Welcome to the 2016-17 Ultimate Mesh Review! I go through some of the most popular mesh that’s currently available and tell you what’s what with each product. Did we review EVERY piece of mesh out there? Of course not, because that would be impossible! But here are the big players, and their big pieces!
2016 Lacrosse Mesh Review
I selected the mesh products and companies because these were the best products I tried over the past year. There are definitely other companies out there, and they may offer a great product. If a company isn’t included here I either A) didn’t try their product, or B) did try their product and didn’t like it. If a product has been out for years, I didn’t include it in this review. This is for stuff that has come out in the last year or two (mostly).
There are no ratings. As I said above, each of the below products is high quality. Descriptions serve to provide further unbiased details on each mesh product.
The Fiber system is Throne’s single material offering to the stringing world. The mesh, shooters, and strings are all made of the same stuff, and this is Throne’s first “non-wax” mesh product. It comes in some tones, and can be plain white, or with a streak of color down the middle and along the edges. Sometimes two colors! The packaging is urban and cool, as one would expect from the Throne team. Cool packaging aside, how does it play? That’s what matters most…
The Fiber mesh can be strung and pulled really tight, as it will stretch and break in as you work the mesh over with wall ball. If you stretch it before stringing, the change is lessened but it does bag out a little. Once it does break in (we’re talking 10 minutes of hard wall ball), it starts to form to your throwing motion, and takes a more permanent shape. It’s a little different once it’s fully broken in, but that also means it stays stiff where you need it to, and gets softer where the ball sits. Once it is fully broken in, it’s consistent, has a really nice snap on shots, and looks pretty. Form and function, I’ll take it.
Powell’s Frontier mesh comes in a wide variety of bright colors (six!), along with white. While we’ve all seen green and blue mesh before, Powell went as bright as they could, and I like it. In terms of looks, it’s kind of old school but with a serious pop of modern brightness. I’ve never seen a green so green or an orange so orange. It goes well with their “woodsman” style manilla packaging (which is great looking and doesn’t create a lot of trash!) and their overall marketing approach. Ok, so it looks really good and is as strong a green/orange/blue/red/yellow/black as you can get. Now for the important part. How does the mesh function?
It’s not a true soft mesh by any means, and it’s far from being a hard mesh. Although the colors vary just a little in their stiffness (as is always the case with different colored meshes), the general approach is one of feel and structure. The diamonds are shaped well, and they sit evenly, but they don’t bunch up when you double a sidewall hole. It gives a nice snap on shots, and catches soft, and it does not bag out.
It’s kind of like that perfect piece of mesh you used to find but no one knew who made it. The red and black is probably the softest, while the green and orange is a little harder. Everything else is kind of in between and the differences are not huge in general, which is tough to pull off. I was impressed by the construction of the mesh, and if you’re looking for a bright splash of color that isn’t neon green, give the Frontier mesh a go. You’ll be impressed too.
Here’s something else that’s cool: You can pick up one piece for $15, 3 for $40, 5 for $55, and 10 for $95. That’s all six BRIGHT colors + 4 pieces of white. NOT BAD AT ALL!!!!
Otter Mesh isn’t new anymore, but it’s a bit cheaper to buy now, and it still works great. This mesh just IS what it is, and it’s as consistent a mesh product as I’ve seen in terms of throwing and response to weather. Otter mesh is only about performance. No fancy colors, no special strings. Just REALLY good mesh for a decent chunk of change. Maybe you like that sort of thing? I do.
The String King Type 3 Mesh is excellent. It’s SK’s best product so far, comes in a couple of different colors, and also involves some updated sidewall and packaging. SK offers consistency, and with the Type 3 stuff, you get it in no uncertain terms. The softer mesh they offer is great for those who like a lot of roll in their pocket when they cradle, and is ideal for a low-whip, high-hold pocket that shifts around and offers a consistent release with good feel. Changes between colors of the mesh are relatively small. All the soft mesh is pretty soft, etc.
A photo posted by StringKing (@stringking) on
The harder mesh has less movement to it, and if you like a more structured pocket, this is the way to go. You can string up a tight channel, and the ball will “snag” as it leaves, due to the stiffness, and for people who like this type of feel, the harder mesh is perfect. The mesh holes are very even, the weave has just enough give to it without ever bagging, and the diamond size is right in the middle of the current range. Again, there are slight differences between colors.
Both the soft and hard meshes from StringKing are consistent, play the same in different weather situations, and string up nicely. As long as you don’t pull the channel too tight, whip is really not an issue.
The XPro mesh has a little give to it, and it softens and breaks in as you use it. This happens pretty quickly, and it means you can string a tight channel, keep the hold, and lose the whip, as you work in the pocket. The mesh is well produced, and they have a number of different patterns and colors you can choose from. At only $12, it’s on the lower end of the cost spectrum and comes from a company that is smaller, but all about lacrosse.
LaxRoom also has tons of sidewall to choose from, and shooting strings, all of which they make. The materials are really well crafted, and of a high quality. I would expect more stringers to start checking them out this year. Good color combos, lots of options, and high quality products. Watch out for LaxRoom if you don’t know already.
Throne Lite is an improved upon version of the original Throne (wax) Mesh, but it’s more than just a new formula. The diamond structure and weaving patterns are more balanced, and this results in better tension, rounder diamonds, and a more consistent feel. Think that’s a bunch of bologna? Well, it’s kind of like the difference between the soft mesh you find in an AV8, and good raw mesh you buy separately. Weave patterns and diamond structure do matter! Throne also bumped up their material quality, and the overall result is an even better piece of waxed mesh than their original product.
In fact, I would venture that Throne Lite is actually the best, most consistent piece of mainstream wax mesh there is right now. It’s a medium hardness, doesn’t bag or shrink much in weather, and plays pretty consistently in hot and cold temps. If you’re a wax mesh guy, Throne Lite is probably your best bet. It still picks up dirt and grime, as any waxed mesh does, but the overall quality and construction is quite high. This is your wax mesh jam.
A cool add on to the Throne Lite Mesh, are the Throne Lite Strings. The new strings have a little bit of stretch to them, but they pull back tight really nicely. You can really pull your top strings and sidewalls down tight using the new products. Also, they flash when you hit them with light, due to a reflective material in their construction. These things still have all the bells and whistles.
Tribe7’s new Spider mesh really is quite “new”. It’s one of the first of what I’ll call “microstrand” regular mesh. The construction materials are high strength, but there is WAY less of it, so you can see where the name comes from. It’s more like a spider’s web than almost any other mass produced mesh out there, so it’s 100% appropriate.
So how does it play? Differently. Very differently. The thinness of the mesh strands and the overall softness of the mesh allows the ball to rock back and forth more than most mesh ever could. You can really feel the ball move back and forth when you are cradling. The softness is also evident on catches, and the Spider Mesh is a dream come true for someone with less than soft hands.
You can string up a great pocket with this mesh as well, but there are some pitfalls. The Tribe7 guys strung one for me which had no whip, plenty of hold, and threw crisp accurate passes. They also kept the pocket nice and shallow, but it had a good channel and no whip problems. I strung a more conventional style pocket after using their pocket for a while, and found I could put together a great pocket, using many of my standard techniques.
I did find that the mesh can whip pretty severely if it’s too loose up top, but if the sidewalls are tight for at least three rows of diamonds, you can definitely string a high pocket. I chose to go with a mid pocket, and it’s working out well. The ball snaps out of the stick, and I don’t need more than two shooting strings to toe drag myself into oblivion. Good hold, great feel, plays consistent. There could be some durability issues due to how thin the mesh is, but it costs less than half of most of the other brands here. It’s different and worth a shot. You might like it. Worst case scenario – you’re out $5.
When Hero Mesh first came out, I assumed it was going to be another waxed mesh. Well, you know what happens when one assumes…
Hero Mesh is not waxed mesh. It’s not waxed mesh at all! It’s soft mesh! Soft mesh with a good weave pattern, good materials used, and the marketing power of a lacrosse monolith. But you know what? This stuff is also quite good, especially if you like softer mesh, like me.
The feel is good when cradling, the mesh doesn’t stretch too much; so it plays consistently, and the pocket stays pretty much exactly how you string it. My problem with a lot of waxed mesh is how much it changes in weather, especially when it comes to temperature, but Hero Mesh doesn’t have that problem. Because there’s no wax on it. I feel like I can’t say that enough.
With a mesh this soft, you may get some durability issues, especially if you use an abrasive or tough sidewall string. The good news there is that if you need to put in a new piece of mesh, you know it will throw just like the old one did. Break in time is basically zero. This mesh also comes with the Striker option for coloring, and kids love that stuff.
G3 Ultra Light mesh from Stringer’s Shack is a total sleeper mesh, but they make it in the USA themselves, it’s cheap as heck, and it’s actually really, really good stuff! The diamond holes are a little smaller on average, and once the mesh forms a pocket, it tends to keep its shape really well.
Early on, it tends towards being slightly harder, but after a little wall ball, the mesh is nice and soft and provides a great middle ground between soft and hard mesh. The thin strands of this mesh also reduce whip issues, but provide great hold and feel. The materials used are high quality, and there is little give to the mesh… it basically is what it is, and it’s nice!
For less than $6 a piece, the G series ultralight is the best deal for mesh on the planet. It’s totally affordable, high quality, made in the USA, and won’t let you down. Stringer’s Shack knows how to make mesh, it’s what they do, and they overall quality and pricing validates that statement nicely! It’s not fancy, but it works, and that’s what is important.
So there you have it, it’s as thorough a mesh review as I can do. There are differences between all of these products so weigh your options, weigh your game against your options, and be prepared to try something new. One of the meshes will work for you, maybe more. Find your mesh, or just learn how to string traditional already.