Expert Advice: Selecting the Right Hockey Gloves
There is no right or wrong way to decide which glove is right for your player. Each player is looking for something different. Whether it is the overall fit or desired individual features of the glove, each player has different tastes. If you ask others which is their favorite glove you will get many different answers. The experts have laid out the important factors that you need to know to assist you in finding the glove that best suits your needs.
Generally, the more expensive the glove, the more advanced it will be in protection, the lighter it will be, and it will offer the most features.
Gloves are made with various foams that offer different levels of protection and weight. Add features like PE Inserts or some new technological molded foam, the glove protection and weight factors can change drastically. The most common foam types are explained in more detail below.
Single Density – The single density foam is most widely used in lower end gloves. It is a softer foam, and generally is fairly light. As the years have progressed and more foams have been developed it has allowed glove makers to build single density gloves for really low prices while not loosing any value in the glove.
Dual Density – Dual density foams are a combination of softer single density foams joined together with a harder, lighter and more protective closed cell foam. The softer foam will be closest to your hand to keep the comfort level high and the harder foam is on the outside to absorb the shock. Dual Density foams come in various protection levels depending on the amount of each foam that is used. Dual Density foam is the most widely used foam type as it offers the best combination of protection and weight at the best price.
HD Foam – High-Density foams are becoming more widely used, this is also bringing the price down. HD foams are very protective and light. This foam offers the highest protection of the three types of foam and is normally used in conjunction with a much softer foam for comfort as HD foams are stiff and do not bend easily.
PE Inserts – PE stands for Polyethylene, in other words, plastic. The inserts come in various thicknesses and are use in different areas of the glove. They are inserted between the foam and the outer shell of the glove. Some gloves will have more inserts than others. It would be normal to have them on the back of the hand but not the fingers. Some gloves will have complete PE coverage.
Molded Foam – Molded foams are the newest type of foams. They are molded into hard dense blocks that are shaped to fit around your hand. They are the most protective and lightest of all the foams, however, the most expensive as well.
The finger construction of gloves has pretty much evolved to a point where all models are Split-Finger. This means that the fingers are not one piece. The fingers are built in two or three pieces and stitched together. The Split-Finger design has no disadvantages and offers the most flexibility and requires minimal break in time. Glove makers are now adding features like padded fingertips or stretch gussets to make the fingers even more mobile.
There are more different palm types and materials than you can shake a stick at. The basics you will want to look at are whether it is a single palm or double palm. Obviously the double palm will last longer. More expensive gloves will have more durable materials that offer better feel. Other palm features that are used are grip print, stretch material and antimicrobial materials.
Glove makers have been designing new thumb types that offer greater flexibility and dexterity features over the old school lock thumb. All gloves will offer a thumb that will protect against hyperextension. The experts recommend a flexible thumb of some sort. The advantages are greater puck control, and flexibility.
There are two basic style of cuffs. The first is the older style that offers a wide opening. This type of cuff offers the most mobility, however, it also has the least protection from slashes and hooks to the wrists. The second type of cuff has many variations. Most glove manufactures are developing cuffs that fit closer the wrist but float, so that you are not exposed to sticks. In order to retain the mobility the glove makers are building cuffs in three or more pieces or attaching them to the glove with stretch materials so mobility is not hindered. Some cuffs are taken one step farther to offer adjustable floating cuffs.
The most important factor with glove liners is the type of material. There is no protection factor in the liner so you want one that offers comfort. Higher end gloves will offer a more durable better feeling material. Antimicrobial liners are becoming more widely used. These liners are treated to stop the growth of bacteria which cause that awful smell and cause skin irritations.
For the longest time there were only two types of shell materials. The first is the most widely used, leather or synthetic leather. Leather gloves offer the most durability and traditional style. The downfall of leather gloves is that the leather absorbs water from sweat and ice causing them to gain weight throughout a game. Leather gloves also dry out slowly. The other material is nylon. Nylon is basically used on less expensive gloves as it does not cost nearly as much. Nylon, however, is very light and flexible and dries out faster. The downfall is that older style nylons were not durable. Glove makers are now using a higher grade nylon, similar to the nylon used to make snowboard pants, on high end gloves. This allows the manufacturers to capitalize on the advantages of nylon with the added benefit of the durability needed to withstand season after season of hockey.
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to HockeyX for the above article.
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