A Complete Guide to Hockey Goalie Equipment
So you want to be a goalie? Have you always wondered what it would be like to don the coolest gear in hockey? Or maybe you are the parent of an enthusiastic young hockey player who has taken a liking to stopping pucks. In this article we will cover all the basics of hockey goalie equipment and considerations that should be taken when purchasing your first set of goalie gear. As always, check out our full selection of hockey goalie equipment.
In this article, we’ll cover:
The world of goalie equipment can be a lot to take in, we get it. We’re here to take you step by step through each piece of equipment, covering both the essentials and the helpful tips on accessories to make the goalie position even more enjoyable and safe.
Undoubtedly, the goalie mask is the most recognizable piece of equipment for the position. It keeps the goalie safe, yet also provides a canvas of expression like you see on nearly every professional goalie. The mask is designed to protect both the head and much of the neck of the goalie, allowing them to feel confident and safe in facing even the most difficult of shots. Today’s masks have come a long way from the masks of year’s past. The masks you’ll find on the market today are made most commonly of high-end composites (fiberglass, carbon fiber, aramid/Kevlar) or polycarbonate, and have a vast range of shapes, sizes, and prices.
Goalie leg pads are the first piece of the three piece ‘combo’ of gear. Leg pads are designed to protect the goalie and provide net coverage to aid in stopping pucks. Made out of lightweight foams and synthetic materials, leg pads are limited by regulation to be 11” wide and range in size from Junior through Senior.
The goalie blocker is primarily designed to aid in providing net coverage for stopping pucks and holding the goalie stick. The blocker is worn on the player’s dominant hand and offers protection from nearly every angle. As the second piece of the three piece gear combo, the blocker is constructed of high performance foams, plastics, and other synthetic materials.
Surely if you’ve watched any number of hockey highlight reels, you’ve seen at least a few spectacular glove saves. The glove (or catch/catcher glove) is the final piece of the three piece combo. It is worn opposite the dominant hand and offers protection from the puck, as well as an easy option for the goalie to freeze (or “cover”) the puck to stop game play. Coming in many fit styles and the greatest amount of variation between models and manufacturers, the goalie glove is generally considered to be the most unique preference to each individual goalie.
Just as it sounds, the chest protector (or “chest and arm”) is designed to offer superior protection of the upper body for the goalie. Originally constructed of deer hair and leather, today’s offerings are lightweight, protective, and offer greater amounts of net coverage than their ancestors.
Goalie pants are designed to be a loose and more protective version of an ice hockey player’s pant to protect the goalie’s hip and upper leg areas. Compared to a standard skater’s pant, the goalie pants will offer more protection on the front, hip and inner thigh sections. Like most other pieces of gear, pants are offered in a variety of sizes ranging from Youth to Senior.
While one could argue the goalie’s stick doesn’t provide protection like other pieces of gear, it is equally as critical. Held in the goalie’s dominant blocker hand, the stick allows the goalie better net coverage, greater stability on their skates, and the freedom to block and redirect shots away from the goal. Today’s sticks are most commonly made of composite materials similar to player’s sticks, however some goalies still hold a preference for traditional wood core or foam core construction of their stick.
Goalie skates are another highly individual piece of equipment and are specifically designed for the position and provide two main benefits over a typical player’s skate. They offer greater stability from a flatter, lower profile blade and greater protection from a protective ‘cowling’ surrounding the boot. Many manufacturers today have found ways to eliminate the protective cowling to reduce weight, yet still provide enough protection to the goalie’s foot through the use of composite boot materials.
So much fun and unique gear and nowhere to store it? Enter the goalie bag. Like the gear it holds, goalie bags are bigger, more protective, and generally more durable than player’s bags and come in both wheeled and non-wheeled varieties. If you’ve ever tried to fit goalie gear in a skater’s bag, chances are you didnt get very far.
Of course you need to protect the most prized possessions of a goalie. Goalie cups/jills offer additional protection of the groin area from a skater’s. A curious fact: many NHL goalies wear 3 cups; a single players cup under a ‘double’ goalie cup. One can never be too safe...
Additional Goalie Accessories
The pieces of equipment above make up about 90% of the goalie equipment uniform, and all these pieces are required to play the game safely. In addition to the pieces listed above, most goalies choose to wear a variety of accessories to both enhance the level of protection or assist in the comfort of their gear.
Knee and thigh guards help protect the goalie’s knees when in the butterfly position. Manufacturer’s design knee and thigh guards in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, the most common being a standalone knee pad (separate from the leg pad) that protects both the knee from the ice and the lower thigh from pucks.
Neck guards are designed to provide additional protection to the neck in the area that the mask and chest guard might not cover when actively moving during play. Neck guards can be a rigid clear plastic “dangler” that attaches to the goalie’s mask, or a soft, tight fitting neck guard that wraps tightly around the goalie’s neck. Each goalie has their preference. Danglers tend to be noisy during play when making sudden and abrupt movements, yet the tight-fitting guard often is found to be restrictive and prevents heat from escaping from the goalie’s upper body.
GoalieMonkey also carries full lines of Leg pad accessories to improve leg pad performance or conduct repairs on worn equipment. Wrist guards, similar to those used by some skaters, can help protect against slashes from sticks and aid in sweat absorption. Suspenders and garters help keep socks and knee guards securely in place, while Mouthguards may be required in some leagues of play, generally for youth players.
Finally, wide ranges of Helmet accessories, Stick accessories, and Skate accessories will provide the essentials needed to stay on the rink, including replacement hardware for masks, stick tape, and replacement laces and blades for skates.
Fitting Your Goalie Mask/Helmet
When fitting a goalie mask, it is important that the mask fits snugly with no visible room between the forehead or cheeks. The chin cup should be adjusted so that it fits snugly on the goalie’s chin and limits any up/down movement of the mask. The backplate “harness” straps should be adjusted snugly so that the mask doesn’t shift out of place during sudden jolts of movement. Each manufacturer provides mask sizing guidelines based on hat size for each of their models, ranging from Youth to Senior sizes in many models of masks. These diagrams are available in the “size chart” tab of the GoalieMonkey product listing. To learn more, check out our complete guide on how to size a hockey goalie mask.
Goalie Leg Pad Sizing
Proper goalie pad sizing is important not only for the comfort of the goalie, but also for his/her safety. A properly sized pad should properly protect the foot, leg, and lower thigh of the goalie, yet provide substantial support and padding when the goalie is blocking shots from their knees. Goalie leg pads range from Youth to Senior sizing, typically in increments of 1”. As the goalie becomes more experienced, he/she will find pads with varying thigh dimensions, designed to aid in the playability of the pad. A common way to get a general measurement of goalie pad sizing is using ATK, or “Ankle to Knee'' measurement. To learn more about ATK and choosing the correct size, check out our complete guide on hockey goalie leg pad sizing.
Goalie Glove Sizing
Goalie glove sizing is a little simpler than leg pad sizing. Gloves are generally offered in 4 different sizes; Youth, Junior, Intermediate, and Senior. Youth and junior gloves are sized for young beginning goalies between the ages of 6-10 years old, with an Intermediate glove sized for goalies in their early teens. Senior gloves offer the most options and are designed for goalies in their late-teens and onward. Like the proper fit of a player’s glove, the goalie’s hand should fit snugly in the glove with his/her fingers reaching the end of the finger stalls to retain full control and closure of the glove. To learn more, check out our complete guide on how to choose your hockey goalie glove size.
A similar size strategy to the catch glove can be adopted for blocker sizing. Ranging from Youth to Senior sizes, a blocker should fit snugly through the fingers, across the back of the hand, and around the wrist. The fingers should come near the end of the finger stalls to retain full control of the stick. To learn more, check out our complete guide on goalie blocker sizing.
Goalie Chest Protector
Unlike the previous three pieces of equipment we just covered, chest protectors will be a little more cut and dry with sizing. Again offered in sizes ranging from Youth to Senior, manufacturer’s sizing charts are provided on the GoalieMonkey product pages, detailing specific measurements to pay attention to. Chest protectors should fit snug to the body, yet provide as much coverage without sacrificing mobility. The collar should measure about 1.5” below the natural t-shirt collar and about 1.5” above the wrist to prevent interference with the glove, but this is just the beginning. To learn more, check out our complete guide on choosing your goalie chest protector.
Let’s not forget about the pants. Goalie pants are designed to be protective and provide coverage in the net. They are designed to be loose fitting, some models feature an internal belt to keep the pants high on the waist yet allow the main pant to remain loose for mobility and net coverage. The bottom of the pant should measure just above the knee, and allow ample room for knee pads and cup/jill underneath. Whenever possible try on pants with a chest protector, pads, skates, etc. to ensure the pieces interact well with one another. To learn more, check out our complete guide on hockey goalie pant sizing.
Goalie sticks, unlike the other pieces of equipment we covered, will depend less on the goalie’s size and more on the goalie’s style and stance. Measuring in paddle size (in inches), goalie sticks size in Youth (20in.), Junior (21-22in.), Intermediate (23-24in.) and Senior (25in+). The paddle height (where the goalie holds his/her hand) is the most important measurement, while overall height is determined by the manufacturer to provide proper balance of the stick. A properly sized stick should allow the goaltender to keep the blade of the stick flush on the ice and centered between the toes of the pads, with the blocker resting gently on the outside of the pad. - To learn more, check out our complete guide on how to choose a hockey goalie stick.
Goalie skates should fit snugly around all sides of the foot, while not creating any pressure points or “dead” space. A good starting point is 1.5 sizes smaller than the goaltender’s shoe size. The laces should not pull the eyelets too close together (or over the foot) or allow the eyelets to puff outward. Note that over time a skate will break in and materials will compress, generating more space in the skate, often increasing nearly half a size. A snug, properly fitted skate will make the game much more enjoyable to play. For comprehensive information on skate fitting,, check out our complete guide on hockey goalie skate sizing.
We’ve all been there, purchasing your first new set of goalie equipment can be a daunting task. Taking it one step at a time and familiarizing yourself with the information provided here on GoalieMonkey will simplify the process and give you the knowledge and understanding to piece together your own set of gear. We’ve put together a list of 5 tips to make this process even easier.
- Tip 1: Don’t get set on a single model or brand of gear. Often goalies will be drawn to the most flashy, familiar, or brand they see used by their favorite NHL goalie. Every model and every brand has its benefits, but the same model may not work for everyone. Find what fits best for you and your playing style.
- Tip 2: Plan your budget. Understandably, a budget is often a major consideration when choosing your gear. Plan your budget to keep you safe. Consider the level you’ll be playing at and how often. Arguably, the goalie mask is considered the most important piece of equipment in keeping you safe, so be sure to opt for the right gear.
- Tip 3: Familiarize yourself with the playing styles. Are you a hybrid goalie or a butterfly goalie? The pad options may differ depending on your style, suting one better than the other. Most brands make a pad to suit each style, so be sure to review our Goalie Leg Pad Fitting Guide.
- Tip 4: Talk to other goalies at the rink. Getting a first-hand review of equipment can make decision making easier. Ask what they do/don’t like about a piece of equipment. The goalie community is very friendly and inviting, so don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation before and after your games.
- Tip 5: Visit your nearest GoalieMonkey store for an in-person fitting. GoalieMonkey experts are on-hand to provide the most knowledgeable advice, professional gear fittings, and answer all your questions. GoalieMonkey experts are experts because they ARE goalies, having the first-hand knowledge to get you on the rink!
- Bonus goalie parent tip: Consider your growing goalie. You buy one set of gear and next thing you know they’ve outgrown it. It’s certainly worth while to anticipate growth in your young goaltender, but avoid buying gear too big. Gear that is far too big will prevent them from learning the fundamentals and will hold them back from their fullest potential.
GoalieMonkey carries the best hockey goalie equipment brands on today’s market. Bauer, CCM, Vaughn, and Brian’s have a long history of manufacturing some of the best equipment today, with the top NHL goalies sporting their equipment. True and Warrior brands are newer names in the game, but behind these brands are some of the most legendary equipment designers the game has known.
Bauer has been an innovator in hockey equipment for many decades, taking the latest in material design technology and applying it to both skater’s and goalie equipment. Both their Vapor and Supreme lines of gear feature ultra-lightweight materials and state of the art design to create a high-performing pad across all levels and price points of gear.
Brian’s equipment is defined by a legacy of creating high quality gear with generations of refinement that has translated into gear with an incredible attention to detail. From their mid-level gear to their pro-level gear, Brian’s is focused on creating equipment that goalies can depend on, no matter their budget. Their gear constantly pushes the boundaries with material development, including E-Foam and their customizable flex zones in pads.
CCM has continued to be a favorite of NHL and professional goalies since breaking onto the scene as Reebok branded gear in 2005. Designed initially by Lefevre, CCM has transformed itself into a best-selling brand of gear loved by goalies across all levels of play and one that goalies continue to be drawn towards for it’s unmistakable fit and comfort through every generation.
True is powered by goalie equipment designer Lefebvre, renowned for his breakthrough designs in the early 2000s that took the butterfly-style pad mainstream and features that are seen across all brands today. Right out of the gate, True has developed a state-of-the art line of gear that has been adopted by dozens of NHL goalies in just their first year on the market.
Vaughn has been a mainstay in the goalie equipment world for many years, focusing strictly on goalie equipment rather than branching off to skater’s gear. Known for the pure comfort of their pads and their attention to detail, Vaughn has cemented themselves as a brand with arguably the most loyal following of all. Their flexible hybrid-style Velocity pad is on it’s 9th generation, a testament to the performance and quality expected out of an elite manufacturer.
Warrior made a big statement when they entered the Goalie equipment scene in the early 2010’s. Led by legendary equipment designer Pete Smith, Warrior gear quickly garnered a cult following through its innovation and focus on creating the most lightweight gear on the market. Years later, their Ritual line of gear continues to be a favorite of goalies all around the world.
Find the Best Selection of Hockey Goalie Equipment at GoalieMonkey!
Setting foot on the rink and becoming the last line of defense of your team triggers a sense of pride and thrill. Every moment, you have the chance to be the hero of the game, a feeling that becomes a passion for the position of goalie. Finding the right equipment to be successful and remain safe at the position takes time and careful consideration. We hope this overview of hockey goalie equipment has been helpful in getting you or your young goalie set up for action. GoalieMonkey is your premier retailer of goalie equipment, one ewhere you can find all the best brands and latest lines of equipment. Be sure to check out our full selection of hockey goalie equipment to help you get ready to stop pucks!.
Hockey Goalie Equipment FAQs
Why is hockey goalie equipment so expensive?
Hockey goalie equipment takes careful design and development to remain protective, yet perform well through the course of the entire game. Each piece of equipment is hand built with the latest in material technology, including lightweight foams, synthetic skin materials, and high-quality buckles and straps.
How much does hockey goalie equipment weigh?
Hockey goalie equipment weight depends on the size and age of the goalie. A full grown adult goalie can expect their entire equipment setup to weigh in between 40-50 lbs (18-23kg). Variance in weight depends on size of the gear, model line, materials, and often the protection level of the equipment.
This article was originally published on June 22, 2021, and has been updated with new information.