Through the years, I’ve used catcher’s gloves from Wilson, Rawlings, Spalding, Mizuno, and most recently, Akadema. As a youngster, and through high school, I used a glove with a double break; one break on each side of the wrist pad. It was a clumsy, heavy design, and in college switched to single-break gloves. The Rawlings gloves had a good feel in my hand, and strong, durable leather, but the leather lacing was thin and weak. Since I caught a few guys throwing over 90 MPH, the lacing around the webbing would break. So I started using Mizuno gloves, which had stronger lacing and were much lighter, thus easier to handle. I swore by the Mizuno’s until recently, when I was introduced to the Akadema “Reptilian” series.
There are a few things I love about the Akadema gloves. First, the quality of the leather (including the lacing) is top-rate. Years ago, Rawlings’ “heart of the hide” was supposedly the best leather but today’s examples don’t hold a candle to Akadema. Secondly, the unique design makes much more sense than the conventional / traditional catcher’s mitts. It is a double break, but the “second” break is way up along the top of the thumb, and actually serves to form the pocket. That design is crucial for two things: it makes it easy to catch the ball in the pocket, and it prevents thumb injuries. Conventional gloves have one long pad on the thumb side, and thumb sprains occur if you catch a hard thrower who is frequently crossing you up wild inside, or if you get a foul tip against the pad. The way these “Reptilian” gloves are designed, your thumb is in a very safe spot, away from the shock of those situations. The third thing I really like about this glove is the break-in period, which was extremely quick. In the past, I always had two catcher’s mitts: one for games, and one for practice that I’d break in. The break-in period generally took 2-3 months of catching pitchers every day. These gloves take 2-3 weeks.
This is the 32.5″ catcher’s glove, suitable for younger / smaller catchers:
Catchers with larger hands and frames (high school and up) will probably be more comfortable using the 33.5″ glove. This is the glove that I use. It took only about two weeks to break in for game use, and is hands-down the best glove I’ve used in over 25 years of catching.