The Nokona fastpitch softball gloves are the products of a legendary history, as the Nokona brand is intrinsically linked with baseball and softball in the US.
What’s Different about Nokona?
Nokona, despite the spelling, is an American brand. In fact, it should have been “Nocona” after the town in Texas where the company’s factory was established back in 1934.
But the US Patent office didn’t allow the names of incorporated towns to be trademarked. Thus we have the misspelling.
For the longest time, these gloves have been an integral part of US baseball and softball.
The Nokona fastpitch gloves have been used in the country since the 1930s, and countless millions through the years in the country (and especially in the Southwest) have used these gloves.
The company was the glove supplier for the US military back in World War 2. Nolan Ryan’s first glove was a Nokona.
Ever since then, these Nokona fastpitch softball gloves are handcrafted right here in the US, unlike other gloves which are produced in Asia even though they’re American brands.
They’re a continuing testament to the company’s belief that handcrafting trumps mass production, and US manufacturing can compete with Asian production.
The Nokona X2 Buckaroo Fastpitch Softball Glove
It’s available in regular (worn on the left hand) and full-right (worn on the right hand). This Nokona 12.5 softball glove should be large enough for kids older than 13 years old.
For bigger hands, a Nokona 13 inch softball glove may be more appropriate. It’s a bit longer, but that lets you pick up balls down the foul line.
The price may be somewhat intimidating, though, and a lot of people have commented on that. In the official Nokona ecommerce site, it costs $350 although you may find discounts in other ecommerce websites.
So why is it so expensive? That’s because of its exquisite quality.
It feels good on your hand, and it just helps you play better. A lot of players don’t just say that this is one of the best fastpitch softball gloves out there.
For many, this is the best gloves you can use for fastpitch softball.
Here are some of its features:
Nokona Legend Pro 12 Inch L-V1200These Nokona fastpitch softball gloves weigh only around 720 grams. So they’re very light, which is crucial for softball.
These games can last a while, and a glove that’s a bit heavier may not seem like a big deal, but over the course of the game it can feel heavy.
That can slow down how you move your hand to catch the ball.
As an infielder, you need to catch line drives and quick ground balls so that you can throw out the hitter at first base.
If you don’t, then you may allow the ball to get into the outfield and it may even turn into a double.
Stampede and Kangaroo Leather
Nokona Buckaroo BKF-1250C 12.5 inchNokona uses their own kangaroo leather, and in many ways this is superior to other types of leather.
Strength. A report from the Australian Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organization revealed that the composition of kangaroo leather is full fiber.
It means that the fibers form bundles like a rope, which makes it so tough and strong.
The kangaroo hides also don’t have any fat glands or cells that the tanning process can dissolve, so that it becomes structurally weaker.
Softness. It is already naturally soft. Add the fact that it’s very strong, and that means you can have it thinner at 0.3 mm.
Other leather types become weaker and less durable when they’re thinner than 0.6 mm.
Water resistance. It absorbs less water, so it remains lightweight even when it gets wet while you’re playing in the rain.
The leather also remains soft.
Conforming. The leather also conforms to the shape of your and the ball, so breaking it in doesn’t require a lot of time.
Nokona Buckaroo Fastpitch Glove 13 InchOf course, it’s this leather that’s also causing such a high price tag. Kangaroos aren’t exactly easy to come by, so the leather can cost twice as much as synthetic leather.
The other material they use is steer hide, and this is also known for its great durability.
Nokona only uses premium-grade steer hide for its X2 line of fastpitch softball gloves.
The cuff is also made from a special material. Nokona uses shearling sheepskin, which is great because the cuff is closed tightly around your wrists.
It contains lanolin, which makes it gentle on your skin.
It doesn’t cause rashes even in sensitive skin; it can even help heal rashes instead.
Closed Web and Back
Nokona Buffalo, Left Hand, 12.5 InchThere’s no space in the webbing between the thumb and forefinger, so this is great if a pitcher is using this glove.
The hitter won’t be able to see how the pitcher is grasping the ball and anticipate what kind of pitch is coming next.
The closed web is also very appropriate for 3rd basemen, because usually the hits to their direction come in much harder.
The closed web allows for a deeper and more stable pocket, so that the ball doesn’t come loose from the glove.
The closed back is unusual, because many infielders prefer an open back.
But that’s because an open back is usually more comfortable because it keeps your hand cooler.
Caring for Your Nokona Fastpitch Softball Gloves
Nokona Leather Glove ConditionerNokona fastpitch softball gloves are great, but you should take care of it properly.
Don’t use any of the nonsense shortcuts like the microwave oven to break them in.
Not only are these shortcuts ineffective, but they will also void your warranty.
Just play catch with your Nokona buckaroo softball glove normally, and you can break it in quickly and have a nice natural pocket on the glove.
For best results, you can always use the Nokona Leather Treatment for your gloves.
Player Reviews and Reactions
Many have commented on the price, which is admittedly quite high. Some say they got it as a gift, others bought it with trepidation, and even some got it only as an emergency.
And yet after only a short time, they were won over. Some immediately loved it right away.
Some of the comments were about how you can play with it immediately, even right out of the box. It just feels great. And yet after breaking it in for only a short time, it performs even better. It really is that good.
Another very common comment is that the glove is so soft. That’s not how it usually works with a softball or baseball glove.
Usually they’re stiff, so you need to break them in and soften them up.
Inside the gloves, it can feel uncomfortable at first because the glove hasn’t yet conformed to your hand. But this softness negates that problem.
Right away you feel comfortable. So even at the start it doesn’t take anything away from your game. It isn’t a distraction.
Its lightness is also very much appreciated. Over the course of several innings, playing with gloves can take its toll.
Soon it feels like you’re holding a bowling ball in your hand. That’s obviously an exaggeration, but subjectively it’s not by much.
The gloves can feel so heavy it takes just a split second later to move your glove hand to block or catch a line drive.
And that split second slowness can be enough to turn a routine out into a double. It can be the difference between a won game and a lost game.
It can even determine a championship.
The Nokona Glove Story
Watch this video to see the background and history of Nokona fastpitch softball gloves.
Final Verdict on Nokona Fastpitch Softball Gloves
As a fastpitch softball player, you have many things to worry about.
As a hitter, you worry about how the pitch is coming out and how you can hit it to the right spot.
As the fielder, you worry about how the ball is coming to you and whether you throw to the cutoff man or directly to the catcher.
So it doesn’t make sense to add more worries about your glove’s performance and your comfort with that glove.
But with these Nokona fastpitch softball gloves, you don’t have to worry about them at all.
They’re that good. You can rely on them right away, and they’re broken in after only a few hours of playing catch.
It really does feel good and nice on your hand.
It really will let you move your hand fast to catch the ball, and the pocket of the glove will hold on the softball until you transfer it to your throwing hand.
So if you have the budget for this, you need to try it.
The handcrafted X2 will be your favorite glove for many years to come.