Veteran hockey players never skimp on skates. Plan on spending at least $150 for a quality entry-level pair, and look for support, comfort, and light weight. Expect to go down one to one and a half sizes from your street shoes, and before buying be sure to walk around the shop for ten minutes to check for rubbing or pinching.
With a gapless fit and comfortable padding, the CCM Tacks 492 ($165) are plenty of skate for the average player. Or skip the intermediate stuff and go straight for the company's Pro Tacks ($500), which are light yet stiff thanks to perforated carbon ankle support, and come with a rare no-questions-asked, 30-day money-back guarantee. The BAUER VAPOR XXX ($499) uses a thermo-formed panel on the heel and side to improve stability and protect your foot from stray pucks, sticks, and other players.
Brawling is out in amateur hockey, but collisionsand fallsare still part of the action. You'll need a set of pads (shoulder, elbow, shin) that provide maximum mobility.
The Bauer 4000 pad set ($135) is a good starter package; it's highly adjustable, and a hydrophobic lining wicks sweat away. With molded shoulder caps and full-wrap elbow pads, the JOfa/ Reebok 6K ($200) provides superior protection but still moves with your body.
You don't need much besides a team jersey, but a good base layer and a pair of hockey pants will increase on-ice comfort.
Designed to be worn under hockey pads, the Nike Pro Hockey Performance Base Layer shirt ($50) is constructed with moisture-wicking Dri-Fit fabric. Grippy gel-print patterns on the sleeves help hold pads in place. The CCM 692 Tacks hockey pants ($75) are made with anti-shred 420-denier nylon, but plenty of Lycra keeps them flexible. Padding in back protects the lower spine, and zippers on the inseams make them easy to pull on and off over skates.
A good pair of gloves protects your hands and forearms without hampering your feel for the stick.
The plastic inserts in the CCM 692 Tacks ($59) bolster hand protection, a wide cuff enhances mobility, and synthetic palms grip when wet. Based on the same technology as that used in Bauer's highest-end glove, the Vapor X ($70) protects with dual-density foam and has pigskin palms for a soft feel on the stick.