As hockey has grown in popularity, so has player safety.
It’s insane to think that at one time, hockey players played the game without helmets.
And, as the game has evolved, so has our ability to protect ourselves on the ice.
In this article, we’ll take a look at an important piece of protective hockey equipment: the neck guard.
We’ll answer some of your basic questions about what it is, why you should use it, and some other factors you need to consider before using or buying one.
Plus, if you’re a goalie, we have some important tips on how you can interchange your different neck-protecting equipment options.
Let’s dive in.
What Is a Neck Guard in Hockey?
A hockey neck guard is a piece of hockey equipment that protects the players neck. It’s worn around the neck and comes in a few different styles—with the most typical type being a cushioned ring of fabric. Both players and goalies wear them—though goalies have a variety of neck-protecting options.
Is It Important to Wear a Hockey Neck Guard?
Yes, it’s important to wear a neck guard in hockey. However, in most leagues, it isn’t required.
Due to how fragile and vulnerable necks are, neck guards are often used as a way to offer increased protection against lacerations (i.e. from a stick or skate), as well as other damage to the area.
There have been several instances of life-threatening injuries suffered by hockey players that haven’t worn a neck guard.
Neck guards are typically made of a shock-resistant padding covered by a durable, long-lasting lining.
How Do You Wear a Hockey Neck Guard?
Standard cushioned hockey neck guards are very easy to wear.
They look and are worn very similarly to a simple dog collar—though they’re much easier to put on as they usually have a simple velcro strap.
Once you’ve got your jersey on, simply slip the neck guard around your neck, and connect the velcro strap to keep it snug.
What Are The Different Types of Neck Guards?
There are 3 main types of neck guards:
1. Neck Protector (soft cushion)
This is the main type of neck guard hockey players will use. It’s the standard collar-style, foam-cushioned neck guard that’s simple to put on around your neck after you’ve got your jersey on.
2. Neck Guard Shirt
This type of neck guard is a newer style and is very practical. It essentially features a standard foam-cushioned neck guard that’s built into the collar of a long sleeve athletic shirt.
The cushion from these neck guards are typically a bit thinner than standard collar-style neck guards. Since the neck guard has to fit over your head, it has to be thinner.
This is a great style to wear since it easily integrates into your base layer gear. It’s very comfortable. However, it doesn’t offer the exact same protection as a standard neck guard would offer.
3. Goalie Neck Guard
The third type of neck guard is the most protective. This makes sense as it’s made for a goalie who has to ensure they can handle taking a few 90-mile-per-hour puck to the chest and potentially the neck each and every game.
This neck guard is designed similarly to the standard neck guard in that it wraps around the neck. However, it extends beneath to cover a bit of the collarbone and upper shoulder area as well.
Do NHL Players Wear Neck Guards?
No, there aren’t any active NHL players that wear neck guards.
The main reason?
They don’t like the look of them.
However, some NHL players have also complained that they’re too tight on the neck. Former Florida Panthers player David Booth said wearing a neck guard feels like it “chokes you.”
However, the NHL continues to make an increased effort to improve player safety, especially when it concerns the head area. So, we may see neck guards make an appearance in NHL hockey in the future.
Are Neck Guards Required in Hockey?
In most leagues, neck guards aren’t required in hockey.
They’re not necessary in the NHL, or most high school leagues.
However, they may be required for youth hockey programs.
Nonetheless, neck guards are still important pieces of protective equipment and it’s recommended for any youth hockey players to wear one.
Are Neck Guards Required in High School Hockey?
No, neck guards aren’t typically required if you’re playing high school hockey.
However, they are still highly recommended if you’re playing in a high school league as they offer extra protection against lacerations on the neck.
Are Neck Guards Required in Youth Hockey?
Neck guards can be required in some youth hockey programs.
You should check with your local youth hockey league to see if it’s required before the start of the season.
And, even if it isn’t required—you should definitely consider wearing one (or have your child wear one) when playing youth hockey, since a lot of kids are still learning to play the game and can be injured.
What Are the Best Neck Guards for Hockey?
If you’re looking for a solid neck guard, here are the 3 best options for you:
Best Overall Neck Guard: Aegis Interceptor Hockey Neck Protector
Neck Guard Runner Up: Aegis Interceptor Hockey Neck Protector – No Bib
Best Budget-Friendly Option: CCM Hockey 600 Cut Resistant Neck Guard
How Much Do Hockey Neck Guards Cost?
Neck guards can range depending on the type you purchase.
Standard neck guards are the most budget-friendly and can usually be found for less than $30.
Neck guard shirts are usually the most expensive type since you’re getting an athletic undershirt as well. These can range from about $50 to $80.
Goalie neck guards typically can range from about $30 to $60.
Should Hockey Goalies Wear a Neck Guard or Dangler?
So, what’s the best option for a goalie: neck guard or dangler?
First: The Cons
Before we talk about the benefits to wearing either one, it’s important to look at the cons.
The main downside to wearing a dangler—otherwise known as a throat protector or throat guard—is the noise and the reduced downward visibility.
The main downside to wearing a neck guard is it can get hot and feel heavy.
Next: The Benefits
The main benefit to wearing a dangler over a neck guard is the fact that it’s much lighter, and more breathable.
The main benefit to wearing a neck guard is the fact that it is nice and snug right to your neck, and offers more protection directly on the body.
However, we recommend using both as protecting your neck is crucial to ensuring you don’t get injured and can continue playing hockey for a long time.
The truth is, not every goalie will wear any neck protection. However, it’s important you do choose to wear one as a goalie as you’ll be facing a lot of pucks to the chest and possibly neck area every time you play.
Should Goalies Use Both a Neck Guard and Dangler?
A goalie can choose whether they wear a neck guard, a dangler, or both‚—or none at all.
If you’re just starting out, we definitely recommend using both a neck guard and dangler as you’re learning how to stop the puck effectively. This means, ideally, you’re making saves with other parts of your body (and not your neck).
The added protection of having both will provide a sense of peace and security which is always nice when you’re learning that taking slap shots to your body is a good thing.
Regardless of whether you choose to wear both the neck guard and dangler or not, it’s very important you wear at least one of them as a goalie.
How Do You Attach a Hockey Goalie Dangler Neck Guard?
Wondering how to attach a goalie dangler (throat protector)?
Here’s a short video that shows how to do it easily with some hockey laces. The step-by-step tutorial starts at 2:45.
This method is unique as the dangler is laced right through the helmet rather than through the front of the cage.
What Are the Best Hockey Goalie Neck Guards?
If you’re looking for a great goalie neck guard, here are the 3 best options for you:
Best Overall Neck Guard: Aegis Interceptor Pro-G Hockey Goalie Neck Guard
Neck Guard Runner Up: Aegis Interceptor G Hockey Goalie Neck Guard
Best Goalie Dangler: Ronin G3X Dangler Hockey Goalie Throat Protector
For more hockey gear tips and recommendations, check out these guides: How to Remove Hockey Jersey Wrinkles, Bauer vs. CCM Sticks (Everything You Should Know), and 3 Great Hockey Skates for Ankle Support.