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 FT6 Pro Hockey Shoulder PadsCCM Jetspeed FT6 Pro Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
2Bauer Vapor 3X Pro Hockey Shoulder PadsBauer Vapor 3X Pro Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
3Warrior Alpha DX Pro Hockey Shoulder PadsWarrior Alpha DX Pro Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
4Bauer Supreme Mach Hockey Shoulder PadsBauer Supreme Mach Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
5Warrior Alpha LX 40 Hockey Shoulder PadsWarrior Alpha LX 40 Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
6CCM Tacks 9550 Hockey Shoulder PadsCCM Tacks 9550 Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
7Bauer X Hockey Shoulder PadsBauer X Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
8CCM Tacks AS 580 Hockey Shoulder PadsCCM Tacks AS 580 Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now
9Sherwood 5030 HOF Hockey Shoulder PadsSherwood 5030 HOF Hockey Shoulder PadsBuy Now

Overview: Designed to be lightweight and unrestrictive, the CCM Jetspeed FT6 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 3X Pro pads are constructed using Bauer's Ventaprene vest with HYPERLITE HD floating sternum protector. Aerolite 2.0 shoulder caps offer added impact protection during contact. The adjustable biceps have molded PE foams so players can adjust for the best fit in their upper arm area.

Key Features:

  • A cooling ThermoMax+ liner
  • HYPERLITE HD floating sternum protector for added protection
  • Integrated rib wrap to protect you all around while staying breathable

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Overview: Bauer’s Supreme Mach pads were designed for mobility without sacrificing protection .CURV Composite material to provide lightweight protection at the sternum, along with Active Motion Protection (AMP) at the biceps. Molded Hyperlite foam in the front panel won't absorb water and integrated Vent Armor foam at the spine allows for maximum airflow. A THERMO CORE ZERO liner is treated to manage the sweat and odor, while also providing a cooling effect.

Key Features:

  • Thermo Core Zero liner
  • Adjustable AMP split bicep design that will allow the player to find the best fit for their own arm
  • CURV Composite material provides lightweight protection

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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: CCM uses an single-layer base jacket to give the Tacks 9550s a good amount of protection from impacts while also being lightweight and mobile. Molded PE caps will offer full coverage around the shoulders to safeguard from most impacts and falls. Molded-PE Floating foam was used in the sternum and spine areas and a PE foam base ensures all parts of your upper body are well-covered and protected.

Key Features:

  • Molded-PE Floating foam in the sternum and spine areas for enhanced protection
  • PE foam base torso coverage provides players with even more comfort, and protection to the sensitive kidney areas
  • Velcro landing zone for easy adjustment and allows you to get a custom fit

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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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Overview: The Sherwood 5030 HOF shoulder pads have that classic look and feel. They feature a single density foam back with augmented spine protection. PE inserts in the shoulder caps, chest, and biceps give you protection where you need it, and the front lacing system gives you a more customizable fit.

Key Features:

  • PE shoulder caps covered with foam
  • Single density foam chest with PE inserts
  • Single density foam bicep protection with PE inserts

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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)

CCM Tacks 9550 Hockey Shoulder Pads: The CCM Tacks 9550 hockey shoulder pads are designed with a a single-layer base jacket, providing protection without sacrificing movement and weight. Molded PE caps offer full coverage around the shoulders, and Molded-PE floating foam enhances protection in the sternum and spine. A PE foam base in the torso ensures the sensitive areas of the upper body are covered with comfortable protection.

Best Bauer Hockey Shoulder Pads

Bauer Vapor 3X Pro Hockey Shoulder Pads: The Bauer Vapor 3X Pro are the best Bauer shoulder pads in 2023. 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 Jetspeed FT6 Pro Hockey Shoulder Pads: Designed to be lightweight and unrestrictive, Zotefoam provides maximum freedom of movement and mobility while keeping the player dry and light throughout the game. Ultra-light Ufoam and HDPE plastics provide high caliber protection in the shoulder caps, sternum and spine. A liner free design keep sthe shoulder pads from absorbing sweat and weighing you down.

Lightest Hockey Shoulder Pads

CCM Jetspeed FT6 Hockey Shoulder Pads: CCM uses their revolutionary AER-TEC Thermoregulation system to offer max ventilation to keep you cool and your gear light.  The Flexmotion base jacket remains lightweight with perforated foam for ventilation in torso and back. HDPE plastic with high-density PE foam throughout combine for lightweight, high caliber protection.

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

Warrior Alpha LX Pro Senior Hockey Shoulder Pads: Adult players of every level will enjoy the multi-layered foams in the chest, shoulders, and biceps that help protect you in all the key areas while remaining lightweight and mobile. The low-profile contoured shoulder caps offer maximum impact protection without sacrificing mobility. A new jacket design known as MaxProtect features compression molded IMPAX foams added in key impact zones and floating spine, sternum, and a belly pads. Wartech FNC Liner powered by Polygiene to keep you cool, dry, and odor free, and a vented internal jacket features lightweight stretch material which helps to keep the pads cool and light.

 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.