The Best Hockey Shoulder Pads for 2021 (with reviews)
With so many different styles and brands, finding the best hockey shoulder pads for mobility, comfort and safety can be a difficult task. But there's no need to worry, and you definitely don’t need to just pick a random set of pads, because we're going through everything you need to know to ensure you get the most protective hockey shoulder pads out there that provide optimal comfort and fit.
To see more options, check out our full selection of hockey shoulder pads.
In this article, we’ll cover:
List of the Best Ice Hockey Shoulder Pads
Overview: Designed to be lightweight and unrestrictive, the CCM Jetspeed FT1 LE offers great protection in all areas. RocketFrame shells cover the sternum and spine, and Ufoam constructed shoulder caps provide protection without being overly bulky. The arm and biceps protectors are adjustable for a customized fit, and the strapping system holds all components secure while in action.
- Antimicrobial liner reduces bacterial growth
- Lightweight Zotefoam construction
- Floating HD molded foam clavicle coverage
Overview: The front, spine and rib coverage of the Bauer Vapor 2X Pro pads are constructed using Bauer's HyperLite foam to protect players from shots and collisions on the ice. Aerolite 2.0 shoulder caps offer added impact protection during contact. The bicep has an adjustable Curv Composite design so players can adjust for the best fit in their upper arm area.
- A cooling Thermo Core liner
- X-Lite sternum shield for added protection
- Breathable HyperLite HD Foam in key areas
Overview: When designing the Alpha DX Pro pads, Warrior set out to make a lighter, more comfortable set of hockey shoulder pads, without sacrificing protection. The Dynamic caps are low-profile to reduce bulk, and the rest of the shoulder pads are constructed using compressed molded-EVA foam surrounded by a unique Skin Shell Texture for an added layer of impact protection.
- Vented internal jacket
- WarTech FNC liner for moisture and odor reduction
- Skin Shell Texture in high-impact areas
Overview: Bauer’s Supreme 3S pads were designed with targeted protection throughout each component. ADAPTIVE Skin material protects the sternum while molded HD foams protect the spine and rib areas, and a molded shoulder cap offers superior coverage and a low profile. The biceps have adjustable AMP construction that allows players to personalize coverage.
- Thermo Max+ liner
- Independent back side panels
- Full coverage molded vest with extended rib wrap protection
Overview: CCM uses an anatomical dual-layer base jacket to give the Tacks 9060s a hockey shoulder pad fit that feels snug but comfortable. On top of the base, molded-PE floating foam protects the spine and sternum from shocks, and lightweight JDP foam shoulder caps help reduce the impact of collisions. Molded foam protects the kidneys and a removable belly adds extra coverage.
- Anatomical 3D design
- Comfortable mesh interior liner
- Molded PE-foam kidney coverage
Overview: The Warrior Alpha DX5 pads feature lightweight foam for comfort while offering solid protection from impacts every time players hit the ice. These lightweight hockey shoulder pads are designed to be low-profile to allow for maneuverability, and a moisture wicking liner is incorporated throughout the entire construction.
- Multi-layer foams in the chest, shoulders and biceps
- Mesh fabric liner
- Low-profile design
Overview: Incorporating molded-PE floating foam in the sternum and spine, the CCM Tacks 9040 shoulder pads provide enhanced protection in key areas. They were designed with an anatomically molded base jacket for comfort and mobility as well as a secure fit that prevents them from twisting or slipping during game action.
- Lightweight JDP-Foam shoulder caps
- Anatomical molded-front base jacket
- Floating molded PE foam covers the sternum and spine
Overview: The Sher-Wood Rekker M90s utilize multi-density foams and molded-PE shields and inserts for upgraded protection in key areas of the chest, spine and biceps. The shoulder caps are crafted out of molded-PE foam, and two padded inserts improve clavicle protection. Oversized Velcro strips help keep these shoulder pads secure during collisions and natural hockey movements.
- Three-inch bicep length adjustment
- Air-flow vents in the chest
- Multi-density foams anatomically wrap around the rib cage
Overview: Built for mobility and comfort, the CCM Jetspeed LE shoulder pads are constructed from a single layer of PE foam that allows for security and impact dispersion. PE caps in the shoulders and biceps help lower the weight and bulk while increasing flexibility. An enhanced strapping system helps prevent shifting in motion and keeps these ice hockey shoulder pads close to the body.
- Lightweight PE foam construction
- Antimicrobial liner
- Molded shoulder and bicep caps
Overview: Bauer’s X shoulder pads have a MD foam spine with PE inserts and injection molded sternum to improve protection in sensitive areas prone to contact. The one-piece bicep guard is adjustable for individualized coverage and MD foam back panels offer lightweight protection. The shoulder caps are molded for protection from collisions while maintaining a low profile.
- Hydrophobic mesh liner
- Adjustable bicep guards
Why Players Should Wear Shoulder Pads
Hockey is a physical sport, and even in leagues or at player-ages where checking isn’t allowed, there's always the potential for contact - either from another player or with the boards or ice. Hockey shoulder pads are an essential piece of any player's protective equipment that greatly reduces the risk of serious injuries. They protect vulnerable areas in the chest, upper back, shoulders and biceps from contact with other players, flying pucks and sticks.
Hockey Shoulder Pad Components
Ice hockey shoulder pads have different components that play various roles in performance and protection. Before shopping for new shoulder pads, take a close look at the purpose of each part and see what role it plays.
- Shoulder Caps: Pads that rest on the top of the shoulders. These protect the upper shoulder from errant sticks and high flying pucks.
- Bicep Protector: Cover the upper arms and can soften the blow of checks and player contact. They also shield the bicep from pucks and high sticks.
- Sternum Protector: Covers the chest to reduce shock from pucks, sticks and player contact. This piece is usually constructed from thicker materials for better protection.
- Spine Protector: The spine protector covers the upper back, and some models of hockey shoulder pads extend further to cover more of the spine.
- Rib Protector: Ribs can be easily bruised or broken when hit by pucks or sticks or during checks. The rib protector reduces the risk of injury by covering the rib cage area.
- Collar Bone Protector: Collar bones are also prone to injury due to the lack of muscle covering them. The collar bone protector covers the collar bone and some models even offer some lower neck protection.
How to Correctly Measure for Hockey Shoulder Pads
When choosing the best ice hockey shoulder pads, selecting the correct size is one of the most important parts of the process. Wearing pads that are too small increases the risk of injury since smaller shoulder pads may leave vulnerable areas such as the rib cage and back exposed. On the flip side, if your new hockey shoulder pads are too large, you also run the risk of not properly protecting sensitive areas such as around the collar bone. In either case, the wrong size shoulder pads will likely be uncomfortable and make moving on the ice more cumbersome.
In order to ensure you get pads that offer proper protection, you can check out our guide on hockey shoulder pad sizing.
Factors to Consider When Selecting Hockey Shoulder Pads
When choosing ice hockey shoulder pads, there are a few important factors to keep in mind. Your position, skill level and the amount of contact allowed in your league should all play an important role in your decision.
The Position You’re Playing
The position you play might affect the style of shoulder pads you purchase.
Defensemen are more often in the way of flying pucks, so their game can be much more physical than a forwards may be. Defensemen will want heavier pads that cover more surface area, have larger shoulder caps and offer greater overall protection during contact.
Forwards rely on agility, so a lighter pad with less bulk that still offers full coverage is more appropriate for their position.
The Player and Game Skill Level
Beginning ice hockey players and casual players typically don't require the same type of shoulder pads as elite players. If you've been playing at a high-level for a long time, you'll probably want more from your pads. That may come with a price point novices just aren't willing to pay. Let's look at the best ice hockey shoulder pad options for different experience levels.
- Beginner or Low Impact: Beginners and casual players playing in low contact leagues will typically want a medium-weight ice hockey shoulder pad that’s affordable, yet tailored for learning the game. The best shoulder pads for beginning hockey players will usually have one-piece foam construction for the front and rear plates while still fitting comfortably.
- Intermediate to Advanced: Intermediate players will typically want a more adjustable and lighter-weight shoulder pad than a casual drop-in ice hockey player or novice would. Intermediate to advanced players should look for shoulder pads constructed from multi-density foams. Many intermediate ice hockey shoulder pads will include customization options such as adjustable bicep guards.
- Experienced to Competitive: Experienced hockey players often want shoulder pads designed specifically for how they play the game. These shoulder pads will be constructed with high-density impact-diffusing materials such as ultra-lightweight engineered foam and composite materials. Segmented components will allow for the adjustment of shoulder caps and bicep guards.
The Equipment Fit Profile
Shoulder pads can come in three different fit profiles. Each fit provides a different level of comfort and responsiveness, and depending on your style of play, one type may offer advantages for your game.
- Traditional: The traditional fit has an all-around high-volume fit from top to bottom, making it a good choice for physical players and defensemen. Since it’s a high-volume hockey shoulder pad, it’ll be the bulkiest of the three standard profiles.
- Contoured: Contoured profile ice hockey shoulder pads are the least bulky, allowing for movement and responsiveness for agile players. They fit close to the body, so there may be a reduction of impact absorption when worn by physical hockey players.
- Tapered: Tapered profile shoulder pads offer a mix of benefits from contour fit and traditional pads. They may have a higher volume at the shoulders and top of the pad while slimming down towards the bottom. These are often the pads chosen by players who like to do a little bit of everything on the ice.
Best Hockey Shoulder Pads by Category
With all the different styles and brands to choose from, you might find it difficult to figure out what the best shoulder pad option is for your individual game. We've broken down our favorite options in a number of categories to help you get started.
Best Budget Hockey Shoulder Pads (under $100)
Warrior Alpha DX5 Hockey Shoulder Pads: The Warrior Alpha DX5 pads are made with some of the same materials and features as the more expensive shoulder pads, making them our best budget shoulder pad choice. Multi-layered foam in the chest, shoulders and biceps offer protection from sticks, pucks and collisions, but keep these pads lightweight.
Best Bauer Hockey Shoulder Pads
Bauer Vapor 2X Pro Hockey Shoulder Pads: The Bauer Vapor 2X Pro are the best Bauer shoulder pads in 2021. They’re crafted from ultra-lightweight HyperLite foam that offers superior protection for such a lightweight material. The Adjustable Curv Composite design of the bicep pads give a customized fit and Aerolite 2.0 shoulder caps reduce impact better than other models.
Best CCM Hockey Shoulder Pads
CCM Tacks 9060 Hockey Shoulder Pads: The anatomically designed base of the CCM Tacks 9060 pads give players a close-fitting and flexible fit. Numerous protection features such as JDP foam shoulder caps, molded-PE floating foam in the spine and sternum and kidney protection make the 9060s one of the most protective and comfortable CCM ice hockey shoulder pads available today.
Best Warrior Hockey Shoulder Pads
Warrior Alpha DX Pro Hockey Shoulder Pads: The Alpha DX Pro are Warrior’s top-of-the-line shoulder pads. The internal jacket features Dynamic ventilation that keeps players dry and reduces bacterial growth. These pads are constructed with compressed molded-EVA foam coated with Warrior's Skin Shell Texture in areas that are at a higher risk of impact.
Lightest Hockey Shoulder Pads
CCM Jetspeed FT1 LE Hockey Shoulder Pads: CCM uses high-density Zotefoam in their Jetspeed FT1 pads to create some of the lightest hockey shoulder pads on the market today. RocketFrame shells offer added protection without increasing bulk in the sternum and spine areas, and the Ufoam shoulder caps provide impact protection without a heavy feel.
Best Youth Hockey Shoulder Pads
Bauer X Youth Hockey Shoulder Pads: Youth players will enjoy the freedom of movement the low-profile Bauer X youth pads provide. An adjustable one-piece bicep protector allows for optimization of arm protection, while MD foam back panels and injection molded sternum give impact coverage and comfort.
Best Junior Hockey Shoulder Pads
Bauer Supreme 2S Pro Hockey Shoulder Pads: The Bauer Supreme 2S Pro are popular junior shoulder pads with a low profile and molded foam construction. Independent side panels, Vent Armor foam and molded HD foam protect the spine, ribs and sternum while allowing junior players the flexibility they need to perform on the ice. AMP construction allows for bicep adjustments.
Best Senior Hockey Shoulder Pads
Sher-Wood Rekker M90 Senior Hockey Shoulder Pads: Adult players of every level will enjoy the mobility and protection the Sher-Wood Rekker M90 senior pads offer. Molded-PE shoulder caps protect from the heavier impacts of the higher-paced game, and the bicep areas feature PE inserts to deflect the shock of sticks and pucks. Wide elastic strips secure these hockey shoulder pads and prevent loosening during on-ice action.
Find the Best Selection of Ice Hockey Shoulder Pads at HockeyMonkey!
Once you've decided what size, fit and style of ice hockey shoulder pad best fits your game, you're ready to start shopping. Check out our full selection of hockey shoulder pads on HockeyMonkey today.