Armor Under Pads: The Base Layer
Stay dry and rash free…
Long-sleeve shirts and leggings in synthetic moisture-wicking fabrics keep players dry. “If it keeps the sweat off of you, you’re not going to get a rash or anything like that from sweat buildup,” says Keegan, a roller and ice hockey player from Northern Utah and creator of schoolyardpuck.com.
…but only if you sweat in the first place.
A synthetic base layer is not a requirement for hockey. Jeremy, a longtime Canadian player and creator of howtohockey.com, only recommends a base layer for players once they hit puberty and start sweating more. “Unless you’re sweating profusely you wouldn’t really need to wear it. If you have young children and they’re not really going to break a sweat, it’s just an added expense,” he says. (Unless, of course, you’re facing the aforementioned eczema situation.)
Do you need the brand name?
High-end brands can run $40 for the top, $30 to $40 for the leggings and $10 for skate socks. Do you need to add that expense to an already costly sport? Not really. “UnderArmour is the first, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better brand out there that’s making something better for cheaper. I would give the other products a try,” says Jeremy.
Many parents say the brand names hold up (to repeated washings, skate blades, Velcro and more) better than discount store brands such as Champion. But at a quarter of the price, you can buy more (meaning fewer laundry needs) and replace them as growth requires.
Keegan also stresses to not let the lack of a base layer stop children from playing the game. “Don’t let equipment cost hinder your opportunity to play. Don’t think you have to wait until you have all the right gear to play. I remember I started out with pants that had huge holes on each leg. It didn’t matter; I just really wanted to play,” he says.
Tips from the Trenches
Whatever kind of base layer a player wears—whether an old cotton T-shirt or a high-tech compression shirt—you’re going to need to wash it. Often.
- Buy at least two pairs so you can wash one, wear one.
- Remember to switch the clean and dirty set as soon as you get home.
- Consider a color other than black so you can find it in your black hole of a bag.
- For males, look for synthetic leggings or compression shorts that can hold a cup, so they serve as a jock as well.
- According to Total Hockey, for best fit under your pads and top mobility, be sure your base layer is snug and doesn’t bunch or gather.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Rose Conry, an intern with the Grow the Game Initiative, for this story. Rose studies journalism at Northwestern University, loves all sports and sails competitively with the university’s club team.
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