Smelly hockey gear is an issue that has plagued players since the game’s creators strapped metal blades onto their shoes. Interesting and completely made-up fact: In the days before industrial washing machines to clean gear, smelling salts were originally used to get the smell of their own gear out of players’ noses. It was only when a player actually passed out from smelling his skate that trainers discovered the salts’ ability to wake up knocked out players.
The Offensive Smell of Hockey Gear
If you’re anything like me, you won’t even reach one hand into your hockey bag when you are dressed for work or school out of fear of smelling all day long. It’s no secret that the smell of hockey gear isn’t for everyone, so today I am going to dive in to my bag and identify the pieces of gear most responsible for the offensive odors.
Lets start with the scent that is least likely to send guests running from your home or car and make our way to the most severe smelling hockey gear…
Somehow hockey pants never seem to take on much more smell that what they gain from simply being inside a hockey bag. Don’t get me wrong, they still smell terrible, but maybe the amount of airflow helps to keep the stink to a minimum. For a pad right in the middle of your body, it somehow finds itself low on the stench scale.
Another one that mysteriously smells less awful than one would naturally expect.
Did I just put stick on the list of worst smelling gear? Yeah, you read that right. Go smell the tape on the knob of your stick. On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t.
6. Base Layer
Maybe base layer gear doesn’t smell worse is because it is usually the most frequently – admittedly a liberal use of the word “frequently” – washed, so the smell is somewhat mitigated. Even with frequent washing, base layer gear is still saturated in sweat every skate and is under a bunch more gear, limiting ventilation and airflow.
If you’ve graduating to the ranks of the beer leagues, long gone are the days of the equipment manager washing the unis before every game. For the most part, they sit on the bottom of the bag, just absorbing odor from the rest of your gear.
Possibly amplified by the close proximity to your nose, helmets have a knack for holding onto the lovely stench that emits from your flow. If you wear a cage, don’t dare sniff that chin guard, just don’t do it.
3. Under Protective
This category includes shoulder pads, elbow pads and shin guards. First, they are right against the body. That means there is no airflow and they are soaking up all of your sweat. Personally, I hate to air out my under protective gear because it gets dry and crunchy and never seems to sit right until you start sweating again during the next skate. So my shoulder pads, elbow pads and shin guards smell exponentially worse. Most gear makers have acknowledged this issue and attempted to address it by adding their own odor-deterring fabric liner to under protective gear. I’ll be the first to tell you that it may help a bit, but the smell is still there.
What’s that tell you? We have advanced fabrics that can stop bullets and protect people from toxic materials or fire, but still nothing that can eliminate the smell of hockey gear.
2. Skates and Skate Socks
Skates and skate socks are at a natural disadvantage in terms of smell because of a little thing called gravity. All that sweat pouring out of you as you play has to go somewhere, and most of it will eventually end up down at your feet.
Combine all that sweat with the fact that feet smell to start with and skates are tight to your feet with minimal ventilation. It makes a recipe for a horrible smelling piece of gear. Skate socks aren’t far behind; ever forget to take those out and left them crumpled up in the bag, then returning next skate to find them as a dry, hardened mess? Not fun to put on.
As anyone who has ever done any skate repairs will tell you, there are few things worse than reaching your hands into a stinky – often still wet – skate, or worse having to stick your face right in there to see what the problem is.
And the worst smelling hockey gear is…
They smell bad…like real bad. Every game is just a couple hours of sweat marinating and the sweaty air bouncing around between your hands and the gloves. Gloves seem to just eat up the smell and spit it back out on your hands. Mere seconds in used gloves is enough to stink up your hands for the rest of the week.
If you are a hockey player, you have inevitably played then showered, only to be told by someone later that your hands still “smell like hockey”. Unfortunately there is no amount of soap, showering or scrubbing that can get the smell completely gone, basically the only surefire instant solution to ensure that your hands don’t smell after hockey is to chop them off.
Now that I have shared my thoughts with you, I would love to hear what you think in the comments below. In what order would you rank your gear based on smell? What is your worst smelling piece of gear?