Honest Hockey Review: Bauer Re-AKT Hockey Helmet

Below is my Honest Hockey Review of the Bauer Re-AKT Hockey Helmet. As always, feel free to provide courteous feedback. For more on 2016 Helmets and Equipment, check out the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual.

Synopsis

The Bauer Re-AKT was Bauer’s top of the line helmet for 2014-15, having since been superseded by the Bauer Re-AKT 100. The Re-AKT is the second helmet in Bauer’s line for 2016, and currently has a suggested retail value of $199.99 USD.

The most-prominent features of the Re-AKT includes VERTEX foam protection (lighter/more protective than the IMS liner), an impact-management system, an Occipital lock (3.0) adjustment to lock the back of the head into place, standard tools-free adjustment, memory foam in the temples, and an anti-microbial agent applied to the liner.

The Re-AKT is available in eight color options, and is clearly distinguished from the 2016 Re-AKT 100 by being single-colored rather than two-tone. It features a much-more classic look than the Bauer IMS 11.0, which is a re-conceptualized version of the Cascade M11 helmet.

As you will read below, the original Re-AKT is a massive upgrade on mid-level Bauer helmets such as the 4500/5100, my preferred 5500 or even later-edition helmets such as the 9900. It compares to the CCM Resistance in terms of quality and price.

Basis of Comparison

I’m using a number of helmets for my Basis of Comparison: my dutiful Bauer 5500, the Reebok 11K, and the CCM Vector 10. While I do not have other elite-level Retail options on hand, I think I’ve used enough mid/upper-level helmets in the recent past to objectively review the Re-AKT.

Fit

IMG_3709 IMG_3710

Like many higher-end Bauer/CCM helmets, the Re-AKT is adjustable at two points: the standard temple adjustment allows the helmet to be sized front-to-back, while the Occipital Lock 3.0 allows the helmet to fit securely around the back of the player’s head.

The Occiptial Lock 3.0 is a lever on the back of the helmet that tightens or loosens the fit very easily. The use of O-Locks is becoming an industry standard among upper-level helmets, and as time passes I imagine O-Lock devices will become standard on all Hockey Helmets.

The Re-AKT features a standard sizing adjustment, cleverly hidden in the helmet’s crown:

IMG_3711

The liner uses the aforementioned Vertex Foam as well as “Free-Floating Suspend-Tech utilizing PORON® XRD™ technology”. It should go without saying (but won’t!) that it fits much-more comfortably than a mid-level helmet such as the 5500 and significantly better than an entry-level helmet such as the Bauer 2100.

The Re-AKT does not feature the GIRO-inspired fit system of the Easton E700, but compares favorably to any helmet currently available on the Retail market – including the CCM Resistance and the Re-AKT 100, which uses Bauer’s patented CURV technology in the construction.

HH Score: 9.5

Looks

bauer-re-akt-hockey-helmet-42

 

The Re-AKT comes in eight different non-Pro Stock shell options, which should be more than enough to satisfy the average customer. It does not do Shell/Insert color-combos like the Reebok 11K did (and CCM FitLite presumably will), nor does it come in two-tones like the Re-AKT 100, but this shouldn’t be your primary concern when picking out a helmet.

The Re-AKT looks much more like a Bauer 4500/5500/7500 than a Cascade/IMS helmet, and in my opinion is more streamlined than the Bauer 9900. The new locations for the tools-free adjustment are well-placed, and the helmet has a good, classic look to it.

Here are a few shots of the Re-AKT next to one of my 5500s. The Re-AKT is on the left with the cage. Try not to judge the miles on the 5500:

IMG_3723 IMG_3724 IMG_3726 IMG_3727(MERICA)

As you can see, long-time Bauer helmet users should be very pleased with the look of the original Re-AKT.

HH Score: 9.0

Performance

If you are picking out a Hockey Helmet for yourself or someone else, a main performance feature to look for regardless of price-point is an Occipital Lock. I’ve found that an O-Lock on both the Re-AKT and my 11K improves fit tremendously, especially compared to something less advanced such as a Bauer 5500. A snug lid is going to be a major asset in injury prevention.

Aside from an O-Lock – and I found the lock on the Re-AKT to work just as well as the Micro-Dial lock on my 11K – I have to take the manufacturers at their word that the science is cutting edge. When CCM enlists the University of Ottawa to help make the Resistance all-but-bulletproof, I have to believe that’s not fabricated marketing. The same obviously holds true for Bauer.

The Re-AKT has temple adjustments just like the 5500/7500, with the adjustment lock cleverly hidden on the crown of the helmet. I missed it the first time I used the Re-AKT, and was wondering why I wasn’t getting a great fit with just the O-Lock. Quick, find the writer who’s obviously been to the Quiet Room one too many times in his career.

The Re-AKT offers “Rotational Force Management”, which as an Emergency Care provider I know accounts for a higher percentage of head injuries than direct blows. This is the sort of tech that’s obviously not woven into helmets further down the pricing hierarchy.

As I’ve written before, I didn’t start banging my head off cars in the rink parking lot to test it’s durability, but I do get into the corners during games and receive a fair amount of jostling. Once I had both the temples and the O-Lock properly adjusted, the Re-AKT provided worry-free protection.

HH Score: 9.5

Value

With Helmets, Value is in the eye of the purchaser.

I have a friend who prioritizes his brain health much more appropriately than I do. He not only purchased the IMS 11.0 shortly after it’s release, but eagerly awaited the release of the CCM Resistance (as well as the Re-AKT and Re-AKT 100, presumably). Smarter people than me don’t even want to play around with the potential for concussions.

Then there’s me, owner of no less than 10 confirmed concussions, who continues to revert to the 15-year old tech seen in the Bauer 5000/5500 despite evidence to the contrary demanding that I upgrade.

To cite one example, I took a concussion from some tool in adult league on the weekend of my oldest friend’s wedding that potentially could have been stemmed by an elite-level helmet such as the Re-AKT. I spent her wedding muttering to myself like Rain Man and fighting the urge to throw up every 20 minutes, to say nothing of additional long-term neurological damage that a helmet like the Re-AKT might have  helped prevent.

While I recognize that it’s smart business to upgrade my chosen helmet, the old-timer in me is screaming “Mark Messier played 25 damn years in the NHL in a Mylec ball-hockey shell! Bobby Orr didn’t even wear a helmet! Keep your head up and maybe you wouldn’t get your bell rung!”

The thinker in me fully understands the value of an elite-level helmet such as the Re-AKT, but both the economist in me and my male-driven ego think I’m just fine with one of my 5500s or even my Reebok 11K. So once more, Value is in the eye of purchaser.

The original Re-AKT retained it’s $199.99 price-point even after the release of the Re-AKT 100. For the technology invested, the Re-AKT is reasonably-priced compared to other front-line helmets such as the CCM Resistance and the Re-AKT 100.

HH Score: 8.0

Personal Biases

I have absolutely no Personal Biases toward or against Bauer or the Re-AKT. As noted, my helmet-of-choice since I got to College has been the Bauer 5000/5500, but I also enjoy and use a number of CCM/Reebok helmets. If I were in the market for a new helmet and had discretionary income, I would absolutely consider the original Re-AKT.

Final Thoughts

The Re-AKT remains a major market option among elite-level helmets, and a high-value alternative to the $229 Resistance or $269 Re-AKT 100. If you opt to invest in the Re-AKT, you are very likely to get what you pay for, which is a top-level Hockey Helmet with outstanding protection.

HH Overall Score: 9.0

Thanks for reading. Like Reboot Hockey on Facebook.

Jack

 

Honest Hockey Review: Sher-Wood T90/T100 2nd Gen Hockey Stick

zz_stick_t100_banner3

(UPDATE 4/26/2016: the Sher-Wood T100 and T90 2nd Gen are covered along with many of the other sticks for 2016 in the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual. The Manual is available for purchase at this link. Thanks.)

In my opinion, the most underrated Hockey Sticks on the Retail market continue to be Sher-Wood Hockey Sticks, and I continue to be one of their bigger customers/advocates. Sher-Wood composite sticks are currently available in two skews: the Rekker low-kick line, and the True Touch (TT) mid-kick line.

I’ve found most Sher-Wood sticks across multiple price-points to be very high-value purchases, and when I needed a twig on short notice, I didn’t hesitate to pick up Sher-Wood’s re-conceptualized performance stick for 2016, the T90 2nd Gen.

This Honest Hockey Review is a bit of a two-in-one, as I am reviewing both the Sher-Wood T90 2nd Gen and the Sher-Wood T100 2nd Gen. I broke the T90 2nd Gen two days after I purchased it, which in my experience was very unusual for a Sher-Wood stick.

I got to deal with Sher-Wood’s Warranty Department for the first time, as I 1) generally buy Pro Stock sticks and 2) have never previously broken a Retail Sher-Wood within the 30-Day Warranty window. I was very pleased with not only the ease and speed of Sher-Wood’s Warranty process, but also the fact that Sher-Wood upgraded me to a T100 2nd Gen for my trouble.

Below is my Honest Hockey review of both the Sher-Wood T90 2nd Gen and the Sher-Wood T100 2nd Gen. Constructive comments are always welcome.

Basis of Comparison

Kindly refer to this photo:

003

The T100 2nd Gen, which arrived as a replacement for my broken T90 2nd Gen, is the two-tone black beauty situated in the middle. From left to right, those are three original T100s (black/red), a T100 Pro Stock, a T90 Pro Stock, an EK9 Rekker, a bunch of Nexon N8s, a 9950 Iron-Carbon, a few 7000 Feather-Lites, a 5030, and the broken T90 2nd Gen.

That collection is just what I currently have on hand, and it’s fair to say I am an authority on Sher-Wood Hockey Sticks. If you want to talk Sher-Wood, I’m your guy.

Almost every Sher-Wood I use is a 95 or 105 Flex PP77 (Coffey), cut to an identical length. My backup Blade Pattern in Sher-Wood is actually the PP09 (Ryan I) AKA the Kova-Launcher.

First Impression – T90 2nd Gen

Both in the store and at the rink, the T90 2nd Gen felt indistinguishable from one of my Retail T100s. I repeatedly switched the two off between hands, trying to find the slightest difference in Balance or Weight, and I could not.

On the ice, the T90 2nd Gen played identically to one of my original T100 Retail sticks, with the difference being the fresh pop on the brand-new T90. I was impressing the hell out of the retirees and high-school kids who joined me at a Noon Pick-Up Hockey session, as I was picking corners with authority.

I was so pleased with the purchase that I planned to circle back to the Total Hockey that I purchased the stick from and pair it with another, as the T90 2nd Gen for some reason had been discounted to about $100 (?!!?).

Second Impression – T90 2nd Gen

The next day, I again attended the Noon Pick-Up session at a local rink. The T90 2nd Gen continued to handle/shoot very well. I got into a short-side pick-up game with a handful of guys, and while I was making a routine shot-pass, the blade of the T90 2nd Gen flew off the end of the shaft:

011 (5)

This is the first time that I’ve ever seen this happen on a Sher-Wood composite. I’ve worn the blades and the sticks down heavily from thorough use, but I’ve never seen one break in-half in this way. I estimate I’ve used about two dozen Sher-Wood composites at various price-points since 2011.

To their credit, Sher-Wood was terrific in replacing the stick. I did not need to mail the broken stick back to Sher-Wood, and the process was zero hassle. The company requires you to fill out a relatively-short Warranty form, snap a few pics of the broken stick and the receipt, and inside of a week they have a new stick delivered to your door. Beautiful.

Sher-Wood was out of T90 2nd Gens in PP77 95 Flex Left, so I was upgraded to a T100 2nd Gen, free of charge. Thanks again, Sher-Wood.

005

First Impression – T100 2nd Gen

After cutting it down to my standard length, I took out the T100 2nd Gen along with one of my original T100s and my Pro Stock T90, with the full intention of rotating the three:

003 004

From left to right: 2013 Sher-Wood T90 Pro Stock, 2014 Sher-wood T100 Retail, 2016 T100 2nd Gen Retail.

I’ve used the original T100 enough to write a thesis on it, and my T90 Pro Stock probably remains the best stick I have on hand. The Retail T100 is a beaut, but the Puck Feel on my T90 Pro Stock (the one with the candy-cane tape-job) is just outstanding. I save the T90 Pro Stock for special occasions at this point.

Again, my plan was to rotate the three sticks. But after 30 seconds with the T100 2nd Gen, I couldn’t put it down.

My First Impression of the T90 2nd Gen was that it felt and played identically to my original T100s, and I was very pleased with it. But the T100 2nd Gen was a marked upgrade on both the original T100 and the T90 2nd Gen, and I adore both of those sticks.

In fact, my 1st Gen T100 even felt a bit sluggish after I switched back from the T100 2nd Gen. Puck Feel, Responsiveness, Pop, and Weight were all noticeably superior on the T100 2nd Gen, even accounting for the wear I had on my original T100.

I’ve never used a Sher-Wood T120, but my suspicion is that the T100 2nd Gen and the T120 play very similarly.

Eventually, I put the T100 2nd Gen down, for fear of some wayward clown at Stick-and-Puck cracking it. But my initial impression of the T100 2nd Gen was that it was all-around better than both my original and the T90 2nd Gen, both of which I think are great.

The Sher-wood T100 2nd Gen: Better Than Great.

Second Impression – T100 2nd Gen

The T100 2nd Gen continues to be the finest stick I’ve used in recent memory. Using the T100 2nd Gen after using one of my original T100 reminds me of upgrading from standard to high-definition television. It’s like having a 6th gear added to an already-fast vehicle. Amazing.

My number one complaint concerning both the Rekker and True Touch lines is that my preferred Blade Pattern/Flex – PP77/95 Flex/Grip – remains a chore to find at the Retail level. None of the major online equipment wholesalers currently have the T90 or T100 2nd Gen available for purchase in PP77/95 Flex/Left, even if I wanted to buy more. This has been an issue since the 2015 EK40 Rekker line was released.

Balance

As noted above, the T90 2nd Gen feels indistinguishable from my Retail T100s, which is to say it among the best-balanced sticks available on the Retail market. As noted repeatedly, I put more of a premium on Passing/Puckhandling/Touch, and I believe that Sher-Wood composites offer the best, most-traditional Puck Feel available.

The T100 2nd Gen made my T100s feel slightly-sluggish by comparison, and that’s a statement I would have considered blasphemous prior to reviewing the T100 2nd Gen. But in switching back and forth between the two, the T100 2nd Gen handled noticeably crisper, even accounting for the wear on my original T100s. I can’t imagine a Hockey Stick handling better.

HH Score: T90 2nd Gen – 9.0

T100 2nd Gen – 10.0

Durability

I’m convinced the break on the T90 2nd was a freak thing. I’ve used 20-25 Sher-Wood composites in the last several years, and I’ve never broken one in that way.

What tends to happen is that the sticks gradually lose pop. I picked up four Retail T100s in August 2014, and 18 months later I continue to use three of them. I’m on the ice an average of 3-5 times per week, so these sticks receive a heavy amount of use. The fact that I can continue to use them in game action speaks volumes about their durability.

But if I go at full bore, I “cook” a Sher-Wood composite pretty quickly. 95 Flex is a bit light for me, so even if I am conscientious about rotating the sticks, the sticks lose power pretty quickly. I’ve found I can get about 4-6 months out of a Sher-Wood composite before the wear leads to major inconsistency in my ability to shoot. All things considered, I have to say that’s pretty exceptional.

Sher-Wood composites are probably not the absolute best shooters available, but the Puck Feel/Touch remains strong after months and months of use.

HH Score – T90 2nd Gen/T100 2nd Gen: 9.0.

Looks

See the photos above. The T90 line is decked out in the Black/White scheme seen on the original Rekker line, while the T100 line is marked up in a savage Black/Red.

Once more, the T90 2nd Gen looks Fantastic, and the T100 2nd Gen looks Better Than Fantastic. When the Rekker line debuted in Black/White, in my review of the Rekker EK9 I referred to the look of the line as “all business”, which holds true on the two-tone Black/White T90. But both the T100 and the T100 2nd Gen look menacing in the Black/Red scheme.

HH Score – T90 2nd Gen: 9.0.

T100 2nd Gen: 10.0.

Performance

I am sounding very repetitive at this point. The 2016 T90 2nd Gen/2014 T100 play very, very well. I could use those sticks for the rest of my Hockey-Playing life and feel great about it.

The 2016 T100 2nd Gen plays like those sticks on speed. It’s noticeably lighter – the T100 2nd Gen is listed at 430 grams compared to the 454-gram T90 2nd Gen – but even dismissing the weight difference, the crispness of the shooting action and the effortless handling of the puck is almost artistic. The T100 2nd Gen is a clear upgrade in all respects over the T90 2nd Gen/original T100.

HH Score: T90 2nd Gen – 9.0

T100 2nd Gen – 10.0

Personal Biases

I almost titled this article, How I Fell in Love with Sher-Wood Hockey Sticks”. I’ll enter a purchase saying I’m going to try a True stick or a Bauer stick, but the fact of the matter is that I am very comfortable with Sher-Wood sticks. Until Sher-Wood gives me a reason to really consider a switch – for example, if PP77 remains harder to find than a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket – I’ll be a dedicated Sher-Wood customer.

As Reboot Hockey readers know, I periodically review other Hockey Sticks in the interest of objectivity. But I always circle back to Sher-Wood because I believe they deliver the best product at the best price.

Lastly, as noted above I tend to purchase Pro Stock sticks, for reasons discussed in the article “Pro Stock vs. Retail: Which to Buy?” I think because Pro Stock sticks tend to greatly outperform Retail sticks, and because I can typically purchase Pro Stock sticks at a significantly-lower cost, it has maybe compromised my ability to fairly evaluate a Retail Hockey Stick. Compared to most Pro Stock sticks, a lot of Retail sticks seem expensive and sometimes underwhelming. Just sharing in the interest of full disclosure.

Value

Anyone who knows me or has read anything I’ve written knows at least one thing about me: I am extremely value-conscious. Value is the factor that will determine your purchase, and what really separates the T90 2nd Gen and the T100 2nd Gen.

The T100 2nd Gen is a tremendous, tremendous stick, but at their current suggested Retail price-points of $179 and $139, I think the T90 2nd Gen is actually an equal or better value.

Compared to what is currently being asked on the Retail market for a CCM Ultra Tacks ($269.99) or a Bauer Supreme 1S ($279.99), I think the T100 2nd Gen is priced very reasonably. I’ve never used a Supreme 1S, but there is no way you or anyone else will ever convince my wallet that the Supreme 1S or the CCM Ultra Tacks outperforms the T100 2nd Gen by a margin of $90-$100.

You may have more disposable income, or go through sticks at a less-rapid rate than me. But at a Retail price of $179, the T100 2nd Gen would be a rare treat for me, rather than a stick I would routinely purchase.

For some bizarre/fortuitous reason, the T90 2nd Gen I purchased had been discounted by about 25%. The T100 2nd Gen is a masterpiece, but the T90 2nd Gen is no slouch. As written above, I’ve happily used a pack of Retail T100s for the past year-and-a-half, and the T90 2nd Gen plays identically to those. The T90 2nd Gen is a steal at anything close to $100, and very competitively-priced at $139.

I’ve written before that I prefer Pro Stock sticks because of the disparity in Value between Pro Stock and Retail. But I paid a little under $100 for my Retail T90 2nd Gen, and with the Warranty protection (combined with Sher-Wood’s efficiency/speed in replacing the broken stick), I have to consider that a very high-value purchase.

Don’t let my new-found obsession with the T100 2nd Gen mislead you: the T90 2nd Gen is a great Hockey Stick. You can probably pick one or two up for around $100 a pop and be ecstatic with them.

HH Score – T90 2nd Gen: 9.5. T100 2nd Gen: 8.0.

Final Thoughts

Like every other sector of Hockey Equipment, the number of choices – particularly on the Retail market – is narrowing. As I write this, your current major options are one of the CCM or Bauer skews, the upstart STX and True Hockey stick lines, the in-limbo Easton Hockey line, Warrior, and of course Sher-Wood.

If you are not beholden to one of the other lines, Sher-Wood Hockey Sticks come highly recommended at most price-points. Sher-Wood sticks continue to have a distinct feel, and perform in a fundamentally-different way, than most of the sticks available on the market. If you are someone who regularly shells out $270 for a stick, you may be thrilled with how the T90 2nd Gen performs at half the price. The T100 2nd Gen is a beaut, and I feel strongly that it compares favorably to anything available on the Retail market.

HH Overall Scores

Sher-Wood T90 2nd Gen: 9.1

Sher-Wood T100 2nd Gen: 9.4

Thanks for reading. If you enjoy Honest Hockey Reviews or want to learn more about equipment, check out the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual and Like Reboot Hockey on Facebook.

Jack

Now Available: the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual

 

rebootcover2

Hey gang,

After much work, the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual is now available for purchase.

This is my first attempt at self-publishing, so go easy on me.

For the initial run, I am asking $11 for a digital copy. After payment, I will e-mail you a copy of the book as a PDF. You will also receive a password which will unlock the file. You can then save and print the Manual as you wish. In the coming days, I will automate this process so that you can download the book immediately.

The Manual checks in right now at 241 pages, and believe it or not, this is a very condensed edition of the book. The Manual will only get longer as new information and products become available. Your purchase of the Manual entitles you to all future editions, even if I later opt to increase the price of the Manual.

If you want to purchase the book with no additional soft-selling, here are the purchase links:


Buy Now Button

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=72VQZMPZCVF8A

If you need a little persuading, here are some of the topics that the Manual covers:

  • Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick, Version 2.0
  • How to Optimize Your Hockey Skates
  • 2016 Hockey Skate Buyer’s Guide
  • Diet, Supplement, and Training Recommendations
  • Considerations for Flat Feet
  • Technical Points on Hockey Skating

As a bonus, I am also including full Diet and Training Programs, upon request and after a liability waiver is completed. If I was including nothing more with the book, I think a personalized Diet/Training Program completed after consultation via e-mail makes the book a high-value purchase, but I’ve included plenty with the purchase.

I’ve created an e-mail specifically for those who purchase the Manual: RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com. If you have any questions about the content within the book, or would like my help in designing a Diet/Training programs specifically suited to you, I am at your service. I will answer questions and help with Program Design as quickly and thoroughly as sales dictate and time permits.

But let’s assume you have your Diet and Training in order, and only care about the Hockey-specific content. Here is an overview of the content provided in the 1st edition of the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual:

Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick, Version 2.0 is a re-written guide to selecting the Hockey Stick that will help you get the most from your game. Almost anything and everything you could possibly want to know about Hockey Sticks – History, Marketing, Performance, Pricing, Technical Detail – is included within the section.

Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick, Version 2.0 covers all the Retail Blade Patterns available as of April 2016, and can greatly help in future purchasing decisions. This section will help readers of all experience levels better understand the core principles of shooting and stick-handling, and in turn guide them toward the equipment products that will maximize their play.

The current version of Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick checks in at 78 pages, and I will continually update the section as new products and information become available.

The 55-page section on How to Optimize Your Hockey Skates will help you get the most from your current pair of skates, and help you build some preferences for when you decide to purchase your next pair.

To that end, at the request of my editors I’ve included a 2016 Hockey Skate Buyer’s Guide, which I believe will help you make a strong purchasing decision. This section contains the most-current information available as of April 14, 2016, the first day I made the Manual available. I will also update this section as new products are released so that Reboot Hockey readers have the most up-to-date information at their disposal.

Between those three sections, I can guarantee that I will save you $11 when you opt to purchase your next stick or pair of skates. As someone who’s been through dozens of Hockey Sticks and 20 pairs of Hockey Skates in recent memory, I implore you to learn from my purchasing mistakes, almost all of which I’ve detailed within the Manual.

If that’s not enough, I’ve included sections on the Anatomy of a Hockey Skate and Technical Points on Hockey Skating that can benefit players of all experience levels. If you are new to the game and looking for an in-depth explanation on the way Hockey Skates are constructed, I believe this will suit you well. If you are an experienced player looking to learn more about the game, I believe I’ve included enough insight within these sections that they will still prove valuable to your continued development.

My Diet and Training Recommendations are exhaustive and exhausting. My education and passion is Exercise and Health Science, so if you have any interest in either topic, I assure you that the Manual will give you your money’s worth. But if for some reason you find the Manual light on Diet/Training information, a few e-mail exchanges with me will fix that in a hurry.

If you purchase the book, read it, and find that it’s not what you were looking for, again e-mail me (RebootHockeyHelp@gmx.com) to help me understand ways in which I can improve the book for future editions. Right now, I am offering a conditional full refund for people who purchase the book and don’t find it helpful, with the condition being that they help me improve future editions of the book with constructive, courteous feedback.

Because this is the first edition and because I’m only promoting the book via the blog and the Reboot Hockey Facebook page at the moment, I am not going to go overboard on a Jordan Belfort-level hard-sell. Reboot Hockey readers know the quality and type of content Mark and I produce, and you’re going to have to trust that I wrote the hell out of this thing. Again, if you buy it and hate it, I’ll probably give you a full refund as long as you aren’t a huge jerk to me.

The people who have supported Reboot Hockey have by far and large been considerate and shown great passion for the game. In response, I have tried to cram as much value as absolutely possible into the first edition of the Manual, and I am sincere in my offer to provide as much support to purchasers as I can.

I will continue to provide plenty of free content via the Reboot Hockey blog in the form of Honest Hockey Reviews and interviews with equipment manufacturers. But in order for me to continue devoting time to creating free content, I have to charge something for some of my lengthier content. I believe I have kept the price for the Manual reasonable, and I hope that after reading you find the Manual to be a great investment.

Thanks again for supporting Reboot Hockey, and best wishes in your continued progress as a Hockey Player.

Jack

Honest Hockey Review: Easton Pro 4 Roll Hockey Gloves (2014)

eastonpros

By Jack, Reboot Hockey

Overview

This is my review of the Easton Pro (2014) Hockey Glove. The Easton Pro is a marked upgrade on several recent retail releases by Easton, including the underwhelming EQ Pro and the Total Hockey-exclusive Total Pro.

The Easton Pro differs from Easton’s other flagship lines, the Mako and the Synergy lines, in terms of Aesthetics and Fit. The Easton Pro is a direct comparable to traditional-style 4-Roll gloves such as the Bauer Nexus 800/4-Roll Pro, the CCM 4-Roll Pro II/III, and the Reebok 9000/4-Roll Pro. The design is very classic, while the Fit is somewhat wider. Like many Pro-style gloves, the Easton Pro uses a Nash palm, which is an exceptional upgrade over materials found on lower-end gloves.

Basis of Comparison

I did a lengthy review of CCM’s Pro 4-Roll II from 2013 here. The Pro II is fundamentally similar to Reebok releases such as the Reebok 9000 4-Roll and the Reebok 4-Roll Pro. I have even seen the red Pro II liner on both the Reebok 9000 and 4-Roll Pro, and I feel comfortable writing that these lines of CCM/Reebok gloves are going to fit very similarly.

I’ve never purchased a Reebok 4-Roll Pro or 9000, but I do own a pair of Pro Stock Reebok 852T 4-Roll gloves. The 852T has Pro-style Fit dimensions and palm quality (naturally), but I’m pleased to note that the retail Pro-level gloves recently offered from CCM/Reebok, Bauer, and Easton compare very favorably.

The other comparable glove currently available on the retail market would be the Bauer Nexus 800 4-Roll/4-Roll Pro, which like the CCM Pro II and the Easton Pro is a traditional volume-fit 4-roll.

While all three offer a similar fit, my view is that the CCM Pro II offers the most roomy fit while the Easton Pro offers the snuggest fit. All three are terrific gloves and share a lot of the same fundamentals, but if you have access to all three gloves you can notice subtle differences.

I may eventually do a full review of the Bauer Nexus 800 4-Roll, but as of yet I have not written one.

Also, it should go without saying, but I’ve used dozens upon dozens of hockey gloves over the years, including 5-10 Easton gloves. I have commitment issues.

Looks

Here is a color chart for the 2014 Easton Pro:

eastonProGlovesColorChart

In the past Easton has offered up to a dozen color variations on a given glove, but for the 2014 Pro they opted for a very trimmed-down selection. CCM did something similar for their 2014 Pro III 4-Roll, paring down the color choices from thirteen on the 2013 4-Roll Pro II to eight for the yellow-palmed 2014 Pro III:

ccm-4r-pro-iii-sr-hockey-gloves-59

4-Roll gloves are something of a niche item, in that veteran players are going to greatly prefer them while newer or younger players may find them too bulky. Easton certainly offers the 2014 Pro in enough color variations to satisfy most customers.

The Easton Pro comes in a really sharp Royal, which I almost purchased to match our prior adult league team, P.T.’s Grille. However, Reboot Hockey ultimately sponsored our 2014 Fall League team, and we opted to go with the LA Kings Black/White/Silver scheme. I purchased the Easton Pro in the Black/White to match.

When I made the purchase, I immediately pictured Marian Gaborik, who has worn Easton gloves for a number of years. Here’s Gabby sporting the Easton Pro for the Kings:

gaborik3

Black is never a bad choice for hockey gloves, and noting my personal bias, I think the Black/White, Royal, and Red/White/Blue schemes are the strongest offerings on the Easton Pro.

The palms on the 2014 Easton Pro are luxurious black Nash. It’s a high-quality material that looks great aesthetically on all of the color schemes. I slightly prefer the beige Nash on the 2013 CCM Pro II, but both are extremely high-quality palms. The black Nash looks good on the Black/White Pros, but looks really sharp on the Royal glove.

HH Rating: 8.5

Fit

The Easton Pros were quite soft right off the rack, but did require a 2-3 skate break-in period. As noted above, the 2014 Easton Pro offers the most-snug fit of the three primary retail 4-Roll offerings for 2014.

Having said that, the Easton Pro immediately reminds me of memory foam, in that the inside of the glove contours to the user’s hand. While I prefer the looser fit of both the CCM 4-Roll Pro II and the Bauer 4-Roll Pro, there’s no way I can criticize the professional-grade Fit of the Easton Pro.

The cuff on the Easton Pro is angled and slightly-wide, but not flared out as with some gloves. It’s a fitted glove, including at the cuff, offering a compromise between the lacrosse-glove type Fit seen on gloves such as the Bauer APX2 and a full volume-fit glove such as the CCM Pro II or the Nexus 800 4-Roll.

This Fit Chart might helps you better understand what I mean by “Traditional” Fit versus “Modern” Fit:

glovefitWhile the Pro II and the Nexus 800 are both strict “Traditional” fits, the Easton Pro seems to me like a hybrid between Traditional and Tapered Fit. The cuff of the Easton Pro is not overly flared, at least not compared to prior releases.

For fun, let me show you a 20-year evolution in Easton Hockey Gloves, both of which I wore this year for Reboot Hockey:

006007

You can see obvious similarities in Fit and Design between the 2014 Pro and the mid-1990s Ultra Lite. The most noticeable Fit difference would be the straight flare on the cuff of the Ultra Lite versus the angled cuff flare on the 2014 Pro.

Easton Hockey has been around for a long time, and I assure you they know how to make a Hockey Glove. In my opinion, the 2014 Pro is the best glove Easton has released in years, though I admittedly don’t care for the close-cropped Fit or gaudy look of the Synergy/Mako lines.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the 2014 Easton Pro is a quantum leap over recent Easton traditional-fit glove offerings, most notably the Easton EQ Pro (ugly shell, weak aesthetics) and the Easton Total Pro (Total Hockey exclusive, value-grade version of the EQ Pro), in terms of both Fit and Looks. I did not even consider purchasing the EQ Pro or the Total Pro, even at a steep discount. If I did not prefer leather gloves so greatly, I would probably be head-over-heels for the Easton Pro.

HH Rating: 9.0

Durability

The Durability on the Easton Pro seems to be very comparable to that of CCM 4-Roll Pro II, perhaps even a bit better. The black Nash on the Easton Pro seems to be slightly thicker and a bit more resistant to tearing than the beige Nash on the CCM Pro II. The black shell on the Easton Pro also negates the standard stick/puck marks that made my Pro IIs look so beaten after six months.

Like all contemporary nylon-shell gloves, I do not think the Easton Pro would be worth repalming at $25-$30 per palm, even if black Nash were more available. Structurally, the Easton Pro is perfectly fine when put against market-comparable gloves like the Bauer 4-Roll Pro, but contemporary gloves are not meant to be kept for years and years like leather and polyurethane-shell gloves were.

Still, as with the CCM Pro II, I would expect a minimum of 6-8 months in almost-flawless condition from the Easton Pro at 3-4 skates per week, more if you take care of them properly.

HH Rating: 8.0

Performance

As noted above, the first thing that came to mind when I tried out the Easton Pro was “memory foam”. It’s almost like the Easton Pro remembered each of my knuckles as I put them back on a few days after use.

In terms of injury protection, I put the Easton Pro right there with the Pro II and the Nexus 1000. The materials that comprise the gloves are naturally supple, and while 4-Rolls are quite thick across the back of the hand, I would consider a Pro-style modification if you’re a playing in a higher-level league. Of course, if you’re playing in a league where someone modifies your gloves for you, you probably aren’t reading this review.

Regarding Performance, personal preference comes into play to a great deal. As noted above, I prefer the Pro II to the Easton Pro because I like an extremely loose-fitting glove, but that’s like saying I prefer Angelina Jolie to Cougar Jen Aniston. When we’re talking about gloves of this quality, it’s really splitting hairs nit-picking Fit Dimensions.

The question for you is whether you prefer a loose-fitting, standard-fitting, or close-fitting glove. From there, you can go into details such as locked-thumb versus articulated thumb or whatever. Assuming you’re in the right ballpark, you will likely be ecstatic with the Easton Pro.

HH Rating: 9.0

Final Considerations

Like the 2013 CCM Pro II, I think the 2014 Easton Pro is an excellent value at the current suggested retail of $80-$100. Most people could purchase a pair of Easton Pros and be thrilled with them for the next 18-24 months.

The new reality is that you are meant to get about one year of use from gloves. You can certainly go past that, but common issues like holes in the palms and frayed stitching are to be expected. As I noted above, I think it’s a better bet to get a high-quality glove like the Pro II or the Easton Pro for $80-$100 and love it than to get an economy-level glove for $40 and be annoyed all the time. If you play more than once per week, going up a tier to something like a Pro II or an Easton Pro is a solid investment.

As noted above, the liner on my Black/White Pro II gloves is a deep shade of red. This red dye wore onto the edges of my white elbow pads quite a bit. I don’t care because it’s only my elbow pads, but if the gloves had dyed one of my favorite white jerseys pink around the wrists, I would have been pretty aggravated. Something to be cautious about if you purchase gloves with dyed liners. This does not appear to be an issue in any way with the navy liner on the Easton Pro.

The Easton Pro is a top-seller for most of the online Hockey retailers, and with good reason: it’s a top-of-the-class glove. It compares very favorably within the 4-Roll glove family, and offers top-notch value compared to recent Easton releases. The Easton Pro has classic styling, and fixes many of the basic problems associated with other recent releases from Easton.

The Easton Pro comes highly recommended. Thanks for reading.

HH Overall Rating: 8.5

As always, Like Reboot Hockey on Facebook, and Follow Reboot Hockey on Twitter.

Honest Hockey Review: Easton Synergy 60 Hockey Stick

easton-synergy-60-stick

 

Below is my Honest Hockey review of the Easton Synergy 60 Hockey Stick. In the interest of objectivity, I have graded the S60 in Balance, Durability,  Looks, Performance, and Value. I have also included a Basis of Comparison section as well as Personal Biases and Final Thoughts. As Always, feel free to comment intelligently or provide your own insights in a respectful manner.

History

synergy-250x154

The Easton Synergy, originally released in 2000, was the composite stick that redefined how the modern game was played. While manufacturers had innovated previously with various two-piece shafts (Aluminum, Graphite, Kevlar, etc), the Synergy was something altogether different. To my knowledge, it was the first composite one-piece stick of its kind, and at the least it was the most commercially-available. I covered the Synergy’s history at length in “Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick“.

At the time Easton two-piece shafts, in particular the Easton Ultra Lite, Easton T-Flex, and the Easton Z-Bubble, were extremely popular. Easton parlayed this success into the production of the first contemporary one-piece composite stick, and launched themselves to the forefront of retail Hockey Stick sales. They comfortably led the industry in Stick sales until fairly recently.

Over time, Easton got away from what it did successfully, which was simply producing the best Hockey Sticks on the retail market. Their sticks became somewhat gimmicky. To cite an early example, Easton began issuing their Synergy sticks in a number of neon colors, including Orange, Lime Green, and Banana Yellow. Pictures of these eyesores are available all over the internet.

greensynergy

The Synergy was gradually phased out. The Synergy line eventually became the Stealth line, and in recent years Easton has chased novelty at the expense of tradition, releasing somewhat underwhelming lines such as the Stealth RS line, the EQ line, and most recently, the VE/Parking Cone line.

While these sticks have their respective Strengths and Weaknesses, the fact remains that what took Easton to the top of the industry was the original Synergy. In my view, Easton lost a bit of it’s identity as they got too creative with their Hockey Stick offerings. I believe they recognized this, and for 2014 Easton has returned to what originally brought them success as a Hockey manufacturer: making the absolute best of line of Hockey Sticks, no frills or gimmicks needed.

What’s old is new again as Easton has wisely returned to it’s roots in the interest of reclaiming their lead in retail Market Share from industry titan Bauer. The Synergy name has returned along with the classic Silver/Gunmetal Grey detailing.

At the $100 price-marker is the Easton Synergy 60. I picked one up in Easton’s unconventional E28 Blade Pattern. Here is my review on a rock-solid entry from Easton’s 2014 Hockey Stick line.

First Impression

Coming from the sluggish CCM Tacks 3052, the Easton Synergy 60 immediately felt better on-ice. Even trimmed to my standard length of 56″ versus the lacrosse-stick length I ultimately cut the 3052 down to, the S60 played much more like a $100 stick than the 3052.

The Lie 5 that comes on Easton’s E28 pattern is very nice for controlling the puck, but I was not able to immediately take advantage of it because the E28 blade pattern is so unique. While my puck-handling was immediately more-sound, I lost pucks trying some fancier moves. This was completely due to my inexperience with the E28, not any failing on the part of the S60.

Despite being such a dramatic pattern, I immediately liked the E28 better than the C46/P46 pattern that came on my 3052 Tacks. I was firing Wrist Shots with laser-like precision during warmups before a Pickup Hockey skate, and tagged some poor guy on the collarbone as he skated behind the net. Based on the pained grimace on his face and the black-purple bruise I left on him, I would say that the shooting potential of a Synergy 60/E28 is extremely-high.

I did not dare let any Slap Shots fly with the E28, but the Synergy 60 is, like the 3052 Tacks, a mid-flex stick. This means that Wrist Shot/Snap Shot mechanics must be sound, as the stick does not auto-fire the way a low-kick stick such as the CCM RBZ Stage 2 will. However, the advantage of a mid-kick is that with proper mechanics, a player can really ramp up her or his Shot Power. I look forward to additional reporting on the Synergy 60’s shooting ability after a bit more time with it.

I had gotten more comfortable with the 3052 Tacks, so the first time out my shooting was inconsistent with the S60. It definitely handled much better though, and I am confident the S60 will shoot well after I take it to a stick-and-puck or two.

Second Impression

I decided to skim another inch from the Synergy 60, taking it to 55″ overall. The Balance on the Synergy felt fine on the initial use, but I decided that I wanted a bit more Puck Control to counter-balance the wicked E28 Blade Pattern. This ended up being a good decision.

The S60 handled very well after I trimmed it a bit more. I was much more confident doing standard puck-handling, and I began to notice the advantage of the Dual-Lie seen on the E28 blade pattern. While I was handling the puck in a different way than usual, I was also handling it quite effectively. I play better at Lower (4 or 5) Lie sticks, and I like that Easton now offers a few sticks at Lie 5.

The S60 is a mid-flex stick, allowing a player to really load up on Slap Shots. While the S60 did not quite have the bazooka-like pop of the Tacks 3052, you can certainly crush a puck with the Synergy 60. Combined with the E28 pattern, my poor practice Goaltender was rightfully fearing for his well-being as I corralled the S60/E28. Even at 55″, the Synergy 60 remained within my Effective Range for Stick Flex.

My view is that while the 3052 maybe – repeat, maybe – allows for a bit more Slap Shot Power, the S60 is a more-sound overall shooter. My Wrist Shot, which was underwhelming with the 3052, seemed sharp with the S60. I do not believe the difference between the CCM C46 and the Easton E28 blade patterns accounted for this, but the E28 did add noticeable pepper to my close-to-the-net shots. The kick-point on the Synergy 60 may be slightly lower than that of the CCM 3052.

I was also surprised at how much better the S60/E28 played on the backhand than the Tacks 3052. There is obviously an adjustment using the E28, but my Backhands were markedly better than they were with the 3052.

The Synergy 60 features a Grip finish not unlike Bauer’s Grip-Tac or the Grip finish used on Sher-Wood sticks. I greatly prefer this over Clear/Matte finish seen on some Bauer sticks (such as the Supreme One.6 and Nexus 600) and the corrugated Nipple-Grip style finish seen on the 3052.

For the record, CCM calls the finish on the 3052 a “Light grip coating with strategic raised shaft texture,” while Easton calls the finish on the S60 “grippy”.

Balance

The Synergy 60 immediately feels better-balanced off the rack than the CCM Tacks 3052 I purchased several weeks earlier. The Hockey Shop at my rink did not have a 100 Flex Left Synergy 60 in-stock, or I may have completely forgone the 3052 Tacks in favor of the Synergy 60. At an identical price-point of $99.99, at first blush the E60 compares very favorably to the Tacks 3052 in terms of Balance.

Because I have to be difficult, I ordered Easton’s absurd Open-Toe E28 Pattern rather than something more conservative or comparable to a stick I already own (such as an Easton E36, which would have been much closer to something I typically use). Once I adjusted for the wicked curve of the E28, even at my standard stick length of 56″ the S60 handled significantly better than a 54″ Tacks 3052.

The E60 is slightly blade-heavy compared to higher-end models, but nothing like the Tacks 3052.

HH Score: 8.0

Durability

The Synergy is showing above-average Durability after routine use. As is the case with many mid/lower-end sticks, the insertion point at the stick’s hosel has chipped to show two-piece construction:

005

The stick is not unbreakable by any means, but the paint is not flaking off the blade like confetti, either. After two weeks of usage at my standard rate (4-5 times per week), the Synergy 60 is holding up rather well.

The reason I buy $100 sticks is that they tend to offer the best compromise of Durability and Performance. The Synergy 60 is wearing like a standard $100 stick while providing a good level of play.

HH Score: 8.0

Looks

The Synergy 60 is Silver/Black with Red highlights. It is somewhat reminiscent of the original Synergy, but it’s not a carbon-copy of the original Synergy’s Sterling Silver look. Appearance-wise, it’s a nice update but retains ties to the original line. In my view, the decision to go with an homage is a better choice than the completely overhauled look of the 2014 Tacks line, which eschewed the classic, understated Black/White styling for the loud Yellow/Black look.

The S60 looks sharp on the rack next to competitor brands. At this point, all of the major hockey brands have taken signature colors for their skate and sticks lines. For example, CCM Tacks is Yellow/Black. Bauer Supreme is Gold/Black. Bauer Vapor is Red/Silver/Black, Bauer Nexus is Blue/Black, Reebok RibCor is Black/Green, etc. The look of the Synergy line is a massive upgrade on the parking-cone eyesore that was the Easton Mako/VE line:

ES6-3

eastonve

As with the 2014 CCM Tacks sticks, you can just about identify an Easton VE stick user from space. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, but I think the Synergy line’s throwback Silver/Black is much classier and more distinct than the retina-burning Orange/Black seen on the original Mako skates and the VE sticks.

What Easton has traditionally done better than anyone else is Hockey Sticks, and harkening back to the original Synergy line, rather than releasing another gaudy monstrosity, was a smart choice. Letting the quality of their sticks shine through, without the fluorescent finishing, is just solid marketing on their part.

HH Score: 8.5

Performance

The Synergy 60 provides a good level of Performance at the $100 price-point. I have no doubt the Synergy HTX outperforms the Synergy 60 in all aspects, but the Synergy 60 certainly performs well for the cost.

Acknowledging that the E28 pattern plays a big role, I think the Synergy 60 is much more of a Snap/Wrist Shooter than a Slap Shooter. One thing I unconsciously do is make adjustments in my game based on the properties of the equipment I am using. In the case of the Synergy 60/E28, I am shooting much more than I was distributing, and I am choosing to shoot rather than deke when in-close to the goaltender.

My view is that the Synergy 60, like the Tacks 3052, is a sniper’s stick. The Synergy 60 is much better handler than the Tacks 3052, which would likely be better utilized with one of Easton’s more-conservative Blade Patterns. I would need to try a Synergy 60 with something like an Easton P4 or E36 to compare, but right now I would call the Synergy an 8.5 shooter and an 8.0 handler.

HH Score: 8.25

Value

Off the rack, the Synergy 60 is a much-better Value than the CCM Tacks 3052, and compares well to price-comparable sticks such as the Bauer Supreme One.6/170 and the Sher-Wood Nexon 8/Rekker 9.

My view has remained that an experienced player such as myself should be able to get good use from a $100 model. While some manufacturers save their best work for their higher-end models, it’s good to know that manufacturers such as Easton have sought to provide strong value across all price-points. The Synergy 60 provides fine value at the retail price of $99.99.

HH Score: 8.5

Basis of Comparison

As noted elsewhere, I recently reviewed the CCM Tacks 3052, which is priced identically and was released within weeks of the 2014 Synergy line’s debut. I think in this situation – two sticks being released within weeks of each other at identical prices – a stronger Basis of Comparison couldn’t be created.

I have a Sher-Wood EK Rekker 9 on the way, but I am incredibly-familiar with the Rekker’s predecessor, the Sher-Wood Nexon 8, which was also retail-priced at $99.99. I feel comfortable releasing this review of the Synergy 60 knowing the type of product Sher-Wood typically provides at the $100 price-point. I will amend this article after some time with the Rekker 9.

Last year, I picked up two of Bauer’s mid-level sticks, the Bauer Supreme One.6 and the Bauer Nexus 600. While I feel that those are both high-value products, I play most effectively in the 105-110 Flex range. Given how much I trim my sticks, what works best for me personally is purchasing a 95 Flex stick and trimming to my desired length of 54″-56″. Bauer sticks tend to run a bit stiffer than Easton sticks in my opinion, so after cutting the sticks down, both the One.6 and the Nexus 600 were a bit stiff for optimal play.

The Synergy 60 does seem to run a bit softer than a Bauer Supreme One/6/Nexus 600, and I was much more comfortable with it overall. Still, the quality Bauer offers on their mid-level price-point on sticks always makes me reconsider how a competitor’s stick plays.

I recently purchased and re-sold a pair of Warrior Covert DT4s. After breaking the blades on two of them in an identical way (both within two weeks of purchase), I decided to sell the Warranty replacements rather than deal with continued aggravation. I have used 15-20 Warrior sticks over the years, and the inconsistency from year-to-year or line-to-line is pronounced. I have zero confidence buying a Warrior stick before carefully examining it in-person.

While improvements in durability may have been made for Warrior’s 2014 stick line, I am very hesitant to purchase a $100 price-point Warrior stick due to what I see as mediocre performance and value on the lower end of their lines. As with CCM, I believe Warrior generally offers inferior quality at the $100 price-point, noting that I have always had positive experiences with Warrior’s Customer Service Department.

I have used a number of Reebok sticks, most recently a pair of 11Ks. In my experience, Reebok sticks always play pretty well, which surprises me given how poorly recent CCM offerings have played at the $100 marker. I suppose in the interest of fairness I can purchase a Ribcore 24K after I review the Sher-Wood Rekker 9, assuming CCM does not replace my now-broken 3052 Tacks with a Reebok model.

But as I have written before, I have used plenty of sticks, particularly at the $100 price-point. I believe I can evaluate hockey sticks well, given the sheer volume that I have used over the years.

Personal Biases

As written before, I may have a slight bias toward Sher-Wood sticks, but Sher-Wood earned this bias honestly through the quality of their sticks.

I actually was a regular Easton stick user for many years, but for some reason got away from using them. Other than a few underwhelming experiences with a couple of their Economy-line sticks, I have nothing bad to report about how their sticks play. Easton has traditionally been at the forefront of Hockey Stick Sales and Product Development, so it should come as no surprise that I have some affinity for their sticks.

I am open to using any and all brands of Hockey Sticks, acknowledging that I have been burned by CCM and Warrior several times in the recent past. I believe with the Synergy 60, I have now used a new-release stick from every major manufacturer within the last calendar year.

Final Thoughts

It has to be repeated that Easton’s E28 blade pattern is a unique animal. I do not believe the use of the E28 affected my review of the Synergy 60 itself, but it is certainly a pattern for advanced players. I have added my thoughts on both the E28 and Easton’s Dual-Lie concept to the “Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick Article”.

What I want from a hockey stick is consistent performance and high value. I want to find one model that I like and buy 1-2 every 1-2 months, as I did with the Sher-Wood Nexon 8 in 2012/13.

The Synergy 60 is a strong candidate to become my stick of choice moving forward. It plays with no noticeable flaws, although I do need to put it through a few games worth of face-offs before I make a final judgement on the stick’s durability. It seems to provide very good consistency and value for the price.

HH Overall Rating: 8.25

Thanks for Reading. If you liked this article, Like Reboot Hockey on Facebook and Follow Reboot Hockey on Twitter.

Jack

 

Honest Hockey Review: Easton Pro Series Shin Guards

eastonshins

By Jack, Reboot Hockey

All of my Honest Hockey Reviews on Protective equipment are going to be short, sweet, and to the point. I think anyone interested enough to read a Review on Hockey Equipment knows what to look for in Elbow/Shin/Shoulder Pads.

While most players are beyond finicky when it comes to skates, sticks, and possibly gloves/helmets, many of these same players  don’t have major preferences when it comes to hockey pants, shoulder pads, elbow pads, and shin guards. Many times, comfort takes precedence over protection, as many veteran players will often squeeze years or even decades out of a particular piece of Protective gear.

As an older gentleman I play pickup hockey with pointed out, “When was the last time you saw 20+ (years) player buy new shoulder pads?”

To wit, here is the photo of the “Protective” gear I ordinarily wear for Adult League, now buffered by the Easton Pro Shins:

006

Cooper (Google it) Shoulder Pads, $20 Nike/Bauer Elbows, a CCM shell sans girdle, and of course the Easton Pros.

That lot is pretty laughable. I actually wore those same Cooper shoulder pads when I played in college, as I was more of a “cherry-picker” than a “shot-blocker”. But I digress.

Anyway, like many long-time players, I have never put a premium on purchasing expensive Protective gear. Almost of my disposable income went into (and continues to go into) skates, sticks, and gloves. No matter how hard the manufacturers try, selling a hockey player on the sexiness of a new set of elbow pads mostly remains a major chore.

I picked up a pair of Easton Pro Series Shin Guards only because they cost me less than a pair of movie tickets. I was perfectly content playing in a pair of Sher-Wood 5030 Traditional Shins, as I thought they were perfectly-acceptable value at $30 retail. It never occurred to me that there would be any major benefit to investing more in Shins/Elbows/Shoulders as an Adult Leaguer.

I was wrong. The Easton Pro Series Shin Guards made me a believer in the benefits of buyer better Protective, even if you’re only an A-League bender like myself. Read on and I’ll explain.

Economy Line to Front Line

eastonshins2

I had worn a pair of Reebok 8K Shins from just after college until late 2012, at which point the liners had basically disintegrated. I had worn Jofa Shins in the years prior, so I had been, unknowingly, wearing professional-quality Shin Guards for most of my youth. I had taken the benefits of high-grade Shins for granted, as I had always blindly purchased Jofa Shins because that’s what I had seen Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Peter Forsberg, et al. wearing.

Figuring, “I’m just a decaying Garage Leaguer at this point, why bother investing heavily in new Shins?”, I picked up the Sher-Wood 5030 Traditionals. To their credit, it’s hard to knock the value the 5030 Traditionals provide, as I believe they are by far the best Shins you can buy at the $30 price-point.

However, the reality is that I am experienced enough that lower-end gear can and does hinder my play. This was something I long ago recognized with Skates and Sticks, but had not given much thought to regarding Protective gear. I will tear through a mid-range Stick or pair of Skates in short order simply because I am bigger and stronger than most of the people intermediate-level gear is made for. The same principle, it turns out, applies to Protective equipment.

Anyway, I was able to snag a pair of Easton Pro Series Shins for about the cost of dinner for two at Arby’s. Don’t ask me how I got them at that price. I had purchased them on a lark with the full intention of immediately reselling them.

The plan was to try them on once or twice in the interest of writing an Honest Hockey review. However, after wearing them once, I fell in love. My 5030 Traditionals ended up in my spare equipment bag, and my Easton Pro Series Shins are my favorite equipment purchase to-date in 2014.

Benefits of High-End Protective

  • Better Fit = Better Play

The reality is that Economy and even Intermediate level equipment is cut like department-store denim jeans: One Size Fits Most. While my 5030 Traditionals fit “fine”, I would be lying if I said they fit “great”. To use the Jeans analogy, wearing Economy/Intermediate protective is like wearing Slim Straight jeans when you have Hockey Ass and need custom tailoring.

The best thing I can say about my Easton Pro Series Shins is that the put my skating form back into proper alignment. I did not realize how uncomfortably-upright the 5030 Traditionals kept me until I wore the Easton Pros. The Pro Series Shins simply contoured to the anatomy of my lower leg better, which made my skating noticeably smoother.

The fit top-to-bottom on the Easton Pros is superb, as you would expect from a $99.99 retail Shin Guard. The removable liners are comfortable, snug, and non-abrasive. The calf wrap on the Easton Pros provides a taut fit during play. Unlike most Economy/Intermediate-level Shins, the Easton Pros articulate at the knee, which again allows the player to move more naturally.

Aside from the improvement in my skating stride, the fact that I never have to adjust, or even think about, my Shins while wearing them is the best thing I can say about them.

  • Better Protection/Injury Insurance (DUH)

It goes without saying that if I so inclined, the Easton Pro Shins would help a ton with shot-blocking. As noted previously, I am a Pond Hockey guy, so I block shots with the frequency of the Solar Equinox. However, in the interest of science, I did get in front of a few slappers recently. I can report that I felt absolutely fine after blocking three or four A-League bombs, although don’t expect me to turn into a modern-day Mike Ramsey.

I am always on people who play more than 1-2 times per week to upgrade to a higher-end pair of gloves, as I believe the jump in price from a $30 pair to a $70 pair is a huge upgrade in fit and quality. Considering how much time most hockey players spend on the ice, the extra $40 invested against an expected usage of about one year seems like a no-brainer investment to me.

My experience with the Easton Pro Shins has brought me to around to this line of thinking on Protective. I am on the ice a minimum of 4-5 times per week, and I generally wear Protective gear that looks like it belongs to a member of District 5. Without my jersey and socks on, I look like a Hockey-playing hobo.

Again, you’re going to probably get a calendar year, at minimum, out of a quality piece of Protective equipment. If you’re an A-League warrior and you’re on the ice with any regularity, going up a tier or two to a pair of shins like the Easton Pros is money well spent, in my view.

The other consideration is the injuries that you avoid incurring with the use of better Protective gear. Like I wrote above, I am no shot-blocking specialist, but I do crash-and-bang about as much as A-League will let me. If moving up from a $30 economy-level Shin to a $100 Pro-level Shin spares me even one injury, it’s a tremendous investment.

Basis of Comparison

To be fair, I have not invested much at all in Protective within the last several years. It’s very possible I would have written the exact same things about Shin Guards such as the CCM CL Shins or Reebok 18K Shins if I had gotten into them first.

But as I wrote above, the Easton Pro Shins are also my favorite equipment purchase of 2014. The fact that I am making a major jump from an Economy-line pair of Shins such as 5030 Traditionals should not diminish the value that Pro-level Shins such as the Easton Pros provide.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, I couldn’t be happier with the Easton Pro Series Shin Guards, and their quality has me looking strongly at other Easton products that I had not previously considered. As far as Protective equipment goes, I don’t think that anyone can ask for much more than superb fit and protection, both of which the Easton Pro Shins provide. If a product is strong enough to encourage a buyer to try other products from the same line, it really has gone above and beyond.

I did not rate the Easton Pro Shins in the categories I generally include in Honest Hockey Reviews (Durability, Value, etc). After I Review more Protective gear and come up with a good, consistent system, I will edit this article to reflect those changes and include a more-thorough breakdown. In the mean time, take my word as a player that the Easton Pro Shins are a terrific product, even at their suggested retail of $99.99.

After my positive experience with the Easton Pro Shins, my next equipment purchase will likely be to pair them with the Easton Pro Elbow Pads. What I want more than anything out of Protective is a consistent fit and quality, and the Easton Pro Shins certainly provide that. They have made me enough of a believer to invest in their Elbows, and to consider products I had not previously (helmets, skates, etc) in the future.

If I can speak so strongly about the value that higher-end Protective provides, perhaps you should try an upper-level pair of Elbows or Shoulders for yourself. You may be stunned by how much you enjoy them.

HH Overall Rating: 9.5

Jack

 

Honest Hockey Review: CCM Vector U+Pro / U+Pro Reloaded Skates

upro

(UPDATE: the U+ Pro and many other skates are discussed at-length in the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual.)

By Jack, Reboot Hockey

Full disclosure before we begin: I have strong attachment to the U+Pro. I wore a pair of original U+Pros for almost five years until I was no longer able to repair them. I subsequently shelved my original pair and purchased not one but two additional pairs of U+Pros, one pair of the 2009 Pro Reloaded boots and one of the original 2008 models. For fear of never finding a skate that fits me again, I am now hoarding all U+Pros with the selfish fervor of Daffy Duck while I try to find a boot made after 2010 that my feet will tolerate. But I digress.

In 2008, CCM reached the pinnacle of its mid-2000s Vector skates line with the release of the CCM Vector U+Pro. While the U+Pro had many properties similar to the skates that directly proceeded it, such as the Vector Pro and the Vector 10.0, the U+Pro remains a highpoint in CCM’s skate line due to the introduction of CCM’s U-Foam technology.

Responding to a number of critiques on the original U+Pro, in 2009 CCM released a second version of the skate called the CCM U+Pro Reloaded. The Pro Reloaded fits and skates in the same fundamental way as the original U+Pro, but CCM corrected a few issues that some people apparently had with durability. With the Pro Reloaded, CCM also removed the Rocket Runner blade attachment, a unique concept that theoretically allows for a longer, more powerful stride but was not particularly popular with consumers at the retail level. The Pro Reloaded also features a different tongue than the original U+Pro.

These minor adjustments aside, the 2009 Pro Reloaded and the 2008 U+Pro are fundamentally the same skate. These skates directly preceded CCM’s 2011 Crazy Light line, and represented the final skates released under the Vector imprint that began in 2005. Since discontinuing the Vector line, CCM has released the Crazy Light, the RBZ, and as of this writing has just released the 2014 Tacks line.

While the 2014 Tacks line – which as of this writing has been available to the general public for less than two weeks – may re-establish CCM as a dominant player in retail skate sales, CCM has lost traction to competitors in recent years. Despite this, the U+Pro remains a sought-after skate, and a strong entry in CCM’s historic line.

All Honest Hockey scores on the 1-10 scale, with 10 being “Must Buy” and 1 being “Avoid at All Costs”:

Basis of Comparison

As I wrote in my Honest Hockey Review of the CCM Crazy Light skates, I am a lifelong CCM skate-user. Prior to the U+Pro, I had been using the 2007 CCM Vector 10.0 skates, and I subsequently purchased both the Pro Reloaded (2009) and the Crazy Light (2011) models. Having used the prior and following year’s direct comparable, I believe I have a very strong Basis of Comparison.

I am currently using a pair of Reebok 11K skates, which as you can see from the pictures below are almost clones of the U+Pro:

014

013

The Pump feature on the Reebok 11K skates can really enhance the fit, particularly around the back of the foot. Due to the odd shape of my feet, I get a slightly stronger fit from the 11Ks, but the U-Foam in the U+Pros also provides a tremendous fit. The boots themselves are nearly identical, if that is not apparent from the pictures above. I would grade the 11K as being slightly stiffer than the 2009 U+Pro Reloaded.

As I have stated before, I used CCM skates almost exclusively until I began having fitting issues with the Crazy Light. My foot simply does not fit most Bauer skates well, so I cannot speak to how CCM skates compare to price-similar Bauer models. I can, however, in many cases speak to how a CCM or Reebok skate has evolved or regressed from the prior year’s model.

I have briefly used a number of higher-end skates such as the Easton Mako (2013) and the Graf 709 Texalite. While I did not care for those boots for one reason or another, I have had the opportunity to test 8-10 different skates on-ice within the last few years. I believe I am a dedicated-enough skater to be able to evaluate a given skate properly, and at this point I have used enough skates that I can distinguish between their respective strengths and weaknesses.

I covered the topic of skates at-length in my article, “How to Optimize Your Hockey Skates,” which can be seen elsewhere on this site. (UPDATE: “How to Optimize Your Hockey Skates” was woven into the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual.)

Looks

I did not purchase the original U+Pro due to its looks (nor due to any marketing pitch). I purchased it because of my preference for and dedication to CCM skates at the time.

The skate had and continues to have a very distinct look, as was the case with most of the skates from CCM’s Vector era. I think the U+Pro/Pro Reloaded is the best-looking of the Vector-era skates, some of which toed the line of being gaudy. The U+Pro is predominantly silver with black and blue highlights, and contrasts very noticeably in the sea of mostly-black skates seen on most players.

Even as recently as the just-concluded 2013-14 NHL season, you can easily spot players such as Joe Thornton and Loui Eriksson continuing to use the U+Pro. When it was initially released, the U+Pro was seen on veteran players such as Jarome Iginla and Vinny Lecavalier, but was seen perhaps most-predominantly on Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin.

Washington Capitals v Florida Panthers

I will always associate the U+Pro with Ovi and the run-and-gun Capitals of 2008. The U+Pro has it’s place as a very memorable entry in the CCM line of skates, and in my opinion is a welcome departure from some of the current nondescript skates being released.

(UPDATE: as of 2015-16, I’ve seen the U+Pro on Joe Thornton, Joel Ward, Jason Chimera, Loui Eriksson, and the recently-retired Brenden Morrow. Comment if you know of any other NHL players still wearing the U+Pro.)

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I love the U+Pro for sentimental reasons, but I do not believe it is the most aesthetically-pleasing boot CCM has ever released. As I wrote in my Honest Hockey Review of the Crazy Light skate, I think the CL is a much-sharper looking boot. Still, the U+Pro is undeniably charismatic, as no one will ever confuse it with a Bauer or Easton entry from the same time period.

HH Rating: 8.0

Fit

Having had the opportunity to wear a Crazy Light on one foot and a Pro Reloaded on the other, I believe that the U-Grip Rebranded foam in the Crazy Light conforms like no other. My feet are extremely irregular, and the fit along the bottom of the foot/outsole that I get from the Crazy Light is just tremendous. The U-Foam used in both the U+Pro and the Pro Reloaded is very, very good, but CCM obviously perfected the art by the time the Crazy Light was released in 2011.

Having said that, as I wrote in the CL review, I got a stronger overall fit from both the U+Pro and the Pro Reloaded. I think the Crazy Light is composed of materials so stiff that they do not conform to the anatomy of every foot as well as the Pro/Pro Reloaded do, particularly in terms of Foot Wrap along the top of the foot.

Speaking personally, I did not have nearly the problems getting the U+Pro to fit my foot that I did with the CL. I think the Crazy Light’s rigidity along the eyelet cuff largely accounts for this. My view is that the original U+Pro hits a sweet spot between conformity and stiffness that the Crazy Light does not. Players with more-regular feet may greatly prefer the Crazy Light, but I prefer the U+Pro because I believe the boot itself is a bit more malleable.

After the break-in period, which is limited, the U+Pro fits your foot perfectly. If you have irregular or misshapen feet like I do, I cannot recommend the U+Pro strongly enough. The U-Foam takes the guesswork out of customized fitting, and the exterior of the boot is forgiving enough to allow the skater to achieve proper Foot Wrap. As I wrote in the CL review, I think the U+Pro is actually a stronger overall boot than the CL, even if the CL has better bells-and-whistles.

Just to cite a few examples of the amenities seen on the Crazy Light:

The U+Pro seems to have a slightly-thinner stock insole than the CL. I like the tongue on the Crazy Light better. The CL, in it’s standard black/red scheme, is simply better-looking than the silver/black U+Pro. The Crazy Light is a marketing department’s dream, because it looks like the hockey skate equivalent of a Ferrari:

cl2

But in terms of pure substance, I think the U+Pro just performs better, and some veteran NHL players who have refused to switch over to a Crazy Light or an RBZ (Joe Thornton, Brendan Morrow, Loui Eriksson) would seem to agree with me.

The Pro Reloaded has a few alterations from the original U+Pro that have a bearing on fit. For example, the plate has been removed from the tongue on the Pro Reloaded, and the tongue on the Pro Reloaded is a bit more plush. I actually preferred the thinner tongue, but this sort of thing is largely personal preference.

Both the U+Pro and the Pro Reloaded have a moderate-high depth, and appear to be slightly-narrow at the forefoot. Bizarrely, this cut fits my horrid feet well. My feet are as flat as a board, and the bones of my ankles greatly protrude. I had purchased a Graf 709 – just about the highest-volume boot available – to try to fix my fitting problems, but that boot provided a bit too much depth and left my foot swimming. The U+Pro provides depth without unnecessary width, and eventually conforms to the foot to a fantastic degree, largely solving a complex fitting issue such as mine.

The only boot that I have ever tried on that gives the skater better Foot Wrap is the Easton Mako, which is of course a one-of-a-kind boot. The trade-off, as you will read elsewhere, is that the suppleness of the Mako also leads to issues with durability. My view is that the U+Pro strikes the best balance of advanced custom fitting and durability that I have seen from a modern composite boot, again with the asterisk that my feet don’t cooperate with most Bauer skates.

HH Rating: 9.0

Durability

Skates are no longer meant to last for years and years, as longtime skaters will tell you. When skates were largely composed of leather, they would be repaired and restitched as needed and often kept for extended periods of time. As they say, they don’t make things like they used to, and modern composite boots are relatively disposable by comparison.

I got nearly five full years from the original U+Pro, from just after the New Year in 2009 until I finally retired them in late 2013. I had simply softened the boot to the point that it had become unresponsive, but all things considered, they were remarkably durable for a modern composite boot.

One of the main concerns with the original U+Pro seemed to be durability, which led to the release of the Pro Reloaded. Due to the wear on my original U+Pros, it’s not fair to compare the quarter package of my original U+Pros to my Pro Reloaded skates, but my opinion is that the quarter package of the Pro Reloaded seems to be more rigid – stiff, but not quite a “ski-boot”, as some modern boots have become. I also wore out the footbeds of my original U+Pros, but that was due to extremely-high usage rather than any kind of factory defect.

It should be noted that I was no longer playing college hockey by 2009, so I cannot personally say how the retail U+Pro/Pro Reloaded would hold against to college or professional-level shots and wear. I have never been nor never will be a shot-blocking specialist, but I think the U+Pro is reasonably-protective compared to price and time-similar skate models.

As mentioned above, I did a number of repairs on my original U+Pros, but I am a barefoot skater, a decent-sized guy, and someone who plays anywhere from 3-7 times per week. All things considered, I think the fact that I was able to use the original U+Pros continuously from their release until late last year says quite a bit about how well-constructed they are.

The U+Pro is not the thickest or most-protective skate available, but it also conforms to the foot better than many of the most-protective skates.

HH Rating: 8.5

Performance

The original U+Pro came out of the box with a factory radius of 10′ and CCM’s patented Rocket Runner:

rocketrunner

Like a lot of people, I disliked the Rocket Runner, and had it taken off of my U+Pro in short order. I suppose if your goal is pure speed than you may prefer the Rocket Runner, but I found it hampered my agility and edge work to a degree. My understanding is that the Rocket Runner also makes skate sharpening a major chore.

The U+Pro and Pro Reloaded both came with CCM’s E-Pro holder, which compares favorably to contemporaries such as the Bauer Lightspeed 2 and the Graf Cobra. CCM/Reebok’s retail skates come out of the factory at a radius of 10′, which you should take into account before evaluating performance.

I found that the U+Pro conformed to my foot very well and helped maximize performance. I certainly experienced no drop-off going from a Vector 10.0 up to the original U+Pro, and in fact the Rocket Runner did noticeably help with straightaway speed.

As written above, I believe the U+Pro is more sound overall than the Crazy Light due to superior performance. We hockey enthusiasts sometimes all get so caught up in advancements in technology that we lose sight of the important thing, which is how equipment helps us play on-ice. I simply skated much better in the U+Pro than I did in the Crazy Light, even accounting for break-in time and external factors like ice quality, conditioning levels, etc.

It again occurs to me that CCM maybe hit the sweet spot between technological advancement and maintaining natural fit with the U+Pro. There’s a great excerpt from skating coach Laura Stamm’s article “How Tight, How Stiff?” that occurs to me:

If you skate for many hours a day, under the same grueling conditions as do pros, ultra stiff skates could be in order. Pros break in (and down) their skates quickly. They need very stiff skates so that they won’t have to break in several pairs during one hockey season. But most players, youth through adult, skate moderately, anywhere from one to three times a week, in sessions lasting from one – two hours. Their boots, if as stiff as pros’, may take forever to break in, and in many cases, never break down.

Recently I have been pleasantly surprised to see one or two brands of skates that are less stiff, more pliable and forgiving of the human anatomy.

I read an article in the NY Times on Sunday, January 21, dealing with stress fractures and back/hip/knee injuries in elite figure skaters. I quote from this article. “Skaters land on the ice on a thin steel blade, cushioned only by several layers of hard, compressed leather. The ankles are provided with little mobility, reducing their ability to act as shock absorbers and transferring the impact of landing along to the tibia, knee, femur, hip and lower back. It’s almost like putting the kids into casts…. You have to change the skates.” The same is true in hockey. The stresses, though differently induced, create the same problems. Casts do not allow for mobility. They are designed to hold the feet upright! Skates must be supportive, of course, but at the same time must be pliable enough to respond to the lean of a player’s feet and legs while edging and executing complex skating maneuvers.

My opinion is reinforced when I watch videos of the great Bobby Orr speeding and weaving, turning and cutting, out maneuvering his opponents on his old time, “floppy” leather skates. Skates surely weren’t ultra stiff in the 1960’s and 70’s.

A happy medium of supportiveness and pliability is in order for young and/or recreational level players.

My opinion is that the U+Pro maintains a pliability that the Crazy Light does not, which may account for the performance disparity I experienced between the two.

You may have a different opinion entirely, but again I used both extensively and have no financial interest swaying my opinion. Without burying the Crazy Light, I think the U+Pro just skates more naturally.

HH Rating: 9.0

Personal Biases

I love the U+Pro. This obviously is going to account for some bias on my part.

I have a unique skating style, and the slightly less-stiff U+Pro could simply – even likely – be more conducive to my particular skating mechanics. There are probably people who dislike the U+Pro and Pro Reloaded because they do not believe either to be responsive or stiff enough.

I always have to write that I am a CCM skates guy. I have adjusted my view in more-recent times, but traditionally I have purchased CCM skates like clockwork. I am currently investigating the differences between price-comparable CCM/Reebok skates because I had assumed that the products would basically be clones of each other. I am starting to believe that in some cases there may be a noticeable quality difference between price-comparable CCM and Reebok products, even though both are produced by the same parent company.

Final Considerations

If you are looking at picking up a U+Pro, you are obviously looking at an aftermarket skate. This could mean that price is a major consideration, or it could mean that like me, you are dissatisfied with many of the current skates being offered today.

The biggest feather in the cap of the U+Pro is that like its sister skates, CCM’s U-Foam can be molded and remolded, ensuring a terrific fit. Whether you are considering a used or unused pair of U+Pro or Pro Reloaded skates, you can be confident in knowing that either should fit your foot better than most aftermarket skates.

If you are purchasing the original U+Pro, account for the Rocket Runner while evaluating the skate. If you are uncomfortable on the skate with the Rocket Runner on, have the attachment removed before re-evaluating them. Including the Rocket Runner makes a noticeable difference compared to the standard E-Pro holder without it.

At this point, the U+Pro is a different generation than CCM’s current lines. As I write this, CCM is about to release has released its 2014 Tacks line, which will post-date CCM’s 2013 RBZ line and of course the 2011 Crazy Light line. Your age may account for how much you like or dislike the U+Pro, as younger players accustomed to ultra-stiff boots may find the U+Pro somewhat soft.

If you are currently in the market for skate and set on the CCM family, I highly recommend you get your foot into an affordable pair of skates from the Tacks line before you make a purchasing decision, and a pair from the RBZ and Reebok CCM RibCor lines as well. I recommend you consider Reebok skates strongly, even if like me you have affection for the CCM brand. I have found some of the Reebok skates to fit a bit more like traditional CCMs, and it would be worth trying on as many pairs as possible in the interest of getting an optimal fit.

(UPDATE 5/14/2016: in the 18 months since I originally published this article, the entire Reebok equipment line has been rebranded as CCM, I have demoed and reviewed the CCM Jetspeed, and in July 2016 the CCM Super Tacks one-piece skate will be released. Obviously a lot has changed. But my thoughts about the U+Pro really have not. As of this writing, I still rotate the U+Pro with my 11Ks, and I’m very happy with both.)

Having said that, if you can pick up a old pair of U+Pros at a good value, I think you will be quite pleased. They’re certainly an all-time favorite of mine.

HH Overall Rating: 8.75

Jack