By far the most daunting part of hockey, for me, is the equipment. Buying it, putting it on, making sure we haven’t lost anything (that happens a lot). And with three boys in hockey, used hockey equipment is our very best friend. Actually, this applies to clothing too. No point in paying full price for something they are going to Hulk-out of in a few short months.
Lucky for me, I can do the hand-me-down thing for everything I buy. Assuming they don’t destroy it before they grow out of it. And believe me, they give it their very best destroying efforts. The day someone invents the indestructible pant is the day I will throw a parade. That said, I still get my money’s worth out of most of the boy stuff I buy. But that doesn’t make the upfront costs of purchasing equipment any more palatable.
When we first started in hockey, we purchased two full sets of protective gear. We had one pair of skates and one helmet already, thanks to skating lessons. Everything else, right down to the sticks, had to be purchased. The reason? We didn’t know anyone who played hockey. Thankfully, we could go on the cheaper end of the gear until we knew whether they stuck with hockey. Since then, however, when we need to upgrade, it’s always second hand hockey equipment.
Here’s where we search.
- Second hand sports equipment stores: These are but a Google search away. We have a few options in and around our area and they have never steered us wrong. I will say that pickings are likely to be slim at the beginning of hockey season, so go early if you can. The equipment is always in great shape and you know it has been professionally cleaned before being sold. Because of that, the price might be a little higher than what you might find elsewhere. However, with used hockey equipment, you often get what you pay for.
- Buy/Sell Groups on Facebook: The beauty of a garage sale, but online. I love these things and have found full sets of minimally used hockey equipment for sale at a fraction of the price. The really good buys are the ones where the kids just didn’t love the sport and gave it up after a year. Score.
- Fellow team mates: The beauty of kids is that they grow at different rates. Boy #1 isn’t small, but he has friends that are bigger and have grown out of gear just as we were thinking we needed to find new stuff. In particular, hockey skates. We’ve had to buy two pairs of hockey skates brand new. The first ones all three boys ever skated in, and a pair for Boy #2 when he needed a new pair but Boy #1 hadn’t yet outgrown his. The rest have been from friends.
- Hockey League page: Our league has a Buy/Sell page. Excellent resource if it’s available. Much like the Facebook Buy/Sell groups, the sizing or quality might be hit or miss. It depends on the supply available, where you are in the season and how big the league it. It still bears checking out before you go out and buy brand new.
- Kijiji: HockeyDad’s very favorite place to find things. Or sell things. We’ve never had to use Kijiji for hockey equipment specifically. For reasons I’ve stated above it’s just never been necessary, but it’s a solid option. Just keep in mind the usual safety warnings and make sure you give the equipment a good look over before purchasing.
Now with all that in mind, there’s a few things to keep in mind when buying used hockey equipment.
- Do not buy helmets used. You can’t be sure the structural integrity is intact (translation: that the previous owner didn’t somehow damage it first). Of all the equipment you put on your kid, you want to protect their heads the most. It doesn’t matter how fast my kids (or any of their teammates, for that matter) skate, the minute they slide into the boards head first is the minute my anxiety hits the roof.
- Check that all the straps are in good working order. There is a lot of Velcro to check, but it’s worth it. Especially if you aren’t particularly adept at fixing things.
- Make sure you check the sizing. Youth sizing is different than adult sizing. We’ve figured out that Boy #1 might fit adult sizing in some things, but he’s still too skinny to fill out adult shoulder protection. And Boy #2 might fit into his big brother’s old shoulder gear, but the elbow pads need to be the smaller size. And so on and so forth.
If you’ve tried all these things and are still coming up empty, look for sales. I know I’m stating the obvious here, but bear with me. There are quite a few outlets or warehouse stores, both online and brick-and-mortar that will often have gear on sale. I would recommend that when you start looking for used equipment, you sign up for sale alerts as well. Right now, I have a few in place for new helmets. The efficient part of this is that I am forced to analyze whether we need (or will need) a new helmet when I get those emails. Worst case scenario, you get some emails that you never end up needing or reading.
Best case scenario, you pick up brand new equipment at a sale price when you can’t find used hockey equipment in your player’s size. I still call that a win. Hopefully you have as much luck outfitting your player as I have with mine.
See you at the rink.