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The Ultimate Guide to Buying Hockey Helmets: Everything you need to know

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We all know helmets are essential safety equipment for players. Properly fitted and certified hockey helmets help in reducing the risk of head injuries up to a great extent. This includes concussions while providing players with the confidence to compete at their highest level.

Hockey helmets play an important role in protection of players from head injuries, like cuts, bruises, and more severe trauma. They are specifically designed to absorb and distribute the impact force, helping minimize potential damage to the head and brain. As the helmet technology advances, manufacturers continually strive to make their products more comfortable and safer.

I’ve created this guide to share comprehensive information on how to choose the right hockey helmet as per your needs. I will cover essential topics such as understanding safety standards, different types of helmets, key features to consider, fitting tips, top brands, purchasing options, and maintenance advice.

Before diving into the details, let’s quickly summarize the key takeaways you’ll learn from this guide:

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the safety standards and certifications.
  • Always prefer to pick the appropriate type of helmet as per your position and degree of play.
  • Consider key features such as fit, materials, ventilation, face protection, and chin strap.
  • Keep in mind the cost of the helmet, balancing safety, quality, and budget.
  • Try on multiple helmets to ensure a proper fit.
  • Research the top hockey helmet brands and where to buy them.
  • Take care of your helmet by inspecting, cleaning, storing, and replacing it as needed.

Understanding Hockey Helmet Safety Standards

A. Certification organizations

When selecting a hockey helmet, it is essential to understand the safety standards set by various certification organizations. These organizations ensure that helmets meet strict criteria for protection and performance. The three main certification organizations are: CSA (Canadian Standards Association), HECC (Hockey Equipment Certification Council) & CE (European Conformity). 

    CSA (Canadian Standards Association) – The CSA is a non-profit organization that sets standards for performance and safety of Canadian products. For hockey helmets, CSA certification ensures that the product meets the necessary requirements for impact protection, material strength, and durability.

    HECC (Hockey Equipment Certification Council) – The HECC is a US-based organization that certifies all the hockey equipment, including helmets. Helmets with HECC certification have undergone rigorous testing and meet the established safety standards for the sport.

    CE (European Conformity) – The CE mark is a certification used in European countries to indicate that a product meets the necessary safety and performance requirements. Hockey helmets with CE certification have been tested and approved for use in European leagues and tournaments.

    Learn the rules of ice hockey, including penalties, face-offs, offside, and icing calls, with oue guide to ice hockey rules.  For a closer look at icing, check out my detailed blog post on icing in hockey.

    B. Certification stickers and labels

    Certification stickers and labels are an essential aspect of Ice hockey helmet safety. I always lookout for such stickers and labels while buying hockey hlemets, specially in local stores or brands. These stickers indicate that a helmet has met the specific safety standards set by one or more of the above certification organizations. When purchasing a helmet, always look for these certification stickers or labels, as they provide assurance that the helmet has undergone testing and meets established safety requirements.

    C. Expiration dates and replacement recommendations

    Since nothing can stay forever as the hockey helmets. Their protective capabilities can deteriorate over time due to wear and tear, impacts, and exposure to different environmental conditions. Certification organizations have established expiration dates and replacement recommendations for helmets to ensure players are using equipment that still offers adequate protection. Most helmets have an expiration date or “valid through” date printed on the certification sticker or label, typically ranging from five to ten years from the date of manufacture.

    It is crucial to replace your helmet once it reaches its expiration date or shows signs of damage, such as cracks in the shell, compromised foam padding, or broken straps. Regularly inspect your helmet and adhere to replacement recommendations to ensure your safety on the ice.

    Types of Hockey Helmets

    Ice Hockey helmets come in various types and each type serves a specific purpose and offers varying levels of protection. So, it is essential to understand these different types of helmets, while choosing the one for you. The main types of hockey helmets include:

    A. Traditional hockey helmets

    Traditional hockey helmets are designed for players at various skill levels and ages. These helmets typically feature a hard plastic shell, foam padding, adjustable straps, and ventilation holes. Traditional helmets offer customizable fit and protection, making them a popular choice among players. Note that traditional helmets do not come with built-in face protection, so you will need to purchase a separate face cage or shield.

    bauer Hockey Helmet traditional
    Bauer – Traditional Helmet

    B. Combo helmets (with attached face cage or shield)

    Combo helmets come with an attached face cage or shield, providing added protection for the player’s face. The face protection can either be a full cage, covering the entire face, or a half-shield, covering only the eyes and nose. Combo helmets offer the convenience of having both head and face protection in one piece of equipment. These helmets are ideal for players who prefer a single, integrated solution for their safety gear.

    CCM Combo Helmet

     

    CCM – Combo Helmet

    C. Goalie helmets

    Goalie helmets or masks are specifically designed for the unique demands and risks faced by goaltenders. These helmets feature a full-face cage, additional padding, and a more robust shell to protect against high-impact shots and collisions. They also have a unique shape, designed to provide better peripheral vision and accommodate a goaltender’s mask. Goalie helmets are crucial for protecting goaltenders from the increased risk of head and facial injuries.

    CCM Goalie Mask Helmet

     

    CCM Goalie Mask (Helmet)

    D. Youth helmets

    Youth Hockey helmets are designed for young players, typically aged 12 and under. These helmets are smaller in size and may have additional padding and adjustments to provide a secure and comfortable fit for growing heads. Youth helmets also meet specific safety standards tailored for younger players. When selecting a youth helmet, ensure it is age-appropriate and certified by the relevant safety organizations.

    Youth hockey helmets

    Below table provides a summary of different types of hockey helmets, including their basic features and level of protection, helping players make informed decisions when selecting a helmet.

    Type of HelmetDescriptionLevel of Protection
    HybridCombination of traditional and full-face shieldHigh
    Full-Face ShieldFull-face shield providing complete face coverageHigh
    Half-ShieldHalf-face shield covering eyes and noseLow to moderate
    TraditionalHard plastic shell covering top, sides, and backModerate to high
    Goalie MaskSpecially designed for goaltendersMaximum

    Key Features to Consider While Buying Hockey Helmets

    When selecting a hockey helmet, it is essential to consider various key features that contribute to its overall safety, comfort, and performance. Here are some crucial aspects to consider:

    A. Fit and sizing

    Measuring head circumference: Firstly measure your head circumference for getting the perfect fit helmet. Wrap a flexible measuring tape above your eyebrows around the head ensuring to cover the widest part of your head about 1 inch (2.5 cm). Depending on the sizing chart of the manufacturer, this measurement will correspond to a particular helmet size (small, medium, or large).

    Adjusting for the proper fit: After determining the appropriate size, you will have to adjust the helmet’s straps and padding for getting a snug yet comfortable fit. The front edge of the helmet should rest about 1 inch (2.5 cm) above your eyebrows and level with your head, with the resting. It should not wobble or slide when you move your head.

    hockey player wearing helmet

    B. Construction materials

    Polycarbonate shells: Polycarbonate is a lightweight, durable material often used in high-end hockey helmets. Helmets with polycarbonate shells provide excellent impact resistance, making them a popular choice among competitive players.

    ABS plastic shells: ABS plastic is a more affordable material commonly used in entry-level helmets. While not as impact-resistant as polycarbonate, ABS plastic shells still offer good protection and durability for recreational players.

    Foam padding types: The interior padding of a hockey helmet can be made from various materials, including expanded polypropylene (EPP), vinyl nitrile (VN), and multi-density foam. Each padding type offers different levels of impact absorption and comfort. Consider trying on different helmet models to determine which padding material feels best for you.

    C. Ventilation and comfort

    Proper ventilation is crucial for maintaining comfort and reducing sweat buildup during play. You must consider those helmets that have strategically placed vents for allowing air flow, keeping your head cool and dry. Some helmets also feature moisture-wicking liners to further enhance comfort.

    D. Face protection options

    Full cage: A full cage provides the most comprehensive face protection, covering the entire face with a grid of metal bars. Full cages are popular among youth players and those concerned with dental and facial injuries.

    Bauer - Full cage

     

    Full cage

    Half shield: A half shield is a clear plastic visor that covers the eyes and nose, leaving the lower face exposed. Half shields offer better visibility and breathability compared to full cages but provide less facial protection.

    Bauer - HALFSHIELD

     

    Bauer – HALF SHIELD

    Hybrid shield: A hybrid shield combines elements of both full cages and half shields, featuring a clear plastic visor for the upper face and a metal cage for the lower face. This design offers a balance between visibility and protection.

    HYBRIDSHIELD

     

    Bauer – HYBRID SHIELD

    E. Chin strap and buckles

    Chin straps and buckles are essential for keeping the helmet securely in place during play. You should always look for a helmet with a comfortable, adjustable chin strap and durable buckles. The chin strap should be tight enough to prevent the helmet from moving but it shouldn’t be causing any discomfort.

    Check out below table, it provides a summary of key features to consider when buying hockey helmets, including their descriptions and importance. 

    Key FeatureDescriptionImportance
    Liner MaterialThe liner should be made of multi-density foam that can absorb and disperse impact energyAbsorbs and reduces the force of impacts to the head
    CertificationLook for helmets that meet safety standards set by organizations such as HECC, CSA, and ASTMEnsures the helmet has been tested and meets safety requirements
    FitHelmets should fit snugly and comfortably on the head, with no gaps between the helmet and the forehead or neckProper fit ensures helmet stays in place and provides maximum protection
    Shell MaterialThe shell of the helmet should be made of high-quality, durable materials such as polycarbonate or ABS plasticProtects against hard impacts and reduces the risk of head injury
    Cage/VisorChoose a cage or visor that provides clear vision while also offering adequate protectionProtects the face and eyes from impact injuries while providing visibility
    VentilationGood ventilation is important to keep the head cool and dry during playReduces heat buildup and sweat, increasing comfort and focus

    The Cost of Hockey Helmets

    When shopping for a hockey helmet, it’s essential to take into account its price and find a perfect blend of safety, quality, and affordability. Following are some factors that you must keep in mind:

    A. Price range for different helmet types and features

    The prices of Hockey helmets may vary depending on their type, features, and materials. Entry-level helmets with basic features and ABS plastic shells can cost between $30 to $60. Mid-range helmets with more advanced features, better padding, and possibly polycarbonate shells can range from $60 to $150. High-end helmets with advanced protection, premium materials, and additional comfort features can cost upwards of $150 to $700.

    Type of HelmetAverage Cost RangeFactors that can Impact Cost
    Traditional$40 - $200Brand, additional features
    Full-Face Shield$100 - $350Brand, type of shield, additional features
    Half-Shield$50 - $200Brand, type of shield, additional features
    Hybrid$150 - $400Brand, type of shield, additional features
    Goalie Mask$200 - $1000Brand, type of cage, additional features

    B. Factors affecting the cost of a Ice hockey helmet

    There are many factors that can affect the pricing of a hockey helmet. These factors will include the type of shell material, the quality of the foam padding, the level of adjustability, and the inclusion of face protection. Brand reputation and demand can also influence the price. Generally, helmets with better materials, features, brands and certifications will cost more than basic models.

    C. Balancing safety, quality, and budget

    I know it’s essential to consider your budget, but it’s crucial not to compromise on safety and quality. Look for helmets that meet safety certifications, provide a proper fit, and offer adequate protection for your level of play. Always remember that if you are investing in a high-quality helmet, then it can help in saving you from potential head injuries along with medical expenses in the longer run.

    D. Tips for finding good deals on hockey helmets

    Shop during sales events: If you want to enjoy great pricing on hockey equipment then don’t forget to take the benefit of discounts offered by retailers during specific times of the year, like at the end of the season or during holiday sales. Keep an eye out for these events to snag a good deal.

    Check online retailers: Online stores usually offer more variety and lower prices as compared to the brick-and-mortar stores. Don’t forget to go through customer reviews and check the return policy before making a purchase.

    Consider previous year models: When new helmet models are released, older models may be discounted. These helmets still offer excellent protection and can be a more affordable option. This is what I personally do to save some money.

    Buy used equipment: Some second hand stores, online marketplaces, or local equipment swaps may have gently used helmets for sale at a fraction of the cost. Be cautious when buying used helmets, as they may have unseen damage or be close to their expiration date. Always check the certification sticker and inspect the helmet thoroughly before purchasing.

    Looking to gear up for the ice? Check out our beginner’s guide to ice hockey equipment for everything you need to know, from skates and sticks to pads and helmets. Make sure you’re fully protected on the ice by exploring our guide today!

    Trying On and Fitting a Hockey Helmet

    A helemt without proper fitting will create a lot of discomfort. When selecting a hockey helmet, it’s crucial to try on different models and sizes to ensure the best possible fit. If you’re buying online, I’d suggest to see brand’s size chart and select your size accorindly. Here are some tips for trying on and fitting a hockey helmet:

    A. Importance of trying on helmets

    Every individual’s head shape and size are unique, and not all helmet models will fit the same way. You should try to wear multiple helmets as it will help you in finding the most comfortable and secure option. A well-fitted helmet will offer greater protection and lower the possibility of injury during play.

    B. Steps to ensure a proper fit

    Measure your head circumference: Before trying on helmets, measure your head circumference to determine the appropriate size based on the manufacturer’s sizing chart.

    Position the helmet correctly: The front edge of the helmet should rest above your eyebrows about 1 inch (2.5 cm) and level with your head.

    Adjust the straps and padding: Adjust the helmet’s straps and padding to achieve a snug yet comfortable fit. The helmet should not wobble or slide when you move your head.

    Check for pressure points: While wearing the helmet, feel for any uncomfortable pressure points or tight spots. The padding should be evenly distributed around your head without causing discomfort.

    Avoid common mistakes in helmet fitting by exploring our complete guide on hockey helmet sizing and Fit.

    C. Adjusting the helmet and face protection

    If your helmet includes face protection, make sure it is correctly adjusted as well. The cage or shield should sit close to your face without touching your nose or chin. The chin cup should fit snugly under your chin, and the straps should be tightened securely to hold the face protection in place.

    D. Tips for comfort and optimal protection

    Try multiple helmet models: Different helmet models may have unique features or padding materials that provide a better fit and feel for your head shape.

    Wear your hair as you would during a game: If you wear your hair in a ponytail or other style while playing, try on helmets with your hair styled the same way to ensure a proper fit.

    Consult with a knowledgeable sales associate: You can take the assistance of a sales associate or equipment expert for helping you through the fitting process if you are unsure about the fitting or have any queries.

    Double-check the fit before purchase: Before finalizing your purchase, wear the helmet for a few minutes to ensure it remains comfortable and secure. If any issues arise, try adjusting the helmet or consider a different model.

    Top Ice Hockey Helmet Brands

    If you are familiar with the top brands in the hockey industry then it will help you while selecting a hockey helmet. Each brand offers a range of helmets with varying features, materials, and price points. Here are some of the most reputable hockey helmet brands:

    A. Bauer

    Bauer is one of the top producers of hockey equipment manufacturers that provides a variety of helmets for players of all skill levels. Their helmets are known for their innovative designs, high-quality materials, and superior protection. Popular Bauer helmet lines include the RE-AKT, IMS, and Prodigy series.

    B. CCM

    With a long history of creating high-quality gear, CCM is another leading name in the hockey equipment industry. Their helmets have been designed to give you comfort, protection, and performance. Some of CCM’s popular helmet models include the Tacks, FitLite, and Resistance series.

    C. Warrior

    Warrior is another popular brand in the hockey world that provides a variety of helmets with cutting-edge technology and advanced protection features. Warrior helmets, such as the Alpha and Covert series, are designed for maximum comfort, adjustability, and impact absorption.

    D. True

    True is a newer hockey equipment brand that has quickly gained a reputation for producing high-quality gear. Their helmets feature innovative designs and materials, focusing on comfort, fit, and protection. The True Dynamic helmet line is a popular choice among players seeking a lightweight and customizable option.

    E. STX

    STX is a leading brand in the lacrosse equipment market and has expanded into producing hockey gear as well. Their hockey helmets are similar in detail and quality as their lacrosse products, hence they provide excellent protection and comfort. The STX Stallion and Surgeon helmet series are popular choices among hockey players.

    F. Reebok

    Although Reebok has transitioned its hockey equipment division to CCM, its legacy helmets can still be found on the market. Reebok helmets, such as the 11K and 7K models, offer solid protection and comfort for players at various skill levels.

    G. Vaughn

    Vaughn is a well-respected brand in the goaltending equipment market, offering high-quality goalie helmets designed for maximum protection and durability. Their helmets, such as the Ventus and Velocity series, are engineered to withstand the demands of the goaltending position and provide excellent impact resistance.

    Overview of Popular Hockey Helmet Brands and Helmets

    BrandDescriptionPopular Helmets
    BauerOne of the most popular brands of hockey helmetsBauer Re-Akt, Bauer 960
    CCMOffers a range of helmets for different skill levelsCCM Resistance, CCM Fitlite 3DS, CCM Tacks
    WarriorKnown for innovative designs and customizationWarrior Alpha One, Warrior Covert QR Edge, Warrior PX2
    EastonOffers lightweight and comfortable helmetsEaston Stealth RS, Easton E700
    TrueFocuses on providing maximum protection and comfortTrue Dynamic 9, True TF9, True AX9
    SherwoodProvides a range of helmets at affordable pricesSherwood 5030, Sherwood T90
    ReebokOffers helmets with adjustable sizing and ventilationReebok 11K, Reebok 7K
    VaughnSpecializes in goalie helmets for maximum protectionVaughn Velocity V7 XF Pro Carbon, Vaughn Ventus SLR Pro Carbon
    STXKnown for their lacrosse equipment, also offers hockey helmetsSTX Surgeon RX3, STX Stallion HPR 1.2

    Where to Buy Hockey Helmets

    You can buy hockey helmets in a variety of ways, each with its own benefits and limitations. Here are some places to consider when looking for a new hockey helmet:

    A. Local sporting goods stores

    Many local sporting goods stores carry a range of hockey equipment, including helmets. Shopping at a local store allows you to try on different helmet models and sizes before making a purchase, ensuring a proper fit. Additionally, sales associates can provide valuable advice and assistance in selecting the right helmet for your needs.

    B. Hockey specialty shops

    Hockey specialty shops focus specifically on hockey equipment and often have a broader selection of helmets than general sporting goods stores. Staff at these shops are typically knowledgeable about the products and can help guide you in choosing the right helmet. Shopping at a specialty shop may also provide access to exclusive models or limited-edition gear.

    C. Online retailers

    Online retailers provide you the comfort of home shopping and usually stock a more extensive selection of helmets than traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. Prices may also be more competitive online. When shopping online, be sure to read customer reviews, check the return policy, and verify that the helmet meets safety certification standards. Always remember that you won’t be able to wear the helmet before buying, so make sure you have taken the precise measurement of your head and refer to the manufacturer’s sizing chart.

    D. Secondhand and used equipment stores

    If you are a beginner or on a limited budget, then buying a used helmet can be a cost-effective choice for you. Second Hand stores, online marketplaces, or local equipment swaps may have gently used helmets for sale at a fraction of the cost. However, be cautious when buying used helmets, as they may have unseen damage or be close to their expiration date. Always check the certification sticker and inspect the helmet thoroughly before purchasing.

    As you embark on the journey of selecting the right hockey helmet, it’s important to consider the broader world of hockey gear. Explore top-quality Hockey Helmet Brands, discover the finest Hockey Skate Brands, and find the perfect Hockey Stick Brands. Additionally, if you’re interested in an in-depth comparison between CCM and Bauer, delve into our comprehensive review of CCM vs. Bauer. For a comprehensive guide to hockey clothing brands, visit Hockey Clothing Brands. Your journey to excellence on the ice begins with the right gear.

    Tips for Maintaining Your Hockey Helmet

    Taking proper care of your hockey helmet is essential for maintaining its protective capabilities and prolonging its lifespan. Here are some tips for maintaining your hockey helmet:

    A. Regular inspection for damage

    Frequently inspect your helmet for any signs of damage, such as cracks in the shell, dents, or broken buckles. Also, check the foam padding for any signs of deterioration or compression. If you find any damage or wear, it may be time to replace the helmet or specific components, as it could compromise the helmet’s effectiveness.

    B. Cleaning and hygiene

    Sweat and bacteria can build up in your helmet over time, leading to unpleasant odors and potential skin irritation. For keeping your helmet clean and fresh, remove any removable padding and wash it as per the directions or instructions of the manufacturer. Wipe down the shell, cage, and non-removable components with a damp cloth and mild soap, then let everything air dry completely before reassembling the helmet. Avoid using harsh chemicals or solvents, as they can damage the materials.

    C. Storing your helmet properly

    Store your hockey helmet in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and excessive heat. This will lessen the chances of the materials from deteriorating over time. Avoid placing heavy objects on top of the helmet, as this can cause the shell to warp or crack.

    D. Knowing when to replace your helmet

    Hockey helmets have a limited lifespan, and their protective capabilities can decrease over time due to repeated impacts and material degradation. Most helmet manufacturers recommend replacing your helmet every 5 to 7 years, or sooner if it has sustained significant damage. Additionally, check the certification sticker on the helmet for an expiration date, as safety certifications are only valid for a specific period. Always prioritize your safety and replace your helmet when necessary to ensure optimal protection on the ice.

    Looking to learn more about ice hockey? Read my ultimate guide to ice hockey for everything you need to know to get started and become a pro.

    Common Questions on Buying Hockey Helmets

    What makes a good hockey helmet?

    According to me, a good hockey helmet should have a high level of protection, be comfortable to wear, fit properly, and meet the necessary safety standards.

    Where do you find the size of a hockey helmet?

    The size of a hockey helmet is usually found on a sticker inside the helmet or on the packaging. You can also find it on the manufacturer’s website.

    What size hockey helmet should I wear?

    You can measure the circumference of your head above the eyebrows and match it to the manufacturer’s size chart.

    How does a hockey helmet fit?

    A hockey helmet should fit snugly and evenly around the head, without any pressure points or gaps. The helmet should also sit level on the head and cover the temples and forehead.

    How do I choose a hockey helmet for my child?

    When choosing a hockey helmet for a child, look for a helmet that fits properly, is comfortable to wear, and meets the necessary safety standards. Also, consider the child’s skill level and any additional features, such as a cage or full face shield.

    What helmet is better Bauer or CCM?

    Both Bauer and CCM make high-quality hockey helmets. The best helmet for you will depend on your personal preferences and needs.

    What helmet do most NHL players use?

    There is no one helmet that most NHL players use. Many players prefer helmets from Bauer and CCM, but ultimately it comes down to personal preference.

    Are expensive hockey helmets worth it?

    Expensive hockey helmets often come with additional features and advanced technology, which can provide greater protection and comfort. However, the most important factor is ensuring that the helmet meets the necessary safety standards and should fit properly.

    Should a hockey helmet fit tight or loose?

    A hockey helmet should fit snugly and evenly around the head, without any pressure points or gaps. It should not be too tight or too loose.

    What is the best brand of hockey helmet?

    There are many high-quality brands of hockey helmets, including Bauer, CCM, Warrior, Easton, and more. Bauer and CCM are the most popular ones.

    Conclusion

    Investing in a high-quality hockey helmet is essential for protecting yourself from potential head injuries during the game. You can greatly lower the risk of concussions and other head injuries by wearing a properly fitted and certified helmet that will help to keep you safe on the ice.

    You can play with more confidence on the ice if you take the time in selecting the ideal hockey helmet as per your requirements. Stay safe, and enjoy the game!

    Are you ready to step up your ice hockey game?

    Boost your ice hockey performance with our in-depth guides covering nutrition, player positions, skills, shooting, bodychecking, tips, skating drills, and off-ice training. Elevate your game to the next level by understanding the essentials and advanced techniques.

    Prepare to skate confidently and command the rink! We are constantly working on new articles to help you improve your ice hockey game. Stay tuned for more!

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