I recently had the opportunity to purchase a 2010 model Honig’s K1 Pro Elite Chest Protector at a discount price, so I jumped on the chance to review it. I purchased a regular 12” K1. An XL 14" model is also available. Honig’s suggests the XL for umpires with a size 48" or larger chest.
The Honig’s K1 is the thickest CP tested to date. It measures 1.25” thick at the chest plate, which is the same measurement as the Champro Pro Plus Armor Umpire Chest Protector (review here). Optional padding is attached by Velcro to the quilted interior padding. Two abdominal pads measure 5/8” thick, which causes the Honig’s K1 CP to protrude to more than 2 inches thick! That is full inch more than the thickest part of the Douglas or Schutt AiR Flex Umpire Chest Protector. Three additional pads are attached at the chest and clavicle area which are ½” thick.
Honig’s boasts on their website that the K1 has “5 removable Velcro pads for extra protection while at the same time creating a 1/4'' space between the protector and your torso for improved air flow and comfort.” The cost for this airflow benefit is a chest protector that is substantially thicker and bulkier than any other chest protector.
A mesh harness replaces the strap harnesses found on many CPs. The harness is adjustable by two straps and connectors which protrude awkwardly. In all the appearance of the Honig’s K1 Pro Elite Chest Protector is bulky and swollen. The various parts protrude in irregular and unsightly ways under the umpire jersey.
The K1 chest protector is very light! The regular K1 weighs 2 pounds and 5 ounces, making it the lightest CP tested to date (although this is the first softshell protector reviewed on Midwest Ump). I was impressed by the weight and comfort of the K1. The mesh harness was also very comfortable and is adjustable.
I wore the K1 with the optional interior pads, so there was a small space between the CP and my undershirt. This space will increase airflow and allow sweat collected from your moisture wicking undershirt to evaporate on hot days.
The K1 measures 11.5" from the neck opening to the bottom of the protector. The foam filled clavicle pad is attached with Velcro and fully adjustable and adds up to 2 inches in protection.
The common knock on the Honig’s K1 protector is that the umpire feels the impact at higher levels of play. A CP protects by either deflecting the ball, absorbing the impact, or a combination of deflection and absorption. The K1’s HD115 foam does little to deflect and protects the wearer by absorbing a ball impact. HD115 is a high density polyethylene foam that is very hard and rigid. It doesn't bend easily. The greater the impact, the more the HD115 foam “gives” until the force of the ball penetrates the foam cushion and reaches the umpire.
Will it protect you? Yes.
Will you feel the impact? Yes.
Will it hurt? Probably not, but that depends on the force of the impact.
Does this type of protection give me confidence on the field? No, at least not at upper levels of play.
Honig’s uses HD115 foam as the large chest and smaller abdominal foam plates. A soft quilted lining filled with polyurethane foam is added for comfort. Large hard shell plates 2mm thick protect the shoulder area.
Fair or Foul?
Sadly, the Honig’s K1 has become a relic from another age. What was once the standard for amateur umpires now represents an antiquated design and backwards thinking. The K1 in its current configuration simply does not protect as well as a hard shell protector. In the future a hard outer shell may be replaced by a super absorbing or deflecting foam material. Presently advanced materials are being used in other sports protection applications such as Zoombang (Rawlings), D3o (All-Star), and Zorbium (Team Wendy). However, the current Honig’s K1 does not make use of these advanced materials and does not protect as well as hard shell protectors.