Hockey can be a dangerous sport and staying safe out on the ice rink is essential. Ensuring you have a proper helmet is a given, but getting a good quality visor or facemask is also crucial to protecting your face from fast moving pucks or sticks.
In this post, we’re going to look at some of the best hockey visors and face shields on the market today along with our buying guide to help your choose which one you should buy.
Why wear face protection
Imagine a hockey ball or indeed stick taking an unfortunate trajectory towards your head. The average person would not have the reflex speed or fortune to avoid the collision. Depending on where it strikes you, the extent of the injury may vary from minor or severe. A 2014 study by the Canadian Ophthalmological Society found that 1120 games had been missed due to injury within the ten year period that they looked at. It also found that the financial impact of those absences was upwards of $33 million. There is a greater risk of said injuries to hockey players who do not wear their visors.
One of the key differences between a visor and a cage is the impact on the field of vision. A visor misting up during the game is the foremost annoying thing within the world. It would be wise to choose a hockey visor that won’t let you down or indeed move to a cage. Another aspect to consider is weight. Cages tend to outweigh visors.
We are here to go over the leading hockey visors and cages in some detail to help you make an informed decision. Our article would not be complete if we did not present you with some incredible options. We have selected some outstanding visors and cages for you to check out. Each one has been reviewed to make sure you know what to expect. Some of the things that we looked at include the product specs, innovation, good qualities, shortcomings, and more.
Types of face protection
We can all agree that face protection is essential. What we may not agree on is how to protect ourselves. Fortunately, there are several options on the market. They fall into three main categories; visors, face shields and cages. There are some crossovers in the designs so that we will look at each one.
Visors have been increasing in prominence since they were introduced in the late 70s. They came in response to prevalent eye injuries within the sport—Doctors who met at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) in Prague in 1978. The conference led to visors becoming standardised and mandatory in hockey leagues across the globe.
A visor is a see-through a protective layer that is attached to the helmet. It is designed in such a way that it can be pulled down to engage and lifted when not in use. While a visor is sufficient protection at the junior level, it may not be enough for seniors. There are several injuries reported that led to blinding while the player had a visor on. However, the experience at the senior level means that the risk of injury is mitigated.
Face shields can be viewed as something of a bridge between visors and cages. They provide additional protection for the head, which one would not get from a visor alone.
Goalies most commonly wear the cages. That is because they are at the most significant risk of being struck by a ball or stick on the head. They cover the entire circumference of the head, allowing for breathability.
Clear vs Tinted Visors
It is a matter of preference that will vary from one person to another. For most people, this does not make the least bit of difference to their performance. If it is possible, you may want to try out a few different colours to see if they have any impact on visibility. The bottom line is, if the visor protects you, whether it is clear or tinted will not matter. Safety supersedes any preference.
Advantages of a Hockey Cage
A hockey cage will often guarantee that you won’t require dental work due to an accident in the game.
Cons of a Hockey Cage
- Heavier option
- Can impede vision (although some won’t notice)
- Maybe awkward for some.
Advantages of a Visor
- Improved visibility
- It is the lightweight option
- Provides a few security vs not wearing a cage or shield at all
Cons of a Visor
- Does not provide as much protection as you get from a full Cage.
- Can mist up.
- Can get scratched and worn over time.
There are a lot of brands in this space. Some of the most popular ones include:
The Best Hockey Visors
#1. Bauer Concept III Full Face Shield
If you fancy the protection that a cage offers, but would rather do away with the visual impairment side of things. You may want to give this one a go. No one likes to see through squares. The Concept III has a high impact polycarbonate shield that is geared to take a licking and keep ticking. You can also depend on it for durability. The first win in that regard is the enhanced anti-scratch coating. It does away with one of the most significant weaknesses of any face shield. They have also expanded your field of vision by providing a widescreen view and worried that things might get a little foggy behind the shield? The interior has an anti-fog coating that is enhanced by the ventilation system.
- Gives a more transparent view than a standard cage would.
- Does a great job of limiting the fogging issue.
- The face shield shows minimum signs of wear and tear after weeks of use.
- The ventilation system is a breath of fresh air.
- Takes some effort to use with a CCM helmet.
#2. Bauer Pro Clip Straight Visor
If you are after something a little more on the minimal side, this could be the one for you. The Bauer Pro Clip Straight is a replacement half shield visor. It is the next level in Bauer’s advancement within this category. You will be pleased to find that the QUICK-CLICK+ technology is in place. It allows you to make installation and amends to your visor without a tool. That technology makes it easy to clean up and replace the visor when the need arises. The lens has been mechanically polished to give you a better field of vision. That is courtesy of the True Optics technology.
Bauer has also made sure that each of their Pro Clip Straight Visor comes with anti-fog and anti-scratch coating.
- It has anti-fogging properties.
- It does not scratch easily.
- Fitting and adjusting it is straightforward.
- It is CSA, HECC and CE certified
- There are limitations to the protection it provides.
#3. Bauer RE-AKT Titanium Facemask
If you like a cage but are not entirely satisfied with the traditional ones, this could be an alternative. RE-AKT brings a lightweight option that is made of titanium instead of the stainless steel that we are accustomed to seeing. You will be pleased to know that the material used does not diminish the facemask’s ability to protect you. It has an oval design to it. That solves one of the more annoying issues that some players have with cages; the obstructed view.
To make sure that it is comfortable, Bauer uses a triple density foam and a free-floating chin cup. They reduce the pressure on your chin when strapped in.
- It is a lightweight facemask.
- There is less obstruction than you’d have with a traditional cage.
- It is easy to install on most helmets.
- It comes at the higher end of pricing.
#4. Bauer Pro Straight Visor
Attaching your visor can hardly get any easier than with this two-point attachment system. The visor is made of a solid polycarbonate. The design is targeted at the adult and professional level players. It gives you the sort of look that you will come across in the leagues. True Optics technology is used to make the lens clearer. It makes for a better field of vision. Bauer has also gone with a lower profile design to maximise visibility. You need not be reminded of the importance of this when you are out on the ice. The anti-fog properties of the visor make for a more practical solution to a common problem that we face with visors.
From a durability standpoint, we also have the benefit of the anti-scratch properties.
- It is CSA, HECC, and CE certified.
- It has anti-fog properties.
- It has anti-scratch properties.
- It is easy to attach to your helmet.
- There are cheaper options available.
#5. CCM FM680 Facemask
If you fancy the protection of a cage, without the visibility issues, here is another option for you to consider. The manufacturer makes use of thin flat wires to give this facemask a lightweight feel and look. It is a minimalist approach to an essential device. With the thin flat wires, you are guaranteed to have an enhanced field of vision than in a standard cage.
Underneath your chin will be a multi-density foam cup. It is responsible for ensuring that you are comfortable. It also plays a massive role in keeping sweat at bay.
- It is a lightweight facemask.
- It does not interfere with your field of vision.
- It is comfortable under the chin.
- Is not easy to fit different brand helmets.
#6. CCM FV1 Full Face Shield
If you are looking for a bit more protection than just the facemask affords you, this face shield is worth considering. It is a full facial visor. One of the key things that it improves on previous models is the airflow. There is a better ventilation system in place. That makes for a face shield that does not easily become foggy. It also has an anti-scratch coating and anti-fog properties within its design. What you get is an enhanced level of visibility. The impact-resistant polycarbonate provides durability. There couldn’t be a more fit for purpose material.
The dual-density chin cup makes the full face shield more comfortable. It means that you can wear it for long periods without becoming uncomfortable.
- It is well ventilated.
- The anti-scratch coating makes it more durable.
- It is compatible with various helmets.
- The accompanying screws tend to be too short.
#7. Pure Wave Clear S50 Visor
If you are looking for some of the features we have discussed at a lower price point, here is one that you must check out. It comes with anti-fog and anti-scratch coating. Pure Wave Clear S50 delivers an excellent balance between performance and durability. There is a tremendous benefit to be derived from the optimum airflow. It combines well with the anti-fog coating to make it easy for players to breathe and see the game.
Overall, the material used feels sturdy. It is likely to hold up when faced with the knocks that are commonplace in hockey.
- It has an anti-scratch coating.
- It is well ventilated.
- It does not fog up easily.
- It is reasonably priced.
- Not compatible with some helmets.
#8. Under Armour Storm Straight Visor
If you fancy giving another brand a go. Here is one that you cannot afford to ignore. The Storm Straight came onto the market as part of Under Armour’s new half shields. It builds on years of improvements and product development. As with other products on this shortlist, this one is also made of impact-resistant polycarbonate material. It is made to take on all of the roughing up that it will be pitted against in a hockey match. We are talking about resistance to scratching, fog, and smudge.
Part of the beauty of fog resistance is that it allows you to have a clear vision of the game.
- These half shields are HECC and CSA certified.
- They are fog, scratch and smudge resistant.
- They come with all the required mounting tools.
- Custom colour stickers are included.
- Can be challenging to mount the first time around.
#9. Oakley Clear Straight Cut Half Shield
Our final pick is made with referees and adult players in mind. It is an impact-resistant shield that offers protection without compromising on vision. You also get the anti-fog and anti-scratch coating features that we like. The design is one that you will come across, even at the highest level of the game.
- It is easy to fit on your helmet.
- It has anti-scratch and anti-fog coating.
- It does not include mounting hardware.
I hope this article helped you to understand the purpose of visors and cages, and how they compare to each other. They were fully designed for safety. Buying the right visor or cage will protect you from harm during a hockey match. We have gone into detail about what we like and don’t like about each option. If in doubt, go with one of our recommendations. Finding it difficult to settle for one? We would recommend that you go with the Bauer Concept III Full Face Shield. There is a reason we have it as our top pick. It marries everything that we love about a cage with the things that we appreciate about visors. The usual misting issues are also a thing of the past on this one. They will do a great job!