My 6-yr-old nephew is starting hockey this Sept for the first time and I'd like to get him some starting hockey equipment (minus skates/helmet) - saw one of those all-in-one boxes at Walmart where they throw in the shoulder pads, shin/knee pads, elbow pads, and gloves for $40 - thought wow, that's cheap.
When I opened the box and felt the material of the stuff used, it seemed pretty cheap, so not sure about the safety of the stuff, but since he's just starting, does it really matter? He should be able to get by on cheap stuff to start, no? If he doesn't continue to pursue hockey in a couple of years, it'll be a minimal investment.
What do you guys think? Is this good enough, or is it best to go and buy individual pads from brand names?
Best to buy entry/youth level gear separately to ensure that fit is optimal. Some retailers will have bundle prices where you get a discount if you buy different pieces. Sportchek will have thing going on every Back-To-Hockey season (ask your local store when it starts) where you get 20% off every piece of YTH/JR protective gear if you buy 3 or 4 and 25% off if you buy 5+.
The rate kids go through gear its often worth punting around for second-hand instead.
My local junior hockey club has an in-house 'classifieds' flyer it puts out every month so that younger players can source kit from those on older teams. Its especially useful for those strange kids who decide from an early age they love blue paint and high speed rubber.