Hockey is a fast and exciting game, however, at times, it can be hazardous. For this reason, players should know of the types of hockey helmets and the technology available on the market. Helmet manufacturers are continually innovating in a bid to come up with affordable and light helmets which are meant to give players maximum protection and comfort.
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Importance of a Helmet
However, it is good for all players to know that there is no helmet which can guarantee one hundred percent protection from injuries. To reduce a popular misconception, the purpose of a hockey helmet is to prevent skull fractures, not concussions. Direct contact with the helmet can be diffused through the outer plastic and foams of a helmet, but a concussion occurs due to rotational energy that helmets cannot prevent. A concussion may occur even without any impact to the head, such as a body check that sends whiplash to the neck and head area.
Cheap Helmets vs. High-End Helmets
There are many types of helmets which are available on the market. It is thus upon the player to decide the best helmet which suits his or her unique needs. Perhaps it is good to consider the price of the helmet. Although cost does not always translate to quality, highly priced helmets tend to offer more protection and comfort to the players.
Cheaper helmets like the classic Bauer 4500 is lined with a simple VN foam that is lightweight and conforms to the head over time. This type of foam can be found in most helmets around the $100 price point.
More expensive helmets in the $150-250 range, such as the CCM FitLite 3DS have a newer technology of foam called EPP foam. EPP foam is a closed cell rigid material that fills the majority of the helmet. Because the hard and rigid material, this is typically used with softer foam for comfort and a snug fit.
Helmets may not be the flashiest and sexiest piece of gear in your bag, but don't skimp when it comes to protecting your noggin. Make the right decision and invest in the best helmet for you.
How Should a Hockey Helmet Fit?
The best helmet is the one that is the best fitting. Choosing the right size and shape is important to ensure your protection. When fitting the helmet, to expand it and then place it on your head. Afterward, adjust the helmet until it is snug. Make sure that it is not too tight and does not move when you move your head. Avoid helmets with pressure points or gaps in the padding. If you notice empty space and gaps, the helmet is probably not a good fit for your head shape.
A properly fitting helmet should be snug and does not rotate while playing but not to tight as to cause pressure and pain when wearing. It is worth noting that there is no wrong or good helmet. It all depends on the size and shape of your head.
Helmets are sized in adult small, medium, and large, as well as youth small, medium, and large. Occasionally, adult extra large and youth extra small helmets can be found in certain models.
Sizing can vary between brands, so helmet sizes that may fit in one brand could fit completely different in size in another brand.
When possible, you should try on the helmet before you make a purchase to make sure the fit is correct.
Popular Helmet Brands
Some of the most common brands of helmets on the market are Bauer, CCM, and Warrior. All of these brands offer many options of price, size, and shape of helmets.
Models: RE-akt, IMS, 5100,4500
Models: FitLite, Tacks, Resistance
Models: Krown, Covert, Alpha
Cages and Shields
Older players who play hockey for recreational and professional purposes are not necessarily required to wear face protection, but most leagues require full face protection for those under 18 years old.
Cages and shields will protect the eyes and the face of the player from being hit by the hockey sticks. They also tend to minimize the impacts in case one is hit hence reducing cuts and preventing the bones of the player from being broken.
Full Face Protection
These will offer the highest level of protection from errant sticks and pucks. Wire cages are the most common and come in a variety of lightweight metals such as aluminum and titanium. Less popular are full shields or commonly referred to as “bubbles”. Some prefer this style over wire cages for their supposed increased visibility of the puck, that is the most common gripe with full face protection.
Using a half shield can offer a little bit of protection over no protection at all, but it still leaves your face exposed. Players prefer to use half shields for a number of reasons including increased vision, the lighter weight, and the option to reduce glare with a tinted visor.
Maintaining Your Helmet
Helmets are designed to be a solid a dependable piece of equipment, but they do sometimes require a little bit of attention.
Check for missing, loose, or rusted screws and replace them as necessary. Keep it clean and dry, every once in a while wipe it out to clean some of the sweat build up of the padding.
Check for broken tabs or cracks in the shell, especially after getting hit or showing signs of a concussion. If the shell is compromised, replace the helmet as it is no longer going to keep your head safe. Helmets are only meant to last 5-6 years before needing to be replaced, as foams break down and won't be as effective.
Now that we've looked at how to fit your helmet, it still doesn't help with the massive amounts of options on the market. With so many helmets it’s easy to find yourself asking, “What is the best hockey helmet?”