Armor Mesh, it’s new, it’s innovative, it’s a little tricky too. Typical mesh is made by weaving very thin thread tightly together and interwoven between diamond rows and columns to make a sheet of relatively flat piece of mesh. Because these thin threads are woven so tightly together, there is not much room for it to shift around and conform to where the ball is in the pocket. The basis of Armor Mesh is that it consists of one piece of string woven loosely throughout the piece of mesh. Because the mesh is not woven tightly like typical mesh, each “knot” within the mesh has the ability to shift along with the ball as it moves within the pocket. To get a more professional take on this new mesh, I reached out to one of the lacrosse community’s most well known stringers Lars Kiel, also known as the Sidewall Jedi.
One of the first things that may come to mind when first glancing at a piece of Armor Mesh is that the interlocking loops are vertically aligned similarly to how traditional stringing leathers would be. This begs the question if Armor Mesh give a feel more similar to typical mesh, or traditional leathers? Kiel answered saying that it is best to just treat it as its own category. He went on to say that it’s possible to string traditional and make it feel like Armor Mesh but that it’s also possible to string a typical ten-diamond to feel like Armor Mesh. However, it’s best to try to be able to string Armor Mesh like Armor Mesh.
“There are things that you can do with Armor Mesh that you simply can’t do with regular mesh, but there’s also things you can do with regular mesh that you can’t do with Armor Mesh. It is really dependent on the player.”
– Lars Kiel, Sidewall Jedi
So what is it that Armor Mesh can do that regular mesh cannot? The most commonly brought up topic for reviewers of Armor Mesh is the way in which the mesh holds the ball in the pocket. With typical mesh, the ball sits on and rolls along the surface of the mesh while the player is cradling, passing, or shooting. With Armor Mesh however, because the strings are not tightly fastened, the strings and the mesh entirely shifts and changes with the ball as it transitions to different parts of the stick. This is why reviewers like PowLax often tote the mesh’s ability to hold the ball low in the pocket much better than typical mesh because of its ability to shift down with the ball and still maintain a high catchpoint for passing and shooting.
One of the questions that needed to be asked concerning Armor Mesh is that when looking at a head strung with the mesh, it seems like there is not much of a defined channel within it. Kiel quickly answered this by relating it to rolling a ball down a rain gutter. If you had one channel that was circular shaped and one that was triangle shaped, both would roll the ball down the gutter but the round one would better contact the bottom of the ball with the bottom of the gutter. He then proceeded to present a ECD Rebel D that he had strung a mid-high pocket with Armor Mesh in, showing the “channel” of the pocket he said “people will say ‘that’s got no channel’. Well no, it’s got a ton of channel, it’s just not a teepee.” This is the mentality a stringer needs to go in with in order to form a good pocket using Armor Mesh. Kiel went on to say that young stringers tend to stay away from the path of least resistance when it comes to channeling their sticks. “You don’t need a wicked tight channel in order to have an ‘accurate’ stick.”
While most in the lacrosse community say that Armor Mesh has better “hold”, Lars Kiel will be the first to jump on the common phrase of “it’s the wizard, not the wand.”
“Hold is a skill, along with accuracy, consistency, ball retention, stick protection, shot velocity, and having a quick release. You can have the best arrows in the world, but if the archer doesn’t know how to use the bow, the arrows are worthless.”
– Lars Kiel, Sidewall Jedi
What Kiel is getting at here is that every player has a different style to their game, and every style can be catered to a certain type of stick. This is the true beauty of lacrosse, no two players have the exact same mechanics, therefore it is very uncommon for two players to use the same stick and stringing pattern, creating a diversity of mechanics and equipment customization unseen in nearly any other sport.
So what is in store for Armor Mesh? It has been a year since its release at the 2022 LaxCon and for a non-traditional type mesh, it is still prevalent at tournaments and leagues around the country. So is this a failed experiment like STX’s knot mesh? Not in the least, and as long as players like Tehoka Naticoke, Latrell Harris, and Eric Fannell are finding that it suits their style of play, other players throughout the world will continue to pick it up. Obviously it won’t be for everyone, Kiel said himself “it will never replace regular mesh, but it will continue to find its place”. So maybe go out and try a piece of Armor Mesh, not to see if your style suits the mesh, but if the mesh suits your style of play.