Pure Hockey Shoulder Pad Buying Guide
Hockey shoulder pads provide vital upper body protection. So, it’s important to know what you’re looking for so you can get the best padding for your style of play. This guide to understanding hockey shoulder pads explains the parts of your shoulder pads, and then helps you find your size and choose the pair that’s best for you. We also give you tips on how to clean your shoulder pads and how to know when to replace them.
What Are Hockey Shoulder Pads Made Of?
Hockey shoulder pads come with an array of features designed to protect the shoulders, chest, back, and upper arms. Here’s a closer look at the parts of this important piece of protective gear:
- The Collarbone Protector fits over the clavicles to shield them from body checks or flying pucks.
- Shoulder Caps provide necessary padding around the rotator cuffs and shoulder joints.
- The Bicep Pads add an extra layer of protection for the upper arms.
- The Chest Protector and Back Protector provide critical padding around vital organs, the sternum, and the spine.
- Rib Guards keep this part of the torso protected from body checks, pucks, and sticks.
- The Abdominal Pad protects other vital organs and important core muscles from high impacts during play.
How do I choose hockey shoulder pads?
Hockey shoulder pads come with a variety of protective features and different levels of coverage to match your type of game. A few major considerations in choosing the right pair are the price point, the size, the fit profile, and how well the pads are suited to your position or playing style.
How much do hockey shoulder pads cost?
The cost of hockey shoulder pads ranges from around $25-30 for a basic pair of youth pads to a little over $200 for the top-of-the-line senior models.
What size hockey shoulder pads should I get?
If you’re not sure about your size, our related guide on How to Fit Hockey Shoulder Pads has some general guidelines on finding your size and adjusting your equipment, along with sizing charts for major brands such as Bauer and CCM.
If you’re between sizes, then the deciding factor can be a matter of personal preference: go for the larger size if you want the extra coverage, or go for the smaller size if you want a lower-profile fit with some added mobility.
How are hockey shoulder pads supposed to fit?
The shoulder pads should have a snug fit, with the edges of the shoulders squarely under the shoulder caps. There should be no gaps between the torso protection and the top of the hockey pants, or between the bicep protection and the elbow pads. Consult our sizing guide to confirm you have the right fit.
Most hockey shoulder pads come in a few different fit profiles. A traditional fit is higher-volume, designed to maximize coverage and protection. A contoured fit is lower-volume, designed to sit tighter against the body. A tapered fit effectively combines the traditional and contoured fits, with a higher-volume top part of the pads that narrows near the bottom part of the pads.
Which hockey shoulder pads are best for my style of play?
Hockey shoulder pads come in a number of styles and fit profiles to suit all positions and styles of play. Defensemen and other players with a physical game may want to go with higher-profile pads that offer extra protection when checking and battling for the puck. But quick-moving forwards may prefer the added mobility of a lower-profile pad.
Major manufacturers such as Bauer and CCM have designed their product lines to match these different player needs. For players who want extra mobility and responsiveness, the Bauer Vapor or CCM Jetspeed lines offer lighter, lower-profile shoulder pads. For players who want extra protection and stability, the Bauer Supreme or CCM Tacks lines offer the premium coverage needed for checks and blocks.
How to buy kids’ hockey shoulder pads
When shopping for youth shoulder pads, first consider how much protection your child needs. Youth players in no-contact leagues require less shoulder and chest protection than players in contact leagues.
Next, consider the overall fit – see our guide on How to Fit Hockey Shoulder Pads for more information on finding the right size and adjusting your pads. The pads should be comfortable, and tight enough so they don’t ride up when your child moves their arms up and down or from side to side. Also make sure the pads provide enough protection to the stomach and arms. The shoulder pads should cover from the bottom of the chest protector to the top of the hockey pants, and from the elbow pads to the end of the shoulder pads. Some models have adjustable straps in these areas to customize the fit.
Make note: buy the shoulder pads that fit. Buying up a size so your kid can “grow into them” means they’ll have pads that will slip or shift, exposing them to injury.
Youth hockey shoulder pads usually cost in the $25-$60 range, but check out our sales, too. If you’re still not sure which pads are right for your child, our related guide on Kids’ Hockey Gear has some more information to help you decide.
How long do hockey shoulder pads last?
Hockey shoulder pads can last several years when properly maintained. While elite-level players who hit the ice on a regular basis will naturally need to replace their pads sooner, it’s not too rare to find the recreational player with decade-old shoulder pads that are still going strong. Cracked shoulder caps, torn straps, and worn-out Velcro can be signs that it’s time for a new pair.
Be sure to clean and dry your shoulder pads to extend the lifespan of your equipment as much as possible.
Are you in the market for a new pair of shoulder pads? Shop our full selection of hockey shoulder pads 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.
Remember to check out the rest of our hockey equipment buying & fitting guides so you can purchase the rest of your equipment with confidence.