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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

17 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
289 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best youth hockey shoulder pads

Last Updated July 2020

If your child has started playing ice hockey, you will need to invest in quite a bit of gear. Hockey players wear a lot of protective padding, including a helmet and pads that cover much of the body. Finding the right youth hockey shoulder pads can be a little confusing as this gear isn’t used in many other sports.

Shoulder pads are an important piece of gear for hockey. They protect young players during falls on the ice. These pads also soften the blow when the puck hits a player. As players get older, they will begin checking more frequently and will need high-quality pads. Youth hockey leagues require shoulder pads as part of the uniform. So, it’s important to find pads that fit properly and that provide the desired level of protection.

In our buying guide, we’ve put together the key information you should consider when shopping for youth shoulder pads for hockey. For our picks for the best shoulder pads on the market, see the matrix above.

The foam in youth hockey shoulder pads is firm, not soft and cushioning.

Key considerations

The primary consideration when shopping for youth hockey shoulder pads is finding the proper size. Ill-fitting pads will not give the player the right level of protection.

If the shoulder pads fit properly, the caps should sit squarely on the shoulders. You don’t want them to slide around as the player moves, putting unwanted pressure on the neck area. If the youth shoulder pads are too small, there will be exposed areas that won’t be protected. Pads that are too large may not allow the player to move freely.

Here are some general sizing guidelines to use as a starting point, based on the circumference of the chest. Individual brands and models usually have specific sizing charts to help you further.

  • 20 to 24 inches: Youth small or youth medium
  • 24 to 28 inches: Youth medium, youth large, or junior small
  • 28 to 31 inches: Junior small, junior medium, or junior large
  • 31 to 34 inches: Junior large or senior small
  • 34 to 37 inches: Senior small or senior medium
  • 37 inches or larger: Senior medium, senior large, or senior extra-large
     

Youth hockey shoulder pads have straps and buckles that allow you to slightly adjust the fit. So if your kid feels like the shoulder pads are a little too tight, try loosening these straps before purchasing a new set.

EXPERT TIP

Properly designed youth hockey shoulder pads have shoulder caps that are low enough to almost mold to the body so that they don’t hinder players’ movements.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Youth hockey shoulder pads have quite a few differences in their designs. Understanding these features can help you make the best choice.

Coverage

Calling this gear “shoulder pads” is a bit of a misnomer. They do protect the shoulders, but they also provide protection for other areas of the upper body. Here are the four primary sections you may find on youth hockey shoulder pads.

  • Shoulder caps: All shoulder pads for hockey have shoulder caps that fit over the shoulders and collarbone. These usually consist of hard plastic with foam underneath. Defensemen will want large shoulder caps for protection in collisions, while forwards and centers may want less bulky shoulder caps for greater freedom of movement.
  • Biceps pads: Biceps pads protect the upper arms. They may consist of foam only or plastic over foam. All youth hockey shoulder pads include biceps pads.
  • Chest pads: Youth shoulder pads for hockey have some design differences in the chest area. Models aimed at younger children, who skate slower and shoot the puck slower, often have padding only over the sternum. For older kids, the padding should extend to the ribs and abdomen.
  • Back pads: As with chest pads, youth hockey shoulder pads aimed at younger players may have padding only in the upper back. For older youth players, the padding typically extends downward to cover the ribs and lower back.

Padding thickness

Thickness is another key design difference among various models of youth hockey shoulder pads. Thicker, bulkier padding usually contains extra plastic and provides a greater level of protection. But this style of padding can restrict movement.

Some players prefer lightweight, thin padding as it allows them to skate faster and move freely. If you want lightweight youth hockey shoulder pads, you may need to spend quite a bit to receive a high level of protection along with freedom of movement.

For players just learning to play, protection is of a bigger importance than mobility. Kids may not be injured from checking since many beginner leagues limit checking. But they probably will fall down quite a bit or crash into the boards. And young skaters may crash into each other inadvertently. Excessive bumps and bruises could cause young players to give up the game, so thick sets of shoulder pads can help them feel more comfortable.

EXPERT TIP

The hip pads in hockey pants will provide some protection for the lower torso, so youth hockey shoulder pads don’t necessarily have to completely cover this area.


Staff  | BestReviews

Youth hockey shoulder pads prices

Inexpensive: The least expensive youth shoulder pads for hockey cost $15 to $35. These are pads aimed at very young, beginner players in no-checking leagues. They won’t offer much lower back or abdomen protection.

Mid-range: Mid-range shoulder pads cost $35 to $75. These have medium-density foam and durable plastic. You’ll find extra protection in the chest, upper back, and collarbone areas in this price range. They’re nice for younger players who aren’t in leagues with heavy checking.

Expensive: The best youth hockey shoulder pads carry a price tag between $75 and $200. These designs contain high-quality materials that are lightweight without sacrificing protection. They have a high-density foam that is made to stand up to checks and collisions with the boards. These pads hug tightly to the body, so they won’t restrict movement.

EXPERT TIP

If youth hockey shoulder pads slide up and cover the neck when the player raises his or her arms, it’s a sign the pads don’t fit properly.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

If your child is a hockey player, you already know this. But for those new to hockey, we’ll clue you in to a secret of the sport: after practice and games, the gear stinks. Even though hockey is played in freezing temperatures, players sweat quite a bit. Hockey shoulder pads absorb sweat and moisture as your child plays, resulting in odor. Here are some tips to keep your kid’s hockey shoulder pads clean and smelling reasonably nice.

  • Let the shoulder pads dry after use. Don’t leave hockey shoulder pads inside an equipment bag all week. Hang them up to dry as soon as you arrive home. You can even purchase a special drying rack made for hockey gear to allow maximum airflow.
  • Wear a shirt under the shoulder pads. The less sweat that comes in contact with the shoulder pads, the better they’ll smell. Wearing a shirt under the pads soaks up some of the sweat.
  • Use disinfecting wipes. You can wipe down the plastic and foam on youth shoulder pads using disinfecting wipes. This will clean them between uses and remove some of the odor.
  • Occasionally use a washing machine. Some youth hockey shoulder pads can be cleaned in a washing machine. Carefully read the care instructions with your pads to see if this is an option.

Other products we considered

The majority of people will find a high-quality set of youth hockey shoulder pads in our matrix. However, if you’re seeking a certain feature, we did consider a few other products. For advanced players, the Warrior Evo Hitlyte Shoulder Pads have a close fit that’s also flexible for maximum performance.

If you’re at the other end of the spectrum and need an extremely small set of pads for a beginner, the PowerTek Youth Adjustable Fit Ice Hockey Shoulder Pads will accommodate very young players.

You’ll appreciate the price point of the Bauer Supreme S170 Hockey Shoulder Pads, which have extra padding in the upper back area.

For those kids who also play inline hockey, the TOUR Youth Code 1 Inline Hockey Upper Body Protector has great style and versatility.

Check youth hockey shoulder pads for signs of wear in the straps and buckles. These areas tend to wear out before the plastic and foam.

FAQ

Q. How do I buy the right size youth hockey shoulder pads?
A.
You should measure the circumference of the player’s chest. Measure roughly an inch or two below the armpits with a flexible tape measure.
 

Q. Is there any benefit to purchasing the next size up for youth hockey shoulder pads?
A.
Some players like the additional coverage a slightly larger set of shoulder pads delivers. However, if the pads hang too loose, they may bounce around uncomfortably and not provide proper protection. If your child is still growing and he or she is between sizes, the larger pads will give you a little more longevity. Otherwise, stick with the correct size for the best fit.
 

Q. Why does my kid need youth hockey shoulder pads?
A.
Shoulder pads for hockey protect the player from collisions with other players and from being struck with the puck or a stick. Even if a child plays in a no-checking league, the pads help protect from falls on the ice or collisions with the boards.

 

Q. What areas do youth hockey shoulder pads protect?
A.
All models have protection for the collarbone, the shoulder area, and the upper arm. The majority of shoulder pads extend the level of protection throughout the upper chest and torso. Some have extra protection for the sternum, upper back, and ribs. Other pads even extend the coverage toward the abdomen or lower back. Older players in full-checking leagues will want the maximum protection.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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