On the ice, in a battle over the puck, don’t let second-rate shoulder pads be the reason you miss out on a play.
With this list of the best hockey shoulder pads, pick the perfect gear to maximize your game!
Whether that’s something tough enough to handle a rough defense or a product that can keep up with your quick moves, one of these top picks is for you.
Read on for descriptions of each option and a buyer’s guide to help you make your choice.
Our Top Picks
CCM Tacks AS-V Pro
Best for Recreational Leagues
Bauer Vapor 3X
Starting off this list of the best hockey shoulder pads are the CCM Tacks AS-V Pros. And they do not disappoint!
The anatomical design of the body and amazing Adapfit system secures all the amazing D30 protective foams within this product to their intended places. A quick adjustment to the velcro straps or a shift to the bicep height of these pads creates a customized, body-hugging fit.
On top of that, CCM’s Flexmotion construction of the floating sternum and spine shields keeps you fully protected without sacrificing any mobility. Even when you’re reaching and twisting for those hard-to-get pucks, the Tacks AS-V Pro moves with you!
A sublimated liner along the inside of these hockey shoulder pads is just the icing on top. Soft, dual-layer panels add amazing levels of comfort while sweat-wicking materials keep you cool and dry.
- Anatomical design for best fit
- Floating sternum and spine hybrid shields
- Sublimated liner
- Customizable fit with adjustable bicep and Adaptfit straps
If you’re looking for a good, reliable pair of hockey shoulder pads that won’t break the bank, the Bauer Xs are perfect for you!
Fitted with Bauer’s advanced shoulder cap technology, this product has a low-profile design that offers optimal protection and is perfect for agility-focused players.
Added features like an injection molded sternum panel and PE inserts along the spine of the back panel easily make up for the slightly older MD foam technology within the Bauer X’s design. Plus molded PE within the bicep ensures you’re ready for those unpredictable high sticks and top-shelf shots.
Especially with the Flexcell comfort foam front panel that keeps these pads feeling light and comfortable during even the toughest games.
- Adjustable bicep
- Flexcell comfort foam front panel
- Injection molded sternum for added protection
- Lesser foam technology
Best for Recreational Leagues
When it comes to recreational-level hockey shoulder pads, there’s no better option than the Bauer Vapor 3X!
Bauer’s amazing Thermomax material lines the inside of these pads. Creating a cooling effect that keeps your body feeling lightweight and airy, no matter how hard you’re working for that puck.
The stretchy Flexaprene vest adds even more breathability to this product! Making up the front side and back side panels, the porous and durable material in this vest allows for amazing airflow and ventilation.
Finally, integrated spine protection and PE inserts along the floating sternum and the biceps of the Vapor 3X offer all the protection you could ever need for your fun, intermediate games.
- Cooling ThermoMax+ liner
- Floating sternum protector
- Flexaprene vest for added mobility
- Integrated spine protection
Next on this list of the best hockey shoulder pads are the Warrior Alpha LX 20s! The perfect option for hard-hitting players.
Compression-molded IMPAX foam is designed into all the key impact areas of these pads. No matter how hard of a hit you give or get on the ice, the Alpha LX 20 is ready to absorb it. Warrior also added a removable belly pad to give you that extra protection when needed.
Despite all that foam technology, these hockey shoulder pads are still quite mobile. The floating spine and sternum pads help the body of this product move with you instead of against you. And the low-profile design of the shoulder caps makes it easy to get around other players on the ice.
The one-piece rear panel will affect the adjustability and comfort a little bit. But the Fantom Stretch internal jacket and WarTech liner more than make up for it!
- Floating spine and sternum pads
- Breathable material along the back
- Low-profile shoulder caps
- One-piece rear panel
There’s nothing more distracting than being overheated in a hockey game. Luckily the CCM JetSpeed FT6 Pros are the best hockey shoulder pads on the market for cooling comfort!
The AER-TEC thermoregulation system is made up of advanced sweat-wicking materials, strategically placed ventilation ports, and a layered suspension structure. All of these work together to keep your pads feeling extremely lightweight and mobile.
Instead of CCM’s heavier D30 foam, these hockey shoulder pads are made with an Ultralight HD foam that only elevates the amazingly agile feel of this product. Not to mention the hyperthin profile of the shoulder caps that heighten your dexterity in the game.
With limited junior sizing, these might not be the best pads for younger players. But they’re definitely a worthy choice for recreational and pro-level adult leagues!
- AER-TEC for amazing mobility
- Amazing ventilation ports
- Hyperthin fit profile
- Ultralight foam protection
- Limited junior sizing
Hockey Shoulder Pads Buyer’s Guide
With a soft measuring tape, measure the circumference of your chest. The tape should rest just below your armpits when standing to get the most accurate reading. You also want your chest to be relaxed. If you measure yourself in the middle of a big inhale, the size you get will be too big.
That measurement alone won’t always lead to the exact size pads you need. That’s why most brand sizing charts will have multiple factors.
You’ll know your hockey shoulder pads fit when you put them on and your collarbone is covered, but the pads don’t dig into your skin. You also want to be able to comfortably lift your arms above your head without the pads slipping from the tops of your shoulders. Lastly, they shouldn’t overlap any of your other gear.
In general, it’s always best to try them out on the ice and return them if needed. If it’s off-season, try wearing them while going through an Online Hockey Training regime. And if you have Polyglide synthetic tiles to practice on, even better!
There are many different pieces that make up a pair of hockey shoulder pads. Every product you consider should have shoulder caps, a collarbone protector, bicep pads, rib guards, an abdominal pad, and chest and back panels.
The best products will have sectioned chest and back panels to get that floating design and maximize your mobility. Or added flaps along the side and at the end of the bicep pads to increase its protection capabilities.
You should also look for something that has adjustable straps and height-adjustable biceps. That way, the pads will feel more natural and better protect the most important areas of your upper body.
Style of Play
In hockey, there are two main styles of play, and hockey equipment is often made with these styles in mind. Forwards tend to need more agility and speed to get past defenders and other players between them and the net.
Hockey shoulder pads with thinner padding are better for this position. Something made from flexible and lightweight materials is also good. That way, there’s not as much added weight to slow you down on the ice. But these can also be more dangerous.
Defenders usually have to use their shoulders more to dig into an opponent for the puck. They also will spend more time in front of the goal, shoving players around. Hockey shoulder pads with more protective technology and durable shoulder caps are a must.
Lastly, players in recreational leagues or just starting out need something that’s more versatile. Whether you’re still figuring out what style of play is right for you or you just like them both, make sure your hockey shoulder pads can keep up with whatever you decide on the ice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I wear shoulder pads in hockey?
When it comes to protecting your upper body, there is nothing more important than your shoulder pads. They cover the most surface area out of all the hockey equipment that you put on your upper body. Without them, you’ll be very susceptible to even the smallest hits and falls in a game.
How long do hockey shoulder pads last?
This will depend largely on how well you take care of them and what level of play they are intended for. Recreational hockey gear is only built to be used around one to two times a week. Using them more regularly will result in faster deterioration of the materials and protective technology. But pro-level equipment is made for nearly everyday use and can withstand a lot more abuse.
How do I clean and take care of my hockey shoulder pads?
After every use, it’s important that you leave your hockey gear out to breathe. And cleaning them once a week or at least after every season is essential for stopping mold growth and other harmful bacteria from wearing the materials. To clean them, simply throw your shoulder pads in the washer and dryer.
The Best Hockey Shoulder Pads Summed Up
When flying down the ice, make sure every hit, fall, or shove is protected with one of these top picks of the best hockey shoulder pads!
No matter what your style of play, this list has you covered.
And for more information on the sport, check out our all-in-one Hockey page!
- About the Author
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Liv covers everything hockey for Life in Minnesota (the State of Hockey!)
With a childhood filled with hockey at various levels – in nearly every position – she has a deep passion for the sport.
Liv has a Bachelor’s of Communication Studies, loves to travel, and of course… hockey.
Liv can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org