Keys to Buying Your Next Hockey Helmet

Keys to Buying Your Next Hockey Helmet

When it comes to buying a new ice hockey helmet, you need to start the process focused on the right things. Player safety is the top priority, of course. And let’s get this out of the way at the top: ice hockey helmets do not prevent players from sustaining concussions. Advances in technology and rule changes are helping to address those injuries, but a helmet alone will not prevent them.

This doesn’t mean that any old bucket will do.

Ice hockey helmets – properly sized and fitted – offer remarkable protection from other types of head injuries. Think high sticks, an odd bounce of the puck or an elbow thrown along the boards.

Level of play, safety features and proper fit all factor into selecting a hockey helmet that provides the best possible protection from injury.


Helmet manufacturers, including Bauer, tier products based on a player’s level of play. Levels of play are categorized as recreational, performance and elite. Here’s a glance at each one:

helmets for recreational players

Recreational level

Manufacturers design recreational-level helmets for entry-level or youth hockey players. These helmets give first-time players the protection they need at a lower cost. Junior and youth level recreational level helmets give young, aspiring players a helmet proportionally designed for their relatively small heads.

helmets for competitive hockey players

Performance level

These designs are for your rec league or pick-up hockey player who is at the rink one or two times a week. These helmets typically are made of classic vinyl nitrile or expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam liners that provide a solid level of protection for anyone who's not playing top-tier hockey and wants a traditional fit and feel.

helmets for elite hockey players

Elite level

As the name implies, these helmets offer top-of-the-line protection and comfort. They are for the elite or club player who plays 3-4 times a week and who wants the highest level of protection in a full-contact league. It’s also a great choice if you’re looking for a helmet offering the best in fit, comfort, ventilation, and style.

Top Tip:

Always check your league’s rules before you buy a new helmet. You want to make sure your new purchase makes the grade with your league.


It’s important to understand your next helmet’s safety features and decide which options matter most to you.

Ice hockey helmets protect the wearer through three key features:

  • a hard outer shell
  • interior foam padding
  • a facemask

    helmet exploded view of all the inside parts

    Hard outer shell

    Hockey helmets have a hard shell made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE)-injected plastic. This shell lets you personalize the piece, ordering it in your club’s colors, adding team logos or your jersey number.

    Padding inside

    Protective foam padding lines the shell’s inside and cushions the player’s head.

    Most helmets are made with EPP foam, which is a harder foam covered with a softer foam for comfort and a snug fit. This is like the foam used in bike helmets. Whereas bike helmets use foam designed for single-impact use, hockey helmets go a step further.

    For recreational and performance-level hockey players, some brands make helmets using EPP foam engineered for multi-impact use, which offers a lighter protective helmet with a snug fit. For elite-level players, some hockey helmet manufacturers offer features that exceed EPP performance and manage a range of higher impact levels.

    Face mask

    From mites on up to collegiate-level hockey, players need a helmet with a face mask.

    These days you can choose from two types:

    wire cage hockey helmet


    This type of mask, first mandated in U.S. college hockey in 1978, is made of metal or composite materials and offers strong protection. Plus, unlike more modern technology, it does not fog up like a full face shield might.

    full face shield hockey helmet


    This design is made from impact-resistant plastic and players claim it offers greater visibility than cages. If not properly treated and maintained some shields tend to fog under certain conditions.

    You can buy your helmet with a facemask, or, for a custom setup, you can combine a facemask bought separately with the helmet of your choice. Check out all the Bauer hockey facial protection options available to you.

    Top Tip:

    Get the most out of your new helmet from the get-go. Be sure to pay attention to the helmet manufacturer’s instructions and warnings before you use it.

    hockey player with a helmet with chin strap

    Chin straps

    With advances in technology providing the best fit possible, the synched-down chin strap is a thing of the past. On today’s hockey helmets, standard chin straps are designed to hang loose, with the chin cup positioned beneath the player’s chin.

    Top Tip:

    Note that cutting or growing out your hairstyle can impact how your helmet fits. With Bauer’s FreeForm Adjustment System, you can adjust as needed.


    The right fit starts with the right choice in the style of the outer shell. Younger players need to consider a design featuring either a one-point or multi-point adjustment systems.

    One-point adjustment system

    A helmet with a one-point adjustment system design can offer a customized fit at a lower price point, making it a smart choice for younger players. These designs use a mono-lock system on the top of the helmet. You adjust the length of the helmet and lock the preferred size in place using one or two screws. Other one-point adjustment models offer tool-free features that help you find a good fit. Note that these designs do not offer helmet-width adjustments.

    Bauer’s multi-point adjustment system

    In the past, the shape of your head determined the helmet you had to buy. Now, with the FreeForm Adjustment System, you can pick the helmet based on style and benefits instead of fit.

    The FreeForm Adjustment System – unique to Bauer helmets – offers independent length and width adjustments. No other helmet on the market can do this and offer this level of universal fit and comfort.

    The FreeForm design works with a 3-tab system, with one on the top of the helmet and two on the rear, and you’ll find it in Hyperlite elite and Reakt performance-level helmets. This 3-tab system offers the widest size adjustments available.

    Choosing between single-point or multi-point adjustment systems

    In the end, if there are no club, league or other official requirements in place, the choice in selecting an ice hockey helmet with a single- or multi-point adjustment system is entirely up to you.

    Great fit, level of play and price points are all factors when selecting any piece of sports equipment. If you’re unsure which type is best for you, talk to your coach or your local Bauer Game Fit retailer for advice.


    Your helmet needs to fit properly for it to work as designed. So the first thing you need to do is measure your head.

    Measuring your head circumference

    measuring your head circumference

    To find your helmet size, place a measuring tape on the back of your head. Run the tape to the front of your head, meeting about 1/4 of an inch (6.35 millimeters) above your eyebrows. Pull the tape tight. This measurement is your head circumference.

    Helmet sizes can vary by brand and model. Make sure you check the manufacturer’s sizing chart to find your best fit.

    Bauer Helmet Sizes

    helmet sizes chart

    Top Tip:

    If you find that your head measurement is between helmet sizes, we recommend that younger players size up so that there is room growth. If in doubt, try a few helmets on in person or contact our Bauer Fit Experts for advice.

    In the end, if there are no club, league or other official requirements in place, the choice in selecting an ice hockey helmet with a single- or multi-point adjustment system is entirely up to you. Great fit, level of play and price points are all factors when selecting any piece of sports equipment. If you’re unsure which type is best for you, talk to your coach or your local Bauer Game Fit retailer for advice.

    How a good fitting helmet feels

    A helmet should fit tight, but not so tight that it is uncomfortable to wear. One telltale sign of a good fit is no space between your head and the pads. Another is that the helmet should remain tight when you shake your head, and the skin of your forehead should move with the helmet when you move it around.

    What's Next?

    If you are ready to shop for a hockey helmet, here are a few ways to start exploring:

    Hockey helmets by age group

    Hockey helmets by level of play

    Hockey helmets by adjustment type


    Remember, the best fitting helmet is the most protective helmet. For answers to any questions or to discuss concerns about getting the right hockey helmet fit, contact our Bauer Fit Experts.

    Our Bauer Fit Experts are available Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Eastern time. Call 833-897-9942 or email Or stop by your local Bauer Game Fit retailer where you can ask for a 3D head scan for an even more personalized fitting experience.