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This guide to buying hockey shin guards breaks down the parts of a shin guard, and then helps you to understand sizing, pricing, and choosing the pair that’s best for you. We also have tips on cleaning and maintaining your shin guards, and how to know when it’s time for a new pair.
Hockey shin guards typically consist of a hard outer shell made of composite plastics, fiberglass, or polyurethane, along with a foam inner liner.
Lower-end shin guards have a thinner shell that may adequately protect an adult experiencing light contact in a rec league, or a younger player starting out in a no-contact league. Players exposed to higher-impact slashing and hacking will need more advanced shin guards with thicker shells, calf protection, more complex strapping systems, and high-tech foams & liners.
Higher-end shin guards often include materials specifically designed for absorbing and dissipating force from extreme impacts. For example, some Bauer shin guards include a Poron XRD comfort liner for both high-velocity and low-velocity impact protection, and some CCM shin guards feature D3O® Smart Foam, which hardens upon impact, dissipates the energy, and then returns to a flexible state. All hockey shin guards come in the same basic design, with different parts of the pad protecting different parts of your lower legs. Here’s how they work:
There are four major variables to consider when choosing new hockey shin guards: the price, the size, the fit profile, and how well they match your individual game.
The cost of hockey shin guards ranges from around $30-$40 for a basic pair of youth shin guards, to nearly $200 for a top-of-the-line senior model.
Your hockey shin guard size can depend on whether you wear your shin guard under the tongue of your skate or over it. Our related guide on How to Fit Hockey Shin Guards 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.
Hockey shin guards come in a few different fit profiles. A traditional fit tends to be bulkier, but more protective, while a contoured fit tends to be more anatomical and streamlined. A tapered fit falls between the other two fits, with a higher-volume upper half of the pad that tapers into a lower-volume bottom half.
Different hockey shin guards can be suited to different positions or styles of play. For example, a defenseman may choose a wider, bulkier pad (traditional fit) for additional protection and shot-blocking surface. On the other hand, a speedy forward may prefer a lighter pad that fits tighter to the leg.
There’s also the question of wearing hockey shin guards under or over the skate tongue. It’s a matter of personal preference, but this decision is critical to sizing your shin guards, which we cover in our guide on How to Fit Hockey Shin Guards.
Top hockey equipment manufacturers have developed their product lines with style of play and position in mind. Bauer, CCM, and other popular makers offer shin guards 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 shin guards 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 shin guards or CCM’s Tacks line offers more coverage to handle checks and blocks.
Parents need to know how to buy the right size hockey shin guards for their child and how much the protective gear is going to cost. Our guide on How to Fit Hockey Shin Guards will show you how to measure properly, with sizing charts to give you an idea of what size shin guards your child needs.
Make note: buy the shin guards that fit. Buying up a size so your kid can “grow into them” means they’ll have pads that will slip or wobble, exposing their knees and legs to injury or impeding their skating. Their shin guards should cover the legs from the edge of the hockey pants to the skate boot, with the knee situated securely in the knee donut. Pure Hockey includes excellent options for all budgets in our inventory. Youth shin guards usually range from $22 to $50, but check our specials regularly for discounts.
The lifespan of your hockey shin guards depends on your frequency and intensity of play, as well as how you maintain and care for your equipment. Of course, elite skaters who hit the ice almost every day will need to replace their shin guards sooner than a weekend rec player. But a well-maintained pair of shin guards can last several years. Cracked knee caps and shells, torn flaps, and exposed inner padding are all probably signs that it’s time for a new pair.
Regularly cleaning and drying your shin guards 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 shin guards? Shop our full selection of hockey shin guards online, or if you're still unsure which pair might be right for you, visit a Pure Hockey store near you for a full assessment from our staff.
If you’re shopping for other gear, too, be sure to check out our other hockey equipment buying & fitting guides so you can purchase with confidence.
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