Top Pick – Bauer Vapor 1x Stick
This is the latest version of the Bauer Vapor 1x series. The Bauer Vapor series has always been an industry leader in the lightweight stick department and this 2017 model has added more stability compared to the previous offering. Bauer claims a 20% improvement instability.
The Company Line:
The all-new 2017 Vapor 1X LITE stick is made to optimize your quickness with our lightest blade yet. Built with QRT Plus Technology and Advanced Carbon Layering (ACL), this stick is designed for elite puck-handlers to fly through defenders and keep goalies guessing with a deadlier, even quicker release than ever before.
- 397g (15g lighter than the previous 1x)
- Faster Release (claimed 11% improvement in recoil)
- More stability – reinforced taper zone (where the blade meets the shaft)
- Low kick point
- AERO SENSE 2 blade core
The lighter weight is always a huge plus as is faster release. Perfect for the sniper who is looking for quick snapshots and one-timers.
With a stick this light, durability can be a concern. Also, it is one of the priciest sticks on the market today.
If the price doesn’t scare you away, you can’t go wrong with this stick. We have no way of confirming or denying the 20% increase in stability, but it certainly feels more stable. Speaking of feel, the Bauer Vapor 1x series has a great feel to it. You will know if you missed passing to a teammate because the puck came off the toe or heel and you’ll be able to feel every interaction of the puck while stickhandling.
Bauer Nexus 1N Stick
While the Vapor line is focused on lightweight and speed, the Nexus is a more balanced blend of features. An all-around player. Bauer gets massive bonus points here for one of the funniest stick promo videos we have seen (linked below).
The Company Line:
Top shelf, bottom corner, even championships—hit what you’re aiming for every time with the new 2017 NEXUS 1N stick. With the new control shaft geometry and improved sweet spot technology, load your shot with ease and put the puck in the back of the net.
- Mid Kick Point
- Improved sweet spot
- Control Shaft (rounded corners)
- Easy Load Taper
- POWER SENSE 2 Blade Core
More well-balanced than the Vapor 1x. Laeger “sweet spot” to place your lower hand in order to get a good flex on the shaft which results in more consistency and accuracy.
Heavier than the Vapor 1x. Not as fast of a release as the ultralight sticks on the market.
If the Vapor 1x is for the sniper, then this is for everyone else. It’s not as light, not as flashy but it has no weak spots. This is the kind of stick that will get the job done. We really liked the consistency with which the stick flexed. Even with less than perfect technique, you can get off some good shots.
STX Surgeon RX2 Stick
The Surgeon RX2 came out in 2016 but it’s still one of the best that STX has to offer. STX has been a lacrosse stick company for many many years and has followed Warrior into the ice hockey market as well.
The Company Line:
Input from elite players, at all levels, was imperative at the beginning stages of development. We took R&D out of the lab and straight to the rink for testing. Incorporating feedback from NHL and elite level players into the design confirmed the Surgeon Rx2 will Reshape The Game.
- Puregrip ergonomic shaped shaft
- Pureblade design saves weight and enhances performance
- Ultra-High Balance Point amplifies the feel and playability of the stick
- Flex Profile Precision Flex-Dual Kick Points
- Shaft Construction 3K Carbon Fiber with Nano-Enhanced Resin with Spear Construction
Very lightweight. Unique shaft shape allows more of the hand to grip the stick.
Some reviews online say that it is inconsistent with slap shots. Most say that the feel is different from other sticks because of the shaft design. This could be good or bad depending on preference.
It made the top 10 list for a reason. STX carries their reputation for quality from the lacrosse world to the hockey world. This is a high-quality stick. If the unique shaft shape feels good to you then give it a try.
Warrior Covert QRL
Another company that made the jump from lacrosse sticks to ice hockey sticks. They have been in the game longer than STX though. Frequently an innovator in stick design, the Warrior Covert QRL does not disappoint.
The Company Line:
In today’s game, at any level, you need to do everything quickly. Warrior pioneered the Quick Release stick. We interviewed players from all levels (kids to pros) and the feature they all wanted was “Quicker Release”. They told us, if they had a Quicker Release, they would score more goals – we just made it easier and Lightning Quick.
- Minimus 1000 carbon fiber; high strength and lightweight
- 40% increase in strength from the previous model
- Standard shaped shaft with rounded corners
- Low kick point for quick release
- 1 piece woven carbon fiber
Online reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Low kick point certainly allowed for quick load and release. The stick seemed very accurate as well. Slightly less expensive than other top sticks.
Super low kick point may not be right for every player.
Pretty standard high end low kick point stick. Not a standout among the list, but it can usually be found for a better price than most on here so certainly worth checking out.
True XCORE XC9 ACF
The True Hockey X series is, according to them, for the “precision shooter.” The A-series is for the “power shooter.” Unlike many of the “shooter’s sticks,” this one is not as light. It does have some interesting features like the blade insert that True says gives you more spin.
The Company Line:
THE PRECISION SHOOTER’S STICK. Unmatched accuracy. Unparalleled control. Ultimate feel.
- Mid kick point
- 100% carbon fiber (25 layers – we aren’t engineers but that seems like a lot)
- Urethane XCORE insert for up to 30% more puck spin and better feel
- 1 piece composite construction
- Varied stiffness distribution through the shaft for more accuracy
Lightweight and great feel. The company claims the 25 layers increase durability which is great for a lightweight stick (but hard to test without using every day).
If you look closely at the promo video on their website, the XCORE tech is at least 2 years old. Not a bad thing if you love the feel, but makes us wonder if there is newer, better tech out there for this premium price.
No matter the age of the XCORE tech, it is still a great stick. We liked that the company seems to put some importance on durability with a stick that is designed to be light and quick because no matter how good a stick is, no one wants to be replacing it every few games for a few hundred bucks a pop.
Bauer Supreme 1s Stick
Bauer knows hockey and has been making ice hockey sticks (and other gear) for a long time. This is Bauer’s “strong” stick. Designed for power players who favor the slapper. We think these are code words for “good stick for playing defense.”
The Company Line:
The revolution has arrived. Durability, performance and power are taking over. The 2017 Supreme 1S with RenewCore technology is more than just your hardest shot yet, it’s your chance to start scoring at a completely different level.
- High kick point
- Renewcore pressurized gel blade for extra durability and shot power
- Easier loading of the stick on snapshots compared to prior Supreme model
- eLASTech Technology to prevent micro fractures from everyday wear and tear
- Consistent energy transfer for consistent shot-making
Pretty good feel for a “power” stick. 9 blade patterns to choose from
Heavier than the other two Bauer offerings on this list (but not really that heavy)
Someone is going to say, “too many Bauer sticks on this list!” Hey, there is a reason they are the most asked about and best selling. If you are looking for a stronger stick than the Vapor or the Nexus then this is your stick. This is also a great choice for the player that wants a premium and lightweight stick but isn’t willing to give up durability or perhaps doesn’t want to risk breaking the bank by breaking a stick every game.
Easton Synergy GX (Best Value For The Money)
The Synergy GX is a little bit of a combination of the HTX model and the CX Stealth model but with upgraded materials and compared to those two. It is a little more robust than the CX Stealth which makes it more suited for defenders or those that take more slap shots than quick wristers.
The Company Line:
- Power Taper to transfer more power into the blade
- Hyperlite Design to create a blade-light balance
- Hypertoe stiffened toe region for more responsive shots off the toe of the blade
- XTX Resin for more durability
- One-piece design
Great value for the money compared to others on the list. Great responsiveness.
It’s a little older than others (hence the lower price tag).
Not totally up to the level of some of the other sticks on this list, but still good. Great stick for the player that plays competitively but doesn’t want to spend their whole savings on sticks. With Bauer’s purchase of Easton, the future of Easton sticks are uncertain.
CCM Ribcor Trigger 2 PMT
The Company Line:
With a new improved taper and an optimal flex ratio, the ease of loading and the quickness of release of the Ribcor Trigger² PMT is the next great Ribcor stick to add to your lineup. By combining all these new features with Sigmatex spread-tow technology, what you get is our best performing Ribcor stick to date.
- Low kick point
- ASCENT BLADE 3 – a Lighter blade that features tactile blade surface
- SIGMATEX – exclusive spread tow fabric that is ultra-lightweight, and very strong
- 2 piece construction
- Concave sidewalls for quick release
Improved on blade durability concerns from 2016 models. Includes option for 70 flex in addition to 75.
Heavier than previous models.
Great stick. It’s always positive when we see a company fix things that needed fixing in prior models. The option for a 70 flex really shows that they care about all levels and ages of players. That fills a gap between intermediate and the stiffer senior sticks. Great for a youth player looking for their first senior stick.
Easton CX Stealth
Like its big brother, the Synergy GX, the CX Stealth is a great stick. Some of us here used to play Easton sticks way back in the 1990s so we have a soft spot for the Easton Sticks here. Sorry, no video available on this one…so boo to Easton’s video people.
The Company Line:
Engineered for precision so you can be engineered to score.
- Low kick point
- One-piece design
- Sounded shaft corners for better feel
- Unique low taper to resist twisting and help accuracy
Light, quick release. Great price compared to similar sticks.
Some online reviews say that the feel was too soft, making it almost dampened.
It would be hard to say anything bad about an Easton stick. It is a good option for the forward sniper that finds the Synergy stick too cumbersome.
Sher-Wood Rekker EK365
This stick would win an award for our favorite name even if it wasn’t any good. Who doesn’t want to “rek” the competition! Bad jokes aside, it’s really light and is definitely a sniper’s stick.
The Company Line:
The REKKER EK365 is our elite level stick, offering all of our most advanced technologies and features, all while being the lightest stick on the market. We’ve made it lighter, more responsive, and reliable than ever before with new and improved materials, construction, and manufacturing processes.
- 380g (lightest stick on the list)
- Blackline carbon fiber
- Low kick point
- Flylyte Tech – they say it is light and “super-durable”
- Graphene infused
- Spear shaft technology (they are really good at cool names for stuff)
Super light. Very easy to load the stick when shooting.
With it being so lightweight, we worry about durability.
You can’t ignore the weight (or lack thereof). The low kick point makes it real easy to get off quick shots and the accuracy is pretty good.
Choosing The Right Hockey Stick
Ok so just pick any of the Top 10, right?
You need to get the brand and model that is right for you.
We’ve got you covered…
You need to know if a particular stick is right for your level of play, your position, your style of play, and your budget. This is a lot of personal preference, but it helps to know what to look for. We broke these factors down into six parts Price Range, Feel, Wood vs. Composite, One Piece vs. Two-Piece, Finish, and Curve.
Go for the most expensive, right?!
This may not be the most interesting part of the equation, but it’s where you start when choosing a stick. There are a lot of great ice hockey sticks at all price ranges.
Before you even look at sticks, pick a price range that is comfortable for you and stick to it.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to have a backup stick. Many players, especially newer players and those at recreational levels of play will have one “good” stick and a less expensive backup. Do that, and you can avoid spending money on an expensive stick that you may never use. As you play more, you can upgrade your “game stick” and use the current one as a backup.
Bottom line, don’t break the bank on the stick, you need to get quality equipment across the board and sticks break. Better to use more of your budget on a good pair of skates that are perfect for you.
You want a stick that feels good right?
But what makes up a stick’s feel?
Feel is very subjective but can be important in choosing the right hockey stick. You want a stick that makes you feel comfortable and confident when you hold in in your hands.
You want the stick to feel like an extension of your arms rather than some object you are holding. This comes with a lot of practice, but getting a stick that feel comfortable to you is a good start.
Some players like a softer feel while others want to sense every vibration in the shaft that comes from the puck making contact with the blade. If you are just getting started in the game, you will have no idea what works best for you so try a few different variations of sticks and go with whatever feels good. As you improve, you’ll develop a better sense of what type of stick works for you.
Here are some factors that affect the feel of a stick:
Wood vs. Composite
Wood sticks are generally cheaper and relatively easy to cut down to the right size. All you need is a wood saw. This makes them very appealing to someone just getting started who does not want to spend a lot of money. Wood sticks can provide a great entry point for new players. They are also good as backups for more experienced players who do not want to spend a lot of money on a backup stick that they will rarely use.
However, wood sticks are also stiffer and heavier, which makes them a little harder to handle for beginner players. So if you are really just getting started and deciding if you want to play ice hockey, then start with a wood stick. As soon as you decide you want to stick with the sport for a while, look into getting a composite stick with a softer flex that fits you better.
One of the first things you will notice if you held a composite stick is that it is significantly lighter. Composite sticks also tend to be more consistent in the manufacturing process. Wood can have variations from stick to stick despite the best efforts of the manufacturer, but composite sticks are made completely of manufactured materials so the process can be refined for total precision.
Composite sticks can come in a variety of materials such as fiberglass, aluminum, graphite, kevlar, or titanium. They each have a different feel and characteristics. If you are just getting started, it is much more important to get a stick that fits you right than to pick the “right” material. So grab the stick that you like and make sure it is fitted for you.
Want to learn more check out this article on Wood vs. Composite Hockey Sticks.
One-piece vs. Two-Piece Hockey Sticks
From a purely technical standpoint, one-piece sticks are generally better. They are overall lighter, more consistent, and transfer energy from the stick to the puck more efficiently. But this is not the only factor to take into consideration when choosing a stick.
One-piece ice hockey sticks are also more expensive. One-piece sticks tend to make it easier to generate harder shots but they also break easier. Watch some NHL games and you’ll see a defenseman break his stick taking a slap shot from the point and give the other team a great chance to grab the puck and maybe make it into an offensive rush. So a stick that generates a harder shot is not worth it if it breaks often. If you are a beginner player or playing at the recreational level, though, breaking a stick too frequently shouldn’t be too much of a concern as it requires a strong shooting technique to do so.
Two-piece ice hockey sticks tend to be more popular among the younger and recreational levels and even up to high school and college. Two-piece sticks mean that the shaft and the blade can be detached. They tend to be a little heavier and a little stiffer than composite sticks. The benefit to a two-piece stick is that when it breaks, it usually (but not always) breaks at the blade which can be replaced relatively inexpensively (at least when compares to replacing a full composite stick). Two-piece sticks also allow you to try differently curved sticks with much less expense.
We recommend starting with a two-piece stick until you know exactly what setup you like in terms of flex, curve, and finish before investing in a one-piece.
Finish (Grip, Glossy, Matte)
Finish is the covering of the stick itself. This is completely a personal preference thing. Glossy (or clear) sticks are smooth and allow you to slide your hand up and down the stick easily to adjust for varying shots. This makes it easier to adjust but requires a little more pressure from your hands to keep the stick under control. Some players prefer to play with a lighter grip when controlling the puck while others are more comfortable holding the stick tighter.
Grip finish is more sticky. It is essentially a rubber-like coating applied to the stick to help you grip it better. The name varies from manufacturer to manufacturer but it all means essentially the same thing. Grip sticks will let you have a somewhat lighter hold of the stick which can help when receiving passes or stickhandling with the puck. Be careful though, hold the stick too light and it can easily be knocked from your hands. The downside to grip sticks is that you have to let go more to slide your hand into a different position on the stick which can slow you down.
Matte finish sticks are not as sticky as grip sticks but have a rougher finish than a glossy stick. As far as actual stickiness, it is much closer to a glossy stick than it is to a grip finish stick, but it can be a good compromise for the player that wants something in between.
Curve is how the blade of the stick is shaped. There are more types of curves out there than we could possibly discuss here. To make it even more confusion, each manufacturer has their own way of naming the various curves, typically naming them for an NHL player that uses the curve. NHL players can fine tune their stick curves to exactly how they want it. You, on the other hand, are stuck picking the one that you think will work best.
While we can’t explain every possible curve out there, here are some general factors you will want to look at when choosing a stick curve:
Left or right handed curve
This one is pretty simple. You want to make sure that whatever the curve is, it is curved in towards the front of the blade (the part you shoot with). Once you have that part down, then it is all a matter of fine tuning that curve to your preference.
Amount of Curvature In The Blade
The more that the blade is curved, the easier it is to shoot the puck on your forehand and to lift the puck up into the air when you shoot. More curve tends to scoop the puck up more easily. However, there are two sides to a stick blade and you need the back side of the stick blade to control the puck as you carry it up the ice and to shoot backhand shots. If the blade is curved more towards the front, that makes it more difficult to use the back.
More curve also adds more spin to the puck which helps with accuracy.
Toe vs. Heel Curve
Having the center of the stick blade curve more towards the toe or the heel also affects how your shots will come off the stick. This one is mostly a matter of personal preference and not something a beginning player should even worry about. As you play more, you will get to try more sticks and decide for yourself on this one. For now, stick with a center curve stick.
The loft of a hockey stick blade is how much it is tilted up and down. More loft makes it easier to shoot the puck higher while less loft helps keep the puck low and helps with controlling it while skating. As you play more you will see if you have a tendency to shoot high or low and can look for a blade that can help compensate for that.
Kickpoint is where the stick’s bending point is. A lower kickpoint will tend to release shots higher and a lower kickpoint will tend to release shots lower. Generally speaking, a forward who is frequently taking shots closer to the opposing team’s goalie will want a lower kickpoint to be able to more easily lift the puck while a defenseman will want a higher kickpoint so that they can keep shots from the point lower.
Kickpoint can also affect accuracy. A lower kickpoint can give you more accuracy while a higher kickpoint will help generate more power.
Hockey Stick Sizing & Flex
Once you have decided what brand and model of stick feels right to you and fits your style of play and position, then its time to really narrow things down and get one that fits you from a physical standpoint. You could have the best stick in the world, but if it isn’t sized right for you, then you’ll just be making things more difficult on yourself.
The flex of a stick is a number that indicates how easily a stick bends when pressure is applied. One of the keys to a powerful shot is being able to load the stick and release the power of the stick. This means bending the stick against the ice and letting the release of that bend fire the puck forward. If the stick is too stiff then you lose power because you can’t bend it and if the stick is too flexible then you’ll either over-flex it and lose control of the shot or even if you learn to put just the right amount of pressure on the shot, you’ll be giving up the opportunity to take advantage of your strength.
If you are picking out your first stick then a good guideline for choosing flex is to go with a flex number that is half your weight. So if you weigh 180, for example, then start with a stick at or around a flex rating of 90. This is just a general guideline. A stronger, more experienced player may be able to use a stick with a higher flex rating than half their weight while a newer player may need a stick with a flex rating that is lower than half their weight. If you are not sure, it is better to err on the side of a more flexible stick (meaning a lower flex number).
Remember, it takes proper technique to take advantage of the stick flex, so worry more about learning the skill than the rating of the stick. As you play more and develop your technique, you will have the opportunity to try other sticks and see what works for you.
Typically, you will want a stick that, while holding it straight up and down, reaches your nose if you are wearing shoes or sneakers and reaches your chin while you are on skates. However, this is just a general guideline for picking out a stick off the shelf. You want to make sure the blade is flat on the ice when holding it normally with skates on (see below). Too many people stop once the stick is cut to their chin height and never end up with a stick that is perfectly sized to them.
So, if you can’t test the stick with your skates on, your best bet is to make sure it is long enough and then trim it down once you can get your skates. This is also helpful when buying a stick online, test out any stick locally to get a rough estimate of height, then trim it after you get it to the exact length you need. Most sticks can be cut to size right at home.
Length and flex go together, so be careful. When you cut a stick down, you are effectively making it stiffer. For every inch you cut off of a stick, it becomes about 10 “points” stiffer. Another reason why new players should err on the side of a more flexible stick when getting started.
Lie is the angle between the shaft of the stick and the blade. It is the real indicator of whether the stick is the right length. You want to make sure that when you are holding the stick naturally, the base of the blade lays flat on the ice.
If either the heel or the toe of the blade is up in the air, then you are only using a small part of the blade effectively to catch, pass, and control the puck. That gives you less margin for error and makes every move you make more difficult.
If the toe of the blade is off the ice when you are holding it normally with skates, then the stick is too long. If the heel is off the ice, then it is too short. This is the way to make sure your stick is exactly the right height.
Hockey Stick Sizing Chart
This chart is a great general guide for where to start, especially when ordering online. You can use this to get pretty close and then trim down the stick to make sure the blade lies flat when holding it on the ice.
Weight is less important than the other factors above but it does matter. A lighter stick can have significant advantages over a heavier stick. It is lighter to carry the entire game. That may not seem like much at first, but late in the third period or overtime, you would notice a difference in fatigue level from carrying the heavier stick all game. It also is lighter to swing. This lets you generate more speed when you swing the stick for a slap shot and thus generate more speed on the shot.
Ultimately, it all comes down to finding a stick that feels comfortable and fits you well so that you can concentrate on the game rather than the stick. It takes a lot of hard work and practice to get to the point where the stick feels like an extension of you, but its worth the effort if you want to play better hockey.
Now that you know what you are looking for, head back up to Our Top 10 Ice Hockey Sticks of 2018 Breakdown.