By Mark Chapin, JMSer and co-founder of Lifetime Hockey
Contrary to some manufacturerâ€™s statements, no hockey helmet has been proven to prevent brain concussions. The primary purpose of the helmet is to prevent skull fractures when you fall.
According to Charles Pink, store manager at the Hockey Giant in Bloomington, â€œThe best way to help reduce injuries is to get a properly fitting helmet.â€ Scott Fuerstenberg, who manages Daveâ€™s Sports Shop in Fridley, says â€œWith the right fit, there should be no wiggle when you shake your head.â€
Many of the mid-priced helmets have comfortable padding and will provide adequate head protection. However, some of the low-end helmets (like the Easton S7 and S9, Vector 04-08, Bauer 1500, 4500, and 5100) use vinyl nitrate and dual-density foams that will harden over time after contact with perspiration acids. Because the foam hardens as it is repeatedly exposed to sweat acids, the helmet foam does not provide the same level of protection as when it was new. For this reason, a low-end helmet should be replaced ever few years.
Pink notes that most high end helmets use EPP foam combined with a softer, gel-like foam that does not harden over time. Some examples of high-end helmets include the Reebok 6K and 8K (soon to be replaced by the 7K and 11K), Bauer 7500 and 9900, CCM Vector 10, Easton S13, S17 and S19.
I really like the new M11, manufactured by Cascade Sports. It has a nice fit and it looks pretty good, too. This helmet is the product of a project led by NHL legend Mark Messier to design a better hockey helmet. Check out this review and the comments about the M11â€™s level of protection.
The M11 (Messier wore number 11 on his jersey) has a one-piece shell with a thumb ratchet adjustment on the back of the helmet near the neckline. The M11 comes in small, medium and large. Itâ€™s more expensive than some helmets; the price at Daveâ€™s Sports Shop and at Hockey Giant is $119.99.
So take a look your helmet and its fit. Does it slide around when you shake your head? Does it pinch your head and cause pain and headaches? Is it a low-end helmet that you have had for a couple of years, or was it used when you bought it? Maybe it is time to replace your helmet.