One thing that Bauer has done a great job of in recent years is translating the features and feel of their pro gloves down to the performance level. The 3X gloves got the same redesign the Hyperlite saw with a tweaked shape, break and updated materials and components making them one of the best value glove and blocker on our wall.
Since the release of the 1X blocker, the lightweight construction combined with hard, fast rebounds have made Vapor blockers a favorite among goalies of all ages and skill levels. With the 3X line, we see materials such as Aerolite foam and Catchlite once reserved only for the pro gear starting to trickle down into a more affordable package.
Just like last year's 2X blocker, the 3X uses a combination of Curv Composite and HD Foam for their blocker board. This gives the 3X unrivaled rebounds that remain consistently hard through the lifespan of the blocker thanks to the composite reinforcement. The thinner board on the 3X also gives it a more balanced, lighter feel than its predecessor.
The sidewall on the Vapor 3X blocker features a more square, structured construction that doesn’t flare out like that of the 2X did. This makes for more predictable rebounds when the play is in tight and your gloves are in a blocking position, better hand protection and for a tighter, more controlled feel when making saves and playing the puck. Bauer has also added more durable materials in the high wear areas such as a synthetic leather binding along the thumb and a rubbery overlay on the nylon inside edge of the sidewall where the stick comes into contact with.
An area of noticeable improvement over the 2X is in the palm. Bauer now uses their ultra soft Connekt material which is layered with padding in the palm to offer a bit of vibration dampening on shots to the stick. The new palm is also shrunk down to a 14.5” footprint in the senior model which makes it fit the hand snugger; eliminating excess material while offering enough stretch that goalies with larger hands are still comfortable.
Bauer uses their Aerolite foam in the cuff lined with a more abrasion resistant CatchGrip material to protect against the velcro wrist straps of the chest guard. This new cuff is asymmetrical and more flared than previously seen providing great wrist mobility and range of motion.
Just like the Hyperlite, the fingers of the 3X blocker have their own elastic adjustment that can be loosened or tightened to provide a more customized fit. There is also a velcro adjustable/removable index finger guard that does a great job protecting your fingers from pucks riding up the paddle. While there isn’t a thumb pillow, Bauer now includes a thin piece of padding for the back of the thumb for those shots that squeak through in tight.
While the 2X catcher was extremely popular, it was met with a few criticisms. Mainly the thin, flat “pancake style” palm that left goalies feeling shots. Bauer made a number of changes addressing this issue while keeping the same game-ready snappy closure of the 2X that goalies loved.
The biggest redesign seen in the 3X catcher is found in the palm and catching area. A steeper thumb angle and finger curl eliminates the large flat spots found in the 2X glove contributing to the more comfortable feel and improved protection against stingers. Bauer now uses a thicker, game ready pro palm which adds foam and their Catchlite material to the palm area without sacrificing the easy off-the-wall closure that the 2X had.
Rather than sticking with the same offset single T pocket seen on the 2X, the 3X catcher features a double T which helps keep the glove stay more open and presented to the shooter. Bauer also uses their Catchlite material in the T in order to give it more structure resisting premature breakdown while still allowing for a quick snappy closure.
Internals and Adjustability
Just like the blocker, Bauer uses their Connekt grip material throughout the internals of this glove. Being that it is a textured material it gives goalies a bit of extra grip making the glove feel secure on the hand with no risk of it slipping off mid game. The 3X also has a few tweaks when it comes to strapping and adjustments on the backhand of the glove. A velcro adjustable neoprene-like flap extends from the finger stalls back over the knuckle allowing goalies to get a tighter fit in this region that doesn’t sacrifice the closure due to the elasticity of the material. A webbing strap is used to secure the wrist of the glove allowing goalies to easily tighten the glove without removing their blocker.
The 3X glove uses a Curv reinforced cuff in order to offer great impact resistance for those shots that don’t quite make it into the pocker. Unlike the pads and blocker, the cuff uses a thicker HD foam layer over top of the Curv Composite making it so that rebounds don't rocket off the face out into harm's way rather than dropping and being easily covered by the goalie.
Closure and Feel
Between the 3X and the 2X, not much has changed when it comes to the break however, there are a few notable differences when it comes to feel. While the closure on the 2X is more driven by the fingers, due to how much deeper the 3X catcher sits on the hand, it features more of a full hand closure getting the thumb involved allowing the glove to snap closed with ease. The break itself is still the same 60 degree angle seen in previous generation Vapor gloves giving the 3X a full hand “fingers to base of the thumb” style closure that feels natural and comfortable on the hand.
An option that sets Bauer’s second price point apart from the competition is their custom program. For a small upcharge, the 3X catch gloves and blockers are offered in custom colours allowing goalies to really dial in their gear and look sharp on the ice.
All in all, Bauer did a great job of listening to the feedback that goalies and retailers had about the 2X line and making a new iteration of the Vapor gloves that addresses the flaws in their previous design while keeping the same feel.
Reviewed By: Cedric Hastings
Bauer Vapor 3X Catcher Blocker Gallery