Finding the Right Size Hockey Throat Guard
When shopping for a hockey throat protector, getting the proper fit is crucial for comfort and safety. Ill-fitting guards can shift around, leaving your neck exposed, or can feel restrictive and get in the way. Here are some tips for finding the right sized throat protector:
First, accurately measure your neck circumference right under your adam’s apple using a soft tape measure. This measurement (in inches or centimeters) will correspond to sizing charts from brands offering different fit options like small, medium or large. If between sizes, consider sizing up so the guard sits snugly without choking.
Pay attention to adjustable features like extra Velcro or toggles to tighten or loosen the throat protector as needed. Guards with more adjustment flexibility can accommodate slight fluctuations in neck size.
Try on different sized guards in person at a hockey equipment store, if possible. This allows you to gauge comfort and mobility. When properly fitted, a throat protector should feel snug but not constricting.
For custom sizing, some companies offer moldable plastic guards that can be heated up and then formed to the player’s neck shape for a personalized fit. This is ideal for goalies needing something tailored.
Consider how the guard fits with your chest protector and goalie mask. The three pieces should integrate comfortably without big gaps or rubbing. Working together, they provide important protection.
Getting sized up by an experienced sales person can ensure proper coverage and allow you to try options. Be very wary of guards that are loose or pinch. Protect your vulnerable neck area with a well-fitted, comfortable throat protector you barely notice on the ice.
Major Brands of Hockey Throat Protectors
When selecting a neck guard for hockey, one of the first choices is which brand to go with. The major companies manufacturing throat protection for goalies each offer unique features and technology. Here is an overview of some top brands to consider when shopping for hockey throat guards:
Bauer is one of the leading makers of hockey equipment including throat protectors. They offer a range of guards with moisture wicking liners, adjustable strapping, and molded plastic or HD foam construction. Their NECK GUARD line comes in sizes for youth to pro players and has premium protection features like ventilated U-foam and free-flex arteries for customized mobility. The BAUER neck guard is a trusted choice of many elite goalies.
CCM is another huge hockey brand with a number of neck guard choices. Their Elite throat protector has durable HD foam protection shaped for comfort and includesadjustment toggles and an anti-slip grip liner to prevent rotation. The CCM neck guard is designed to integrate seamlessly into chest protectors for optimal coverage. Popular models like the Resistance 300 guard also offer pro-level protection in lightweight construction.
Warrior provides neck guards featuring strong polycarbonate shields with ventilation and an anatomical design contouring to the neck’s shape. The Alpha DX Pro model includes a hypoallergenic liner, flexible memory foam comfort pads and a floating sternum plate for added chest protection. Warrior guards like the Alpha DX5 Pro are meant to move and flex with a goalie’s motions while protecting the fragile throat.
Sportmask uses molded polycarbonate shields cooled under high pressure to create strong custom-fitted neck guards. They offer full polycarbonate clavicle extensions for extra collar bone protection. Sportmask provides sizing adjustments and padding options to get players the right personalized fit. Their R3 Bolle throat guard is a popular choice for its comfort and flexibility.
Those are just some of the major brands producing quality neck and throat protection for hockey goalies. Evaluating the different technologies and construction used by brands like Bauer, CCM, Warrior and Sportmask can help players find the right guard to meet their protection needs and budget.
Choosing Comfortable Neck Protection Material
When selecting a hockey throat protector, considering the type of material it is made of is key for finding one that is both protective and comfortable. Goalie neck guards are constructed using various materials that provide cushioning and absorb impact while wicking moisture to reduce irritation.
Many top hockey throat protectors feature molded foam padding for comfort and shock absorption. Multi-layered medium or high density foams can effectively disperse energy from pucks or sticks. Brands like CCM use D30 foam which combines excellent shock absorption with moisture wicking and breathability. Foam pads also allow some flex for mobility.
Some guards have removable foam liners or padding that can be washed to keep gear fresh. Hypoallergenic microfiber lining reduces skin irritation and friction. Neoprene neck wraps add cushioning while retaining heat in colder ice rinks. Terry cloth also makes a soft sweat-wicking liner material.
For the protective shield, brands like Bauer use ventilated U-foam composed of strong urethane. It molds easily to neck contours for customized fit. Polycarbonate plastic is another common material, providing rigid shielding from direct impacts. It can be perforated for airflow. Multi-layer PBTP also makes sturdy, breathable shields.
Many companies now offer throat protectors with hybrid materials like porous Armadillo Kevlar or carbon fiber reinforced acrylic resin Thermoplex. These combine abrasion resistance with flexibility and ventilation. New technologies aim for superior lightweight protection.
Considering factors like shock absorption, moisture wicking, rigidity, breathability and weight will help goalies pick throat guards using the most ideal materials for their needs. Testing different material combinations can determine preferences for comfort, flexibility and protection level.
Full vs Partial Neck Coverage Options
Hockey goalies have a choice when selecting throat protectors of either full neck guards or partial coverage models. Full neck guards protect the entire throat and sides of the neck, while partial guards just shield the frontal throat.
Full coverage neck guards provide complete protection of the vulnerable carotid arteries and jugular veins in the neck as well as the thyroid. Brands like Warrior offer molded guards extending lower down the chest for max protection. Full polycarbonate or Kevlar wrapped guards leave no areas exposed.
The downside is full neck guards can feel bulky and cause overheating. Yet new mesh and perforated materials allow airflow to manage heat. For goalies wanting minimalist coverage, partial neck protectors are lighter with better breathability.
Partial guards just cover the central throat area, leaving the neck’s sides exposed. CCM’s QuickLite throat protector is a popular lightweight partial guard crafted from flexible Thermoplex. While these don’t restrict head movement as much, partial guards do leave carotid arteries near the surface vulnerable.
Many guards like Bauer’s NECK GUARD offer detachable extensions to essentially convert between partial and full protection. Clavicle padding can also be added for more coverage of collarbones prone to injury. Hybrid models allow adjusting coverage for different needs.
While opinions differ on risks of full vs partial protection, neck guards should ultimately cover your most at-risk and exposed areas based on play style. Trying on different coverage options lets goalies find the fit providing necessary protection while allowing optimal movement.
Secure Straps Keep the Guard in Place
Hockey throat protectors rely on sturdy straps to keep the guard securely in position protecting the neck during intense goalie activity. Straps should keep the guard snug without choking or slipping.
Many guards use multiple horizontal and vertical straps that attach to fasteners on the chest protector to anchor the throat protector in place. Straps are usually elastic or adjustable via Velcro or toggles to customize tightness as needed.
Vertical straps along the back of the neck prevent the throat guard from riding up, especially when the goalie looks upwards. Chin cups on the guard should also minimize upward shifting when the head tilts back.
Side straps that connect to the goalie’s mask help keep the throat protector positioned properly and resistant to twisting or rotation. Some straps may attach to shoulder pads or near the collar bone for stability.
The strap configuration will depend on the goalie’s chest pad and personal preference. More connection points equals greater security, but can hinder motion. Streamlined lightweight guards favor minimal strap designs for freedom of movement.
Inspect straps regularly for fraying, cracks or looseness. Replace damaged straps immediately, as compromised straps can lead to improperly fitted guards and reduced protection. Proper strap tension eliminates neck guard slippage while still feeling comfortable during play.
Consider a Mask Combo for Added Protection
For maximum protection of the vulnerable neck region, many hockey goalies opt to pair a standalone throat protector with an integrated goalie mask combo.
Integrated mask and throat protectors join the neck guard and mask together as one protective piece. Brands like Bauer and CCM offer mask combos with carbon steel cages welded to molded neck plates extending down the chest.
This seamless integration eliminates gaps that expose the throat. Straps anchored to the mask keep the whole assembly locked in place. Integrated airflow channels reduce heat buildup. Mask combos offer fullest coverage but can be costly.
Pairing a separate detachable throat protector with the goalie mask provides similar robust protection. Choose a neck guard that conforms closely to the mask’s chin and collar area. Matching brands helps. Throat protector straps can attach to the cage for stability.
With separate mask and neck guard, players can mix and match for the right customized fit. Goalies feeling their mask alone leaves neck coverage gaps can add a detachable guard for complete protection. Just ensure the two pieces integrate snugly.
While some goalies feel a quality mask alone sufficiently protects the throat, others prefer doubling up with an additional neck guard. Weighing potential overprotection vs underprotection concerns can determine if an integrated or standalone combo works best.
Proper Throat Guard Care and Maintenance
Taking good care of hockey throat protectors is vital for preserving their protective qualities over time. Following proper maintenance and cleaning procedures keeps guards in peak condition.
Inspect guards regularly for cracks or damage, especially after impacts. Replace parts like foam liners or shields that show wear. Frayed strap stitching also compromises hold and should be fixed or replaced.
Clean sweat and odors from neck guard lining using antimicrobial spray or soap and water. Remove foam pads to wash separately with mild detergent, rinse and air dry. Sanitize pads occasionally. Clean polycarbonate or plastic shields with non-abrasive spray.
Avoid harsh cleaners, chemicals or bleach that could degrade materials. Don’t machine wash or dry pads or liners, as heat can damage. Dry thoroughly before storing to prevent mildew buildup.
For off-season storage, loosely roll up guards to maintain shape. Don’t tightly wrap straps that can weaken elasticity. Keep in a dry, ventilated area out of direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.
Before each use, re-fit and adjust straps for proper stability and snugness as neck size fluctuates. Take hits only in gear to maximize protective lifespan. With regular care and inspection, neck guards can provide reliable safety for many seasons.
Custom Design Your Own Unique Throat Protector
For hockey goalies wanting a truly one-of-a-kind throat protector, custom designing your own personalized neck guard is an option offered by some companies.
Custom guards start with taking moldings and measurements of the player’s neck and upper chest area. This allows the protector to be precision-crafted to match your anatomy for ideal tailored fit and coverage.
Next, you select the materials you want for padding, shielding and straps from available options for the right balance of flexibility, breathability and impact protection.
Then comes choosing aesthetics like colors, graphics and your name or number emblazoned on the guard. Companies offer design templates to conceptualize the look you want before manufacturing begins.
3D scanning and printing technologies allow for incredibly accurate shaping based on an individual’s unique contours. Every anatomical nuance gets incorporated into the neck guard design.
While more expensive than off-the-shelf guards, custom throat protectors provide goalies the ultimate protection and comfort for their needs and style preferences. The ability to control all aspects yields your dream guard.
Goalie Neck Guards for Youth Hockey Players
Finding the right hockey throat protector is especially important for young goalies still developing on-ice skills. Youth-sized neck guards allow for properly fitted protection.
Leading brands all offer goalie throat guards sized specifically for youth players, usually ranging from toddler up through teen years. Measure neck circumference to ensure proper coverage without choke risk.
Youth guards feature the same protective qualities as pro versions but downsized. Multi-layered foams absorb shock while perforated plastic shields resist impact. Straps secure the guard firmly in position.
Comfort factors like moisture-wicking microfiber liners prevent irritation from a snug fit. Flex notches allow head movement without shifting. Lightweight construction reduces fatigue over long practices or games.
Additional collar bone padding on some youth guards protects developing bones. Bold colors and graphic designs appeal to kids. Match with coordinating goalie masks and pads.
Proper neck guards instill confidence in young goalies learning the position. Discipline wearing protective equipment consistently, even when masks alone seem sufficient. Fit and adjust guards regularly as youth grow. Protecting the vulnerable neck secures their goaltending future.
Choosing NHL Quality Throat Protection
Hockey goalies looking for pro-caliber neck guards modeled after what NHL players wear can find high-performance throat protectors from leading brands.
Top-tier guards meant for elite play feature innovative materials and construction to meet the rigors of professional hockey. Impact-diffusing foams cushion while remaining lightweight and breathable during intense games.
Molded shape provides a contoured fit and flexibility to follow a goalie’s movements without impedance. Strategic segmentation allows both mobility and complete coverage of vulnerable neck arteries.
Premium NHL-quality shields like Bauer’s U-Foam or CCM’s Thermoplex resist even the hardest slapshot impacts. Cutting edge fabrics wick sweat while preventing irritation and odor.
Robust strapping systems anchored to multiple chest and mask attachment points keep the guard securely positioned. Playoff-ready aesthetics include team color schemes and sharp graphics.
For goalies playing at high levels, choosing neck protection engineered for pros helps minimize throat injury risks from aggressive shots. Guards modeled after NHL gear deliver necessary elite-level protection and performance.
Protecting the Throat and Preventing Injuries
Wearing a well-fitted neck guard is the most effective way for hockey goalies to protect their exposed and vulnerable throat region from potential injuries.
The thin skin and delicate structures of the neck including the trachea, thyroid, and carotid arteries and jugular veins are prone to damage from pucks and sticks.
Goalie masks shield the face but leave the front of the neck susceptible. A collar protector acts as an extra barrier absorbing and deflecting impacts away from vital anatomy.
Neck guards cushion blows and prevent bruising strains, but more importantly shield against catastrophic injury if hit in an unprotected throat.
While dismissed by some goalies, neck guards prevent tragedy. Goalie Clint Malarchuk’s life was saved by his guard during a horrific 1989 skate slashed throat incident.
Throat protectors allow goalies to play with confidence knowing they have additional padding to protect their neck health and safety. Never sacrifice protection for comfort or mobility.
Stay Confident On the Ice With Quality Protection
Ultimately, finding the right hockey throat protector comes down to identifying the guard that provides a goalie the coverage, fit and feel to play their absolute best.
With robust neck protection, goaltenders can focus purely on the puck and game situation rather than worrying about vulnerability. Guards should work in conjunction with chest pads and masks as an integrated safety system.
Test different brands and styles to find the ideal balance of flexibility, breathability and security based on your needs and preferences. Properly fitted neck guards soon feel like a natural extension giving you confidence to control the crease.
While no protective equipment removes all risk, the right throat protector minimizes the chances of traumatic injury from shots or collisions. Stay alert and move with the guard as needed.
A quality neck guard lets goalies challenge shooters without hesitation. Trust your instincts while wearing properly fitted protection. Then watch your save percentage rise as you gain the confidence to stop more pucks.