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The most important piece of equipment you wear is your helmet. The choice of helmet should me made based on fit and the level of protection the helmet offers to prevent concussions. The "look" of the helmet should be a secondary consideration. It only takes one bad fall, collision with the boards, or a puck to the head to potentially cause serious, if not life-altering or life-threatening head trauma.
Practically every manufacturer of hockey equipment offers a helmet, and most offer several models ranging from inexpensive to top of the line. Normally "more expensive" does not always equate to "better" but helmets are a separate case. Typically the more expensive helmets offer the most protection.
Of all the helmets on the market I chose the Messier M11 pro. The helmet is manufactured by Cascade Sports and was designed in conjucntion with Mark Messier and his Messier Project. This choice was made, unfortunetly, after I suffered a concussion wearing a top of the line helmet from another manufacturer. I fell backwards and the only point of initial contact was the back of my head. I was unconscious for 2 minutes. It took two hours before I could make the decision to drive home (a poor decision in retrospect even though I arrived home safely).
In the period since then (I'd only been skating for three months) I have fallen backwards onto the ice and crashed head first into the boards and suffered no ill effects. I now have four of the M11 Pro helmets. I keep a full steel cage on one black one and one white one, and a half shield on one black one and a fishbowl on the other black one. The multiple helmets are purely for convienience, so I don't have to constantly switch from shield, to cage or fishbowl to suit the sanctioning bodies (or lack thereof).
Here is a photo of my four helmets which illustrates three of the types of facial protection available.
Here is a photo of the helmet interior show the unique compression recovery liner.
If you plan on using a shield as facial protection buy a helmet bag to store and transport your helmet. It will prevent the shield from getting scratched.
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