Which hockey mask is the best?
When it comes to mental images of hockey players, one of the first things that most people picture is likely to be a smile of missing teeth. Because of hockey’s high contact play, and the fact that the average slap shot slings a puck at around 100 miles per hour, adequate protection in the form of a hockey mask is key to preventing serious facial injury.
The Bauer Senior Concept III Full Shield mask is our top pick.
What to know before you buy a hockey mask
While face masks and helmets are worn by all players on the ice, usually in the form of light helmets with clear, plastic shields that cover the eyes, goalies in particular require specialized equipment to allow them to safely deflect shots on goal or slashing hockey sticks. There is perhaps no other piece of wearable athletic gear as iconic as a goalie’s mask. While the style popularized by pop culture horror movies is still widely available, modern takes on goalie masks include a metal face cage and heavy-duty, molded plastic panels that fully protect the athlete’s head and neck.
From full face coverage to partial, hockey masks come in a range of options offering various degrees of protection. Light-duty masks are easier to wear and provide better visibility at the expense of less armor. Some masks provide complete coverage, but may prove to be challenging to move around in. Ultimately, your risk assessment and comfort will dictate which model is right for you.
Field and street hockey involve the use of a light, plastic puck or firm ball as opposed to a traditional ice hockey puck, which means that gear designed for those two types of the sport do not need to be as robust as those designed for ice hockey. Ice hockey players need to be sure that the gear they select is rated for the kinds of impact they will sustain. Ice hockey players should never substitute masks that are rated for softer projectiles.
What to look for in a quality hockey mask
Select a hockey mask that is light and easy to move around in. Heavier masks often will provide more protection, but gear that is challenging to move around in may also result in injuries that could have been avoided if charging players were able to be seen more clearly or dodged more quickly. Because of this, it’s important to split the difference between the weight of your hockey mask, its bulkiness and its ability to protect you from injury due to unavoidable hits.
Determine how much facial protection you need and select a mask that will accommodate your preferences. Full face shields are ideal, but many players find them to be a hindrance due to becoming foggy or obscured from internal moisture buildup and ice splashing onto them. Aside from goalies, most hockey players opt for light helmets with eye shields, although team members with facial injuries or stitches will sometimes opt for more protection.
A quick look at any NHL game will let you know that goalies in particular take great pride in the look of their mask. Sporting goods stores will often carry masks that are branded with the logos of professional teams for fans who want to look the part on the ice. Select a hockey mask that fits your personal style, but prioritize safety.
Choose a hockey mask from a reputable sports equipment manufacturer. With injury always close at hand in hockey, it’s imperative to wear tough, reliable gear that is built to stand up to the rigors of the game. While knockoffs may be more affordable, official equipment will be of higher quality and is built to last game after game, season after season.
A poorly fitting mask is an unsafe mask. In a high-intensity game, slipping equipment can result in being unable to see or receiving an unpadded impact from a player, stick or puck. Be sure that your hockey mask and helmet fits snugly and is not easily removed due to quick motion or a collision.
How much you can expect to spend on a hockey mask
You can spend as little as $20 on a face mask or potentially hundreds on gear that is designed for professional use by a goalie. You can expect to spend between $50-$100 for more amateur or hobby-level hockey masks.
Hockey mask FAQ
What is a hockey puck made of?
A. Ice hockey pucks are made out of a hard, vulcanized rubber. Street hockey pucks are made of lighter, hollow plastic and often include ball bearings that allow them to glide across paved surfaces in the same way a traditional puck would slide along ice.
Is it hard to see out of a hockey mask?
A. This largely depends on the type of mask worn and the player’s comfort level. Masks that cover the face with a clear plastic shield allow for greater visibility, but can become smeared or foggy during use. Masks that use a metal shield don’t run the risk of visibility changing while playing, but do not protect a player’s face from ice spray and place a metal grid directly before their eyes.
What are hockey masks made of?
A. Traditionally, hockey masks have been made out of fiberglass. While this material is still employed today, modern masks also use various resins, kevlar and carbon fiber, as they are continually advanced to remain light, but still provide superior protection.
What’s the best hockey mask to buy?
Top hockey mask
What you need to know: This clear mask provides full facial coverage and ventilation.
What you’ll love: Light, easy to snugly attach and with complete facial protection, this mask allows players to feel safe in the game and clearly see their surroundings.
What you should consider: Not appropriate for goalies. Can fog up during play in spite of the ventilation ports.
Where to buy: Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods
Top hockey mask for the money
What you need to know: This helmet and visor combo protects a player’s eyes and head.
What you’ll love: Akin to the protection used by professionals, this mask and helmet combo allows for ventilation that prevents fogging. Its streamlined design stays cool and protects the top of a player’s head in addition to their face.
What you should consider: Only available in black. Limited facial protection.
Where to buy: Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This mask combines a plastic eye shield and a metal cage for all-around protection.
What you’ll love: Compatible with most hockey helmets, this mask is lightweight and includes a floating chin strap to maintain a tight fit.
What you should consider: May not fit all helmets. Not adequate protection for a goalie.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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