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Bat tape has become a more and more popular accessory used by baseball and softball players. Bat tape is not only a way to accessorize the appearance of the bat, but also can aid in improving the grip and comfort of the batting experience. We are even seeing a greater number of MLB players using it. However, common questions asked by those new to the bat tape market is how to choose a brand and what size or type is best for you. We have taped numerous bats over our years of experience and we are here to help you decide what is best for your needs.
What is the best? Obviously a loaded question, since that depends on a few factors including the age of the player, their hand size, whether it is for a baseball or softball bat, how thick of a grip you like, and how much your’re willing to spend. At the higher end of the price range are polymer grips made by companies like Lizard Skin, Vulcan, Easton, Franklin, Rawlings and others. These are the grips you see around the fields with a variety of patterns and bright colors and they go from about $10-$16 in price range. These polymer grips offer more tackiness which allows them to be used with or without batting gloves.
The lower end of the price range would be hockey tape and athletic tape; like a trainer would use to tape an ankle. We will break down a couple of the more popular options for you and provide some additional information on other types and brands to help you make a more educated decision.
A few years ago we made this video on how to tape down your spinning handle Torq. Although not a super popular bat anymore, this was instructive in terms of using good old fashioned athletic tape to create some bat tape.
We have used both Vulcan and Lizard Skin bat grips on our bats and our preference is for Vulcan simply because we believe it grips better in less than ideal conditions such as when you’re playing in the rain or on particularly humid nights.
However, in our experience Lizard Skin bat tape holds up the best to repeated use and abuse, we have bats with Lizard Skin on them that have been used for more than 2 years and it is still holding up. In contrast, we have bats with Vulcan bat grip on them that were in use for only 1 season and are in need of a new tape job. If you are willing to replace the grips a little more, in exchange for more tackiness in wetter conditions, then the Vulcan is likely the choice for you. Other polymer companies like Easton Hyperskin, Rawlings, or Franklin generally offer fewer color and pattern options and sizes.
Hockey tape or athletic tape is great option if you want to keep the cost at a minimum and want to be able to control how thick the grip is. Both hockey tape and athletic tape comes in a variety of colors and patterns and can easily be found at your local sporting goods store like Dick’s or on Amazon. These two options will run you about $2-3 for 10 yards so it’ll last a while.
Lizard Skin bat tape is unquestionably the most recognizable name in bat tape these days and there is a reason for it. Lizard Skin is made out of Durasoft Polymer (DSP) and the bat grips come in 37 different colors, both solid and camo, a signature series of select MLB players. They even provide the ability to customize your own (more on that later). Lizard Skin bat tape also comes in three different sizes to fit every players need; 1.8mm in thickness, 1.1mm, and 0.5mm.
While Vulcan bat grips aren’t as well known as its main competitor, they are every bit as good as Lizard Skin. Vulcan is made out of a polymer blend and comes in somewhere around 45 different patterns and colors. These options include a USA series; Splatter series, which looks like a colored paint splattered across a second color; Asp series, which is a variety of digital camo choices; Uncommon series, which you’ll just have to check out for yourselves; Fade series, where one color fades into another; and a selection of solid colors. Vulcan bat tape also comes in 3 size choices; 1.75mm, 1.0mm, and 0.5mm in thickness.
Lizard Skin and Vulcan both offer 3 sizing choices and while they have slightly different sizes, they are close enough we can talk about them together. The largest size 1.8mm for Lizard Skin and 1.75mm for Vulcan is usually the best size for younger ball players with smaller hands. The thicker grip reduces sting and vibration on miss hits and is very similar to the size that comes installed on a new bat from the manufacturer. My 11 year old hitter prefers the thickest version of both the Lizard Skin and Vulcan
The middle size for bat tape (Lizard Skin 1.1mm, Vulcan 1.0mm) still offers the hitter some vibration and sting reduction but is thin enough to help prepare a hitter for the transition to wood bats. This size is the most popular.
The 0.5mm is the thinnest and offers little to no vibration or sting reduction but still offers the tackiness of the larger sizes, this is the size we use for softball bats since softball players typically don’t really need the sting protection and often prefer as thin as possible handle grip.
If you are taping with athletic or hockey tape then you can add layers until you get the comfort level you’re looking for, but you won’t get near the sting reduction of polymer grips.
There are a few options out there to customize your own bat tape. Tater Grips has been around for a while and though we have more limited experience with the product, what we do have was not positive. Not specific to a custom bat grip from Tater Grips, but with a standard color grip we tried installation was a pain and my grip ended up ripping during install and went in the trash.
We have used TapeKings with success. This does include, though, shipping your bat to a custom wrapper who makes your design and ships it back to you. Not terribly efficient, but pretty awesome, unique designs.
Lizard Skin bat grips are now offering a custom option with the ability to pick from any of their patterns and colors and get a player’s name and number on them. They also are offering all 30 MLB team colored and logo bat grips. Lizard Skin seems to have set themselves apart a little with this pretty cool option.