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With the exception of your skates and stick, your shin guards get more work than any other piece of equipment. Not only do they protect your shins and knees from pucks and sticks (and skates), they also provide impact absorbtion when your knees hit the ice.
Buy the best shin guards you can afford. If you hold up the cheapest pair next to the most expensive pair you'll see why. The top end shin guards have more and thicker padding, as well as better closures. They also provide slightly more protection to the backs of your legs, but none of them provide total protection in the back. They all leave a gap, which is why you should wear Kevlar® socks underneath to protect against at least skate cuts. I actually wear not only the Kevlar® socks, but also a pair of size large Shickskin arm pads (made for football) on my calves every since I discovered that players like to whack you on the backs of the legs with their sticks since they know that area is not protected.
I chose the Bauer Supreme TotalOne shin guards. Here is a rear view of th shin guards.
Good shin guards have removable padding which can be washed (air dry only) and replaced when they wear.
Tip: Put on your skates and lace them up before you put on your shin guards. This provides much more protection to the front of your ankles.
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