It is no secret that hockey is one of the most expensive sports that one can choose to play. There is the upfront costs in equipment and ice time/tuition and then many hidden costs including travel expenses, food, and knock on wood… injuries.
Hockey is a relatively expensive sport and it costs around $1,000 to get your first set of decent equipment which will last your quite a few years. Ice time and coaching is the next biggest expense, followed by travel and league fees. You can save money by borrowing or using used equipment and upgrading to more expensive gear over time and as you develop as player,
In this guide we will be looking at the cost to play hockey for both a beginner (recreation level youth or adult just learning to play) and an intermediate to advanced player (travel hockey and beyond).
Cost of Hockey Equipment
The equipment in hockey is the most obvious expense and there are quite a few pieces to consider. For this we will start from the feet (skates) and work our way up to the head (helmet). Prices will be listed for both youth and senior sizes.
1. Hockey Skates Cost
- Beginners – $200
- Intermediate – $400
Hockey skates are the single most expensive piece of equipment that one has to buy. Each brand of skates whether it be CCM, Bauer, True, etc… has their own line variations and models within each variation.
Price points between brands tend to stay pretty consistent so for this guide we will be using Bauer price points as Bauer remains the leading force in the hockey market.
For beginners with the intention of playing hockey I recommend staying away from the cheapest 1 to 2 models of any hockey skate. These are normally reserved for your public skating enthusiasts and will provide little support or protection from pucks, sticks, and the wear cause by playing hockey.
The Bauer Vapor X2.9 is a good base model for starting players that will run you $249.99 for junior and $349.99 for senior sizes.
For Intermediate to Advanced hockey players you will need to step up your skate game to a boot that can handle the wear and tear of multiple practices and games every single week. Think of your skates as an investment.
If you want to save money, do it on other pieces of equipment, not here. Top of the line and custom skates are ideal but the idea of dropping $1000 on skates is not realistic for many people so I will be staying away from the top of the line and giving you a competitive alternative.
My recommendation here is to shop a year behind. What this means is that the 2019 top of the line skate can be bought in 2020 at an extremely discounted rate.
Take the Bauer Vapor 2X for example. With the introduction of the 2X Pro model, the 2X, which is still a skate worn by many NHL players can now be bought for $399.99 for junior and $599.99 for senior models.
This is true across all brands and line variations, Vapor is just an example.
2. Shin Guards Cost
- Beginners – $70
- Intermediate – $80
Shin guards are a piece of a equipment that you can get away with buying and not worry about replacing for many years as long as a blocked shot or fall doesn’t cause any cracks or you simply grow out of them.
For both beginner and intermediate players I recommend a mid line shin guard, the bottom models provide far too little protection and the top of the line models do not offer much more protection then the middle models.
The main difference is comfort, if you can afford it do it, but I recommend the Bauer Vapor X800 Lite’s. They provide good protection and comfort for a modest price. Junior sizes will cost you $69.99 and senior sizes will run you $79.99.
3. Hockey Pants Cost
- Beginners – $100
- Intermediate – $150
For pants pricing is tricky as many intermediate to advanced players will either receive pants as part of their tuition for their respective teams as they must match colors/patterns/logos so for this guide I will include a pair of pants that is good for beginners in terms of protection and comfort as well as a pair for intermediate players if they were to not receive pants from their team.
For beginners, look no further then a middle of the line model of pants. Sound like a broken record yet? Pants have the fewest variations for the most part and pricing is pretty standard.
I recommend the Bauer Vapor X800 Lite model of pants- the same as the shin guards- which will run you about $79.99 for junior and $99.99 for senior models. These pants are a nice middle ground that will last you a few seasons.
Intermediate and advanced players I recommend either looking for a top of the line pant from the year before if you can find a deal, do not spend $200 on pants, or a step up from the X800s in the Bauer Vapor X900 Lite pants. These provide a bit more cushion and protection and will run you about $119.99 for junior and $149.99 for senior sizes.
4. Hockey Shoulder Pads Cost
- Beginner – $90
- Intermediate – $130
Shoulder pads are another piece of equipment that you can buy once and have last you for multiple seasons, because of this, I recommend getting a pair that you really enjoy. Shoulder pads need to be properly fit to prevent injuries so avoid buying a larger pair and hoping to “grow into them.”
For beginners I recommend the Bauer Supreme S29 Shoulder Pads which cost $89.99 for junior and $99.99 for senior sizes. These shoulder pads and other pads in this prize range provide the protection needed to play while also not breaking the bank.
For intermediate to advanced players I recommend the Bauer Supreme 2S Shoulder Pads which cost $109.99 for junior sizes and $129.99 for senior sizes. These pads are lightweight, durable, and provide maximum protection without being a top of the line set of pads.
5. Elbow Pads Costs
- Beginner and Intermediate – $70
Elbow pads like pants, will be a category that I provide an option that could work for both beginner and intermediate players. The difference between the middle and top does not justify the price point for me.
Proper fit is much more important then any gel pad changes made from one model to the next will be in modern day pads.
For elbow pads I am recommending a model such as the Bauer Supreme S29 elbow pads which cost $59.99 for junior and $69.99 for senior sizes.
These elbow pads don’t have all the bells and whistles as far as foams and gels but they have more traditional strapping and padding system meaning you are not losing anything when it comes to fit and protection. This is a piece of equipment that if you feel you want to spend more for comfort feel free, but it is not necessary.
6. Gloves Cost
- Beginner – $130
- Intermediate – $150
Hockey gloves are another item that may or may not be included with the tuition of your team depending on the level that you play, but I will include them here in the pricing as I did pants. Gloves are another one of the more expensive items if you choose to buy the newest and best models.
For beginners, I would recommend finding a glove that is comfortable and you feel secure in. I would not worry about palm linings, the cuff of the gloves, and other minor details that are not going to make major changes in your game.
A glove I would recommend is the Bauer Nexus N2900 glove. These gloves are lightweight and loose providing a comfortable overall feeling. These gloves will cost you $109.99 for junior and $129.99 for senior sizes.
Intermediate players will start to have a feel for whether they like a tight or loose feeling glove. These preferences will change what model of glove you can get but price points will be around the same. For consistency, I would recommend the Bauer Nexus 2N glove which will cost you about $149.99 for junior and $199.99 for senior sizes. These gloves are also the ones most often received through team orders.
7. Hockey Helmet Cost
- Beginner & Intermediate – $200
Head injuries are nothing to play around with and because of this I strongly recommend staying away from old or lower model helmets.
A bad helmet could have consequences that go much further then sports.
For this reason for both beginners and intermediate players I am recommending the Bauer Re-Akt 150 or higher. Anything lower then this model and I would not feel comfortable playing contact hockey. This helmet sits at the $199.99 price point.
8. Hockey Stick Cost
- Beginner – $100-150)
- Intermediate – $150-200
The first thing a kid will head towards in the pro shop will always be the stick rack, in fact adults are often the same way. There are so many choices and varieties that it really will take some trial and error to see what you enjoy the most. You can view my review of the best hockey sticks here.
For beginners I recommend staying between $100-150. There are enough sticks in this price range that you could find what works best for you and not feel totally awful about breaking if that does happen.
For intermediate players I recommend going the pro stock option which will run you about $150 on sites such as Pro Stock Hockey or if you choose to go retail find a stick between that $150-200 range. Sticks above that price point are amazing yes, but are not necessary unless you are playing at a highly competitive level.
All players- $150
Some items that we did not discuss but are still apart of the gear are hockey jocks/jills that are a must have. These versions unlike jocks made for other sports include Velcro to help hold up your hockey socks while you play. Jerseys are also an additional cost if not provided by your organization.
Hockey tape/laces/wax are also small items that you will be purchasing pretty often. I would recommend setting aside another $150 for these items.
Here is a basic list of miscellaneous gear required by players, some are a necessity while others will be required over time as your game develops.
- Skate Socks
- Shin Pad Socks
- Visor cleaner
- Skate puller
- New laces
- Hockey tape
- Hockey wax
- Bench towel
- Base layer top and bottom
- Skate guards
- Water bottle
- $1000-10,000 depending on where you live and level you play
Depending on where you live these prices could vary wildly. In Canada and the United States, tuition prices are rising every single year at every level from in house to AAA.
Expect this to be your biggest cost. Rinks near me charge around $1200 per season for in house hockey and travel hockey ranges between $3000-8000 depending on age group and level.
I will not be including the physical costs of travel but do remember that those prices are on top of these tuition fees in most cases.
Let’s Recap, so how much?
So how much does it cost to play ice hockey? To purchase all your gear and pay tuition for a beginner player will cost you between $2,000-2500, about half of which is equipment and half of which is paying for ice time.
For an intermediate player, you are looking at about $6000-7000 depending on the costs of your local travel hockey organization.
If you’re playing beer league or a new to the sport, you can keep costs down by borrowing equipment from your local rink, friends or buying second hand gear (just make sure it fits properly).
There are some great ways to save some money here and I recommend checking out sites such as Pro Stock Hockey and Sideline Swap. Look out for local sales in hockey shops around you or online at a site such as Hockey Monkey.
Another option is to ask around! Hand me down gear can sometimes be your best option. Close friends and family may even give you some gear for free if you ask.
Another thing to remember is many of these costs will not be yearly costs, most pieces of gear should be able to last multiple seasons. The only exception to this is growing kids who tend to need new gear every year or every other year.
New skates will be a yearly expensive from the ages of 5-18 for the most part. This is the greatest sport on the planet, do not let the costs discourage you. Piece things together and don’t be afraid to ask your local rink/friends. Hockey people are good people.