What to Wear Under Your Hockey Gear – Hockey Under Garments

Posted on April 14, 2024 by Dan Kent
hockey goalkeeper

If you're new to ice hockey, you may have wondered what you should be layering underneath your hockey equipment. 

There is a general consensus among tenured players about what works best — though it's still up to a player's personal preference and comfort.

Do hockey players wear clothes under their gear?

The vast majority of hockey players will wear clothing under their gear. If you can afford it, wearing high-performance clothing can help you stay cooler and improve overall performance.

However, some players do choose to wear nothing underneath their hockey gear. It is a matter of personal preference.

What is worn under hockey gear?

For the most part, players wear moisture-wicking material as this keeps sweat to a manageable level and protects a player from potentially harmful bacteria. A compression shirt and long compression garments are often considered the standard among hockey players. 

Players often have specific preferences around socks, with some preferring shorter ones and some liking them long. An athletic cup is often necessary for players before going onto the ice.

Do hockey players take off their pads between periods?

Players often take off their hockey jerseys, upper pads, and possibly even skates between periods. They do this as removing the equipment can be more comfortable than wearing it throughout the intermission, allowing them to cool down.

What Is the Common Ice Hockey Gear Setup?

The list becomes surprisingly long when considering what a hockey player usually wears. 

Along with the undergarment pieces that enable a player to stay comfortable and protected, there is also the outer padding — such as shoulder pads and, of course, a helmet. This equipment comes together to ensure a player competes at their best.

When dressing for practice or for a game, a hockey player's gear setup may look something like this:

  • Helmet
  • Shoulder pad
  • Chest protector
  • Elbow pads
  • Mouthguard
  • Hockey gloves
  • Padded shorts
  • A cup and possibly jock shorts
  • Shin pads
  • Neck protector (optional)
  • Skates
  • Hockey socks

It's no wonder hockey is such an expensive sport — the gear alone requires an initial investment before a kid can even play. The above list doesn't even include goalie equipment, which can be much more expensive.

Of course, most of the gear above can be found secondhand for a young player just starting out. This list doesn't consider what many players wear underneath their outer gear as a base layer.

Every piece of equipment serves a purpose: to protect players during such a rough game. With pucks moving at such high speeds and sharp skates on the ice, it's better to be safe in this game.

Hockey Skates

Should you wear a base layer for hockey?

Most hockey players tend to wear long-sleeve undershirts and long compression shorts or pants made from a special moisture-wicking material for athletics. The base layer should be comfortable and breathable, with a level of compression that allows the player to stay relaxed and stay cool and dry all game long.

A long sleeve base layer shirt keeps elbow pads from hitting bare skin, which some players prefer for comfort. Some shirts come with built-in neck protection. While this extra safety feature is nice, some players find it uncomfortable.

What socks to wear with hockey skates?

Most players opt for taller socks with thicker material at the toes to prevent uncomfortable rubbing and potential blisters. However, some players find that it's more comfortable to have shorter socks. This is all up to personal preference, and they do have particular skate socks you can wear for optimal performance.

What do hockey players wear under their hockey pants?

Players often use a base layer pair of compression pants with an athletic cup for the lower body area. Some pants come with a jockstrap, so purchasing a separate one wouldn't be necessary. Having a tighter pair of pants as a base layer can often keep shin guards from rubbing uncomfortably on bare skin.

What Are the Benefits of a Base Layer?

A base layer has many benefits, many of which casual players aren't fully educated on. The layer can act as a thermal layer which can ensure the player can regulate their body temperature during intense play in a cold arena.

The added compression from the base layer can help alleviate muscle stress, improving performance and recovery for hockey players. The moisture-wicking material of the layer can provide some sweat control while protecting bare skin from being soaked with sweat for over an hour.

If you opt for a base layer with an included athletic cup and neck protection, you may even save some money in the long run. You won't need to purchase these items separately, and dressing before a game will be more convenient.

Why A Base Layer Is Important

Having some base layer is better than nothing. The additional cost of a quality base layer is critical for any hockey player, as it does wonders with keeping them comfortable during practice and games. Whether the player prefers the extra compression or simply a looser-fitting shirt and pants under their uniform, they'll have a bit of added protection against pucks and skates.

Without this base layer, players could become cold from sweat hitting their bare skin during the game. This could lead to an inability to regulate their body temperature effectively. Any type of distraction such as this keeps players from performing to the best of their abilities — so a base layer has everything to do with performance as well.

Dan Kent

About the author

Growing up in a hockey hotbed (Calgary, Alberta. And yes, I'm an Oiler fan), I decided to put my love and knowledge of the game to work. I started at five and am still playing today into my early 30s. By acquiring Brave Stick Hockey and rebranding it to Big Shot Hockey in 2023, I plan to teach people about this great game and educate them on the best equipment and history of the game. On a career level, I am in finance, running one of the largest financial websites in Canada, Stocktrades.ca.

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