There’s no doubt hockey will make you sweat. It’s fast-paced, demanding, and on top of that, cold. Then there’s all the equipment you use: it might chafe your skin or pinch in uncomfortable places, and the last thing you want is to adjust your gear in the middle of a game.
Hockey players wear either a base layer or compression garments under the gear for protection and comfort.
- Base layers act as a thermal barrier, do not interfere with movement, and won’t crimp in places such as your knees, groin, and arms.
- Compression garments are a step above base layers and provide muscle protection, sweat control, and warmth. You can buy them as one-piece or shirts and pants, with short and long-sleeved options.
You must feel comfortable during a game. But it’s not only about undergarments; there are many items you can wear under your gear to increase comfort and protection. If you want to learn more about them, then this is the article for you.
A base layer is the best item to wear under your hockey gear.
A base layer provides comfort, protection, and warmth for hockey players. They are usually comprised of two parts: base shirts and base pants. Shirts can be either long-sleeved or short. Long pants reach down to the ankles and shorts or go down to the knees. One-piece layers are also available.
Base layers are usually made from high-quality, synthetic fibers like polyester and spandex. These fibers help keep the body warm. Remember that short-sleeved shirts and underpants won’t provide as much warmth when you are on the ice.
According to Sideline Swap, a player might prefer to use short sleeves to keep the elbow guards from sliding around. An interesting factor to consider is that long sleeves and long pants help extend your equipment’s life because they provide a layer between the gear and sweat.
According to Hockey Monkey, you can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $70 for base pants and $30 to $75 for shirts.
Compression garments are a great alternative to wear under your hockey gear.
While they seem very similar to base layers, compression garments have a couple of crucial differences. They help in reducing injuries by maintaining compression on the muscles and aid in removing sweat. Additionally, they come with a turtleneck that helps keep your neck and chest warm during a game.
Compression layers should fit tightly over a player’s body. According to the website Hockey Direct, during a fast-paced match, having compression over the muscles will prevent them from vibrating. Muscle vibration can lead to injury.
Keeping the muscles in place is also vital with hits and the general physical aspect of the game. These garments have additional benefits when the game is over. Having the muscles compressed helps prevent lactic acid buildup, which leads to soreness after strenuous exercise.
What are some of the best brands out there?
More known brands like Bauer and CCM have top-rated garments. Bauer’s NG Core has persistently scored high in online hockey stores such as Hockey Monkey.
CCM offers its Pro Compression Jock Pants with antimicrobial qualities and excellent wicking capabilities, as well as low-profile cut protection.
But other, more specialized brands provide base layer pants with a twist. One of these is Oneiric, and their Origin base layer pants.
While at first, they might seem like regular base layer pants, these are designed with hockey players in mind. The pants have built-in shin pad sleeves and, because they’re built with cut-resistant material, they provide cut protection and padding around the calves.
The site Hockey World Blog reviewed this product and found that Oneiric might be an up-and-coming brand, but its base layers surprise even the most experienced player.
Now that we’ve spoken about base layers and compression garments, let’s talk about an item not many players think about: socks.
What is the ideal sock to wear with my skates?
Your skate should fit just right and choosing the right sock can help you finetune your fit. But, before you go for any regular sock, be sure to look for skate socks, sometimes known as hockey socks. These are specifically designed for hockey and with more padding in areas such as the toes and ankles.
They come in three sizes. Tall socks come up to the player’s knee. These are ideal for skaters who like wearing shorts and prefer a layer between the shin guard and the skin. Medium socks come up to the calf, and short socks barely rise over the ankle.
If you find that your socks move about during a game, you can buy base layers and compression garments that come with sock holders already sown in them.
The debate is still in the air regarding the thickness of the sock, according to Pure Hockey. Thicker skate socks will provide more cushioning, but the snugger feeling can numb you slightly. Some skaters prefer to have almost no barrier between the skate and the foot and choose a thinner sock. With less padding, however, blisters are more likely.
Of course, you can play without socks. To have the best fit, players with no socks should have their skates molded to their feet. Keep in mind that the lack of a barrier can increase moisture inside the skate, causing odor and preventing the skate from totally drying between games.
Read Also: Why Do Hockey Skates Hurt My Feet?
Don’t forget about the jockstrap.
A key element in a player’s protective gear, jockstraps provide protection for the pelvic area. They are usually designed to be worn over the base layer or compression garment.
Brands like Shock Doctor and Ealer provide models that include a sleeve to place the protective cup. If you choose this variant, be sure to select a cup with not much silicone as it can get stuck in the sleeve.
Some players prefer to have a standalone jockstrap that they use underneath the base layer. This adds another layer of protection, and it’s relatively easy to fit them inside the pants.
How to fit a base layer?
Most manufacturers work with sizes such as Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large. Dedicate stores like Hockey Monkey provide brand equivalents in inches.
Most senior base pants will start at a waist size of 29″ for a small, 31″ for a medium, 34″ for a large, 37″ for extra-large, and 40″ for extra-extralarge. Keep in mind that most will not exceed 42″.
When it comes to the shirts, the same sizing rule applies. If you have a wider back or chest, you might have to for a size up from what you usually choose.
Check out the manufacturer’s charts for proper sizing and remember that, while it should have a snug fit, both base layers and compression garments shouldn’t be too tight. When they fit correctly, they allow for a full range of motion.
Padded shirts offer more protection for your upper body.
If you feel the game is turning too physical and you need more protection, you can opt to use a padded shirt. These shirts are usually short-sleeved, made out of breathable material, and come with additional padding.
Padded shirts not only protect you but help your body breathe. The added thickness gives room between your body and shoulder pads, allow for air to pass through.
If you aren’t used to them, they might feel cumbersome at first, but they shouldn’t feel intrusive. A padded shirt should fit you snugly, yet not tight, and it should allow for a full range of motion.
Hockey girdles help in protecting your lower body.
You’ve protected your upper body, and your lower body needs protection as well. That’s where girdles come in. They fit tight, like compression shorts, and come with thick padding around the legs, glutes, hips, and pelvic region.
They aren’t meant to be worn alone and need a pant shell over them. While they might seem bulky, girdles shouldn’t interfere with your skating and playing abilities.
Some skaters prefer them due to the snug feeling, while others prefer hockey pants, which come with protection because of the loose fit.
How to care for base layers and compression garments?
To prevent odor and fungus buildup, you should wash your base layers or compression garments and wait until they are completely dry before using them again.
This might not always be possible, especially if you have a busy schedule, which is why most manufacturers recommend having a pair of undergarments as a minimum.
Remember that these products are synthetic, so it’s best to wash them with cold water on a gentle cycle. Use detergent that’s ideal for cold water to get the most efficient cleaning possible. The golden rule is to avoid putting them on the dryer as the heat and tumbling will deteriorate them.
As you can see, base layers and compression garments are of great importance. If you want to protect your skin, keep warm, and have the highest level of comfort possible, then look for high-quality base layers.
If you are competitive at a high-level league, consider compression garments to help with intense games and busy schedules. It’s not about a regular t-shirt and old boxer shorts anymore. Though no one will see it, what you wear underneath should matter.