There’s a lot of waxed lacrosse mesh out there. For years, lax McGuyvers everywhere have been tinkering with different methods and mixtures to make boring old lacrosse mesh into coated, colored, and even scented variations of the pocket that dominates the game today, mesh. It’s time we got to the bottom of it all.
There are a few products you’ve probably heard of that are sold in the major retail stores and local shops around the country. For every one of those, though, are perhaps 20 more waxed mesh startups that turn out everything from awesome, game-ready mesh to flaky, failed science experiment type results. Much like the “whip and hold scale”, peoples’ opinions of mesh traits very widely based on the products or pockets they have come into contact with. Can we really figure out who makes the “best” waxed mesh? Is that even a thing?
Here at Lacrosse Playground, we’re working on one of the most in-depth mesh experiments ever. The tests will measure the most commonly asked about physical qualities of waxed mesh, such as stickiness, stiffness, weight, stretchiness, water resistance, cold resistance, and flakiness in a way that is exact and repeatable. The aim is to create a scientific, unbiased approach to comparing waxed mesh so that we might finally find a way to judge these things on an even playing field. While this could be taken as a “best waxed mesh contest,” that is not the intention here. Just trying to give everyone another tool when deciding which stringing combo is the most lethal for you.
A lot of this first article will be explaining the methods and reasons behind the testing. From the outset, the goal has been to remain as true to the scientific method as reasonably possible. That means totally non-biased, as fair and even as possible, and as thorough as can be within our time frame. I’ll be taking several steps to isolate the mesh as the only variable, (AKA setting up the test so that the mesh is the only thing changing) and also to make it a blind test. Throughout the testing, the only person that will know the true identities of each piece of mesh will be the un-boxer (most likely my wifey). She will take each piece of mesh out of the shipping package and put one of 10 different color sidewall string through it, as seen in the title picture above. She’ll then write down which is which, and hide the answers. This way, all testing is done fairly. Even my articles will be written without knowledge of who’s who until the final revealing at the end. The testing methods will most certainly not be perfect, but we’ll try to come as close as we can.
This leads us to the introduction of our generous test sponsors. STX Lacrosse has pitched in 10 brand new K18 heads to be strung up. Using the same heads will make sure that we aren’t including head shape when trying to find the differences in the hold and release portion of the testing. The heads are universally legal, and will be strung nearly identically, which brings us to our next test sponsor.
Stringers’ Shack is helping us out by supplying all of the sidewall and shooters for the testing. This will make sure that all of the other components of the pocket are the same, and doesn’t change between sticks. The sidewalls and shooters are white nylon with very low stretchiness. Every pocket will be strung by me in an attempt to get the exact same pocket. In keeping with the whole “universally legal” theme, we’ll run a three-across shooter setup for every pocket. Unless the diamond size is drastically different, similar sidewall patterns will be used.
Trying to get 10 identical pockets with different mesh is one of the biggest hurdles of this experiment. Because of that, several pregame tests will be done to each piece of mesh to try and measure individual qualities before it goes into the head. Those procedures are below. Each piece of mesh will be cut to the same length before starting.
All of the following tests will be conducted on each piece of mesh both before and after a dunk into water.
Weight – The difference in weight before and after the dunk will show us how much water is absorbed, or how water resistant the mesh is.
Flakiness – When bent back and forth 20 times, does anything fall off?
Stickiness – When set onto turf pellets with an even weight on top, will the mesh adhere to any of them? A 10 lb weight will be placed on each piece of mesh, with a tablespoon of turf rubber pellets scattered on the table underneath. After left for 10 seconds, how many pellets are picked up by the mesh?
Stiffness – How well does the mesh stand up on its own? How much will a pocket dent? A marble will be dropped from varying heights to see how well the pocket holds its shape. This will have to be done after they are strung.
Break in – After playing with all the sticks, how well do they do in all of the same tests?
After all of these tests have been done, each piece of mesh will be strung into the same head, by the same stringer, with the same pattern (where possible), and the same strings. I’m trying to make every pocket as similar as possible. While this might make it tough to determine any differences between each stick, I’m hoping that there will still be some standouts in the crowd if used by enough people.
This second portion of testing includes actual players. Primary testers will be post-collegiate, college, and some pro lacrosse players. Every tester will get an equal amount of time, passes, and shots while using each stick both dry and after it has been dunked in water. Ratings on a 1-10 scale will then be given for hold, release speed, ball control/rattle, and feel. While most of these things are directly related to the string job, I believe we can tweak it enough so that the mesh itself plays the largest role in noticeable difference. Everyone will then vote on a favorite, and the results tallied. At that point, the players will be told which mesh is which.
In this initial Massive Mesh Test, we’ll be using a piece of brand new, white, 10 diamond mesh from ten different companies. Thank you guys for participating! They are:
- RED STAR Lacrosse – RED STAR Mesh
- East Coast Dyes – East Coast Mesh
- Ninja Lax – Ninja Mesh
- BLATANT Lax – BLATANT Mesh
- JimaLax – JimaWAX Mesh
- Shrewsbury Strings – Bury Mesh
- Chillax Customs - Chillax Mesh
- POWLAX Shop – POWLAX Mesh
- Lacrosse Unlimited – Gold Mesh
- LaxNwax – LaxNWax Mesh
Testing has begun, and Chapter 2 of Meshbusters will be posted ASAP. In the meantime, follow @mccoolsdyeshop on Instagram and Facebook for photos of testing in progress. Below are pictures of each piece of mesh up close. Can you guess which is which?