How to buy youth hockey equipment without breaking your budget

An interesting discussion took place on Twitter earlier day, with three members of the hockey media (Darren Dreger and Gord Miller of TSN, and Tthe Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle) talking about the rising cost of playing hockey these days, and to what extent that impacts the ability of parents to support their kids’ involvement.

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But rather than summarize it myself, let’s take a look at what they had to say:

DarrenDregerDarrenDreger: Pretty sure the entire collection of PMP’s I used as a kid wouldn’t total what I just paid for my sons new Reebok. #dadisasucker

GMillerTSNGMillerTSN: @DarrenDreger That’s why a member of the Hockey Canada board is proposing that kids under 12 can only use wood sticks. Thoughts?


DarrenDregerDarrenDreger: @GMillerTSN. Too late for that, but I would interested in learning why? Aside from cost, comp sticks are lighter and shot is better.


mirtlemirtle: @DarrenDreger @GMillerTSN Why? Kids and families being priced out for a piece of equipment that’s far from essential for an eight year old.


DarrenDregerDarrenDreger: @mirtle. I appreciate the cost concerns, James. However, equipment quality can also be personal choice. Fees, etc are equally daunting.


mirtlemirtle: @DarrenDreger What’s the argument FOR kids that young to have NHL calibre sticks? Seems bizarre to me.


DarrenDregerDarrenDreger: @mirtle. It’s hard to justify the cost, although for 10 or under rep players, they seldom use more than 1 per year…but, 5 days per week.


mirtlemirtle: @DarrenDreger Becoming a sport for the wealthy.


Which youth hockey equipment to buy, and how to afford it?

Two particularly relevant questions are raised here. First, what kind of equipment is appropriate for a youth hockey player, and secondly, how are parents supposed to afford this stuff while also paying for ice time and accessories?

While parents understandably want to provide the best for their kids, the reality is that it’s impractical for most families to consider buying new, top-of-the-line equipment each year as their child grows into larger sizes, let alone trying to keep up with the latest models that manufacturers are rolling out.

Option #1 – Used hockey equipment

Used hockey equipment offers an opportunity to save a few bucks in multiple ways; first, a parent can trade in their child’s existing equipment, usually getting more in a store credit than they might otherwise in cash. Then, on the buy side, there are obvious savings as opposed to buying brand new gear off the shelf.

On the downside, however, there’s a difference between slightly-used equipment and stuff that’s really been through the ringer over a few years, and with used equipment, you can’t be sure exactly how many players have had that stuff before. For certain pieces of equipment, like shin guard, pants, elbow pads and shoulder pads, going the used route can be a great way to keep up with your child’s growth chart while not breaking the bank.

Just make sure you clean that equipment really well before using it!

Option #2 – Online hockey equipment sites

Save money in Hockey Monkey's clearance section!While you can dig through the clearance section at your local hockey store to look for bargains, the pickings are usually pretty slim, but if you shop through an online retailer like Hockey Monkey or Total Hockey, you can take advantage of a much wider selection.

Recently I wrote about how Hockey Monkey is trying to clear out their stock of Mission hockey skates, since Mission has been discontinued as an ice hockey brand since being acquired by Bauer. Their skates were very popular, however, and although available sizes are limited, the savings you can find are tremendous.

For example, take the Mission Fuel 110 XP Junior ice hockey skates. Originally priced at $279.99, they are on clearance for just $64.98. By applying the MISSIONHS40 discount code, however, you can take a further 40% off, knocking the price on these skates down to less than $40! You’ll want to head over there and browse through the selection to find a skate for your child and make sure they have the right size available (and remember, Mission sizes are the same as US shoe sizes), but if you can find a match, there’s a great opportunity to save a ton of cash on top-quality equipment.

Of course, the discussion that kicked this off was all about hockey sticks, and those can certainly get expensive. For a younger player, it can be hard to justify spending $200 or more on a stick, no matter how good, so again, clearance sections can come to the rescue. For example, Hockey Monkey has the ’09 model of the Easton Synergy ST Jr. Hockey Stick, slashed to 50% off its original price, down to $79.99. Through the end of August 2011, you can also apply the SUMMER15 discount code during checkout, and take another 15% off that price. If you order a 2- or 3-pack, you can also knock a few more bucks off each stick, and be stocked up for the season all at once.

Personally, I would go this route when it comes to skates, helmets, gloves and sticks. Those are the pieces that I’m a bit more particular on, and would rather go with something new as opposed to used. Thankfully, there are clearance sections at both Hockey Monkey and Total Hockey can help make this affordable. Keep an eye out for the coupon codes which I share here at Hockey Gear HQ, and you can usually save at least 15% more off of already-discounted prices.

So yes, trying to keep your hockey-playing child stocked with high-quality hockey equipment can be a financially daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. There are opportunities out there to help stretch those dollars to their maximum, and that’s part of my mission here at Hockey Gear HQ. I hope I can help!

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  1. While I praise this article for its resourcefulness, I believe it misses out on two of the key points of this argument.

    Firstly, in our consumer driven society, the coveting of new things, the latest technology and simply the most expensive things, has passed not only into sports but to our children. The psychological impact of playing in hand-me-downs while your buddies all have the latest tech is enough to make the game unfun. If, as Gord Miller suggested minor hockey leagues supplied equipment, this sort of bravado would not occur in the locker room. Yes, I know, life’s not fair, but if you can make it fair for a few years for youngsters, shouldn’t you? I can see the biggest objection to this coming from Dad’s who know that in buying their sons the best equipment at a young age, they are giving them an edge, a bump up in that Hockey Dad’s dream of producing an NHLer.

    Secondly, if one of the end goals of our minor hockey league system is to produce the best hockey players in the world, it makes sense to, where possible, even the playing field so as not to exclude anyone. It would be a shame for every hockey fan if we never got to see the next Gretzky because he was priced out of hockey and into soccer or basketball. Leveling the playing field makes it easier for coaches to assess players, for the right kids to make it onto competitive teams, all star teams, etc.

    • Your 1st paragraph saddens me because it is so true. Your 2nd one is an excellent point, one that I hope makes some headway by the time my 2-year-old is old enough to start playing.

    • Dirk Hoag says:

      I can appreciate that first concern, but just see it as an intractable problem. Even if you could get all the kids the same equipment, then some kids will be jealous of others who have the latest video games, or clothes, or whatever.

      I think the important thing is making sure that families can afford safe, functional equipment. Using options like those I outlined above can help make that happen, even if you may not get exactly the brand or model that might be preferred (there may a bargain on Brand X, but not Brand Y).

      Cost is certainly a huge issue with youth hockey, and one that frustrates me greatly. I have a son who’d like to play, but we just can’t afford it. The overall cost is at least 10X that of baseball or other sports.

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