What Does a Player Wear Under Their Ice Hockey Gear?

Posted on May 9, 2022 by Dan Kent
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If you’re new to the game of ice hockey, you may have found yourself wondering what you should be layering underneath all of your hockey equipment. There is a general consensus among tenured players about what works best — though it’s still up to a player’s personal preference and comfort.

For the most part, players wear moisture-wicking material as this keeps sweat to a manageable level and protects a player from potentially harmful bacteria. A long sleeve shirt and long compression pants are often considered the standard among hockey players. Players often have specific preferences around socks, with some preferring shorter ones and some liking them long. An athletic cup is often a necessary addition for players before going onto the ice as well.

What Is the Common Ice Hockey Gear Setup?

When considering what a hockey player usually wears, the list becomes surprisingly long. Along with all of the undergarment pieces that enable a player to stay comfortable and protected, there is also the outer padding — such as shoulder pads and of course, a helmet. All of this equipment comes together to ensure a player is competing at their best.

When dressing for practice or for a game, a hockey player’s gear setup may look something like this:

  • Helmet
  • Shoulder pad
  • Chest protector
  • Elbow pads
  • Mouthguard
  • Gloves
  • Padded shorts
  • Athletic cup
  • Shin pads
  • Neck guard (optional)
  • Skates

It’s no wonder that hockey ends up being such an expensive sport — the gear alone requires an initial investment before a kid can even begin to play. Of course, most of the gear above can be found secondhand for a young player just starting out. This list doesn’t take into consideration what many players wear underneath their outer gear as a base layer.

Every piece of equipment serves a purpose — mainly to keep players protected during such a rough game. With pucks moving at such high speeds and sharp skates on the ice, it’s better to be safe in this game.

What Should Players Wear Underneath Their Gear?

Most hockey players tend to wear long-sleeve undershirts and long compression pants that are made from a special moisture-wicking material made for athletics. The base layer should be comfortable and breathable, with a level of compression that both allows the player to stay comfortable and to stay cool and dry all game long.

As far as what to wear under hockey skates, most players opt for taller socks that have thicker material at the toes to prevent uncomfortable rubbing and potential blisters. However, some players find that it’s more comfortable to have shorter socks. This is all up to personal preference.

For the lower body area, players often use a base layer pair of compression pants with an athletic cup. Some pants come with a jockstrap, so the purchase of a separate one wouldn’t be necessary. Having a tighter pair of pants as a base layer can often keep shin guards from rubbing uncomfortably on bare skin as well.

A long sleeve base layer shirt keeps elbow pads from hitting bare skin, which some players prefer for comfort. Some shirts come with built-in neck protection. While this extra safety feature is nice, some players find them to be uncomfortable.

What Are the Benefits of a Base Layer?

A base layer has an array of benefits, many of which casual players aren’t fully educated on. The layer can act as a thermal layer which can ensure the player is able to regulate their body temperature during intense play in a cold arena.

The added compression from the base layer can help alleviate stress on the muscles, which can improve performance and recovery for hockey players. The moisture-wicking material of the layer is able to provide some sweat control while also protecting bare skin from being soaked with sweat for over an hour.

If you opt for a base layer with an included athletic cup and neck protection, you may even end up saving some money in the long run. You won’t need to purchase these items separately and it’ll be more convenient to dress before a game.

Why A Base Layer Is Important


Having some type of base layer is better than nothing. The additional cost of a quality base layer is key for any hockey player, as it does wonders with keeping them comfortable during practice and games. Whether the player prefers the extra compression or simply a looser-fitting shirt and pants under their uniform, they’ll have a bit of added protection against pucks and skates.

Without this base layer, players could become cold from sweat hitting their bare skin during the game. This could lead to an inability to regulate their body temperature effectively. Any type of distraction such as this keeps players from performing to the best of their abilities — so a base layer has everything to do with performance as well.

Dan Kent

About the author

Growing up in a hockey hotbed (Calgary, Alberta. And yes, I'm an Oiler fan), I decided to put my love and knowledge of the game to work. I started at five and am still playing today into my early 30s. By acquiring Brave Stick Hockey and rebranding it to Big Shot Hockey in 2023, I plan to teach people about this great game and educate them on the best equipment and history of the game. On a career level, I am in finance, running one of the largest financial websites in Canada, Stocktrades.ca.

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