How to Buy Goalie Hockey Pants

Goalie Hockey Pants Buying Guide

Here is some advice from on how to buy Goalie Hockey Pants


Goalie hockey pants are worn to protect the thighs, hips, kidneys and lower back of a goaltender. They are built to help protect the goaltender from pucks, sticks and anything else that poses a reasonable physical threat to them during the course of a hockey game.

Construction Features

Goalie hockey pants are built with heavy duty nylon and polyester shells that contain hard, plastic inserts and dense foam padding that help protect the goaltender. A goaltender usually doesn't intend to use his pants as a primary blocking surface, but occasionally the puck finds its way past the leg pads, blocker and catcher, striking the goaltender in the thighs or hips. Since goaltenders put themselves directly in harm's way, it's imperative that they are well equipped in order to prevent, or minimize the injuries that can occur during a hockey game.

Here are some of the features that are built into goalie pants for protection and functionality:

Foam Padding

Goalie hockey pants always contain foam padding in several key areas for protection purposes, including the front and back of the thigh pads, hip pads, groin area, spine, and kidney protectors. The density of the foam padding varies from one model to the next, with higher-density foams in the top end models, such as the Brians BStar Goalie Pants and CCM CL Pro Goalie Pants, and relatively lower-density foams in mid level models such as the Bauer Classic Goalie Pants.

Foams of different densities are capable of handling different shot velocities as well as providing varying degrees of comfort. Elite players need elite level protection, while recreational players require a lower level of protection, which is why there are so many options to choose from. But, the foam padding does not offer enough protection on its own, which is why the pants also contain hard, plastic inserts.

Plastic Inserts

The protective capability of a pair of goalie hockey pants is solely provided by the plastic inserts, which are complemented by the foam padding to provide a comfortable fit. The inserts are placed in the thighs, hips, and spine and kidney areas.

Like the foam padding, the plastic inserts come in various shapes and densities to provide varying degrees of protection, mobility and comfort. Once again, elite level goalies require a greater degree of protection than recreational goalies, so there are many different options available to suit the needs of the individual.

Suspender Buttons

Almost every pair of goalie pants come with suspender buttons which, of course, allow you to attach a pair of suspenders to your pants. There are a couple of reasons why most goaltenders wear suspenders:

  1. If you're tall and skinny or you simply like to wear your pants large, then a pair of suspenders will do the job that your waist belt can't – hold up your pants.
  2. Some goalies actually wear their suspenders over their chest & arm protector to keep their shoulder pads down when they go down into the butterfly stance. Wearing your suspenders over your C&A protector may also keep it from moving out of place as you move around. Deciding whether to wear your suspenders over or under your C&A is a matter of preference.

Waist Closure

Like players' pants, goalie pants come with a waist belt which can be tightened to secure the pants around your waist. The waist belt is also used by many goalies as an anchor for attaching their C&A protector to their pants. In addition to the waist belt, many pants come with a lace-up closure for the crotch area, which provides another form of adjustability.

Knee & Thigh Protectors

This is an additional piece of protection which is typically featured on high end goalie pants. Since thigh boards are no longer NHL legal, many goaltenders are choosing to wear knee & thigh protectors, which are sometimes built in as a part of the pants – as is the case with the Bauer Pro Senior Hockey Goalie Pants. But, they are also available as a separate protective accessory which can be Velcro'd to your pants or leg pads. Knee & thigh protectors are fastened to your legs with Velcro straps that wrap around your legs, so they don't necessarily need to be attached to your leg pads or pants in order to fit securely on your legs.

Meeting Your Protective Needs

There are many goalie hockey pants to choose from, and for good reason, too. Each goalie ought to consider the level of protection that they require by identifying the level of play that they'll be participating in. Recreational level goalies simply do not require the same degree of protection that pro players require in order to properly and appropriately protect themselves.

If your budget permits you to purchase top of the line gear and that's what you desire, then by all means go for it. But, if you're just playing for fun in a beer league with guys who can only dream of shooting above 80 mph and you're on a tighter budget, there's no need to splurge on a $300 pair of goalie pants. When it comes to protective gear, it's certainly a matter of preference, to a degree, but it's mostly a matter of necessity. Choose a pair of pants that fit comfortably, protect you appropriately, and don't blow an unnecessary hole in your pocket.

Goalie Pant Fit and Sizing

Your goalie pants should fit comfortably and should allow you to move freely. If your pants are too long they'll be pushed up by the tops of your leg pads which can cause discomfort and limit mobility. If they're too short then you're legs may be exposed to shots when you drop down to make a save. The best way to size yourself up for a pair of goalie pants is to try them on while wearing your leg pads.

Goalie pant sizing is determined by waist size and height. Sizing charts are provided by the manufacturers for each model. Make sure to refer to the chart that corresponds to the model you are purchasing.