Playing ice hockey can be an investment (at least in the beginning), and there are a lot of things you need to buy to get started. Learning the long list of equipment for ice hockey that will be needed is your first step. Here is a beginner’s guide to a hockey gear list.
We’re going to start at the top of the head and move down (Click the links below to skip to any of the following sections):
Cup & Hockey Shorts
Your helmet is clearly an integral part of your hockey gear – even though the NHL didn’t even require helmets until 1979 (!!!). Your helmet not only protects your head, but it can also be a statement of what kind of player you are. No, you don’t need a tinted visor (and, word to the wise: you may want to stay away from this, as it’s seen as a little douchey). But it’s up to you if you want no face protection, a cage, or a shield (either full or half).
A lot of the old school guys who grew up with no face protection still follow those habits, at least until they get hit in the face a few times. And trust me, you will be hit in the face. With a stick, or a puck. And you will be thankful you have a shield or cage.
Shoulder Pads/Chest Protector
Shoulder pads tend to be optional for some players, but is well worth it. Your shoulder pads will protect you if you fall, but also if you are hit by a person or a puck. Just find a pair that fits you, because if they don’t, it may throw off your game.
Elbow pads are essential, you should never go out on the ice without them. If you fall and hit your elbows, you could cause some serious damage. But again, find a pair that fits you. If they are sliding up and down your arms, they will cause some serious distraction.
Your jersey is of course essential, but in most leagues you will be provided with one (I mean, you probably paid for it). You should invest in a dark and light jersey (with a number on the back) for any pick-up games, or in case your team doesn’t provide you a jersey. You can probably get generic jerseys at your local Play It Again for $10-15.
Gloves have gotten expensive. I just bought a new pair and was thankful to get the cheapest pair at only $80. See if you can find some used gloves, as it will keep the cost down. But gloves are important, and it’s worth talking to a store associate to make sure you are getting the right size for you.
When I first started, my breezers were the only thing (besides my helmet) that I bought brand new and it’s the best decision I have ever made. You breezers act as protection if you fall, and trust me when I say you should be investing. Because falling on ice without them hurts.
Cup & Hockey Shorts
This is going to be different for men and women, but both are very important to wear while playing (maybe more so for men?). Your shorts will not only protect some important parts, but also have one side of the velcro to connect to your hockey socks.
Shin guards are one of the most important pieces of ice hockey gear you will wear. If going out just to learn to skate in normal clothes, I would recommend wearing your shin guards. Not only do they provide protection if you fall on your knees, but they give you confidence to try some things you wouldn’t try if you are out with only your skates.
Hockey socks are not the same as normal socks – they are the socks that go over your shin guards. To hold them up, you will probably use a combination of the velcro from your shorts and a whole lot of hockey tape.
Hockey socks are a great way to showcase your personality as well – choose whichever colors or designs that fit you.
Skates are clearly the most important thing here. Unless you are playing floor hockey, ice skates are essential when playing ice hockey (I am sure I don’t need to tell you that). Most hockey players have a preference in terms of brands and type of skates.
My recommendation is to go to a hockey store for your first pair of skates – have them fit you (determine the size of hockey skates you will wear) and then try on a number of different types of skates. There is no one-size-fits-all for hockey skates, and it’s all a personal preference. Find a pair that fits you well and that you feel comfortable in. Your hockey skates are one of the biggest investments you will make in ice hockey gear.
Your stick is very similar to your skates: it is very much a personal preference in terms of brand, length, curve, etc. You may go through a few sticks before determining which one is best for you. But just remember, especially if you are a beginner, spending $300 on a stick will not make you better at hockey. There are perfectly good $100 sticks (or there are plenty of places to find quality used sticks) that will be great for you. Once you learn more about your preferences, you will know more about what you are looking for in a stick.
There are a lot of things to purchase when playing ice hockey for the first time. My recommendation is to buy as many used items as you can: most equipment will last long after the first person is done with it, and it will help keep costs down in the beginning. When I first started (at the age of 32) the new things I purchased were my helmet and my hockey breezers – everything else was used. After this, you will learn your preferences and if you want to upgrade any item you can.