Hockey Protective Equipment: 7 Pieces of Protective Gear to Keep Hockey Players Safe
When it comes to full contact sports, hockey is one of the most aggressive, but also the most fun. Nothing compares to being out on the ice, especially when you're carrying a hockey stick and chasing a small, black puck around.
That said, because of the inherent physicality of the game, players must wear protective hockey gear to stay safe while on the ice. Even if you have no intention of getting into harm when you’re playing hockey, these pads are designed to protect against slips, falls, and other unforeseen dangers.
If you're new to the sport, you may not realize how much protective gear is involved. That's why we've compiled a list of the top seven products you can buy for yourself or for any other hockey player in your life. From shin guards to leg pads, these items are just as protective as they are stylish and eye-catching.
Top Protective Hockey Equipment
- Best Hockey Shoulder Pads: BAUER Vapor Hyperlite Shoulder Pad
- Best Hockey Helmet Combo: CCM 710 Tacks Helmet Combo
- Best Hockey Shin Guard: BAUER Vapor Hyperlite Shin Guard
- Best Elbow Pads: CCM Tacks AS 580 Elbow Pads
- Best Hockey Gloves: BAUER Vapor Hyperlite Hockey Gloves
- Best Goalie Pads: PGS Hockey XT1 Goalie Pads
- Best Goalie Mask: PGS Legend XT Mask
Benefits of Using Hockey Protective Equipment
If you've ever played this sport before, you know the advantages of wearing the best protective gear possible. However, let's break down the specific benefits of using these pieces while playing:
- Protect Your Sensitive Areas – Your head, neck, and groin are the most sensitive parts of your body, whether you're on the ice or not. However, since other hockey players are carrying giant wooden sticks and slapping a heavy puck around, you also want to protect the rest of your body, including your chest, stomach, and legs. Hockey pads in these areas can help prevent serious injuries, even if you run into other players or obstacles during the game.
- Ensure Compliance – According to the USA Hockey Rulebook, all players are responsible for providing their own protective hockey gear, including helmets, shin guards, neck guards, chest protectors, gloves, elbow pads, etc. If you want to play the game, you must adhere to these rules, hence the need for all this equipment.
- Stay Warm on the Ice – Because ice hockey requires low temperatures to prevent the ice from melting, the arena can get pretty cold during the game. Although skating and vying for the puck can help warm your body, wearing sufficient protective gear can also do the trick. Most of these pieces come with thick liners for both protection and warmth.
Best Hockey Protective Equipment
Because there are so many pieces required to play the game, we've compiled a list of the top protective hockey gear to keep every part of your body safe. From the best goalie helmet to the most comfortable shoulder pads, here are the products we love.
1. Best Hockey Shoulder Pads: BAUER Vapor Hyperlite Shoulder Pad
We’re kicking things off is this burly yet lightweight set of shoulder pads that also comes with a chest protector and arm pads. This one piece will keep your torso in perfect shape throughout the game, even if you're getting into it with another player. The Flexaprene shell is malleable enough to move with you but strong enough to deflect impacts.
Why We Love Them
The size of this setup is a bit bulky, so you'd be forgiven for assuming that it would be heavy and cumbersome to wear. However, the lightweight material and foam inserts help make this one of the best pieces of protective hockey gear around. It’s more breathable than you might think, so you won't overheat while inside this piece.
- Lightweight design won't slow you down
- Flexible yet durable materials
- Comes with shock-absorbent foam inserts
- Reinforced ribs for added protection
- No small size available
- Size: Medium, Large, XL
- Vest Material: Flexaprene
- Foam Inserts: Hyperlite HD Molded Foam/Shocklite Foam
- Liner: Thermocore Zero
2. Best Hockey Helmet Combo: CCM 710 Tacks Helmet Combo
Since your head is the most valuable part of your body, you want to make sure it's well protected with a high-quality helmet. That’s why this is probably the most important piece of equipment you could buy. This combo product from CCM comes with a helmet and facemask so you don't have to worry about taking a puck or a stick to the face when things get intense in the rink. Plus, the mask is removable if you want a more streamlined look.
Why We Love It
Without the mask on this helmet, you may wonder if you're wearing anything at all. The insert liner is so soft and comfortable that it's easy to forget you're wearing a helmet, especially when you're just skating freely.
While the mask does limit your visibility while playing, it's designed to deflect pucks away from your face. Plus, since it's removable, you can get the best of both worlds.
- Professional-grade design
- Fast and easy helmet adjustments
- Foam comfort liner insert for better fit
- Sizing can be tricky for some players
- Size: Small, Medium, Large
- Liner: I.Q.Shion Comfort Liner
- Design: Pro-Style Geometric Frame
- Facemask: Silver FM680
- Color: Black, White
3. Best Hockey Shin Guard: BAUER Vapor Hyperlite Shin Guard
One occupational hazard of playing ice hockey is that it's easy to get your shins smacked by sticks and other legs. So, shin guards like this one from BAUER are essential to ensure your legs don't wind up bruised and injured by the end of the game.
Why We Love It
As with other BAUER products, these shin pads are ergonomically designed so you won't feel like you're wearing anything. The interior liner helps regulate your temperature, and the flexible anchor strap won't dig into your skin, meaning it stays tight without being restrictive.
Plus, the knee cap offers excellent protection, and the bottoms of these shin pads have a little extra space so you can skate freely without cutting into your foot.
- Molded shield cap for a better fit
- Thermocore liner for added comfort
- Flexible anchor strap won't dig into your leg
- Ergonomic knee cap
- Sizing can be tricky for some skaters
- Size: 16", 17"
- Front Guard: EXO-Lite Calf Guard
- Shin Cap: X-LITE Shield Cap
- Knee Cap: ErgoDynamic Lab
- Liner: Thermocore Zero
- Strap: Dynaflex Anchor Strap
4. Best Elbow Pads: CCM Tacks AS 580 Elbow Pads
A big part of ice hockey is protecting yourself from the other players. Regardless of how aggressive the game is, you have to be able to push other people off of you when trying to make a play. That's where elbow pads come in, and these ones from CCM Tacks are some of the best we've seen. Their shape and texture are perfect for casual hockey or professional sports, and they should hold up for years before you need a replacement.
Why We Love Them
These elbow pads are molded to fit your arms perfectly, and they have a hinge in the center for maximum mobility. Plus, since your arms are naturally bent to grab the hockey stick, these pads provide support so you don't have to strain yourself throughout the game.
Another element we like is the addition of EVA foam, which is built to absorb impacts and provide comfort to your body. Thanks to this foam — even if you have to be forceful with your movements — your elbows shouldn’t get too banged up.
- Anatomical shield construction for a better fit
- JDP elbow cap for maximum flexibility
- Elite-level protection for professional and amateur games
- Length-adjustable forearm strap for better comfort
- Size: Small, Medium, Large, XL
- Construction: Max Coverage ASD 2-Piece
- Forearm Protection: Slash Shield w/Sublimated Liner
- Interior Foam: EVA Impact Foam
- Elbow Cap: JDP + EVA Foam
5. Best Hockey Gloves: BAUER Vapor Hyperlite Hockey Gloves
Gloves are essential for playing ice hockey because you need to protect your hands from all kinds of wear and tear. Not only do gloves protect your fingers from gripping the stick, but they can also prevent injuries from other players and the puck itself, if it manages to fly up and hit your hands.
These gloves from BAUER work well because they're thick enough to deflect damaging shots while still being flexible and tactile enough to maintain a good grip on your hockey stick.
Why We Love It
Each component of these gloves is designed to make them more comfortable or to provide as much protection as possible. Since they're built for professional gameplay, they're far superior to cheap gloves you may find at a regular sporting goods store. Plus, they help regulate your body heat so your hands aren't so sweaty and clammy by the end of the game.
- DuraConnekt Palm for better grip
- Easy to tell what you're grabbing
- Interior liners help regulate your body heat
- Lightweight design for better flexibility
- Durable construction helps deflect injuries
- Only two sizes available
- Size: 14", 15"
- Color: Black, Navy, Navy/Red/White
- Foam: DuraConnekt Defense Foam
- Shell: PRO Lite Tex + Cable Mesh
- Liner: NanoSense and ThermoCore Zero
- Fingers: 3-Piece Index w/Triple Density Foam
- Thumb: 2-Piece Flex Thumb
6. Best Goalie Pads: PGS Hockey XT1 Goalie Pads
If you're trying to be an ice hockey goalie, you need high-quality pads to help deflect puck shots directed square at your body. While these pads are only designed to protect your legs, they're expertly crafted and should work to keep you safe. As professional-grade pads, you never have to worry about feeling the impact of a puck while you're defending the goal.
Why We Love It
There are almost too many features and benefits to list here when describing why we love these pads. They're built solid for the best protection, and they're fully customizable, so they'll fit your legs better than anything else you can buy.
The straps and contact points are also designed to give you better flexibility and rotation capabilities. So, you can stop pucks in their tracks without hurting yourself or damaging the pads in the process.
- Custom-made to fit each goalie
- Thin outside roll for lighter weight
- Extended back leg coverage
- Wide inner leg cradle for added comfort
- Custom equipment can’t be returned
- Size: 31", 32”, 33”, 34”, 35”, 36”, 37", Custom Sizes
- Weight: 4 lbs each
- Front Surface: HD 110 Pro Form
- Inner Boot: Square, Angled
7. Best Goalie Mask: PGS Legend XT Mask
Goalie masks are much different than regular hockey masks because they have to be able to stop a puck that’s flying towards your face at full speed. This mask from PGS is made from fiberglass and Kevlar to ensure your head is as well-protected as possible.
Why We Love It
This mask is fully customizable, from the color of the headpiece to the frame and even the straps. You can also add extras like sound dampeners and concussion padding to get the best results available. PGS only makes custom masks, so you have to provide your measurements when buying. However, that also means the helmet will always fit correctly as long as you play the game.
- Professional-grade materials
- Concussion padding provided
- Woven fiberglass construction for better durability
- Ballistic kevlar liner
- Only available in adult sizes
- Size: Custom
- Color: Stainless, White, Black, Matte White, Matte Black, Red, Navy, Royal Blue, Orange, Canary Yellow, Sport Gold, Metallic Gold
- Material: Fiberglass/Kevlar
- Optional Add-Ons: Acoustic Dampening, Concussion Padding
How We Picked the Best Hockey Protective Equipment
With so much protective hockey gear available, it can feel a bit overwhelming to compare identical products. After a while, items like elbow and shoulder pads start to blend together, which is why we focused on these primary factors:
Even if you're planning on playing hockey professionally, there's no reason to drop a ton of money on protective gear like shin pads. Also, a higher price tag doesn't necessarily indicate higher quality.
Overall, we prefer hockey protective equipment that offers the best value for the money. If something is going to cost a lot, we want to make sure it will be worth the investment. Plus, each piece can add up quickly. To outfit yourself with all the best protective gear, you could wind up spending several thousand dollars.
First and foremost, protective hockey gear should hold up against the wear and tear you might experience during the game. Even if you're not getting into fights, you have to worry about hitting other players, the plastic partitions around the arena, and even the ice if you wind up taking a dive.
So, we preferred products that offered the best resilience against impacts and falls. This way, hockey players can feel confident that they won't wind up with broken or damaged bones after a game. They can focus on having fun and getting the puck to their teammates, instead of trying not to get hit.
Just because something is built to protect you doesn't mean it can't be comfortable and accommodating. We like protective gear that helps keep your body intact but feels so good to wear that you may even forget you're wearing it.
Fortunately, most of these products have soft interior liners that serve a dual purpose — to absorb impacts and provide a comfortable cushion for each body part. Basically, we considered how you'd feel after a full day on the ice. If the equipment does more harm than good, there's no reason to buy it, no matter how safe it is.
Another element of comfort we paid attention to is how well you can regulate your body temperature on the ice. Wearing so many layers can get hot pretty fast, so we chose products that also offer airflow and odor control. This way, you don't have to worry about soggy, sweat-filled equipment afterward.
High-quality hockey protective equipment is made from lightweight yet durable materials, such as molded foam and resilient Flexaprene. If a product used extra rigid plastic, we knew that it could crack and break under pressure. So, it's better to invest in higher-quality protective gear that can absorb impacts without showing any signs of damage. This way, you can get through multiple games without having to worry about replacing any of your hockey equipment.
The other benefit of using high-quality low-density materials is that they won't weigh you down too much while you're playing. Heavy protective hockey gear can force you to exert yourself too much, especially if you're always by the puck. So, better materials can help you maintain your stamina and energy levels when utilized effectively.
Ease of Use
If you've ever had to put on and take off all of your protective hockey gear before, you know that it pays to invest in products that are super easy to use. This way, you won't need help removing pieces like elbow pads and shin guards — you can take them off effortlessly and put them back on when needed.
Other Hockey Equipment You'll Need
While our list covers most of the essential materials you'll need to play hockey, there are still a few other products necessary to compete. So, before you sign up for practice, be sure to secure these other elements first.
It's virtually impossible to move on the ice without a good pair of skates. That said, there are different kinds of ice skates, so make sure to buy those designed for hockey, not figure skating. Hockey skates are shorter and have a round tip to ensure faster movement during the game.
By comparison, figure skates are longer and have sharp tips to help skaters keep their balance and perform tricks on their toes. While you can technically play hockey in figure skates, the experience will be much more challenging, and you run the risk of catching the front tip into the ice and tripping.
Since hockey is such a high-collision sport, you need to protect your sensitive areas as much as possible. Hockey pants cover the knee-to-waist area, and they come with extra padding, depending on whether you're a goalie or skater. The front comes with a lace enclosure so players who need a jockstrap and cup have room for those things.
Given how these pants need to be both flexible and snug, you need to ensure the proper fit. We highly recommend trying on multiple pairs and moving in them to see how well they'll work on the ice.
Although hockey gloves are relatively lightweight and comfortable, they can rub against your skin a lot within a short period. Since you're constantly moving your stick around and changing hand positions, wrist guards can help prevent rashes and blisters. Without these pieces, the skin could get rubbed raw, preventing you from playing until your wrists heal completely.
Colliding into another skater while playing hockey is common, and the impact can cause a variety of secondary injuries if you're not careful. For example, if your mouth is open, you may wind up biting your tongue or lip, or you could get a tooth knocked out if the collision is strong enough.
Mouthguards can take a while to get used to, but they're invaluable when playing such a high-contact sport. Overall, it's much better to deal with a mouthguard than it is to worry about losing teeth.
Typically, neck guards are optional, but they can be valuable to ensure your neck area stays well-protected during a game. That said, it's pretty rare when you would need to worry about a neck injury, as your shoulder pads and helmet should prevent most impacts already.
FAQs About Hockey Protective Equipment
How Should I Get Fitted for Hockey Protective Equipment?
If possible, it's best to go to a sporting goods store for a professional fitting session. This way, you can be sure of your measurements and buy gear that will fit snugly without being too tight or restrictive. If you're going the DIY route, check out this fitting guide to see how each piece should feel.
How Often Do I Need to Buy New Hockey Equipment?
Some products may need replacing every year, while others can last for several years before needing an upgrade. For example, helmets are certified by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC) and are often rated to last up to 6.5 years. However, that's based on constant use, so if you only play on occasion, you can wait longer.
As you can see, there's a lot to consider when buying hockey protective equipment. However, now that you have a list of the top hockey equipment, you can be well on your way to playing competitively on the ice.
Related content:This post was produced and paid for by Originated Media