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Hockey pants are more than just pants—a lot more. Sometimes called “breezers,” hockey pants are important to players’ safety and comfort. Those new to the game might not fully understand that hockey pants and hockey girdles (an alternative to traditional pants) provide protection for the hips, thighs, and lower spine—the vulnerable parts of the body that bang into other players, the boards, goal posts, and the ice during play.
This guide to understanding hockey pants and girdles breaks down the parts of this protective gear then helps you understand sizing and choosing the pair that’s best for you. We also give you tips on cost, how to clean your hockey pants or girdle, and how to know when you need to replace them. For parents, we offer a section specifically on how to buy hockey pants for your kids.
Traditional hockey pants and form-fitting hockey girdles offer the same protection but in different packages. Hockey pants offer a roomier fit with more bulk, and girdles fit more like compression shorts which can help with range of motion. If you go with a girdle, you’ll also need to purchase a shell overlayer since pants aren’t included as part of the gear. Ultimately, it’s a matter of comfort and personal taste when deciding which type of lower body protection you prefer.
Hockey pants are typically made with a nylon or polyester exterior shell, along with sturdy foam pads (made from polyurethane, polyethylene, or polyester) in the interior assembly and a padded waistband. Hockey pants include a belt. For mobility, the back of the pants are not padded, so make sure you don’t turn your back on a flying puck.
Hockey girdles are made with lightweight, dual-density foams and hard plastics, offering the same protection as hockey pants but covered in a breathable compression material.
Lower-end hockey pants and girdles have thinner materials in a basic protective construction that may adequately protect an adult who will come into contact with only light slashes or slower pucks in a rec league, or a younger player starting out in a no-contact league. Players exposed to slashing, hacking, and high-speed pucks need more advanced hockey pants or girdles with adjustable pads made from impact-absorbing tech foams that add padding without excess weight.
More sophisticated pants and girdles also offer extra protection for the spine and kidneys, with moisture-wicking liners designed to keep sweat and heat off your legs. For example, some Bauer hockey pants and girdles include molded polyethylene hard plastic and high-density foams while some CCM hockey pants and girdles feature injection-molded floating hybrid spine shields and impact-absorbing D30® smart material.
A properly fitted girdle or pair of hockey pants shields your lower body from taking direct blows from slashes, pucks, collisions, and falls. This important piece of hockey protective equipment has four main parts:
Hockey pants and girdles are moderately priced on the lower end: expect to pay around $35 for a basic pair of kids’ hockey pants up to $60 for an entry-level adult pair. For elite players who need advanced protection, hockey pants can cost $230 or more. Hockey girdles run the same price points with shells ranging from $30-$40.
Use a traditional dress pant or jean measurement if available. However, if you don’t know either of those sizes, you can measure around the waist, just above the hips, to get the proper measurement. Our related guide on How to Fit Hockey Pants & Girdles includes general guidelines for finding the correct size and instructions for taking a proper measurement and adjusting your equipment. This guide also includes sizing charts from Bauer, CCM, and other top manufacturers.
Which lower body protection you choose depends a lot on personal preference and the kind of mobility you need.
Sized from Small to XX-Large, hockey pants come in two main fit profiles to benefit particular playing styles. A traditional (or classic) fit is wide at the hips and thighs, offering volume with coverage and protection, which may work well for defensive players or those who are playing a rougher game. A tapered fit starts snug around the hips then widens through the thighs for the do-it-all player who sees a little bit of everything on the ice. Hockey girdles are considered a contoured fit since they are snug at the hips and thighs, suitable for players who are looking for excellent mobility as well as protection.
Hockey pants work for all levels of play, although hockey girdles are reserved typically for Junior and Senior players.
Top hockey equipment manufacturers have developed their product lines with style of play and position in mind. Bauer, CCM, and other popular makers offer pants and girdles in a range of profiles and sizes to cover the protection needs and preferences of all hockey players. For any player focused on speed and agility, the Bauer Vapor line or CCM’s Jetspeed hockey pants are lighter weight, with a closer-to-the-body anatomical fit for streamlined play. For defensive players or those who need power and stability, Bauer’s Supreme or CCM’s Tacks line offers more coverage to handle checks and blocks.
Parents generally want to know how to buy the right size hockey pants for their kid and how much the protective gear is going to cost. Our guide on How to Fit Hockey Pants & Girdles should give you an idea of what size hockey pants your kid will need, and we also have a separate guide on Kids’ Hockey Gear with more information to help you decide.
Make note: buy the pants that fit. Buying up a size so your kid can “grow into them” means they’ll have baggy pants that will slip, exposing them to injury or impeding their skating. Their hockey pants should fit snugly around the hips and extend half way past the kneecaps on their shin guards.
Pure Hockey makes sure we have excellent options in our inventory of hockey pants for kids for all budgets. Youth hockey pants usually range from $35 to $60, but check our specials regularly for discounts.
With proper care, your hockey pants or girdle should last several seasons. If you notice rips or tears or if you outgrow your pants, then it’s time to get a new pair. Regularly cleaning and drying your hockey pants as well as wearing a base layer can extend the lifespan of your equipment and prevent the materials from breaking down prematurely.
Are you in the market for a new pair of hockey pants? Shop our full selection of hockey pants and girdles online, or if you're unsure which pair might be right for you, visit a Pure Hockey store near you for a full assessment from our staff.