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Pad LengthThe length of the leg pads are one of the most important aspects in the selection process. The amount of protection provided to the sides (and in super expensive pads, the back) of the legs, especially the knee, are also important.
The location of your knee in the "knee channel" is probably the most important issue. Although the knee channel is adjustable using Velcro attachments, there is a practical limit to how much adjustment you can make. Here is a video on the subject from Total Hockey that illustrates the knee channel issue.
In addition to the knee channel location you must make sure that when you go down in the butterfly position the tops of the pads at least meet, and preferably overlap by an inch or so. This ensures that when you go down the puck can't squirt between your pads. Here is a photo of my two pair of leg pads side-by-side for comparison. The ones on the left are Bauer Supreme One 90 and they are size 29"+1". The pads on the right are Bauer Rx 8 pads with a size of 32"+1". Notice the difference in height. The pads on the left are too short for me. They do not meet when I go down in the butterfly position. The Rx pads on on the right are the correct length and do meet when in the butterfly. I goofed and it costs me plenty to correct my mistake. Anyone interested in very lightly used leg pads?
Put on skates, put on the leg pads with all the straps fastened loosely, and go down in the butterfly position to make certain they meet before you buy them.
Pad QualityHigher quality (and price) pads have replaceable straps and buckles, lower priced pads do not so if a strap or buckle breaks you need to take the pad to a business that specializes in repairing hockey equipment or buy new pads.
The amount of protection afforded to the inside and outside of the legs is very important. The inside protection not only absorbs puck impacts, it also cushions the inside of your knee when you drop into the butterfly position. This drop causes considerable impact on the knee and becomes more serious with age. Here is a photo of the side of the Bauer Supreme One 80 leg pad. For comparison here is a photo of the side of the Bauer RX8 leg pad.
Professional grade pads have padding that extends around to the backs of the legs. While you should always be square to the puck, there are times when the backs of your legs will be vulnerable to pucks, and especially sticks and skates. The rear protection on other pads is not quite as good. Here is the back of the Bauer RX8 leg pad. And here is the back of the Bauer Supreme One 80 leg pad.
Moderately priced leg pads are in the $400 dollar range while the pro grade pads start at $1,795 and go north from there.
Adjusting The PadsThe leg pad straps should be adjusted as loosely as possible in order for the pads to rotate around your led when you drop into the butterfly position. The looser the better. As long as the straps keep the pad from falling off your leg, that is tight enough.
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