Does custom hockey equipment seem like something reserved just for the pros? It may be used to be, but over the past 20 years or so, there has been a move towards offering custom options for every type of player. In this article, I would like to explain some of the benefits of custom equipment. While it might not be for everyone or those newer players who are just starting out, I think it is an important part of the game that makes it more fun for all types of players.
There is a common misconception that custom hockey equipment costs more. While it may be the case for some things like skates, it is actually about the same or maybe even cheaper depending on what you need and where you get it from.
What is custom equipment when we talk about “average players”?
Custom equipment for the average beer league person can range from a full set of goalie gear to sticks, skates, and steel. For the most part, that’s all the pros get too. The only exception is gloves, and there are places around the world that can do custom glove palming too. However, for this article, I’m focusing on the main staples of goalie, sticks, and skates.
With goalie equipment, depending on where you get it from, you can do custom graphics, sizing, strapping, materials, and pad construction. So for example, you could do a team logo graphic, with a +3 sizing, and one leather strap, with skate lace, split t pocket, and a double break. (Sorry if you’re not a goalie) Most of the above are not stock options and can’t be found in your hockey store. By doing some research or going to your hockey store, you will find that the big brands like Vaughn, Brians, Bauer, and CCM will all do that with minor uncharges. There are also smaller brands like JRZ (Learn more about JRZ here), Simmons, and a few others that have quality products and will be a lot cheaper too. Goalie equipment is one thing for sure to look into if you’re skating a lot and at a higher level of beer league.
For the player’s side of things, custom sticks are a nice touch to your game. Custom sticks started with the MyBauer Experience about 15-20 years ago. (You had to buy six sticks at a time though…) Now, with companies like NoName and Hoapa, you can get a custom stick with custom colors, materials, patterns, kick points, flexes and length for under $200! With the 3 major brands both limiting patterns compared to 10 years ago, some of us who still use a PM9, non-grip, have made the switch to smaller brand custom sticks. Bauer still does offer custom sticks too (without much minimum). However, there was a slight uncharge compared to the in-store pricing. There are several options out there for custom sticks that can help make the game a little more affordable, or if you prefer the bigger brands, Bauer has you covered too.
Something that has changed the game forever for beer league players is the introduction of custom skates. Bauer and CCM would do a custom skate for the last 10 years, but hardly anyone knew about it. It wasn’t until True came out with a skate a few years ago that really made a mark. Having a quality custom skate for under $1000 USD, made CCM and Bauer both scramble to put a more public-facing program together. CCM now has a foot scanner where they can build a mold of your foot and when you get your pair, it fits perfectly (or in theory is supposed to). Bauer now offers a 3 fit system in any of their 2 models. They did this to get rid of the Nexus line and offer the 2 traditional lines of Supreme and Vapor boot constructions. However, unlike in years past, you can now choose your fit type and then boot construction. (For example, the rib construction of the Vapor skate with the slight pitch forward, but with the more open in the front and anatomical fit of the Supreme is now possible). So, now all major manufacturers offer a custom skate where any type of fit, is possible!
Why custom hockey equipment?
So now that we know who makes it and about how much it costs, why buy it? It’s a valid question for sure! The person who plays pick-up 3 times a year might not see the benefit of custom skates or sticks. However, the player who plays at an A or B level 3 nights a week and several tournaments might. It allows them to get exactly what they want.
Custom sticks might be helpful for older players too. Does anyone still want a heel curve? Good luck finding it in the stores where the 3 major patterns are P88 P92 and P28. Does anyone want non-grip? Good luck finding it anymore. Custom sticks have become a staple for older players looking for non-grip and older patterns. In addition to patterns and shaft texture, some companies allow custom lengths and other metrics.
Custom skates for a beer league might seem like a stretch. However, knowing you have something that fits really well and is made out of top-end materials, helps players know they have a solid skate. In addition to the top-end materials and fit, some guys can get extra padding or place eyelets in specific places to help relieve areas where other skates in the past, could have hurt their feet or caused lace bite. So there is a major benefit to spending some serious cash on quality custom skates.
Custom goalie pads can also seem like a bit much for some beer league goalies. However, if you’re wanting something specific, it’s a must. The most obvious reason someone goes custom is for colors or logos for their team. There is also the ability to do custom sizing, strapping options, and materials. This can help with your on-ice performance. Custom equipment at any level can help give you peace of mind as you know it’s sized correctly and built for your style of play.
Is custom hockey equipment affordable?
This question has been somewhat addressed. However, custom equipment can be affordable or cheaper. It depends on what your preferences are. If you don’t mind going with smaller companies (most of whom have made stuff for big-name brands at one point) then custom stuff will be way cheaper than going custom from the big brands.
Through the MyBauer, it’s $299 to build a custom stick. Hoapa, allows more options and will send you a complete custom stick for $159! NoName also allows a custom build with a few more options (similar to Hoapa) for $189. So, if you’re looking for high-end custom sticks, a smaller brand could save you money!
The same goes for goalie pads! All the big-name brands offer a lot of customizations. Brians is known for all the really cool graphics they can do. Bauer and CCM both can print directly onto pads. True and Vaughn both do great custom work as well! However, with all the big brands you’re going to have to pay. If you go with say, Simmons, Battram, Kennesky, or JRZ (I am sure I am missing a few others here.) you can get the same amount of customizations and save a few hundred dollars. Most full sets from a smaller manufacturer will start out at $2000 USD. Just the newest leg pads from a bigger manufacturer will cost about $1700 USD. So again, like with the sticks, it can be done on a budget if you don’t mind going with a smaller brand.
So sticks and goalie is one thing, but there aren’t any known small skate companies out there. True, CCM, and Bauer all offer their own version of a skate and all will be great. However, there aren’t any alternative options.
How do I get custom stuff?
Custom stuff isn’t in the hockey store, so some people don’t know it’s possible. However, if you would like to order from a small manufacturer, all of them have a website, and from my experiences have been great to deal with. If you’re looking to do business with one of the bigger companies, they too have instructions on how to order, or your local hockey shop can assist with it.
Custom hockey equipment isn’t just for the pros anymore. Over the past 15 – 20 years, hockey companies have been springing up to help give the common player custom options. While they might not be for everyone, it’s an important part of the game that can help make it more fun for all types of players!