You should not use performance bats in cold weather. The issue is not a cold bat but a cold ball. Baseballs and Softballs, made out of leather and string, become more dense as they become more cold. And a more dense ball has less bounce can cause more damage to a performance bat at impact. Does this mean baseball or softball in cold weather is always off limits? Of course not, but we discuss some of the things to consider for cold weather ball below.
How Cold is Cold?
When hitting with composite bats, most manufacturers suggest temperatures should not be less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. When filling out the warranty form some will ask this question.
Our personal experience has shown that a 60 degree cutoff is a rather conservative figure. We have used composites in 50 degree weather and a few times in 40 degree weather. Do note, however, we were not seeing massive pitch and swing speeds. If you are seeing 90+ from the mound and are swinging close to that to match it we would guess the 60 degree cutoff is reasonable. But, if it is more like 60mph or so from the mound with a 60 or so swing speed then going below 60, in our eyes at least, is reasonable. The manufacturers feel differently and, likely, have data to back it up. This is just our layman’s observation.
Some manufacturers do not recommend hitting with a thin walled, high-grade, aluminum bat either in sub 60-degree weather. The denser ball, they argue, creates a greater chance for the aluminum bat to dent. Others manufacturers accept the risks for aluminum bats but admit the outcome of small dents on a barrel is much more satisfactory when compared to the catastrophic results of a cracked composite bat.
What Does Cold Weather Bat Damage Look Like?
For composite bats, bat breaking appears in the form of cracks. Cold weather cracks tend to be more focused at impact than manufacturer defects which often crack along a certain seam or length. But, that doesn’t mean cold weather cracks don’t look like that either.
Aluminum cold weather damage exhibits dents by hitting objects too hard for the bats rating. This type of damage is consistent with most aluminum bat problems as they rarely break. Instead, they bend.
Cold Weather Bat Recommendations
f it is less than 60 degrees and above 50 degrees, justbatreviews.com suggests a close look for aluminum or wood barreled bats. If it is below 50 degrees, consider a wood barreled bat or a cheaper aluminum barrel. Below are some bats good for 50+ degree weather (i.e. high-grade aluminum barrels).
Softball Cold Weather Bat Options
Top shelf aluminum barrels in Slow Pitch and Fastpitch softball are rare. But there are at least a few options to choose from. We like the Anderson Rocketech in either softball or fastpitch. These are end loaded bats. (See our 2017 Rocketech Review here).
Baseball Cold Weather Options
Baseball’s aluminum barrels are categorized into two groups. The first, pictured above, are some popular single piece aluminum bats. From top to bottom: Rawlings’ 5150, DeMarini’s Balanced One, Slugger’s 517 Omaha. As you could guess, they are made from a single piece of aluminum and, at least in cold weather, are very durable. (See our 5150, DeMarini One and 517 Reviews).
Above are hybrid bats. These have an aluminum barrel but a composite handle. From top to bottom: DeMarini Voodoo Balanced, Easton’s Hybrid, Mizuno Covert. Since the handle does not withstand the impact then the durability on these is good in cold weather. We would be weary of serious contact directly on the handle, but they are a much better choice than a composite barrel in cold weather. (See our Voodoo, Hybrid and Covert reviews).