Best Goalie Masks (for protection)

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Searching for a new goalie mask? You’ve come to the right place. The team at Goalie Coaches has put together a goalie mask buyers guide for 2020. This guide is designed to help you find the best goalie mask (for the money and the protection) this year.

Before we jump into this, a quick word on our qualification on the topic. Having personally coached thousands of goalies and having played the position for our entire lives, we’ve personally used or inspected every single mask on the market today. This is the single most goalie equipment investment you’ll make, period. Buy the best goalie helmet that you can afford, you will never regret your decision.

One of the big myths out there when referencing protection on goalie masks is, “the heavier the mask, the better the protection”.

This simply isn’t the case. There are plenty of low end mask manufacturers that have carved out a niche for themselves by serving a portion of the market looking for a discount goalie mask. With that said, If you’re looking for a low end goalie mask, talk to somebody who has used one.

These are, hands down, the best goalie masks 2020.

Helmet ImageHelmet NameDescriptionPrice at GoalieMonkeyPrice at PureGoalie
bauer 960 xpmBauer 960 XPMUsed at the NHL level in the form of a cat eye, or 961.GoalieMonkeyPureGoalie
bauer nme vtx reviewBauer NME VTXComparable to 960, offers pro level protection used in the NHL.GoalieMonkeyPureGoalie
vaughn pros choiceVaughn Pros ChoiceUsed by many NHL goalies, superior protection, hard to buy.GoalieMonkeyPureGoalie
SportMask T3SportMask T3Growing in popularity in recent years. Superior protection.GoalieMonkeyPureGoalie
Screen Shot 2020-08-07 at 4.08.54 PMWarrior Ritual F1 ProWarrior.. has entered the chatGoalieMonkeyPureGoalie
warwick goalie mask (1)WarwickUsed at the NHL level, custom order only.
ccm pro goalie maskCCM ProMarc Andre Fleury uses one. Worn by many NHL goalies.GoalieMonkeyPureGoalie
bauer nme ixBauer NME IXThe next option in NME, below the VTX. If you can afford it, the VTX is worth the extra money.GoalieMonkeyPureGoalie
coveted 906Coveted 906The off brand version of the Bauer 960 lineup.GoalieMonkey
coveted 906Bauer 950One step down from the Bauer 960. This is the only "budget" mask here.GoalieMonkeyPureGoalie

It’s important that we add this disclaimer. We’re talking about masks that we have personally used or demonstrated. We’re not just trying to get you to go out and spend money. This article is meant to be a comprehensive guide to actually finding the best helmet for the protection, so you’re not getting injured. If you want to find the best beer league goalie helmet, or the best budget goalie mask, we recommend looking elsewhere.

These are not just the cheapest masks on the market. This article refers to the high end, senior type goalie masks. These are the same helmets the pros would wear. We’ve written a guide on the best youth goalie helmets as well, make sure to check that out.

What is the best goalie mask?

Throughout this guide, we’re going to look at a couple things. First, we’re looking at protection. Protection, in our opinion, is the number one thing you should consider when purchasing a new goalie mask.

We’ve basically taken budget and thrown that out the window. These helmets are the exact same things a lot of pros wear, for good reason. They’re highly protective and they do what they’re supposed to do.

At the end of the day, you’re going to form your own opinion based on your budget. This list of the best masks is a great starting point, you cannot go wrong purchasing any of the masks we’ve listed below.

Bauer 960 XPM / Bauer NME VTX

(Photo by @lullmark) Instagram

The Bauer 960 Profile Line is a series of helmets that have stood the test of time for good reason.

It’s the line that many refer to as “the Profile” mask, designed to profile a thinner face. Worn by tons of pros, D1, Major Junior and youth goalies alike, the 960 line is THE helmet to wear if the mask fits.

Both the 960 and the NME VTX are going to be on the higher end of the budget, so make sure this is something you’re willing to invest in before purchase.

Bauer goalie has been a leading goalie mask innovator for decades and their two top of the line masks currently on the market are no exception.

It’s worth mentioning here, that the 960 and the NME are both top of the line helmets. The 960 is designed for narrow faces while the NME VTX is designed for wider faces. Both are worn by NHL goalies. We’ve personally tested (and own) both masks and vouch for their protection and durability.

Remember, it’s easy for us to tell you to buy one of these. We own both masks and wouldn’t use anything else. Make your own decision based on available funds and your level of play.

This mask uses a fiberglass base, wrapped in layers of 12k carbon composite for some of the most advanced, lightweight protection on the market.

What’s the difference between the 960 and the 961? The difference is in the cage. The 960 mask has a certified cage and the 961 offers the non certified “cat eye” cage.

Bauer NME VTX The NME is another mask built specifically to withstand pro (NHL) level shots. This mask is worn at the NHL level today and for goalies with a wider face, it’s bar none one of the best masks you can purchase for the protection.

We’ve been using the NME VTX in our videos, and had it painted by our friends at Grangroth Graphics, it’s unbelievable. Super light, the protection is second to none and the mask hasn’t had many “ringers”.

The mask features a wrap around the outside designed to withstand the chipping that we find on many masks as they age.

Recommended level of play: Elite/ High School  

You should buy the 960 or the VTX for these reasons. 

  • It’s been around for just about forever
  • The level of protection is second to none, pros use these things for a reason
  • The fit of a 960 or a VTX is unlike any we’ve ever used (they.. just fit right)

Here’s why I’d avoid buying this. 

  • Bauer doesn’t do a ton to innovate year over year when it comes to their masks, but, then again.. who does? Warrior?

Check the best price of the Bauer 960 XPM

Check the Best Bauer NME VTX Price

Related: Best Goalie Pads For 2020

Vaughn Pros Choice

The Vuaghn Pro Choice masks are some of the best goalie masks that you can get.  Each Pros Choice mask is completely custom made and no two masks of the same line are the same.  They’re hand crafted with Aramid fiber, graphite, fiberglass and epoxy resin.  Not to include that these masks are built without a compression machine which can sometimes to cracking.

The material used in these masks are also used by the US Military for fighter jets.  So you can expect a strong helmet.  The Tri Cat Cage is also custom made with the highest grade of stainless steel.   Lastly, the liner is made of comfortable HD foam.

This isn’t a cheap helmet, but it’s a great one if you are playing hockey at an elite level.

You should buy this helmet for these reasons. 

  • If you can afford a Pro’s Choice, you’re not questioning whether or not you should be buying one

Here’s why I’d avoid buying this. 

  • They’re expensive and personally, I think that a Bauer 960 / VTX, the CCM or the Warrior all outperform the Pro’s Choice having worn one extensively. Mainly on weight, but that’s just my opinion

Vaughn Masks at Goalie Monkey

Vaughn Masks at Pure Goalie

SportMask T3

The SportMask T3 is an excellent goalie helmet for a reasonable price.  It features materials that are used in many pro level helmets.  Including premium woven composite, fiberglass and carbon fiber.  This helmet is very good at dispersing the impact of pucks.  The forehead and chin is improved and redesigned to be stronger than ever.  There is a low likelihood that you will take a stinger off the head with this mask.

The shell is created with a system called multi-component modular mold (MCMM).  The goal of it is to create a goalie mask that is consistently strong and durable.  While also still lightweight.

The fit and feel of the T3 is a comfortable, slim fit.  The foam is comfortable as well.  There isn’t a lot to dislike in this helmet.  It’s overall one of the best goalie masks that you can get for the price.

You should buy the SportMask T3 for these reasons. 

  • Great value for your investment, this is a super high quality mask that isn’t the most expensive one on the market
  • SportMask makes a “heavy” feeling mask that isn’t the lightest thing on the market, but it’s designed to be. If you like a mask that feels like a tank, this is your answer

Here’s why I’d avoid buying this helmet. 

  • It feels heavier than a Bauer 960 / VTX, the Warrior Ritual F1 Pro, and the CCM Axis Pro

Buy the SportMask T3 at PureGoalie  

Buy the SportMask T3 at GoalieMonkey 

Warrior Ritual F1 Pro

Huh? Warrior makes goalie masks?

Yes. Warrior has entered the goalie mask market with what their calling the Warrior Ritual F1 Pro. And by doing so, they immediately challenge both Bauer and CCM as one of the top three, if not top two, goalie mask manufacturers available to the goalie who doesn’t play at a level where your gear is paid for by the team (high level junior hockey, NCAA D1, Pro etc).

Warrior did what Warrior does when it comes to bringing new gear to the market, they undercut the competition by just a hair on price. While the actual helmet looks like a literal cross breed of a CCM Axis / Bauer 960, the atheistic is very sleek. While looks to us parents mean nothing, to the kid wearing the bucket, they’re pretty important.

Also worth nothing, Warrior is advertising the F1 Pro mask as having “better chin mobility”. While that sounds hilarious to most of us, it actually does play a pretty big role in the overall fit of your goalie helmet and chest protector. To me, it’s a selling point. I don’t think that the chin mobility on this mask is any better than that of the Bauer 960. It just isn’t. But, then again, that’s largely my opinion.

Honestly, the first time I was able to get my hands on this lid, I was blown away with how light it is. It doesn’t “feel” like a tank of a helmet by any means. Not to the point where you’d question whether or not it actually prevents massive head injury as you would with your standard street hockey helmet, but it’s noticeable.

The single best part about this helmet? The backplate. Now, it would be sexy to rate this as the best goalie helmet on the market, of course (Sorry Warrior, but you can’t just shoot to the top of the list without standing the test of time). The helmet is great, but the backplate is even better. For those of you who choose to customize your mask with a paint job, the backplate is wide open. It’s a blank canvas.

You should buy the F1 for these reasons. 

  • More affordable than any other “pro level” mask on the market
  • The backplate has invisible straps (it sounds crazy, but to me, this is a major plus)
  • They actually invested in the sweat band in this helmet
  • You get a padded mask bag (laughable to some of you, but for most that’s a good value, especially since this lid is cheaper than the CCM / Bauer competitors)

Here’s why I’d avoid buying from Warrior. 

  • This is the first time Warrior has made a goalie mask, obviously, somebody else makes it and they slap their logos on it.. but it’s no Bauer 960 “stood the test of time”

Buy it at Goalie Monkey

Buy it at Pure Goalie

Warwick

Ever heard the saying, “if you know, you know”?

If you wear Warwick.. you know.

Warwick has built masks for many big name NHL goalies over the years, they do not need an introduction.

Full disclosure, I haven’t worn a Warwick on the ice.

But, I know about 100 pro goalies personally who have, so I am more than qualified to write about them in this context. A buddy of mine who paints for a bunch of pretty good goalies (@grangrothgraphics) paints these all the time. I’ve been over at his place when dropping off some of my own stuff, and I have to say.. the Warwick with Titanium Cage is the lightest goalie helmet on the market. It just is. That’s not setting them all on a scale next to each other things, it’s just one of those “you just know” things.

All of the Warwick masks are custom built. A new Warwick mask is going to cost a considerable amount, we only recommend their purchase if you’re a 5x a week serious goalie, or a pro / college goalie looking for something more custom than a Bauer 960.

There are a couple options to with, depending on your head size and personal preference.  No matter which one you decide to go with, it is likely going to be the last mask that you will need for quite some time.  They’re super durable and strong.  The padding and foam internally is always custom and meant to fit your head and only your head.  Warwick masks are great options for goalies that are looking for a truly custom fit mask.

Buy Warwick for these reasons

  • One of the highest quality custom built masks money can buy (they’re just not super available, which is why we rank them lower)
  • Will stand the test of time
  • Almost unmatched protection

Avoid Warwick for this

  • They’re hard to find. You’ve got to custom order these things and they can take awhile.

CCM Axis Pro

The CCM Axis Pro is new for 2020.

NHL Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has been wearing the Axis Pro for a little while now, but since its release we’ve found much more about it.  It features a Sigmatex and pro carbon shell which is super lightweight and protective. The liner is made up of fluid, memory foam and D30.  Each has it’s own purpose, but the end result is a helmet that is comfortable and protected.

Overall this is the best goalie mask that we’ve seen out of CCM yet.  Is it better than the top Bauer or Warwick masks?  Not in our opinion, but if you are a big fan of CCM this is going to be your best option.

Buy the CCM Axis Pro for these reasons

  • CCM makes a great helmet that many pros, including Sergei Bobrovsky, trust with their brain. So, yes, it’s a true “Pro level” helmet
  • CCM has this product they use in their equipment called D30 which is one of the more protective foams I’ve had a chance to pick apart

Avoid this lid for this reason

  • I’m going to catch flak for this from the CCM fan club, but full honesty, the CCM Axis Pro is not better than Bauer’s 960. It’s a great lid if you’re a CCM fan, but, if you were you wouldn’t be looking for reasons not to buy

CHECK BEST PRICE

Buy the CCM Axis Pro at Pure Goalie

Buy the CCM Axis Pro at GoalieMonkey

Bauer NME IX 

The Bauer NME IX is the best budget goalie helmet that you can get.  It’s reasonably priced and a quality goalie mask.

Buy the Bauer NME IX at Pure Goalie 

Buy the Bauer NME IX at Goalie Monkey

 

Coveted 906

Coveted Masks are built by Ron Stefaniuk and you can actually buy these on Goalie Monkey.

The mask pictured to the left is the Coveted 906 design, built to model the Bauer 960 line.

We haven’t tried one of these masks personally, so leaving our honest feedback on the line isn’t 100% fair.

What we do know about these masks, Malcom Subban of the Vegas Golden Knights was wearing one at one point (not sure if he still wears that mask).

The Coveted line could be a good option for goalies seeking some relief on the price of the mask, without sacrificing the protection. With that being said, we do love the OTNY.

Recommended level of play: any

Buy the Coveted 906 at Goalie Monkey

Related: Best Goalie Sticks 

Bauer 950

Before we jump into a few other lids that we do not consider to be “Best of the best” but are still worth talking about, we’ll cover the Bauer 950.

Now, I know what you’re saying.

The Bauer 950 has no business being in the top anything list of anything.

But, it does. This mask is actually a pretty valuable and protective lid for those goalies who may still be in their young high school or late middle school years. It’s not going to break the bank like a 960 would, and chances are, if you’re looking for the most protective yet budget bucket on this list.. you’re still reading.

I have zero qualms about recommending the 950 to anybody. It’s a great mask. Obviously, it’s not going to stop a Stamkos slap shot from the low slot, or even from the blue line, but for most it’ll do exactly as it’s supposed to.

Buy the 950 at Goalie Monkey

Buy the 950 at Pure Goalie 

Other goalie masks worth mentioning..

While these goalie helmets aren’t at the top of our list, they’re still worth talking about.

CCM GFL Pro Certified Mask ($$$)

The CCM GFL Pro mask is Bauer’s closest competitor from major goalie gear manufacturers. The CCM GFL Pro does feature the D30 technology that CCM uses in most of their pro level gear, a huge plus and probably the biggest advantage this mask offers over Bauer.

The shell of the helmet is constructed using Carbon-Tek composite. Carbon-Tek is a lightweight carbon weave designed to give the mask a lightweight, yet rigid feel. The D30 foam absorbs impact extremely well (see video below).

When it comes to CCM vs. Bauer masks, we typically recommend Bauer simply because we’ve used them with success over a period of many years.

The other thing, there aren’t a ton of pros wearing CCM masks. The majority of pros are wearing Bauer 961 or the NME VTX, some version of a Vaughn Pros Choice, or an unbranded Warwick mask.

Buy the CCM GFL Pro Mask

Bauer 950 vs. Bauer NME 8 ($$)

Here’s where we get into the “budget” masks. As a rule of thumb, we generally recommend purchasing a mask that’s on the upper echelon of the price scale, as they’re used in the pros for a reason.

However, we understand that every budget doesn’t work the same. Or maybe, you’re a goalie who plays beer league once a week and your wife isn’t keen on the idea of dropping $800+ on a goalie mask.

Regardless, the Bauer 950 and the NME 8 are both suitable masks for goalies looking to get a solid mask at roughly half the price of a brand new, top of the line mask.

Choose the NME line for a wider face, the 950 line for thinner faces.

Recommended level of play: pre-high school

Related: Best Goalie Chest Protectors

OTNY, a Pure Budget Goalie Mask

We only recommend one brand of goalie mask for the pure budget goalie. If you’re looking to save a ton of money, get a slightly heavier yet super protective mask, check out goalieparts.com.

We own an OTNY mask, again painted by Grangroth Graphics, with Maltese foam (unfortunately, no longer offered) and like the protection.

The one thing about OTNY that we’re not major fans of is the weight. The mask IS a bit heavier than one of the masks built by major manufacturers, however it makes up for that in protection. These things are built like mini tanks.

Recommended level of play: any

 

Let’s talk sweatbands..

Before we get into the inner depths of this article, let’s briefly talk about sweatbands. There’s a company out there called “SHAM Sweatbands”. We put these SHAM sweatbands in every goalie mask we own and hand them out to many kids at our summer training programs.

The SHAM bands are the cheapest, most effective way to control sweat on the market today. We haven’t torn one apart, so we aren’t 100% sure what’s inside, but they’re well worth every penny.

A two pack of the bands is pretty cheap, you can wash these after they get worn or give the second to a friend.

The bands soak up a TON of water and they dry out quickly after games. Love everything about these.

Buy Sham Bands 

Related: Best Goalie Skates For 2020

Conclusion: Best Goalie Helmets

Confidently, I’d put my first hand knowledge of goalie masks up there with just about anybody but the makers themselves. Between coaching thousands of goalies and playing the position my entire life, I’ve had the chance to set my hands on (or use) literally every single goalie helmet that’s on the market today. Every one of them. That’s not to say I’m the only resource worth reading on the topic, but I do happen to understand why we buy and reasons certain folks make a bad purchasing decision. The mask is one of the most important pieces of equipment on, so please tread carefully.

There are a lot of goalie masks that you can get in 2020.  Remember though, these are the final layer protection between the puck and your head.  Thanks for reading and I hope this helped!

 

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