold uses the same basic design around the shoulders. However, on closer inspection, I see one significant difference. The plates in the Schutt are molded to achieve a closer, custom fit. As a result a ball impact can force the plate’s edge into your body (since it is already curved in that direction). The Wilson Gold shoulder plates are flatter and are less likely to be forced by a ball impact into your shoulder. The same can be said about the Wilson Gold plates protecting the clavicle area.

The Wilson Gold Umpire Chest Protector is available from the following on-line retailers:

Epic Sports $133.99

Ump-Attire $157.99

Lester’s Upstate Sports $155.00

Fair or Foul?
The Wilson West Vest Gold Chest Protector provides superior protection. It has been tested under fire by professional umpires. I like its more conforming design, but do not care for the higher fit around the neck to protect the clavicle. This CP is absolutely “Fair” and recommended for all levels of baseball.

The Wilson Gold weighs 3.02 lbs.


Anonymous said...

how can u say this is the best chest protector...first of all..this wilson protector fits only umpires that are 5-9 or less...it is only 12 inchbes...the other wilson hard shell is only 13.5 inches and is suffice for umpire up to 5-11... i am 6-2 and none of these two high end wilson hard shell give me any protection for my ribs...and these protecots both weigh over 31/2 pounds..maybe for short umpires they are good but basically for anybody over 6 feet u dont have no protection for all ur rubs....i prefer and use the honigs 2010 k protector 14 inch with 2 inch extension...wouldnt trade it for any wilson...and i have been hit with 90+ fastballs and didnt feel nothing...all these guys saying honigs k 1 is only good for little are on drugs or are being paid like u guys here at midwest ump to promote wilson and ump attire or whatever else its called

Pete Reiser said...

A longer CP is, well, longer. If you need a longer CP, there are several options. Most CPs are in the 13" range and provide adequate coverage. I have a long torso and the Gold covers my ribcage fine.

The Wilson Gold is very popular at the MLB level. Umpire-Empire has interviewed Jim Reynolds and Mike Di Muro who both use the Gold.

Schutt, Wilson, and Champro have provided multiple hardshell CPs to this site for testing and review. Some reviews are favorable, some are not. Conversely, Honig's has declined to participate in these reviews. In the future I intend to test and review Honig's equipment as funds come available. Despite your belief, I'm just one dude and I am not on any manufacturer's or retailer's payroll.

Kevin Finnerty said...

Well, I'm literate and refined and fair-minded, so perhaps my voice should serve as a counterweight to the first poster.

First of all, I'm 6'00''/200, and the Wilson Gold offers more than adequate coverage, and is probably the best chest protector available.

Secondly, I have read much of Pete's work, and his objectivity is one of its hallmarks.