This Year In Hockey Gear – 2013

2013 Year In Hockey Gear Review

We live for and talk about hockey equipment here every day. Over the holiday break, I thought that it might be interesting to take a look back at hockey equipment in 2013 – what was released, what we liked, what we didn’t, what the pros were wearing and so on. It’s time for “the year in gear!”

There were some big movements in skates and sticks in 2013, as well as a couple of pretty good trends in helmets and protective gear. Three manufacturers had major stick and skate releases this year and all of them made some significant improvements to their products.

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Bauer Re-Akt and IMS 9.0 Hockey Helmets

By Kyle Stevenson, Pure Hockey Marketing

In this time when concussions, and head protection are such hot button topics not only in hockey but all sports, Bauer is pushing the envelope technologically with their new helmet models.
Bauer made a huge splash last year with the introduction of the Re-Akt helmet. Featuring the highly impact absorbent PORON XRD foam, and their SUSPEND-TECH Liner, designed to manage rotational force. Beyond the technology, the Re-Akt marked another milestone in my eyes, creating a protective, high-end helmet with that is actually comfortable, with great styling, and being low profile, and not so bulky on your head. The Re-Akt will go forward for 2013 and its shell design will be used in Bauer’s new model, the IMS 9.0.

The IMS 9.0 Helmet is a very interesting concept, it continues Bauer’s movement to integrate popular requests their pro’s make, into their retail lines.  The new V2 liner system uses the Vertex Foam, featured in the Re-Akt, as a base. Vertex Foam has enhanced impact management, while remaining significantly lighter than similar density traditional EPP foam. On top of the Vertex Foam, will be a layer of VN foam for comfort. This is a feature often seen in the NHL on other models as players look for a little extra comfort, and its now available to you.
I personally have been wearing the Re-Akt since about a month prior to its release, and I was skeptical when I first tried it but I am a huge fan now, way more comfort than I expected, but I am even more excited for the IMS 9.0, I’ve been a 4500 most of my life, love the Re-Akt, and this at first glance looks to be a nice mix of the best of both. Looks for it at Pure Hockey and PureHockey.com around mid June 2013.


Bauer Re-Akt Hockey Helmet Review

By Kyle Stevenson, Pure Hockey Marketing

 

Having worn a Bauer 4500 for the better part of the past decade, I recently got to try out a few high end helmets that I likely would not have tried otherwise. I’ve had the opportunity to test out a couple top-of-the-line bike helmet style- foam helmets, the EPP foam Easton E700 and the slightly different Vertex Foam of the Bauer Re-Akt helmets. I have always valued comfort more than protection in all my equipment, helmets included, and because of this, I have usually leaned towards the softer, more comfortable dual-density VN foams like the 4500.

I have never found a higher end, EPP foam helmet that was very comfortable to wear. I always ended up with pressure points, or having my hair caught between the pieces of foam. The Re-Akt helmet doesn’t fit that mold. After getting to try out the Re-Akt I can tell you, this helmet has everything going for it.

Lets go one by one through the normal high end helmet complaints that the Re’Akt solves…

High end EPP foam helmets are uncomfortable…

-Bauer took This EPP hard foam helmet and made it extremely comfortable. The SUSPEND-TECH liner is protective, but it also adds a nice bit of soft padding. Memory foam pads in the temple contour to each individuals head shape for a snug but comfortable fit. I really felt it mold to my head as I wore it. This helmet is also very well ventilatedto keep your head cooler in game. I usually take my helmet off between shifts to cool down, and it wasn’t as needed with the Re-Akt.

More protective helmets are bulkier looking

- One of my biggest personal problems with top of the line helmets is there utter lack of style – Look good, Feel good, Play good – Bauer finally listened to players who desired a bucket with top-end protection, and good looks. Designed with the timeless look of the Bauer 4500 in mind, Bauer came up with a sleak, low profile, good looking helmet.

Protection isn’t as top notch as advertised

- There was a big push a few years back of companies claiming “Concussion-proof Helmets”. Well no such thing existed. Still doesn’t. There are two types of concussions, those caused by a direct blow or impact. which can be prevented by the correct impact absorbant helmet/material, and rotational concussions. Rotational concussions are essentially caused by a whiplash type motion, causing your brain to rattle in your head. Bauer worked hard to create something to fight this second type of concussion, introducing the free floating SUSPEND-TECH. this moves independently from the rest of the helmet, protecting the brain from excessive movement within your head. So on top of being comfortable, this is really one of, if not the most, technologically advanced, and safest helmets ever made. The third generation occipital lock does a great job of extending underneath the back of your head to really hold the helmet in place on impacts.

Some other benefits of the helmet that I really liked include the new sizing system. It is really simple to fit, even to adjust in game. It adjusts from one clip, in the back center of the helmet, no tools, just open it, put the helmet on, move it in until its snug and snap it back into place. I am not a huge fan of ear flaps, I take them off as soon as I get a new helmet home, I still did for this the Re-Akt, but when I had the helmet on when I first received it, they were not very noticeable in comparison to a lot of others.

 

I have really enjoyed the Bauer Re-Akt helmet. Feels good, looked really good on the ice, and is very protective. Although I didn’t skate into the boards to test it, having read about the technology, seen the tests that were run, I truly trust that if I needed that type of protection on the ice, I would be all set with the Bauer Re-Akt helmet.

The Bauer Re-Akt is available at all Pure Hockey locations, and here at Purehockey.com


Cascade M11 Hockey Helmet Review

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

Last week the kind folks at Cascade sent me the spec sheet and some photos of the brand new Cascade “M11 Pro” hockey helmet, which is due out this spring and will be the successor to the M11. As you probably know, the M11 was born from The Messier Project, which is a collaboration between NHL Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier and a collection of other NHL players – and also players of all ages from the AHL down to regional youth hockey players. The aim is simple – to make a helmet that provides the best possible technology and protection possible.

While NO helmet will prevent concussions, the original M11′s core mission was to minimize the risk of concussions as much as humanly possible through technology. I won’t go through the technology here because that’s not the point of the post today – and you can find plenty of information out there on the technology behind it, especially at The Messier Project’s page. Suffice it to say, about a year-and-a-half ago when I was in need of a new helmet, I did relatively extensive research into the technology behind helmets. I say “relatively” because I’m a men’s league player who usually plays twice a week, sometimes three, so the hitting is minimal. I am at far less risk than the high school or college player who plays the hitting game, but nonetheless, one still has to be mindful of such things, even in men’s league play. If you’re in the hitting game, this is potentially one of the most important purchases you’ll make. Your parents probably feel even more strongly about that one.

OK, so what’s my point then? Well, I want to give you a little detail about how my 1.5 year old M11 has held up and if it is standing the test of time well enough. We call this our “long-term reviews” here on the blog. In doing some quick math, I’ve had the helmet for about 72 weeks now and since I’m playing twice a week, let’s just say that I’ve used it around 150 times (the total is probably more, but I’ll stay conservative). I chose the black M11 with some red trim; it’s a combo and I left the stock M11 cage on there. Some people are picky about cages, I am not, though after watching Daniel Paille of the Bruins on Pure Hockey’s Gear Tips from the Pros series, I now love the idea of either getting a cage or painting the inside of one white for slightly better sight.

What really sold me on the helmet (moreso than the technology) was the comfort. For me, there was nothing even close. I tried the Bauer 9900 series, the 4500 series and I also tried the Easton S19′s and threw on a Reebok 9K for good measure. Nothing even approached the comfort I had in the M11. So with the relative lack of contact in men’s leagues, it wasn’t much of a decision. As soon as I put on the M11, I knew I was buying it. Negatives? Well, it doesn’t look too much like a traditional hockey helmet and Cascade has taken their lumps for this. For me personally, looks take a distant back seat to comfort and protection anyway, so I don’t care. I know a lot of you do very much care about  how it looks and that is certainly fine. I think if you look at the M11 Pro pics from the link above, you’ll see that Cascade is going down the road towards a more trad-looking helmet anyway.

So, the helmet itself has held up incredibly well. There are absolutely NO cracks anywhere. The straps and snaps are all original and have held up perfect, the interior pad inserts have the expected minor wear-and-tear associated with 150+ uses and have not dislodged once. The chin-piece is original and as you can see, in pretty amazing shape. The cage-stops (J-clips) and its screws are also still original and have not moved one iota, unlike a lot of my past helmets, where the screws always seemed to loosen and needed frequent tightening and/or entire J-clip replacement. The cage itself, somehow, has virtually no rusting or discoloration on it, something I have never experienced in a helmet. Granted, everyone cares for their gear in different ways, I always air mine out on a rack after playing, so cage condition, much like most of your other gear, is entirely based on your care for it. The one thing I have had to replace is one of the top screws which holds the cage to the helmet.

I like to keep my helmet ever-so-slightly on the loose side. Too tight and I just get headaches, so I get as close to tight as I can without casuing that to happen. Even though I do play non-hit men’s league, hits still occasionally happen – as do accidents and collisions – and I can tell you I’ve taken my fair share of whacks on the helmet from pucks, errant sticks, collisions, etc. The thing has held up like a champ. As far as comfort, it’s still there. Insanely comfortable.

All of this obviously bodes well for the M11 Pro that’s coming out soon. But if you’re thinking about the orignal M11, from my perspective you cannot go wrong. This is a really solid, comfortable hockey helmet and well-worth the price. You have a vast amount of colors and styles to pick from right here. You can also build your own custom M11.  Pics below, ask us if you have any questions!