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03-25-2011, 01:37 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Vancouver
Country: Canada
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My personal view on value points in gear:

Most important thing for both performance and comfort is fit, this is more about finding a skate that works for you rather than the most expensive skate, even top of the line skates can fit horribly depending on the shape of the skate and shape of your foot. Other than that I want my skate to be stiff (I feel I get much better edge hold on tight turns), relatively light (weight is more noticeable on your feet than anywhere else IMO), have good steel, and have a quality tongue with a good lacebite protector (I like my skates tight). For me the midrange skates generally address all these needs, I'm currently in X40s. If I had more money I'd go top of the line, but I don't. I felt upgrading from my old Bauer 2000s to X40s was a very significant jump in performance, especially on tight turns, but . As for protection I've never been in a skate that does a good job protecting my feet from hard shots to the side of the foot, for that I think you need to go with those plastic shot blockers, or just only block shots head-on like I do
I will say that the best skate related purchase I've ever made was yellow superfeet, virtually eliminated arch pain because I finally got arch support, and I feel they've improved the fit of my skates too.

Most important is the right flex, and the right curve with the right lie, again not price issues. Top of the line sticks shoot great but are actually too fragile IMO (they are virtually pure graphite), but sticks that are too low end are as heavy as woodies and they just have a weird feel/flex to them (due to too much fiber glass, which helps durability but hurts performance). I prefer midrange sticks like the one80, Easton ST, etc. Got a BASE stick being made at the moment, loved it when demoing it and the price was right, hopefully it performs well and is reasonably durable too.

Shoulders and shins:
Anything cheap, light and mobile. IMO the higher end shins are way to bulky/heavy/overbuilt for my needs, and higher end shoulders are unnecessary. I'm using old/cheap Bauer 2000 shoulders, and new/cheap Bauer X30 shins, both plenty good enough for my needs. I really do not like the high end shins with the sling setup, where your leg is suspended away from the plastic shell, just too bulky and awkward IMO. I *DO* like a long shin guard though, worn over the tongue, good for blocking shots head on (I use a 16" shin and am 6' tall).

As long as it's CSA/HECC approved I figure the protection is fine, just go based on comfort/fit, not price. People assume more expensive = better protection, but I'm not convinced this is actually the case, virtually no studies to prove this whatsoever unless you go with a helmet like the Cascade M11. Low/mid range VN helmets seem virtually identical to high end VN helmets (if they fit you well, obviously), and I think the protection gains from EPP helmets over VN helmets are reasonably minimal. I've never seen anyone suffer a significant concussion in beer league, and I no longer play competitive contact hockey like I did in high school. One thing I HAVE seen though is people losing teeth, and I have a friend's dad who lost vision in an eye from a high stick despite wearing a visor, so full cage it is for me.

High end gloves are a nice luxury, but not really necessary IMO. I want something that offers good wrist mobility, a snug fit though the hand, a decent palm, and a lock thumb. Better protection is nice, but even with less protective gloves I only ever get a bit of pain from slashes, never broken hands/fingers, though possibly I've gotten lucky. Currently in reasonably low end Nike/Bauer XVIs, very comfortable and mobile, lockthumb, fairly poor protection/definitely feel slashes, but *knock on wood* so far no breaks.

Elbows and pants:
I will spend a bit more on these because I feel like cheap pants lack protection and often fit weird, while cheap elbows are restrictive and slide around. I'm in mid range Rbk 5k pants that are awesome for fit and mobility and provide solid protection too, while my X60 elbows gave me the best mobility/ability to stay in place that I found, but that will depend on the shape of your elbow/arms.

Last edited by ponder: 03-25-2011 at 01:50 PM.
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