Editor’s Note: Mark Powers of the Salt Shakerz Lacrosse Club stops by to review some of Warrior and Brine’s recent product offerings. The Shakerz use a lot of Brine and Warrior gear, so they get their hands on it nice and early. Let’s hear what they have to say. Take it away Mark!
Like most of the people who read LAS and Sweet Sweet Lax, I’m a Lax junkie – especially when it comes to Lax gear. It doesn’t matter what gear we’re talking about; I wanna learn more about it. By now we all know how I feel about a good Lax wand, so when I ran into my buddy who works for Warrior at my cousin’s wedding, (true story: it’s a small world – granted the wedding was in Michigan!) we got to talking about some of Warrior/Brine’s recent product offerings, and what they had coming out in the near future. Being the nice guy that he is, he sent me some of the new goods to try out, and I decided to review them for you kind folks!
Shortly before I headed down to the Ocean City Classic with the rest of the Salt Shakerz, a nice big box from Warren, Michigan showed up at my door. Check out what was inside:
2 New Brine Encore Xs, 1 Warrior Platinum D-pole, and 1 Warrior Kryptolyte D-pole.
Even though I wasn’t necessarily in the market for a new head (Hello Shakerz’ Clutch), I was most excited to check out the Brine Encore X. I used a Warrior Platinum in HS, and the Warrior Krypto has been my go-to shaft for several years now—so I wasn’t going on a blind date with those products the same way I did with the Encore X. In fact, the reason my buddy sent me the Encore(s) is because I was talking smack about the head at the wedding. That being said, when we initially spoke about the head, I hadn’t seen it in person or really had a chance to inspect it. I had only seen catalog images of the head around the internet, and upon seeing the images, I was skeptical.
At the wedding, I asked my friend “what’s up with that new, crazy-lookin, Brine head that’s available in all those wild color schemes (I was talking about the Lime green and watermelon colored edition)?” He talked the head up and extolled me on its many virtues, but I wasn’t sold.
Let’s call it like it is, the Encore certainly looks different than most other heads on the market, and in a world where established heads like the Clutch, Edge, Evo, and Proton generally reign supreme, the Encore caught me off guard.
From the InsideLacrosse Gear Zone:
“The Encore X is Brine’s latest head coming to the market, which also means it’s made from the newest technology to hit the lax labs. The Encore X is Brine’s first head to feature dual technology, combining the 2-Shot (as seen in the Clutch 2 and Clutch 2X) and Noz Technologies.
Thanks to the strategic placement of Noz the Encore X joins the Superlight family. The Reverse 2-Shot color scheme allows for an all-color head with white color hit on the sidewalls. TruOffset design gives you maximum hold and accuracy.”
When looking at the head, the first thing that jumped out at me was obviously the two-tone color scheme. I have seen this before, (the Shakerz Clutch utilized the same technology, but with a custom color scheme) but I asked my buddy to explain it to me. He said:
“2 Shot technology is a molding technique that allows the injection of 2 or more colors into a lacrosse head. It allows us to produce truly custom lacrosse heads to match teams’ and individuals’ preferences straight from the factory. I can’t say that it makes the head any stiffer, but it definitely adds flare for increased ball control because the 2nd color shot sits tighter than the normal sidewall would.”
Interesting. Did you know that? I didn’t know that.
To me, the coolest part about the new Two-shot technology is that Warrior/Brine is offering it to the public through a new customization program, which allows you to customize your head (and I think other equipment as well) without having to dye it. Sounds like Nike i.d. for Lax heads!! According to my buddy, tons of colors are available to be mixed and matched. The only caveat is that there is a 24 piece minimum, which makes the custom head program ideal for school teams and/or youth programs. Contact your local Warrior/Brine rep or hit the internet for more info.
The first design feature of the head that I noticed was the sidewalls—I hadn’t seen a design like the Encore X sidewall before. I guess you could say that they kinda look like a double Warrior Evolution sidewall pattern, but not really. As a defenseman, I was concerned that the Encore’s open and seemingly minimal sidewalls would not provide enough support for aggressive checks and the head would be too flexible to be a viable option. Also, when I first viewed images of the head online, the sidewall “trestles” looked like they stuck out from the upper and lower rails of the sidewalls (kinda like the Debeer Shockwave), which turned me off. My assumptions are just further proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover (or a lax head by its internet images!) because when I received the Encore X, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was not the case at all. The sidewalls are stiff and more substantial in person, and the trestles don’t pop out from the sidewalls at all—phew! Actually, the sidewall trestles themselves seem stiffer than the rest of the head.
Like most defensemen, the first thing I do when examining a head is pinch it with my hand right in the middle of the head to see how stiff it is. The Encore is stiff! Not necessarily old-school Brine MD stiff, but definitely stiffer than a Proton or Evo.
Other than the inventive new sidewall design, the other thing that really stood out to me from the pics I saw was the degree of off-set that the head has. I like a fair amount of whip in my sticks and I like groundballs to be easy—things that go hand in hand with an offset head; but I was concerned that the offset in the Encore would be very severe—like the Brine Voyce (I see you Ned Crotty–best player on earth? I’m with it).
I wasn’t sure if I would like this or not because I usually play with a Brine Clutch 2X, a Warrior Evo Pro or a Warrior Mojo—all heads that have a more gradual offset than the Encore, and heads that don’t drop offset right from the throat of the head. Instead, once again, my initial impression was wrong. I like the Encore’s offset. It’s probably close to, if not the maximum offset allowed, and it is setup perfectly for a nice deep mid/high pocket, which I like. That being said, know your game. I think the head is capable of being used by almost every position, but I probably wouldn’t recommend this head to a feeding attackman.
Once I read the IL Gear zone article and saw that the Encore X utilized “TruOffset” I asked my buddy to explain the technology in layman’s terms. He had this to say:
“TruOffset is just what you think it is. It is a head that is truly offset. It’s a patent that Warrior/Brine holds which allows the sidewall to drop below (and stay below) the centerline of the shaft”.
One feature that I was pleasantly surprised by was the head’s scoop. I really like the scoop on the Warrior Evo Pro and I think the Encore is very close to that. It’s curved, but more importantly, the head’s offsetness (It’s fun inventing words) coupled with the angle of the scoop allows for serious groundball play without having to bend over a whole lot and pump that back hand. I think it makes the game a little easier. It’s not necessarily an eye-catching feature, but Warrior/Brine isn’t over looking it either, which I appreciate.
Another feature that I didn’t become aware of until I handled the Encore X in person was just how light the head is. In my opinion it probably has one of the best strength to weight ratios (or at least stiffness to weight ratios) that I’ve seen in a while. Clearly this is attributable to Warrior’s Noz technology. This is my first opportunity to use a head with the Noz technology, so I’m anxious to see how it holds up over time (Noz is gas injected and there is less plastic involved.) When I questioned my buddy from Warrior about how the Noz tech worked, he said:
“Noz Tech is a patented process that we use which allows us to shoot nitrogen gas into the mold while the plastic is being injected. This allows us to take out weight without changing the durability of a head. In the Encore X, it is in the throat area and well as up the sidewall rails. If you look at the ball stop area, you can see a little hole to the front of the heads….that’s where the gas is put in.”
Finally, the Encore has well-spaced sidewall stringing holes. I string mesh with an interlocking (OG) sidewall, and when I strung up one of the Encores, it formed a perfect pocket, dead center and I didn’t have to skip any of the regular-sized sidewall holes—It doesn’t get any easier than that; Idiot proof. The other Encore I received has been sent out to a buddy of mine here in New York to receive the proper Pita Pocket treatment, and I’m very excited to see the results. Brown leathers, white nylon (maybe Pink-TBD) on a Blue/White Encore—thing is gonna look mean!
So far I’ve only played wall ball with the Encore a couple times and I brought it down to the local pickup games a few times so I can’t truly speak to its durability yet, but otherwise I’m really digging the new offering from Brine. When comparing the Encore X to other heads on the market, I think it stacks up favorably. It’s not as pricey as the top-tier heads, (prices according to lacrosse.com and lax.com) and it’s priced near the Clutch, the Edge, the Evo 2 and the Super Power—which I think is accurate. The Encore X has much more going on with it from a technology standpoint than those heads do, but it does not have the established reputation that they have earned over time.
If I had to rate the head on a scale of 1- 10 (again, not factoring in durability at all), I’d give it an 8.9. I arrived at that number because to me, no lacrosse head is worthy of a 10. None are totally perfect. However, there are many good, iconic, heads that have lasted for a decade and sometimes longer, so I have to consider those heads to be in the 9-9.9 range. The Encore X is not there (yet). It is however one of the most technologically advanced heads on the market today, and as you read up above, many of the Encore’s strong points are qualities that I value in a head. I love playing with it so far. Once I’m able to truly judge the head’s durability, then I’ll be able to make a more complete assessment. I’ll keep you posted.
As far as the shafts are concerned, where do I begin? Let’s start with the Kryptolyte. If you’ve never heard of the Krypto by now, you are simply not a lacrosse player. The shaft is over a decade old and it is still one of the best shafts you can buy—regardless of price (yeah I said it). To me, the new titanium shafts on the market suck. If you’ve been playing Lax for a while, you know that old-school (we’ll say pre-2002) Titanium was much thicker and more dent resistant than the stuff companies are passing off today. Titanium is also very expensive. I love to ball, but there is no way I’m spending close to $300 for a Titanium D-pole. Not gonna happen.
I guess the next tier of shafts (pricewise anyway) would be Scandium and/or Composites. As a pole, I don’t think composites are ready yet. At least the Harrow I played with for about a month a couple years ago was not. I find that they’ve got too much flex, don’t deliver forceful enough checks, and they cost more than the Krypto! As far as Scandium is concerned, I’m pretty skeptical. I had never even heard of Scandium actually being used anywhere (except Russian fighter planes—remember that old STX ad?) until STX came out with their shaft years ago. To me, it’s a Gimmick. Also, as Connor recently pointed out, companies aren’t really putting too much Scandium in their shafts and they are still branding them that way. No bueno. Also, again, the scandium is significantly more expensive than the Krypto.
When it comes down to it, the Kryptolyte is not the most technologically advanced shaft in the world. I’m pretty sure it’s a mixture of C405 (Carbon) and 7075 high-grade Aluminum, but in my humble opinion, that’s really all you need; especially for the price. I could easily buy 2 Kryptolytes for the price of a Titanium D-pole and I would gladly take that deal any day. The shaft is pretty light (not as light as the Warrior Platinum), but it doesn’t have a ton of flex, and it seems to deliver pretty forceful checks. Also, I’ve found that the shaft is durable. The one that I’m currently playing with (not pictured), I’ve been using for about 4 years now. No dings/dents and no real warping (like you find with aluminum). It’s not like I’m just using this thing for backyard lax either—I play constantly and I’m a bit of a hack, and the shaft has held up to the abuse. It’s my go-to and I’d probably wager that I’m not the only person who feels this way because it has got to be the best selling shaft in the game considering how many Kryptolytes I usually see on the field.
If you’ve never used a Kryptolyte and you’re in the market for a new shaft, pick one up. In my opinion, they’re certainly the best value for the money. The version that my buddy sent me has updated graphics from the old one, and surprisingly Warrior went a little more understated than usual— I like it! Back in the day, we used to scratch the labels/logos off the shafts and I’m not a fan of huge and/or ridiculous branding on my equipment. The new graphics aren’t too big and I didn’t find them offensive. The shaft also utilizes Warrior’s Kung –Fu grip (Thank you Sublime!). To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what that means and I forgot to ask my buddy, but I do notice a slight difference from the way the old one feels in your hand. I’m into it. Another great feature of the Kryptolyte is that it comes in a ton of colors: Chrome, Black, Gunmetal, Maroon, Orange, Royal and Green. Also, the shaft comes with a 6 month limited warranty against manufacturing defects, which is nothing to sneeze at. I can’t say enough good things here. I’d rate it a 9.8 out of 10.
Finally, the last item I received to review was the Warrior Platinum shaft. I used a Platinum in high school and I loved it. However, as I got older, I needed something more durable and that’s when I began experimenting with Titanium and other alloys (Like the Kryptolyte). That being said, I enjoyed getting a Platinum back in my hands. The Platinum is super lightweight, and every time I played with it during my testing, it brought out my inner Chris Passavia. For those of you unfamiliar with Passavia, he played a super aggressive brand of defense at Ward Melville, Maryland and in the MLL, where he would whip the stick all around the guy he was covering, making it look like a windshield wiper in motion. The Platinum’s light weight lured me into a false sense that I could still run with anyone and throw junk checks left and right—I can’t, but the shaft was still awesome to play with!! In my hands, the shaft had a ton of flex, which made it easy to whip around.
The Platinum is made from CU-31 grade aluminum and although I can’t speak intelligently about what that means, I can tell you that it’s stronger than a standard aluminum shaft, but not as sturdy as the Kryptolyte. Then again, it’s not supposed to be.
An interesting upgrade for the Platinum in its newest incarnation is that the shaft has a full-length soft grip coating, which you definitely notice when you handle it. I like it. It’s not as intense as the grip on the swizzle or the swizzbeat, but it’s something. As a defenseman, I like some artificial grip, but I still need to be able to throw the poke check, and the soft grip definitely does not hinder that action.
Like the Kryptolyle, the Platinum has new, somewhat understated graphics, which I really like compared to some of Warrior’s prior efforts. The shaft also maintains a 6 month warranty, same as the Kryptolyte. The Platinum is available in Chrome, Black (which I tested), and Gold.
Ultimately, the Platinum is not for everyone. It’s an ideal shaft for youth thru high school players, but it may not be stiff enough to meet the demands of college or post-collegiate players. I found that it has a lot of flex. Some ppl enjoy flex in their shaft, some don’t. That being said, you really can’t beat it for the price. The shaft usually retails around $60 in the d-pole length, which in my opinion makes Aluminum obsolete. Why spend $30ish on aluminum when the Platinum is available and is infinitely better. For the value-conscious, the Platinum is ideal. I’d rate the shaft a solid 8 out of 10. Ideal for youth players, but a little bit too much flex for my taste.