How to Buy Hockey Helmets

Hockey Helmet Buying Guide

Here is some advice from on how to buy Hockey Helmets

Ice hockey is a contact sport, whether you're playing in a full contact league or not. Inevitably, every player is bound to get bumps and bruises regardless of how well-protected they are. With that in mind, it is essential to protect your head sufficiently with an HECC, CSA & CE approved helmet. Ice hockey has evolved into one of the fastest team sports on the planet and hockey players are bigger and strong than ever before. This means that concussions and other head related injuries are much more probable if the correct fit and degree of protection are not met.

Hockey Helmet Manufacturers

There are many hockey helmet manufacturers to choose from like CCM, Reebok, Bauer, Easton and Tour. There are other helmet manufacturers, but the ones mentioned here are currently the main producers for the hockey helmet market and they have established themselves as reliable companies for all protective hockey gear. Each of these brands offers hockey helmet models that accommodate the protective needs of beginners and elite level hockey players alike.

Hockey Helmet Construction

Hockey helmets have a shell, inner padding, and hardware that will hold the helmet together and allow for size adjustment. The shell is made of plastic, although some pieces may be made of lighter, composite materials. The padding inside the helmet is made with dense foam that is designed to absorb the shock from contact made with the head from a check, a stick, a puck or contact with the ice and boards. Almost all hockey helmets are adjustable lengthwise, and some can be adjusted for width as well. The majority of hockey helmets are adjusted by loosening the screws on the sides of the helmet so that you can pull the front and back pieces of the shell apart, and then re-tighten the screws to hold the pieces in place at the desired length.

Special Features

Each manufacturer constructs their helmets in similar fashion, but there are certain features that are specific to one brand/model.

Occipital Locks

Occipital locks are now commonly implemented in many high-end helmet models. The occipital lock cups the back of head below the occipital ridge and is designed to keep the helmet from coming loose upon heavy impact. The adjustment dials are typically located on the back of the helmet and are fairly easy to operate. Pictured below is a view of the occipital lock on the old Bauer 9500 Helmet. The dials slide left and right to push the lock forward, securing the helmet in place on your head.

Hockey Helmet Occipital Locks

Tool Free Adjustment

Most helmets are adjustable in some way. Elite helmet models can often be adjusted mechanically lengthwise, without tools. This tool-free adjustment capability is a convenient feature that is not always available on lower end models, but is becoming more and more common. On most helmets that have tool-free adjustment capabilities, you simply flip up the 2 side latches or single back latch, move the helmet shell pieces apart or together and then re-close the flaps. This is a more convenient method than unscrewing the helmet on both sides and re-tightening the screws once you've moved the shell pieces to the desired length. Tool-free systems can be easily operated, often with one hand, even while the helmet is on your head, which is preferable to taking it off and putting it back on with each adjustment.

Hockey Helmet Adjustment Tool

High Quality Foam

Another feature available in higher end model helmets is high quality, concussion-preventive foam, such as EPP, FXPP, and Poron® foam (exclusive to Bauer). This type of foam absorbs the maximum amount of shock from collisions and is more likely to help prevent concussions. EPP foam is used in many industrial applications and is incredibly durable. Players who are competing at an elite level should absolutely consider using a high quality helmet with high density foam for added protection. However, using a top of the line helmet is always a great choice, regardless of the level at which a player is competing.

Helmets with high density foam usually have a second layer of softer foam which provides more comfortable cushioning between your head and the high density foam.

Hockey Helmet Sizing

A hockey helmet ought to fit snugly without constricting the head. The front of the helmet should cover about half of the forehead and come down over the hairline to the sideburns, even with the cheekbones. The top of the head should be completely covered with protection extending to the back of the head just above the hairline where the neck and head meet. The helmet should rest securely on the head with no room for the helmet to jiggle around. Manufacturers have specific sizing measurements for each helmet model, so be sure to check the sizing charts to find the correct fit.

Hockey Helmet Sizing Chart