All players get to the point when they have the opportunity to choose between a cage and a shield (or no facial protection). Typically that time is when you reach adult recreational leagues.
Most adult leagues allow anyone over the age of 18 to play, which means that when players reach 18 years of age, they’ll finally have the choice of taking off their cage and upgrading to a visor should they choose that route.
When it comes down to comfort and overall vision, the visor takes the cake every time. There’s nothing snapped up around your chin and nothing to obstruct your view of the ice. When it comes to safety, however, the cage wins out every time. Despite owning an Oakley visor, I wear a cage for all of my games.
The reason I choose to go with a cage is strictly motivated by safety. I’ve see too many players get caught with sticks or pucks (I’ve caught a puck in the mouth myself) to justify wearing a visor. In addition, my vision isn’t all that bothered by a cage either. Perhaps it is because I grew up playing goalie and a player’s helmet offer so much more in terms of peripheral views as it is. Regardless, a cage is the choice for me.
However, you may be in a different position.
Determining if you want to wear a cage or visor comes down to little more than personal preference. If you’re comfortable with just a visor on, then you shouldn’t even think twice about wearing one. You’ll love the comfort that comes with little to obstruct your view of the ice. Picking that visor is where the decision making process will begin.
There are a number of companies making visors today, but Oakley and Bauer stand above the rest in terms of quality and durability. Most visor purchases will come down to brand and design as each company offers a handful of different options. Great Skate offers both the Bauer and Oakley models in a straight or aviator cut that is more of a personal preference for the wearer. The aviator is a more stylized model with a curved bottom line which could affect what you look at depending on how focused you are on the bottom of the visor and the ice. The straight models are what’s seen a bit more often in the NHL as a majority of players opt for the simple look with their visor.
Bauer recently introduced the Pro Clip visor line which utilizes all of their normal visor models but with a quick release, tool-less shield replacement when it comes time to start using a new visor. It’s an interesting development as putting a visor on a helmet falls somewhere between rocket science and flying on the difficulty scale.
The one thing about the Pro Clip visors that I’m curious about is how often do they need to be changed? It would be somewhat worrisome if they consistently need to be replaced as a lack of durability would certainly be an issue.
If a visor isn’t what you’re looking for, there are a ton of options for cages at Great Skate, including the CCM 580 which is a popular choice amongst a great many collegiate player. The Bauer RE-AKT titanium is a high-end model that offers a super lightweight option. However, the CCM might be the best designed cage out there. Bauer and Reebok each have a decent option for their helmets, but the CCM offers a good view of the ice and also passes the mirror test with flying colors.
One other option, of course, is the full face shield. The Bauer Concept is a design that’s been around forever and has gained popularity in recent years and anti-fog treatments have made these far more manageable to use.
If you’re considering making a switch to a visor or simply looking to pick up a new cage, keep this in mind as you’re making your choice at Great Skate.