Hockey Equipment Buying Guide

No matter what level of hockey you play, having the right gear is essential for both performance and safety. This hockey equipment buying guide covers everything from skates to helmets.

Hockey Equipment 101

Safety should always be top of mind when outfitting your developing young hockey star (or yourself!). But the investment in quality protection only pays off if you ensure the proper fit. So make sure the equipment you buy offers full range of motion and complete coverage. Try on each piece and move around to test for comfort and continued protection when striding and reaching. Properly fitted hockey equipment ensures a safe experience for the player. 

Types of Hockey Equipment 1


Hockey Skates

Learning to become a better skater is a big challenge for beginners and pros alike. Hockey skates are fitted smaller than regular street shoes to maximize edge control and prevent friction around the heel and ankle. Be patient and prepare to spend some time trying on different skates and sizes to find the best match. Beginners will want a flexible boot that provides support and comfort. More accomplished skaters will benefit from a stiffer boot.

Hockey Helmets

Hockey helmets are fully adjustable for a snug-but-comfortable fit and usually come with a steel face guard (cage) and adjustable chinstrap. Sometimes the cage is purchased separately. Foam cells inside the helmet are designed to absorb impact. The hard plastic exterior shell is vented and resists contact. You should get several seasons out of one helmet depending upon the amount of use (and for kids how quickly they grow). Always look for the CSA (Canadian Standards Association) logo on the helmet.

Hockey Sticks

Hockey sticks come right or left-handed, with a straight or curved blade. Bigger curves make it easier to raise the puck, whereas straighter blades make it easier to stick-handle the puck. Composite hockey sticks are the new standard at all levels of the game but can be expensive. For the beginning player, a wood-and-fibreglass stick is more affordable and perfectly good for learning the basics of puck handling and shooting. Remember to cut the shaft of the stick to suit the player’s height (on skates). The lie of the stick (the angle where the blade joins the shaft) is also important. A proper lie ensures the entire blade is on ice, whereas an improper lie results in a gap at the heel or toe of the blade. Always apply hockey tape to the stick blade for better puck control and to protect it from wear and tear.

Hockey Gloves

There are many different styles of hockey gloves, but all brands share the same basic features. A good glove should have a well-padded nylon exterior to protect the hand and repel water, an armoured thumb protector, and a flexible leather or synthetic palm. The cuff should be long enough to cover the wrist and meet the bottom of the elbow/forearm pad. The glove lining should be soft to provide comfort and wick away moisture.

Hockey Shin Pads

Flying pucks, flailing sticks and skate blades make leg protection critical. Shin pads provide hard-shell coverage from the top of the knee down to the top of the skate. To check the fit, hold the knee cap of the shin pad directly over the knee. The pad should extend down all the way to the front of the ankle. Adjustable straps, hockey socks and shin pad tape combine to hold the pad in proper position at all times.

Hockey Pants

Hockey pants protect against hard landings on the backside and help cushion the hips and thighs. The nylon outer shell wicks away moisture, and the adjustable waist belt and suspenders ensure a snug fit without restricting normal hockey movement. The front thigh pads should extend slightly over the top of the knee but still leave plenty of room for crouching and striding. A hockey fit pant is worn under the hockey pant for an added layer of warmth and cushioning. 

Hockey Elbow Pads

If you’ve ever experienced a sharp blow to the elbow, you know how that can sting. Elbow pads protect the elbow joint itself, plus the upper arm (bicep) and forearm. When fitting, try them on together with shoulder pads to make sure all gaps are covered and no part of the arm is exposed. The hard elbow cap is hinged to allow movement and secured to the arm with adjustable straps. A brushed nylon or mesh interior reduces friction and repels moisture.

Hockey Shoulder Pads

An integral part of the equipment package, shoulder pads offer total upper-body protection for the chest, ribs, biceps and spine. Shoulder pads have stiff plastic inserts and foam plates to defend the most vulnerable points from heavy contact. A proper fit is important to ensure the pads work as intended. The shoulder caps should rest squarely, and protective padding must directly overlap each body part. For kids, you might get two or more seasons out of one set depending on your child’s growth rate.


A jock or athletic supporter is indispensable when playing fast-moving physical sports such as hockey. You can get hockey jock shorts that hold the cup securely in place, while also providing a snug, comfortable fit. The shorts typically consist of a loose-fitting, polyester mesh material and have built-in Velcro or hook-and-look fasteners for attaching to the top of the hockey socks. Hockey jock shorts come in a full range of youth and adult sizes. Remember to remove the plastic cup before washing.

Long Underwear

Hockey is a cold-weather game so a layer of hockey long underwear provides welcome warmth. Long underwear also protects against equipment rubbing directly on the skin and causing irritation. The fabrics used in these long johns and tops allow moisture to escape and help moderate body temperature between bursts of action

Types of Hockey Equipment 2


Hockey Bags

Hockey players use a lot of bulky gear, so getting the right hockey bag is critical. Look for a durable, roomy model with side pockets for smaller items such as spare hockey pucks, tape and snacks. The bag should also have a separate, waterproof compartment for your skates. Heavy duty zippers and a rubber bottom are also good features to have. Transporting a heavy hockey bag is a chore, but you can lighten the workload considerably by choosing a bag with built-in wheels.

Hockey Tape

It's a good idea to stock up on hockey tape because you always seem to run out at the worst time. You'll need two kinds of tape: cloth stick tape and clear plastic sock tape, also known as shin pad tape. Use the cloth stick tape to tape the stick blade and create a knob-like butt end and ribbed grip at the top of the shaft. This tape comes in different colours, including fun designs for kids. Clear plastic sock tape wraps around your hockey socks to help hold your shin pads firmly in place. This tape gets used up more quickly than stick tape. Buying multiple packs of hockey tape saves time and money.

Hockey Nets

Hockey nets come in a wide range of sizes and styles. Choose your net based on the age of your players and where it will be used. There are small, plastic-frame hockey nets for indoor fun in confined spaces. You can also get large nets made with steel tubing that are well-suited for street hockey and general outdoor use. A regulation-size, deluxe steel net is the best choice for teens and adults on backyard rinks. You might consider adding some targets for a great practice experience and friendly shooting competition! 

Hockey Equipment Buying Tips:

• Buy only CSA-approved helmets
• Shoulder pads, elbow pads and gloves should overlap slightly
• Hockey pants should reach the top of the knee but permit freedom of movement
• Skates should fit snug with the heel firmly locked in place when tied
• A wood stick is fine for beginners: trim the shaft to size and tape the blade
• Buy a hockey bag with rollers so you can more easily move it from home to the rink and back

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Hockey Equipment Maintenance Tips:

• After each use, hang hockey equipment to dry in a well-ventilated area
• Always check tags and labels for detailed laundering instructions
• Routinely inspect seams and fasteners, and fix any loose or broken parts
• Examine hard plastic components for cracks and repair or replace as necessary
• Consider using a special hockey equipment cleaning service before storing your gear for the off-season
• Always dry and cover skate blades with blade guards when not in use
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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