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How to Buy Hockey Gloves

Hockey Gloves Buying Guide

Here is some advice from HockeyGiant.com on how to buy Hockey Gloves.


Each piece of hockey equipment is important and should work together for the benefit of the player using them. Hockey gloves are made to protect your hands from sticks, pucks, skates and anything else that your hands might come into contact with on the ice. Obviously, protection should be your first priority, but nothing is more frustrating than a pair of cumbersome hockey gloves that are working against you as you try to perform the fundamentals of passing, shooting, and puck-handling. If your gloves are too big or too small they can keep you from having the necessary amount of mobility in the wrist and fingers, and sensitivity to the stick while you're trying to handle the puck.

Hockey Glove Features

Choosing the right hockey gloves will come down to a few specific things:

Nylon vs. Synthetic Leather Shells

Authentic leather is no longer typically used to construct hockey gloves. Synthetic leather is a lighter, more durable alternative that doesn't hold water and harden the way that authentic leather does. Synthetic leather shells are very durable and in some instances don't tear quite as easily as gloves with a nylon shell. Nylon shells are usually a bit lighter and more breathable than synthetic leather shells, though.

Many hockey glove models, and particularly the higher quality gloves, are constructed with synthetic leather and nylon, taking advantage of the benefits that each material offers. If you prefer the look and feel of nylon shell gloves, though, there are plenty of great options available, and the lack of synthetic leather is not necessarily indicative of a low quality glove. Sometimes it's simply a matter of stylistic choices made by the manufacturer.

Tapered Fit / Traditional Fit / Anatomical Fit

As it is with most other hockey glove features, the choice between tapered and traditional fit is a matter of preference. There is quite a difference between the feel of traditional, 4 roll style gloves and anatomical gloves with additional padding segmentation. Anatomical gloves provide a snug, form-fit feel and allow a player to get the most consistent response from the gloves since they have very little negative space (wiggle room). The tapered fit offers some additional volume in the wrist and hand areas, which is a popular construction type.

Some players find the antaomical and tapered fits to be too "constrictive". So, traditional, looser-fitting gloves are just as effective for those players who prefer to have a little bit more breathing room for their hands. That being said, it's equally hampering to a player's puck-handling ability to wear gloves that are too small as it is to wear gloves that are too big. Therefore, regardless of the style that you choose, it's imperative to wear gloves that fit your hands properly.

Bauer actually has 3 distinct protective lines with different fit types, offered in the form of their Supreme, Vapor and Nexus lines of gloves. The image below allows you to see the visual differences between the 3 fit types.

Bauer Hockey Glove Fit Supreme Vapor Nexus

Thumb Locks

The majority of hockey gloves on the market are now made with a thumb lock system which can be incredibly effective in protecting your thumbs from hyper-extension upon a collision or physical play where contact with the thumb is made. Basically, the gloves are constructed so that a solid plastic insert flexes in only one direction, towards the palm of the glove, which enables you to grip the stick but prevents you from the unnecessary and dangerous flexing of the thumb joint in the opposite direction.

Padding Shapes and Divisions

Traditional hockey gloves tend to have 3 to 4 horizontal pads that flex on the top of the hand and 2 pieces of padding in each finger which allow for ample flexibility in the joints of the second knuckles (see the Bauer Nexus 1000 Gloves above). Some hockey gloves though, will have several pieces of variably shaped foam padding on the top of the hand and in the fingers that are inserted and divided in a way that allows for even more glove flexibility and overall hand movement (see the Reebok 9K KFS Gloves above). The choice is yours, and it's simply a matter of preference. It's best to try on several different styles of hockey gloves in order to figure out which ones feel most comfortable on your hands.

Hockey Glove Palms

Hockey glove palms are generally constructed with one or two layers of material that feels like a cross between soft leather and suede. As you browse through the gloves you'll find a plethora of different names for the various palm materials, such as Nash, Clarino, MSH1 and Lycra. Most hockey gloves have nash palms, but not all nash palms are created equal. Regardless of what the manufacturers call the palm materials, there's a noticeable difference in quality when you compare the palm materials on a pair of $40 gloves and $160 gloves. In addition, some gloves have features like reinforced palms for increased durability, grip texture for a firm grasp on the stick, thin shock-absorbing pads, and mesh gussets lining the sides of the fingers for better ventilation. These are all features that you may want to consider when choosing a pair of hockey gloves.

Long Cuff vs. Short Cuff Hockey Gloves

Long-cuffed gloves will give full coverage to the wrist and forearm and won't leave space between the elbow pads and gloves. The downside is that in most cases a long-cuffed glove will provide less mobility in the wrist. Short-cuffed gloves will give you more wrist exposure which can leave you open to more slashes, pucks and skates, but with the proper elbow pads and optional slash guards it can be worth the trade-off for a player who handles the puck often and needs greater freedom for wrist movement. In any case, the trend in recent years has been toward the manufacturing of short-cuffed gloves, almost exclusively. You can still find long-cuffed gloves here and there, but with the improvements that have been made to slash guards/wrist guards, long-cuffed gloves are simply less preferable for most players.

Hockey Glove Sizing

Hockey gloves are one of the toughest pieces of equipment to accurately size without actually trying them on. Gloves sizes are measured in inches, but here's where it can get a little bit confusing. When you see a pair of 13" gloves the gloves aren't actually 13" long from tip to tip. As you can see in the image below, we measured a pair of 13" Bauer Supreme Hockey Gloves from the tip of the middle finger to the edge of the cuff and came up with about 11.5". So, how do the manufacturers arrive at 13"?

Hockey Glove Measurement

In order to find your glove size you need to measure from the base of your middle finger on the palm side of your hand up to the crease of your elbow. This is probably the best method available, apart from actually trying on the gloves. Take into account that if you have proportionally longer or shorter fingers than normal then you may need to go up or down 1" in order to get the best fit. Also, certain models run bigger/smaller than standard so you'll want to keep that in mind as well. In most cases, the method that we recommended is very accurate and ought to work well across the board. From one manufacturer to the next there's a fairly good degree of consistency.

Hockey Glove Arm Measurement

Hockey Gloves that "Fit Like a Glove"

High quality hockey gloves should offer great overall protection and a comfortable fit, and you may not necessarily need to spend $180 to get a pair that will prove effective for you; although, it never hurts to go with that fancy pair sitting on the top shelf. A great pair of hockey gloves shouldn't really be noticeable to a player when they are in the middle of a game, much like a referee. If you find yourself constantly readjusting your hands inside your gloves throughout the game, or if it feels like your gloves are simply in the way while you're playing, then you really ought to consider looking for some new mitts.

Simply put, proper-fitting gloves should feel like they're part of your body. Find a pair that simply feels the most natural for you and understand that the cost of the gloves is a reflection of the quality of the materials being used, and the amount of technology that has been implemented into the construction of the gloves. More expensive pairs are likely to last longer and provide the best overall feel. And always consider the variables that have been discussed here when choosing the gloves that will be right for you.

Hockey Gloves Sizing Guide