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Zach Werenski

Choosing Your Face Protection

If you're looking for face protection while playing hockey, you're probably asking yourself which option is best for you.  There's the cage, a timeless classic.  Full shield, a popular choice, and of course the half shield.  Having tried each one, I rate each option for 4 major characteristics: visibility, ventilation, protection, and weight.

 Michigan Hockey Team

Half Visor or Half Shield

A popular choice amongst NHL players, offers the best visibility (other than no visor at all), very good ventilation, and not likely to fog up during play.  However, it also offers the lowest level of protection.  The half visor leaves the lower portion of your face unprotected. Pucks and errand sticks may fit in the gap between your visor and face, leaving your eyes unprotected.  Not recommended if you play with beginners who are not in full control of their skates and sticks.  Honestly, unless you are being paid to play, I would not recommend a half visor.

  • Visibility: Best
  • Ventilation: Very Good
  • Protection: Poor
  • Weight: Best

 

Full Cage (a.k.a. Bird Cage)

Commonly referred to as bird cage, these metal cages offer the best ventilation and protection while providing good visibility.  Players making the adjustment from half visor will likely take several skates to get used to the metal bars, but they really are quite invisible once you start playing the game.  Lower weight options made of titanium make these cages quite comfortable to wear. No need to worry about fogging, even in very humid conditions.

  • Visibility: Good
  • Ventilation: Best
  • Protection: Best
  • Weight: Good - very good

 

Full Shield (a.k.a. Fish Bowl)

A popular choice for many, especially NHL players playing through an injury in their facial area.  This is because it offers very good visibility similar to a full visor, without much compromise in other areas.  There can be some visibility issues when looking down, and is more prone to fog up than a half visor.  Full shields offer fantastic protection. 

  • Visibility: Very Good
  • Ventilation: Good
  • Protection: Best
  • Weight: Good - very good

 

Hybrid Half visor/cage

Some half shields are sold as a combo kit paired with a metal cage. I have tried these myself and would not recommend. They are heaviest of all options because no titanium models are available.  They don't offer improved visibility or ventilation over their full shield counterparts.  The only reason to buy this product is if you are truly unsure whether you want full face protection or need to swap back and forth for some reason.

  • Visibility: Very Good (same as full shield)
  • Ventilation: Good (same as full shield)
  • Protection: Best (same as full shield)
  • Weight: Poor

 

 

As you can see, each option performs well in some areas and not so well in others.  For most recreational players, either full cage or full shield would be a great choice.  Half visors look great, but offer the least protection. Don't wait until you lose an eye or tooth before taking action to protect yourself.

Pictured in cover photo is Zach Werenski after taking a slapshot to the face in 2017 while wearing a half visor. In this photo, he is wearing a full shield to prevent further injury upon his return.

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