Hockey is an incredibly physical sport, but if you’re wearing the latest protective gear, it doesn’t have to be an incredibly painful one as well. The top ice hockey elbow pads of 2012 protect more than just your elbows. They run from right underneath the shoulder pad onto your forearm, and feature cushioning to absorb the many blows and slashes to your forearms that are business as usual in a fast-paced hockey game. Cushioning shouldn’t come at a cost, however, and these pads are designed to protect your arms without interfering with your natural range of movement. Look for lightweight elbow pads that won’t slow you down and have lots of adjustable straps, so you can get a secure fit that won’t shift and hinder your stick action. Newer elbow pads are made from state-of-the-art materials that offer maximum protection with minimal bulk, so you can play with your padding, not through it. Here are three pads worth having a look at this year.
For 2012, veteran hockey gear brand Easton has released a whole collection of updated protective gear in the Stealth line. The piece de resistance of this year’s new releases is the Stealth RS elbow pad, which features top-of-the-line design details for professional-quality protection and play. Made of lightweight EPP foam to absorb impacts, these pads also have molded plastic inserts at the bicep and forearm for additional slash protection and a snug fit. To keep you cool when the game heats up, the foam is covered with a breathable mesh, which allows body heat to escape. The cap is made from EVA-covered polycarbonate and is designed to disperse impact rather than absorb it, making hard falls a little less hard on your joints. Several straps, including a larger elastic one, keep the pad in place, as does the Grip Tec lining on the interior of the pad itself.
Other elbow pads that are worth looking into this year are the Supreme TotalOne pads from Bauer. A study in state-of-the-art materials and cutting-edge design, these pads will give you top-level protection with total comfort and mobility. The F-One Shell technology featured on these and other Bauer pads is a process by which the foam and plastic guards are fused for light, streamlined protection that absorbs more energy than traditional designs. A segmented bicep and a soft, elastic material for the anchor strap at the elbow makes for a comfortable, close fit, and a Max-Sorb gel insert gives you extra protection for serious spills. Foam padding features venting holes and mesh overlay for breathability,
A favorite brand of professional hockey players, Reebok 11K elbow pads are worth a look. The 2012 designs feature the Kinetic Fit System, a two-piece construction unique to Reebok, for total arm protection that won’t interfere with movement. The three straps made from both elastic and nylon lock the pad down at the bicep, elbow, and forearm. A JDP (Joint Discharge Principle) elbow cap has a foam bumper for extra protection, and the plastic shields have foam on both sides for better energy absorption and comfort.