Friday, December 31, 2010

Review of Douglas Umpire Chest Protector

We all have regrets. For me, a major regret was passing up a chance to see the Grateful Dead in concert during the summer of 1995. “There will be other opportunities,” I told myself. Later that summer Jerry Garcia died along with my chance for experiencing The Summer of Pete .

Douglas Sports has announced that it has discontinued manufacturing umpire chest protectors and its Douglas Chest Protector is now retired. Earlier this year amateur umpires discovered that Douglas still had a limited supply of “parts” to make the Douglas CP. I watched the remaining inventory slowly deplete throughout the summer, telling myself that “There will be other opportunities.”

Well, I may be dumb for not learning my lesson, but at least I’m lucky. When Ump-Attire announced that the Douglas CP was available for a limited time, I pulled the trigger and purchased one.

The Douglas CP is sleek and low profile. The CP uses black pads, black, plates, and black straps. Twenty silver rivets (only a Touch of Grey) and three Douglas logos distract from the Utilitarian appearance and will bleed through an open hole shirt. Paint over these distractions and you, sir, are Batman.

The low profile design of the Douglas Chest Protector is very comfortable. I purchased a 13” Douglas, which covers just below my ribs. The Douglas has been offered in 14” and 15” sizes (measured from neck opening to bottom of CP).

I am not impressed that Douglas uses plastic connectors to secure the straps to the padding. I have had a plastic connector break from a foul ball impact, so I am wary of using plastic connectors. Once broken, it is a major operation to replace the connector.

The Douglas is stiff and a little uncomfortable out of the box, much like the Wilson Platinum. I trust that like the Platinum the Douglas will conform to my body over time (which has been confirmed by other umpires). This CP is supposed to fit close to the body, so it eliminates the bulky chest appearance and reduces that linebacker look we all hate. Mobility is also really amazing in this CP.

The Douglas Chest Protector is the definition of simplicity. Six large plastic plates 5mm thick protect the umpire. The 5mm plates are thicker than any other hard shell CP I have tested. The plates are attached to the padding with Velcro (which allows for cleaning behind the plates). The padding is a mere .75" thick and the result is a very low profile at 1 inch thick, the same thickness as the Schutt AiR Flex Umpire Chest Protector.

While I have not tested it on the field, my visual inspection found few issues with the coverage of the Douglas CP. Gap in the shoulder area is a slight concern, however the padding and shape of the plates makes it unlikely that a foul ball impact will have any substantial result. The large plates are outstanding and the large shoulder epaulets are shaped to conform to the wearer. The clavicle coverage appears excellent.

A limited supply of 15” Douglas Umpire Chest Protectors are presently offered by Ump-Attire for $199.99. Limit two chest protectors per order.

Fair or Foul?
I place the Douglas Umpire Chest Protector among the very best chest protectors and is a true American Beauty. The large, thick plates are ideal for deflection of any foul ball, while the padding is used more for comfort than for impact absorption. I especially like the low-profile, black appearance of the Douglas.

If you can find a Douglas Chest Protector, my advice is to get Truckin' and buy it before they are gone forever.

The Douglas weighs 2.09 lbs. Lighter than any CP tested as of January 2011


boyinr said...

Thanks for the review of a classic. I can't believe that this CP was not a bigger seller given its' performance and original price point.

Mike said...

I have wore this CP for 3 years now and will not trade it for anything. I had a West vest Gold and sold it, after wearing this CP. It is comfortable, light, and a lower profile. I have taken many foul balls in the chest, and feel nothing.

Calvin said...

I have 2 Douglas CP's (bought the 2nd when I heard they were discontinuing them). FWIW i had a pair of shin guards refurbished and while talking with the Douglas rep he said they were going to start making them again, probably this year. Check their website for updates.