While a leg may be a long way from the heart*, without the proper leg pads, you won’t last too long in the net. Whether you’re in the market for a new pair of leg pads or you’re buying your first pair, here are some helpful tips to consider.
*(Shoutout to Miracle for a quick movie reference).
Types of Goalie Leg Pads
Every goalie has his or her own preference of stick, skates and face mask. When it comes to leg pads, it’s no different. If you’re not sure where to start, think about how you already play in the net. Do you prefer to play with your legs low to the ice? Or do you rely mostly on a mix of standing up, jumping around and low-key acrobatics to get the job done.
There are two major categories of leg pads, and each correlates to one of the two playing styles mentioned above: butterfly or hybrid pads.
Butterfly pads are best suited for goalies who prefer keeping their pads flat on the ice to stone shots down low. They are generally more flat-faced, stiff from the knee to thigh, and have fewer flex cuts (or creases) around the knees than you’ll find in your average hybrid pair. These models, like the CCM Premier R1.9 on SidelineSwap, will not only help you maintain your leg strength as you dive to the ground, but they’ll also help prevent any bleed-through on shots – especially through the 5 hole.
If you prefer moving around in net, a pair of hybrid pads may be your best match. With additional flex cuts at the knees and deeper shin cradles than traditional padding, they’re best suited for goalies who prioritize comfort and mobility in net. Not sure which pair you like the best? Our pros recommend a pair like these guys if you’re looking to save some cash. Consider yourself the next Jonathan Quick? Vaughn’s Velocity series on SidelineSwap is a good place to start.
Lucky for you, the days of stuffing goalie leg pads with horsehair and shredded packing foam are long gone. So what are major brands using instead for today’s pads?
Foam has grown increasingly popular amongst goalies today as a comfortable padding option both on the interior and exterior of pads. High-density foams, like Shred Pak, Flex Pac, etc., are typically used around the front and sides of leg pads to fortify the pad’s shape and stiffness. Lower-density foams are commonly used on pads’ interior channels for comfort and enhanced breathability.
Synthetic vs. Nylon
The exteriors of most leg pads today are made up of either synthetic leather, nylon, or a mix of the two. Synthetic leather is great for several reasons. It’s durable, relatively cost-effective, and is much more breathable and protective than the leather that goalies wore back in the day. If you consider yourself an upper tier player, we recommend looking at models like the CCM Eflex III on SidelineSwap.
If you’re just getting started playing low-level hockey, or consider yourself a street player, nylon-based padding is an affordable option. Looking to stay dry and cushioned from flying pucks? Then nylon is probably not your best bet. Nylon, especially on rinks, is known for absorbing moisture and offers less protection than today’s synthetic models do.
Plastic vs. Metal Clips
Every set of leg pads includes either plastic or metal clips. These are what secure your legs to the actual padding. Plastic clips are generally easier to use, and are recommended for those starting out in net. Metal clips are known for being more durable and reliable over time but also harder to handle.
It is important to ensure proper fit! Here are some helpful metrics to take into account when deciding what size pair to purchase:
- Your hockey skate size.
- Your ankle-to-knee measurement (inches).
- Your knee-to-mid-thigh measurement (inches).
Add these three measurements up and you should have a ballpark idea of where to start your search. Always remember: not every manufacturer follows universal sizing. It’s always a good idea to consult your seller on SidelineSwap in order to get a better idea of the fit and sizing of the pads you’re looking to buy.
Once your leg pads have arrived, make sure to try them on with your skates and pants before taking the ice. Your leg pads should extent to your mid-to-upper thigh, while your knee should feel securely centered within the knee roll, both when you’re standing and sitting. Higher level goalies sometimes go outside of the sizing guidelines that are recommended, but if you’re just getting started, try to stick to a standard size for your height.
- If you’re still between sizes, choose the larger size for additional protection. It’s always better to grow into pads than to have them be too small.
- For younger goalies who are still growing, make sure that your kneecap sits no lower than 1” below the center of the knee lock.
- Mobility is the name of the game.Try jumping, diving, squatting, butterflying and everything inbetween to make sure your lower body is ready to dance before your first skate.
- Confused on how to attach your leg pads to your skates? Here’s how our pros recommend doing it.
- Lace up your goalie skates.
- Run your leg pads’ built-in laces through the first hole in the front of your skate blade.
- Tighten the pad’s laces through the hole, cross them again and run them through the next hole in the middle of your skate blade.
- Tighten and cross the laces one last time before running them through the last hole at the back of your skate blade.
- Tighten the remaining laces so that your leg pad is flush with the tip of your skate. Tie the remaining string over your skate laces.
- Center the pad flush against your skate by weaving the lowest pad strap through your blade hole.
- Fasten the remaining straps around your leg.
- The roll on the outside of the pad always goes on the outside of your leg NOT the inside!
- If you have questions about the sizing and fit of pads you’ve been eyeing on SidelineSwap, feel free to reach out to the seller, or to our team of experts, to get all the helpful info you might need.