When you think of Goaltenders, what is the first thing you think of?
Although some would argue the mask, for me it’s all about the pads. But which ones are considered the best goalie pads? Although every goalie is different and goalie pads vary tremendously in cost and functionality, the Bauer Vapor 2X series is one of the best choices because of it’s cost, weight, and the ability they provide goalies to move around the crease with ease. These pads are also available in many different sizes from beginner all the way to adult.
As you well know, goalie gear especially is not cheap! So finding the right pair of pads right away is always ideal.
At the senior level, I believe there are four outstanding options for the 2024 season. I’ve also included a couple of options for both Intermediate and youth players that should put you well ahead of the curve! So let’s start improving your save percentage.
Let’s first take a look at Senior Level goalie pads. These pads range in sizes from around 32 to 38 inches.
Bauer Vapor 2X – Best Overall for 2024
Bauer Vapor 2X
These leg pads come in four sizes: small, medium, large, and extra-large, for goalies of all sizes. They also come in four color combinations that include white with black, navy, red, or white.
The Bauer Vapor 2X series are also incredibly lightweight, making them a great choice for adult players of all sizes and abilities. In fact, we consider them to be the ideal choice for 2024! They are designed for aggressive goalies and the low weight of pads help goalies move with speed and finesse.
They have a Tapered Flex core that actually adds more padding at the center of the pad, so the sweet spot of the pads provide what the player needs. This taper at the edges helps to reduce the weight of the pads. Despite the reduced thickness at the edges, the pads still provide thorough protection.
Something else to consider with pads for senior players is the way the leg fits in the pads. This model in particular, the leg channel has been updated from previous models, so they are more balanced and comfortable. Bauer has a Tune Fit strapping system that lets the goalie adjust the fit with a dial. The straps keep the pads on the goalie and they allow for rotation, too.
Goalies also love the Thermo Max moisture-wicking liner, because those lightweight pads do get warm during games.
This may not be from one of the better-known brands, but Brians makes some outstanding goalie gear!
These Brians G-Netik X pads in particular include some impressive technology to protect the goalies from the dangers of the position. The best part about these pads is the price point as they sit right in the middle in comparison to others – but I believe provide more features that the others do.
Feature wise, one of the main benefits of Brian’s pads – including the GNETiK X – is their flexibility. It sounds a bit funny that pads can offer a bit of flexibility considering how bulky they are, but this set uses a knee roll design that provides the goalie with faster rotational abilities. After all, the puck is going to be moving all over the place – so should you as a goalie. Another great aspect is the pads sit closer to the ice to provide goalies with extended 5-hole coverage.
One of the more underrated aspects of being a goaltender is the ability to be able to push yourself across the ice when sitting on top of your pads. The GNETiK X has added an enhanced sliding surface that used to only be used on their top of the line (i.e. expensive) models. Being able to slide across the crease or having an easier time getting up could be the difference between the save of the year, and the game winning goal scored against you.
The pads come in Senior, Intermediate, and Youth sizes and as eluded to earlier make a great option at – in my opinion – a much lower price than others.
These are slick goalie pads! Not in the literal sense in that you’ll fall over the place, but in how awesome they are when you put them on and take to the ice.
The Ritual G5 Plus pads are designed for goalies who like to use a wider butterfly stance, and really use their legs to block the puck. The padding is substantial. When using these pads, once in the butterfly to block shots, there is very little way that a puck could get through!
These are great pads for smaller goalies as well, simply because the pads are so lightweight. But, they are perfect for goalies of all sizes, who simply want pads that allow them a wide range of mobility and flexibility on the ice.
These elite-level pads slide along the ice with very little effort. This way, goalies can focus on stopping the puck rather than what’s happening on the ice. They have adjustable straps, which can be placed differently based on what tension the goaltender prefers on the backs of their legs. The Active Response straps are high tech and help wrap the lower part of the pad around the leg. You can’t go wrong with the Warrior Ritual G5 series – they look great, should feel great, and most importantly protect with strong and durable padding.
Although not a huge surprise, if you’ve read other posts of ours, you can tell we like the Bauer Vapor product line. Every single piece, from skates to sticks to gear, has elements that set them apart from other brands and product lines. Bauer knows hockey and it shows in the gear.
When Bauer says these are designed for aggressive goalies, they are not lying with the Vapor 1X OD1N series!
These are for goalies who move quickly to block pucks that come their way. They respond due to the Tapered Flex Core and the lightweight design. The tapered shape should make it easy for goalies to get down and block shots. Then, they can pop back up and do it all over again.
The straps have a dial that allows the goalie to customize the fit for perfect rotation. They make the pads feel balanced and the stretch lace toe tie keeps them in place. Goalies appreciate the way that these pads stay in place and in true Bauer style, they do it better than the rest. With the straps holding everything firmly in place, goalies can focus on the game rather than having to constantly adjust the straps during practice and play.
On the inside, Bauer added a lightweight, durable core that keeps the pads manageable. They’ve got good knee protection that gives the leg a substantial range of motion. Bauer also put a liner that lets air flow to prevent that unpleasant hockey gear smell.
Next we will take a deeper dive into Intermediate pads that range in sizes from around 29 to 32 inches.
Vaughn Velocity V9
Vaughn Velocity V9
Growing hockey players need good gear that is designed for their size and shape. Vaughn is a great brand for goalie gear and makes high level pads at an affordable price – including the Velocity V9 ones we describe here.
In most cases, there is very little reason to spend big dollars on intermediate gear, because it will only fit for a short time. Vaughn understands this and has made durable gear that has plenty of protective padding to keep intermediate hockey goalies in the crease.
Kids who play with these pads should not complain. They promise to stay put and protect goalies from hard-hit shots. The knee section of the pads is built with a high grade material that allow goalies to land properly without getting hurt.
Another great aspect of the Velocity pads is the way they fit around the calf area. One of the more common complaints youth & intermediate players find with pads is how much they can slip and frustrate the goaltender. To elevate this issue, Vaughn added a new strap to the interior calf area which keeps the pads in place without sliding around allowing the goalie to play at their best.
Playing goalie isn’t easy, and having uncomfortable loose-fitting equipment takes your mind of the job of stopping pucks. Vaughn looks to have stepped up in a large way with these intermediate pads to provide exceptional comfort and fit so goalies can concentrate on the pucks being thrown at them!
Intermediate level hockey players should love these OPTiK 9.0 pads as they represent the best that Brian’s has to offer. What do I mean by this? The OPTiK 9.0 series represents a combination of the two more successful lines of pads offered by Brians – the G-Netik and Subzero. Taking the best aspects of each, the OPTiK 9.0 looks to be an exceptional set of pads!
What sets these pads apart from others is their ability to offer a customized fit, and multiple strapping options to ensure you can be as mobile as possible in the net. The knee strap for instance provides goaltenders with the option to strap themselves straight across or at an ankle. This small customization can make a big difference for a goaltender in terms of comfort. The calf area also uses a Y strap to provide better stability than similar models that are available. Last but not least, the strap in the boot area is built using the same material often found in seat belts for better durability.
These pads are primarily focused for goaltenders that play a butterfly style. As you see on the image above, the pre-curved outer shape provides the pads with more of an internal break. This break allows butterfly goalies to get into and out position easier, and helps direct rebounds to the corner instead of right in front of the goalie. The inside edge of the OPTiK pads also provides the goalie with better sliding abilities
Although a bit newer, the OPTiK 9.0 pads should be a great compliment to any goaltender – especially those who play a butterfly style.
The final section of leg protection we will look at are geared more towards the Youth / Junior goaltenders. These pads range in sizes from 20 to 30 inches, and aren’t nearly expensive as their Intermediate and Senior counterparts. After all at this stage the focus is primarily on learning the position and not on getting in front of 100 mph slap shots!
CCM Extreme Flex 4.5 – Top Youth Pads this Year
CCM Extreme Flex 4.5
When your kid wants to be goalie, the CCM Extreme Flex pads will help him learn the position and the game. This is due to the confidence young goalies get while playing in high-quality gear. We’ve all seen young players with oversized gear where they just flop around and can hardly move. This takes the enjoyment out of the game – which is something no one wants!
The Extreme Flex 4.5 series should provide an exceptional fit, provide durability and be flexible enough to allow for the goalie to be able to move around in the crease. They also look great so your player will feel like he or she is already in the pros.
What separates the Extreme Flex from the rest is the outer-break and pre-curved double-break core. Other pads do not provide this much flexibility that allows young players to close up possible holes that pucks manage to find.
The knee cradle is made of a soft foam that is forgiving for young players who are busy growing (which is going to happen a lot!). On the exterior of the pads, CCM has added Speedskin technology which makes is easier for goaltenders to slide across the ice with very little friction. Whether your hockey player is learning the butterfly or a reaction-style of play, the Extreme Flex will support the player’s growth physically and athletically.
Last but not least in our look at the best goalie pads for the 2024 season are the CCM YT-Flex 2 series, which are a great affordable choice for youth players.
Younger players need to be able to focus on the game and the puck, not on adjusting pads, straps, and other gear. The YT-Flex 2 pads from CCM are perfect for a young players looking to learn the game & the goaltender position. They are easy to get on, which is important for parents who usually have to help their young players. They are also lightweight and durable – two more big pluses for parents and their kids.
Young hockey players will probably like how comfortable these pads feel, and parents will certainly love the lower price in comparison to some of the more expensive pads out there.
One of the main benefits that the YT-Flex 2 pads provide is the aforementioned flexibility and the ability to adjust with ease. From the Velcro around the leg and calf area, all the way to the knees, these pads can be adjusted to provide the young goalie with a nice easy fit regardless of size. As you can imagine, a goalie that has trouble with their equipment is quite ineffective at stopping pucks!
Your young goalie will hopefully learn to love the position while wearing these pads. They help players learn the game as they build confidence and comfort in the crease. The price point is very low and are perfect for starting goaltenders. I would suggest that the age range is somewhere around 6 to 8 years old and perhaps younger.
Goalie gear is as important to the goalie as the goalie is to the game.
Without the best gear, goalies cannot give their best simply for fear of getting hurt. Goalie pads represent a line of defense for those who are bombarded with flying pucks. Some consideration to make when looking at the right set of pads include:
And much more…
How to determine Quality Pads
The best goalie pads should protect the player from flying pucks and – at the same time – should allow the goalie to move, with some flexibility. It is vitally important that goalie gear fits, because pucks might not seem smart, but they have a way of finding those places where the goalie gear might not fit its best. Along with allowing the goalie to move, goalie pads should also be lightweight so the goalie can work hard the entire game – every single game. When goalie gear weighs too much, players tire out quickly.
Goalie equipment often comes in three-piece sets with leg pads, a stick, and a helmet. These can be useful sets for a new goalie, especially in rookie youth leagues. But, as players develop, those goalie combo sets are not the best way to buy gear. Instead, it is best to buy gear that players like – which often means mixing brands and models. Goalie leg pads that are sold individually usually have more features than the lesser models that come in combo sets.
Of all of the positions on the ice, the goalie needs the most gear. And, that gear is not cheap.
Considering how protective these pieces are, price often reflects the quality of the gear as well as the technology of the padding. After all – having the top pads around your legs also makes you feel invincible!
Hockey players get better as they age, so youth gear usually does not have the same performance necessities as the gear that senior players wear. Young players do not send the puck flying at the same rate as older players do.
But, youth and intermediate players still need good gear to protect from the power of the puck and the slashes of sticks.