Equipment is expensive maximizing its lifetime is therefore quite important, these few tips will help you get the most out of your equipment and save you some money. I personally have been using the same chest protector, pants and helmet for over 10 years. The only reason I have changed my pads, blocker and trapper were that I grew out of them (or they settled down too much). Every time I sold a piece of equipment, it still had many years of life left. Too many times have I seen another goaltender have newer pads that seemed completely worn out compared to mine – all due to poor maintenance.
Before leaving for every game you should visually inspect your equipment while placing it in your bag. Tighten any loose screws and ensure your equipment is in adequate shape for the upcoming game. Make sure any issue you find is addressed as soon as possible. A small tear can become severe during a game as the piece of equipment moves and is loaded during play. This can be as simple as tying up loose straps, using adhesive tape or sewing your equipment back to an acceptable state (as I have done a few times!). You can also bring your equipment to a local pro shop to get it repaired.
Immediately after the game is a good time to take snow off your skate blades and dry it with a rag. Skate blades can rust and that certainly won’t be helpful on the ice or for durability. This is also a good time to check if there are any nicks in your blades and if they are still as sharp as you like them.
After getting home you will want to air out your equipment. Laying it out so it can dry and reduce the growth of bacteria which makes your equipment smell! You don’t want to be that person that the team offers to pay to wash their equipment because it smells so horrible (we have offered to do this to one player!).
Find a good spot where you can open up your bag, and preferably hang up your equipment on hooks. For me, it’s mostly always been in the basement, make sure the location you pick is dry and warm enough, you don’t want to keep moisture on your equipment. For a couple years, I used my garage when I lived in a townhouse (insulated on 3 sides and roof + insulated garage door). I tested it beforehand by leaving a water bottle overnight on the coldest days to make sure the temperature always stayed above freezing. Freezing your equipment might slow bacteria from spreading but your equipment will be cold and damp when you put it on. If your equipment does not dry out overnight, it needs to be better hanged or its not in the right spot.
Simply leaving your bag in the car or back of a truck is not a good option. Thawing equipment while you’re putting it on and being wet before the game is uncomfortable and could potentially lead to other problems.
While you take out your equipment to dry it out, take a quick look to see if anything is damaged so you have time to get it repaired before the next game.
Other things to keep in mind
If your equipment starts to smell you can wash it! Hand washing works, some items can be put in the laundry machine or you can pay for a professional cleaning.
Periodically wash socks, jerseys and any built-in sweat guards (some helmets, gloves have them). They absorb most of the sweat and tend to start smelling before the rest, washing them can prevent needing to wash other items.
You should wash your underlayers after every game as they are usually soaked with sweat. Keep 2 sets so you can have one ready while you wash the other.
Have a spare pair of socks and underwear in your bag. After the game, showering and putting on new clothes is always a good idea but you never know when you might forget to bring socks (especially if you play during the summer).
A repair kit with screwdrivers, spare snaps, skate laces etc. is a good idea to have in your bag
A sharpening stone or “magic stick” is useful as well if you notice your skates aren’t as sharp as they should be or you lost an edge. Every couple games someone needs to use it, either before the game or due to something happening on the ice.
Any other tips ? let us know!