I was assigned the role of equipment guinea pig and was given the summer to try out the CCM pants and shoulder pads; both are the WS1 model.
Overall, I was very happy with them, and that actually surprised me. I went in a little skeptical about wearing pads and pants that were made specifically for women. I've always worn equipment that was sized for junior boys. It has always been a dicey proposition trying to find the right fit, of course, but I didn't know any better. Most of the stuff I ended up wearing was a little baggy (the pants) and a little ill-fitting (the caps of the shoulder pads were too bulky).
Some parameters: I am 5-foot-2, 150 pounds (but shaped more like an oompa-loompa than a streamlined, well-trained athlete). I was given size medium and large to try (both pants and pads). The medium pants were a little too tight to get over my hips; the medium pads were somewhat constricting (there wasn't that much give with the brand-new Velcro).
I would say that if you are a fairly slim, medium-sized girl or woman, you might like the snugness of the medium equipment.
I have been wearing the equipment since May 25. I usually skate at least three times a week: co-ed clinic (drills and a mini-scrimmage), a rent-out (99 percent of the participants being guys) and a men's league game.
The pants felt terrific right away. They are light but solid. The material on the inner thighs is a stretchy mesh cloth. There is a zipper on the inside of both legs, giving an option to those who like more room in the lower thigh area. If you want to keep it zipped, there is a clever Velcro flap that covers the zipper pull tab so it doesn't scrape your legs.
The pants have a high guard in the back to protect your kidney area. The front rise is high enough to protect the stomach area but is not constricting. My only (minor) quibble might be the eyelets and laces that secure the pants. Because the pants are more snug than I'm accustomed to, I have to loosen the laces quite a bit to get out of the pants. Then the laces fall out of the eyelets, and it's a bit of a pain the next time I put on the pants; I have to relace them. As I said, however, it's such a minor thing.
I'm a defenseman most of the time, and I do like blocking shots. The ultimate test was playing against men and seeing how the pants fared against hard shots. The pants came through with flying colors. No bruises, no pain. I got turned around in front of the goal once, and my butt got hit by a shot. I just felt this thud. Because these pants fit so well, they didn't shift, and everything was still protected. My other pants moved around all the time, and I was constantly getting bruises when parts of the legs got exposed.
I like the shoulder pads, but they have proven harder to break in. (Perhaps it's because I'm so used to the bigger pads, which also are more than 12 years old.) The WS1 without a doubt is solidly constructed and isn't bulky, but still feels a bit stiff. When I first put it on, it was as if I were wearing a bulletproof vest. The shoulder caps don't feel like 1980s-era suit jacket shoulder pads, at least, and are better fitted to smaller shoulders. The elastic straps that secure the upper arms and the chest seem to be tighter than what I've seen in other equipment (maybe that means they'll keep their structure and I won't have to sew and shorten them in a few years).
There is a detachable flap in the front if you have a longer torso and need the protection. I have a short waist, so I removed the flap.
The front collar in particular remains hard. I usually have to maneuver it a little after I put on my jersey so it doesn't ride up on my throat.
But again, the snugness works. The pads don't shift, and I took some sticks and pucks to the shoulder and arm areas and suffered no damage.
Coincidentally, I was already wearing CCM elbow pads (Flexguard, 150, RBZ), which I bought last year. I despise elbow pads and generally am displeased with whatever pair I have at the time. When I went to the hockey shop looking for another pair, the guy behind the counter took one look at the expression on my face and said: "I'm not going to bother bringing out the other stuff. I'm going straight to the secret weapon."
That was the CCM pair, and indeed, they are best, most comfortable pair I have ever worn. My elbow pads are size small (I have T-rex arms), but these are just regular equipment, not women-specific. Regardless, they have provided plenty of protection, no issues whatsoever, and surprisingly do not slide all over my arms.
- Elaine Sung