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Hockey Pants Guide
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Hockey Pants Guide

Hockey pants are definitely not created equal.

The law of diminishing returns applies to hockey pants. Long pants or short pants, the more money you are willing to spend, the better protection and the more comfort you will get – but only to a certain point. Once you get into the category of decent quality pants, you will have to inspect the design of the internal padding to determine whether or not the pants will fit your needs.

If you buy a cheap pair of pants, don’t fall down. It will hurt. Yes, they are lighter and very nonrestrictive but once you take a bad fall, you will fear them. Higher quality pants will provide much more protection as well as a few more features to make the pants more comfortable in light of the extra padding. For example, now common features are the ability to open the inside of the pant leg to provide more mobility and strategically placed stretchy materials to further facilitate greater freedom of movement. Many pants now have excellent belt features and functional suspenders. All of these features are nice to have but the biggest concern in the placement of the internal padding - in particular, the padding that protects your hips. The leg and core protection is always necessary, but these areas don't usually give manufacturers much difficulty. The problem area for many pants concerns the hips.

Because pants are required to provide protection in a variety of positions, the internal padding is usually designed to move with you. Usually, you will find a bit of pad “layering”. Some of the pads inside the pant are designed to overlap when in certain positions and expand to cover more area when necessary. The padding essentially works like an extension ladder – an extension ladder can be extended to fit whatever height you are trying to reach and works just fine if it doesn’t need to be extended at all. In the front of the pant, the pads covering your thighs and hips are fully extended when standing straight up and overlap when you bring your knee up. The same goes for the back of the pants but in reverse. When you are standing straight up the pads overlap. When when you bring your knees up the pads extend to cover your hip bones.

Here’s what to look for:

Some pants do a poor job of providing enough padding to cover the back of your hip joint when your knees come up. This means that if you fall and land on your hip with your knees up, you will feel instant pain. This characteristic of protection is usually lacking in cheaper pants and seems to be hit or miss with the more expensive pants. Look inside the pant! I personally found a good pair of pants after a fall led me to try to figure out why in the blazes it hurt so bad. I went into the local hockey store and went through every pair of pants they had and was amazed to realize that the padding I was looking for was NOT necessarily in the most expensive pants. After this experience, I can confidently say that there is no substitute for knowing what’s on the inside of the pant. If you want to be sure you’re getting the right pant, you're going to have to pu them on. When you do, bring your knee up, and feel for any exposed areas on your backside where your hipbone is unprotected. If there is an obvious gap, it’s only a matter of time before you fall on it. Eventually, you will be able to spot a deficiency with a quick glance on the inside. You might even find a particular kind of pant that consistently works for you. Whether or not pants will leave you exposed to injury depends not just on the pant but how the pant fits. Some people have wider hips and some have narrower hips. This will affect how the padding protects because it affects where the padding protects.

Obviously, if you're looking for a pair of pants for a casual recreational league, buy whatever pants you like. But if you are looking for youth hockey pants or adult hockey pants intended for competitive play, make sure you buy hockey pants that don't leave you exposed to injury. In this category of hockey equipment, you cannot assume that a higher price tag will give you the best protection.

For more discussion, reviews and analysis, please visit HockeyConsumer.com


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