best hockey shoulder pads

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

1CCM Jetspeed FT4 Pro Hockey Shoulder PadsCCM Jetspeed FT4 Pro Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
2Bauer Vapor 2X Hockey Shoulder PadsBauer Vapor 2X Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
3Warrior Alpha DX Pro Hockey Shoulder PadsWarrior Alpha DX Pro Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
4Bauer Supreme 3S Hockey Shoulder PadsBauer Supreme 3S Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
5Warrior Alpha LX 40 Hockey Shoulder PadsWarrior Alpha LX 40 Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
6Warrior Alpha DX5 Hockey Shoulder PadsWarrior Alpha DX5 Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
7CCM Tacks 9060 Hockey Shoulder PadsCCM Tacks 90+0 Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
8Sherwood Rekker Element 1 Hockey Shoulder PadsSherwood Rekker Element 1 Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
9CCM Tacks AS 580 Hockey Shoulder PadsCCM Tacks AS 580 Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
10Bauer X Hockey Shoulder PadsBauer X Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now

Overview: Designed to be lightweight and unrestrictive, the CCM Jetspeed FT4 Pro offers great protection in all areas. Molded Zotefoam, which provides maximum freedom of movement and mobility while keeping the player dry and light throughout the game. Ultra-light Ufoam constructed shoulder caps that provide solid protection in a lightweight package. A new hybrid shield sternum & spine protection with HDPE plastics for high caliber protection. Up at the top, there is floating clavicle coverage with HD molded foams that will not weigh you down.

Key Features:

  • A unique liner-free design that allows the closed cell Zotefoam to do its job by not absorbing sweat and weighing you down.
  • Lightweight Zotefoam construction
  • Floating HD molded foam clavicle coverage

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Overview: The front 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 adjustable biceps have MD Foam with PE Inserts so players can adjust for the best fit in their upper arm area.

Key Features:

  • A cooling ThermoMax+ liner
  • X-Lite sternum shield for added protection
  • Breathable HyperLite HD Foam in key areas

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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.

Key Features:

  • Vented internal jacket
  • WarTech FNC liner for moisture and odor reduction
  • Skin Shell Texture in high-impact areas

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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.

Key Features:

  • Thermo Max+ liner
  • Independent back side panels
  • Full coverage molded vest with extended rib wrap protection

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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.

Key Features:

  • Anatomical 3D design
  • Comfortable mesh interior liner
  • Molded PE-foam kidney coverage

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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.

Key Features:

  • Multi-layer foams in the chest, shoulders and biceps
  • Mesh fabric liner
  • Low-profile design

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Overview: Multi-layered foams in the chest, shoulders, and biceps help protect players in all the key areas while remaining lightweight and mobile. The LX 40 shoulder pads feature a mesh fabric liner that helps wick away moisture, keeping players dry and comfortable during gameplay. “Lay Flat Straps” which will be easier to use and won’t get caught on your jersey.

Key Features:

  • Multi-layered foams are light but protective
  • Mesh liner keeps you dry and comfortable
  • Lay Flat Straps won't get caught on your jersey

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Overview: The Sher-Wood Rekker Element 1 utilizes a multi panel light weight aerofoam vest with custom molded 3D floating sternum plate. Customized impact protection abdomen pad allows for adjustable protection where you want it, and viconic impact protection in the arch and rib area deflects and disperses impact. A 3D Molded floating spine plate and aerofoam panels promote maximum mobility and protection.

Key Features:

  • Three-inch bicep length adjustment
  • Military grade viconic impact protection in the arch and rib area to deflect and disperse impact
  • COP R29 antimicrobial liner helps eliminate odor causing bacteria

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Overview: Built for mobility and comfort, the CCM Tacks AS 580 shoulder pads feature max coverage anatomical shield design (ASD), putting protection at the forefront, providing ultra-comfort and a customizable fit. The shoulders caps are constructed with JDP injected caps, dispersing impact force away from the shoulders. Floating arches for clavicle and shoulder blade protection are designed for optimal mobility and comfort. Vent-tech floating sternum hybrid shields with compress molded spine caps allow for added breathability, while the hybrid shield sternum along with compress-molded spine caps, offer competitive level protection.

Key Features:

  • Vent-tech floating sternum hybrid shields
  • Sublimated plus comfort liner
  • Molded shoulder and bicep caps

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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.

hockey shoulder pad sizing chart

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 Hockey Shoulder Pads: The Bauer Vapor 2X are the best Bauer shoulder pads in 2022. They’re crafted from lightweight HyperLite foam that offers superior protection for such a lightweight material. The MD Foam 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 FT4 Hockey Shoulder Pads: CCM uses high-density Zotefoam in their  Jetspeed FT4 pads to create some of the lightest hockey shoulder pads on the market today. HDPE 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 3S Pro Hockey Shoulder Pads: The Bauer Supreme 3S 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

Sherwood Rekker Element 1 Senior Hockey Shoulder Pads: Adult players of every level will enjoy the mobility and protection the Sher-Wood Rekker Element 1 senior pads offer. Multi panel light weight aerofoam vest with custom molded 3D floating sternum plate and a 3D Molded floating spine plate and aerofoam panels promote maximum mobility and protection. Military grade viconic impact protection in the arch and rib area to deflect and disperse impact and a COP R29 antimicrobial liner helps eliminate odor causing bacteria.

 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.


This article was originally published on September 14, 2021, and has been updated with new information.