Following its introduction to the Olympic Games in Japan, in 1988, the popularity of women’s hockey soared.
This led to prominent manufacturers taking the time to design hockey equipment that is specifically tailored to women.
Hockey players are covered from head to toe in equipment so require many pieces that fit their body shape.
Although a male-dominated sport, most leading brands now offer women’s lines on some equipment types to ensure women are encouraged to play the sport.
However, there is a long way to go to give women better bespoke equipment options.
This article outlines some specific features of women’s hockey equipment to give you a better understanding when you next look to purchase women’s hockey gear.
Key Features Of Women’s Hockey Equipment
Below, we explain some of the unique features of women’s hockey equipment.
Women have differently shaped shoulders from men meaning the shoulder pads need to be shaped differently.
Male shoulder and chest protectors are designed for a flat front, while women’s pads are molded cups designed to better protect larger chests and provide a close fit.
A close fit is very important to protect the spine and sternum.
As women have wider hips and smaller torsos than men, most brands have now developed women’s hockey pants such as the Bauer Vapor X800 or Nexus N9000.
Women’s hockey pants have more room in the hip area and a smaller hip guard located at the top of the pant to better protect the kidneys.
The pants also have a longer inseam to ensure a snug fit from the groin area to above the kneecap.
An equipment type that is bespoke to women, pelvic protectors provide a protective barrier against missed shots or stick hits to the pelvic zone.
This padding is not conventionally included in hockey pants so needs to be purchased separately.
The baselayer tends to include a Jill pelvic protector. The base layer is an important equipment piece for female players.
There two common types are the Mesh Loose Shorts which are both affordable and quite traditional. While the Compression shorts provide a close-to-body fit.
Smaller shaft sticks tend to fit women players better due to the smaller hand size. These hockey sticks are typically more flexible and have greater whips compared to longer shafts.
Although smaller shaft sticks are often in the junior section, some stores may have bespoke sticks for women players, but these are tricky to find.
Similar to sticks, female hockey gloves are similar in size to junior players fitting 12 to 13 inches.
Women hockey players have smaller palms, shorter fingers and a smaller cuff, so this needs to be incorporated into the glove size.
Finding A Good Women’s Skate
Unfortunately, leading hockey brands don’t manufacture skates specifically for women. This leads to women hockey players using junior hockey skates or narrow-fitting men’s skates.
While figure skates are more widely manufactured for women, these types of skates are not suited to the robust motions of a hockey game.
Women typically have narrower feet compared to men so when searching for good female hockey skates, you’ll need to look for a narrower skate fit.
The difference between men’s and women’s shoes tends to range from 1.5 to 2, while most skate fitters suggest you get skates that are sized 1 to 1.5 less than your conventional size.
Adding this up, the advice on most online sites for female skaters is to go down 3 shoe sizes from your normal size.
Fitting Insoles And Footbed
Women also have higher insoles and instep, so you can purchase men’s skates but enhance them with a different footbed or insole to better support the arch and heel.
Improved arch and heel support allow women hockey players to have better overall skate stability as well as improved energy transfer.
Consider A Custom Fit
Due to the lack of bespoke women’s skate options, we recommend women players get a professional or custom fit.
Popular brands such as Bauer, CCM or TRUE provide a world-leading service to get a custom hockey skate fit that is perfectly suited to your foot shape and size.
Using a 3D scanner, your exact foot dimensions are modelled with the software recommending the exact contours of the skate and the most suitable product range.
A downside of this process is that it is pricey. Customized skates will cost you above $1,000.
Women’s Hockey Helmets
Women hockey players of all levels have to wear a fully caged helmet. Fully caged helmets provide players with wide-ranging facial protection against the puck or collisions with other players.
In the men’s NHL, fully caged is not popular as it can inhibit vision and performance.
Despite this, it is clear that the use of fully caged helmets in the women’s game has not inhibited growth in the sport.
According to the International Ice Hockey Federation, the women’s game grew by 25% in 2017-18.
As the sport progresses and elite women’s hockey is deemed ‘professional’ the requirement of fully caged helmets may cease. For now, women players will need to purchase fully caged helmets to play hockey.
Most online retailers provide a sizing chart to select the right fit. Currently, no bespoke female hockey helmet ranges exist.
Hopefully, this article has given you some much-needed advice on what to look out for when purchasing women’s hockey equipment.
Unfortunately, women hockey players don’t have it that easy when finding hockey equipment.
Although leading brands such as Bauer and CCM have got better in recent years to provide women’s equipment lines such as shoulder pads, pants and baselayers, other equipment pieces such as hockey sticks, skates and helmets are unisex but more designed for male players.
The lack of options also tends to push up prices on women’s gear.
Women hockey players should refer to the manufacturer sizing guides to get the recommended fit for equipment pieces.
Ideally, the evident growth of women’s hockey will lead to improved options across all pieces of hockey equipment in years to come.
Hey there, my name is Shawn and I’m a semi-professional hockey player. I’m also the founder and chief editor here at Hockey Pursuits. I love playing hockey and helping players improve their game and that’s why I decided to start this blog.