How Much Does it REALLY Cost to Play Hockey? Average Player Costs

Posted on June 19, 2024 by Dan Kent
hockey fishbowl

It is no secret that hockey is one of the most expensive sports that one can choose to play. There are the upfront costs in equipment and ice time/tuition and many hidden costs, including travel expenses, food, and knock-on-wood,  injuries.

How much does hockey gear cost?

Hockey is a relatively expensive sport, and it costs around $1,000 to get your first set of proper equipmentwhich will last you quite a few years. Ice time, coaching, travel, and league fees are the next biggest expenses. You can save money by borrowing or using used equipment and upgrading to more expensive gear as you develop as a player. 

This guide will look at the cost of playing hockey for both a beginner (recreation level youth or adult just learning to play) and an intermediate to advanced player (travel hockey and beyond).

I'll also include some links to the best equipment in terms of price so you can get the best bang for your buck. Or, if you want to spend premium pricing on gear, I'll have some options.

Cost of Hockey Equipment

The equipment in hockey is the most apparent 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 if possible.

Hockey Skates Cost

  • Budget – $499
  • Middle of the line - $749.99
  • Premium– $1079

Hockey skates are the single most expensive piece of equipment that one has to buy, even beginner skates. Each brand of skates, whether CCM, Bauer, True, etc., have their 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 and in my opinion has some of the best equipment out there.

For beginners intending to play hockey, I recommend staying away from the cheapest 1 to 2 models of any hockey skate. These are generally reserved for your public skating enthusiasts and will provide little support or protection from pucks, sticks, and the wear caused by playing hockey.

The only thing you're likely to end up with buying cheap skates is blisters on your feet and an awful experience. If you want to save money when it comes to hockey equipment, hockey skates are not going to be what you want to do it on.

My recommendation here is to shop a year behind. This means the 2022 top-of-the-line skate can be bought in 2023 at a significantly discounted rate. 

With the introduction of the 3X Pro bringing down prices, the Bauer Vapor 3X is a good base model for starting players that will run you $229.99 for junior and $499.99 for senior sizes.

For intermediate to advanced hockey players, you must step up your skate game to a boot that can handle the wear and tear of multiple practices and games every week. Think of your skates as an investment.

Top-of-the-line and custom skates are ideal, but dropping $1000 on skates is unrealistic for many people. So, I will avoid the top-of-the-line and give you a competitive alternative.

The Bauer Vapor 3X Pro are excellent skates worn by many NHL players that can now be bought for $549.99 for junior and $749.99 for senior models.

If you are looking for the best skates possible, the Bauer Vapor Hyperlites are arguably the best skate in hockey but will run you $1079.99 a pair.

As mentioned, I can't stress enough, don't cheap out on hockey skates. As someone who has played the game for 20 years, I have experienced what a cheap pair of skates does to you both on and off the ice.

Recommended
Bauer 3X Skate

Bauer Vapor 3X

Good for those just getting started, and a very affordable pair of skates.

Bauer 3x Pro

Bauer Vapor 3X Pro

Good for intermediate players, playing multiple times a week.

Bauer Hyperlites

Bauer Hyperlites

For those who want to spend extra on a really good pair of skates.

Shin Guards Cost

  • Middle of the line – $119.99
  • Premium – $199.99

Shin guards are a piece of 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.

I have had the same shin guards for nearly 15 years. The velcro is getting weak. However, they still have many years left in 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 than the middle models.

The main difference here is comfort. If you can afford them, there is no doubt the Bauer Hyperlites are some of the lightest, most comfortable shin guards out there. However, they'll run you $199.99.

If you're looking for more affordable, the CCM Tacks AS 580 shin pads come in at $119.99 for seniors and $99.99 for juniors.

Recommended
CCM Tacks

CCM Tacks AS 580

A solid, durable pair of shin guards for a affordable price.

Hyperlite Shinpads

Bauer Hyperlites

One of the most comfortable shin guards on the market.

Hockey Pants Cost

  • Budget – $129.99
  • Middle of the line – $169.99

Pants pricing is tricky as many intermediate to advanced players will receive pants as part of their tuition for their respective teams as they must match colors/patterns/logos. For this guide, I will include a pair of pants that are good for budgeters regarding protection and comfort and a pair for intermediate players if they were not to receive pants from their team.

For those on a budget, look no further than a middle-of-the-line model of pants or older year models that were, at one point, top-of-the-line.

Sound like a broken record yet? Pants have the fewest variations, and pricing is pretty standard.

I recommend the Bauer Supreme 3S model of pants, which will run you about $109 for junior and $129 for senior models. These pants are an excellent middle ground that will last you numerous seasons.

For intermediate and advanced players, I recommend looking for a top of the line pant from the year before and see if you can find a deal.

Do not spend $250 on pants unless you really have the money. If you're looking for a middle ground, grab the Bauer 3S Pro. These are a bit lighter and provide more comfort. 

As a senior, they'll run you around $169.99, and a junior around $120.

Recommended
Bauer 3S Pants

Bauer 3S 

Durable, comfortable, and at a budget price

Bauer 3S Pro

Bauer 3S Pro

Lighter, comfier, and a little more expensive

Hockey Shoulder Pads Cost

  • Budget – $119
  • Middle of the line – $209
  • Premium

Shoulder pads are another piece of equipment you can buy once and last for multiple seasons. Because of this, I recommend getting a pair that you enjoy. Along with this, a poor pair of shoulder pads can impact your mobility and ability to play. 

For these reasons, I wouldn't be breaking the bank, but I wouldn't go crazy cheap, either. Somewhere in the middle is likely best, unless you have the budget to spend more. Shoulder pads must adequately fit to prevent injuries, so avoid buying a larger pair and hoping to "grow into them."

I recommend the Bauer Vapor 3X shoulder pads for beginners, which cost $99.99 for junior and $119.99 for senior sizes. These shoulder and other pads in this prize range provide the protection needed to play while not breaking the bank. 

If you're looking for something in the middle of the line as an intermediate player, try the Bauer Vapor 3X Pros. They will run you around $159.99 as a senior. However, they are much lighter and slightly more comfortable than the non-pro versions. 

For advanced players who don't mind breaking the band, I recommend the Bauer Hyperlites, which cost $209.99 for senior sizes and $189.99 for junior sizes. These pads are lightweight, durable, provide maximum protection, and are also designed to keep you cooler during the game.

The lightweight feature and mobility feature of these shoulder pads should be clearly highlighted in the images below, as you can tell the more expensive they get, the less bulky they are.

Recommended
Bauer 3X

Bauer Vapor 3X

A beginner shoulder pad at a very appropriate price

Bauer 3X Pro

Bauer Vapor 3X Pro

Improved mobility and lightweight

Bauer Hyperlites

Bauer Hyperlites

The lightest option, high mobility, cooling technology

Elbow Pads Costs

  • Middle of the line - $49.99
  • Premium - $119.99

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. However, I'll still mention them for those who want top-of-the-line gear, as elbow pads are still relatively cheap overall.

Proper fit is much more critical than any gel pad changes made from one model to the next and will be in most modern-day pads.

For elbow pads, I recommend a model such as the Warrior Alpha DX4 elbow pads, which cost $39.99 for junior and $49.99 for senior sizes.

These elbow pads don't have all the bells and whistles for foams and gels. Still, they have a more traditional strapping and padding system meaning you are not losing anything regarding fit and protection. 

If you want to spend more money on this equipment, look at the Bauer Supreme 3S. They'll run you around $99.99 for juniors and $119.99 for seniors. They're lighter, a little more flexible, and mobile. You just need to weigh the costs.

Recommended
DX4 Elbow Pad

Warrior Alpha DX4

Basic, cheap, but provides the functionality beginners need

Bauer 3S Elbow Pad

Bauer Supreme 3S

Higher comfort, flexibility, and protection, at a price.

Hockey Gloves Cost

  • Budget– $119.99
  • Premium – $209.99

Hockey gloves are another item that may or may not be included with the tuition of your team, depending on the level you play. Still, I will include them 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 focus on finding a comfortable glove that you feel secure in. I would not worry about palm linings, the cuff of the gloves, and other minor details that will not make significant changes in your game.

A glove I would recommend is the Bauer Vapor 3X. Are you noticing a trend here? The 3X line from Bauer is an excellent line of equipment. 

These gloves are lightweight and loose, providing a comfortable overall feeling. These gloves will cost you $99.99 for junior and $119.99 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 recommend the Bauer Vapor 3X Pro glove, which will cost you about $139.99 for junior and $159.99 for senior sizes.

If you're a stickler for comfort and flexibility, try the Bauer Hyperlite. They'll run you $209.99 for seniors And $179.99 for juniors. They are by far one of the best gloves out there in terms of comfort and flexibility but just know they're pretty pricey.

Recommended
Bauer Vapor 3X

Bauer Vapor 3X

An affordable, comfortable beginner glove

Bauer Vapor 3X Pro

Bauer Vapor 3X Pro

Lighter, more durable, and more protection

Bauer Vapor Hyperlite

Bauer Hyperlites

One of the lightest most protective gloves today

Hockey Helmet Cost

  • Non Contact – $60
  • Contact - $209

Head injuries are nothing to play around with. Because of this, I strongly recommend staying away from old or lower-model helmets, especially if you are beyond the beginner stages.

A wrong helmet could have consequences that go much further than sports.

For this reason, I am recommending the Bauer Re-Akt 150 or higher for beginners and intermediate players. I would not feel comfortable playing contact hockey with anything lower than this model. This helmet sits at the $209.99 price point. 

If you are simply wearing a hockey helmet for public skating or non-contact leagues, You could get away with buying the Bauer IMS 5.0, Which will only run you around $60.

Recommended
Bauer Re-Akt

Bauer Re-Akt 150

An affordable, durable helmet for contact hockey

Bauer Cheaper Helmet

Bauer Vapor 3X Pro

Cheaper for public skaters and non-contact players

Hockey Stick Cost

  • Beginner – $100-150
  • Intermediate – $150-300

The stick rack will always be the first thing a kid will head toward in the pro shop. 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 awful about breaking if that does happen.

I use a CCM Jetspeed 475. It's a completely affordable stick coming in at $119.99. It's lightweight, has a good grip, and has various curves.

For intermediate players I recommend going with 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.

Miscellaneous gear

  • All players- $150

Some items that we did not discuss but are still a part of the gear are hockey jocks/jills, which are a must-have. Unlike jocks made for other sports, these versions 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 you will purchase often. I would recommend setting aside another $150 for these items.

Here is an essential list of miscellaneous gear required by players, some are a necessity while others will be needed over time as your game develops.

  • Jocks
  • Jerseys
  • 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
  • Mouthguard

In terms of things like jock straps, jerseys, skate socks and skate pullers, Hockey Monkey is a great resource to find this stuff.

However, for stuff like water bottles, mouthguards, hockey tape and skate laces, I'd just be heading to Amazon to buy it. It's typically not something you need to visually see and test prior to buying, so I do like the convenience of online shopping in this situation.

Ice Time/Tuition: 

  • $1000-10,000 depending on where you live and the level you play

Depending on where you live, these prices could vary wildly. In Canada and the United States, tuition prices rise yearly at every level, from in-house to AAA.

Expect this to be your highest cost. Rinks near me charge around $1000 per season for in-house hockey, and travel hockey ranges between $3000-8000 depending on age group and level.

I will not include the physical costs of travel but remember that those prices are on top of these tuition fees in most cases.

How much does it really cost to play hockey?

To purchase all your gear and pay fees 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.

If you're an older person just playing recreational hockey, costs can vary. Equipment stays the same, but depending on your ice time and amount of games you play, recreational league costs can vary from a couple hundred bucks to a thousand.

As a parent, it could be frustrating to have a junior player in hockey, as they quickly grow out of their equipment. As they get older, however, you will need to buy less equipment and find that things like shin pads, helmets, and shoulder pads last for the remainder of their junior careers.

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 great ways to save 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 place like Hockey Monkey.

Another option is to ask around! Hand-me-down gear can sometimes be your best option. If you ask, close friends and family may even give you some gear for free.

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, as mentioned, growing kids who tend to need new equipment every year or every other year.

New skates will be a yearly expense 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.

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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