Pros: Excellent protection, sternum guard, carbon fiber shoulder wings
Cons: Reebok in hockey? hmm
Who would of thought . . .
. . . that a company who uses Popeyes catch phrase for marketing could make a good hockey gear. I am what I am.
. . . that Nike would be left in the dust the moment Reebok joined the hockey business.
. . . that a shoe company would sell more goalie gear than Koho and CCM combined.
Well it didnt hurt the chances of those last two items that Reebok purchased Maska corporation last spring. Maska is the largest of the hockey conglomerates, comprising CCM, Heaton, Jofa, Koho and a number of less familiar hockey brands. Unlike Nike who came to the game with an unhealthy level of arrogance, Reebok has let Maska do the driving this far. The result? Read on!
Rather than tossing meaningless numbers on their goalie gear, Reebok came up with equally meaningless names. Thus far they arent too terribly difficult to understand. The Premier Pro is the top of the line stuff. The disturbingly similar looking Senior line is their recreational gear.
In all I was surprised and impressed most by the RBK chest and arm protector. I was also a little sad for reasons I dont fully comprehend. You see, RBK is replacing a big chunk of the Koho line. Maska will still offer some Koho pads and gloves, but all of the less visible gear will be replaced by the RBK line. I guess it makes me wax sentimental for the loss of another hockey brand since I suspect that Koho will altogether dissolve at some point. Its funny since I wasnt all that big on their stuff anyway.
Nonetheless, Koho did have a fantastic chest and arm protector even if their pads and gloves werent all that great. Reebok picked up the chest protector that almost certainly would have been labeled as a Koho product as their first line of goalie chest protectors. Are they good? You bet they are.
As with Nike, RBK has demonstrated an early ability to add some flash to the gear. While the outward appearance of Goalie gear has been a tendency toward more flash, most makers havent bothered to jazz up the under protective gear. Sure Brians has made some humorous jocks for a few years, but there are exceptions to every rule.
The RBK Premier Pro Chest and arm is by far the most stunning piece of under protective ever made for goalies. Reebok knows that you dont sell the steak - you sell the sizzle. People are attracted to bright colors. The Premier Pro is very bright.
The typical all black, utilitarian design of body armor is accented by large amounts of bright gold. (I dont mean hockey talk for yellow here either, it is a nice spicy mustard gold). There is little doubt that on a rack of 100 chest protectors this would be the first one that your eye would settle on. Of course who really cares what color it is? No one will see it once you are on the ice. So frankly, color is only on the Chest protector to make sure you look at it before making your decision. Good marketing idea little added value.
More important . . .
of course is how a chest protector works. If you are looking good while you are having broken bones it doesnt really matter how great the thing looks on the rack. Further, a shst protector needs to be comfortable. If you feel like the little brother in A Christmas Story who cannot put his arms down because his coat is so thick, you arent going to stop too many pucks.
A good chest and arm protector will have high levels of protection and comfort. It will allow goalies the flexibility they need to make saves. It will also last longer than a pack of Big Red chewing gum. Those are the things that we need to explore next.
The RBK Premier Pro is among the most protective on the market. One of the first things that sticks out in the protection department is the large chuck of hard stuff on the chest. In fact this isnt a stale piece of Melba Toast that got stuck there by mistake. (Nor does it look anything like one). The Premier Pro sports a carbon fiber sternum guard. This large floating plate disperses the energy from a shot away from the players heart. Carbon fiber is not only very strong, but exceptionally light.
Kohos top of the line 570 model from last year was among the best floating sternum protection on the market. It came in the form of a gel packet called Cell-U-Layer. While the Cell-U-Layer was an excellent addition, the new carbon fiber is hands down better. It is lighter and more effective at dispersing an impact.
The new RBK also features carbon fiber in the shoulder wings. While I prefer double shoulder caps to wings, the wings on the RBK are huge. With the addition of the carbon fiber in the shoulder wings, there is truly no need for shoulder caps in this model. Only goalie sprawled out in the most uncomfortable, contorted positions will find their shoulders vulnerable in the Premier Pro. In those type of situations you will find something exposed in any chest and arm protector.
For normal shots the padding on the chest is plenty thick. There are always going to be a few stingers no matter what you are wearing. However they should be few and far between in this model. The Belly flap is long enough that it should stay tucked into your pants pretty well. It isnt adjustable which is one of the only things that I would like to see changed in this model.
The Premier also sports very protective arms. The cheaters are very large. All of the front of the arm padding is very good. Further, like the Koho 570 which was its predecessor, the Premier Pro has full plastic caps on the elbows. This is an improvement over many competitors models which sport only rubber doughnuts or padding in the elbows. I broke my elbow once and didnt like it at all.
Spinal protection is pretty good as well on the RBK. It is better than average, but as I always say, if you are taking a lot of shots in the back, youre doing something very wrong. You are also looking for a serious injury. Best of luck with that. For normal goalies the Premier offers pro level protection.
Reebok really nailed the comfort issue here . . . or perhaps I should say Maska did. Reeboks major contribution was likely marketing and making it look pretty. Nonetheless, the Premier Pro is as comfortable as anything on the market.
Perhaps the biggest contributor to the comfort of this Chest and Arm protector is the new strapping system. Where most of the body armor that Ive seen attempts to run a strap down the center of the back, the RBK utilizes the spine protector as a part of the harness instead. The straps run from the shoulder wings down to a double belt in the back of the chest protector. Meanwhile the spinal protection holds everything together.
In all the RBK didnt feel like it was sagging on me like many other models that Ive tried on. Granted my physique is nearly perfect so this might not fit you as well. (I get a little larger toward the belt line which helped to hold up the RBK a little).
The arms move freely as well on the RBK. There is no feeling that they will loosen up in a month or two of play, nor is there any reason to hope that they will. From the start all movement is unhindered.
One area that Ive always struggled with comfort-wise is the belly. I am pretty active on the ice (read that as I flop from time to time). After making a stretch for a stick save my chest protector and pants used to depart from one another. Even with my built in padding, it hurts to take a puck in the gut. I solved the problem for myself by sewing suspenders directly to the front of my chest protector in addition to a belt loop.
The RBK does have a belt loop which will help with this problem. I cannot fault them for not having suspenders on their product since to my knowledge I am the only one who has done that so far. What will really help with this area though is the long belly flap. This should be long enough to stay tucked in the goalies pants on all but the tallest of goalies.
In all the RBK Premier is a very comfortable chest and arm protector. It is on par with the best on the market.
Well, RBK doesnt have a track record in this department yet. It will take a few years for them to develop one. However, we secretly know that this was a Koho chest and arm protector and they do have a track record. For any shortcomings that Ive found in Koho in the past, durability was not one of them.
The materials and construction of the RBK premier are all top notch. I would suggest that it is even better made than previous Koho products. The primary materials on the Premier are ballistic nylon and a high-grade synthetic leather of some sort. RBK used a generous amount of the sturdy looking synthetic leather in all the right places on this product.
I would expect this item to last a goalie who plays two or three times weekly for many years.
I was skeptical when I heard about Reebok goalie gear. Nike hasnt exactly shown up the competition with their quality, but at least they were smart enough to stay out of goalie gear. Fortunately, RBK was smart enough so far to stay out of goalie gear too. They left the design and production of the Premier Pro to the experts and the result is an excellent product.
I am surprised and pleased to give the RBK Premier Pro a hearty recommendation. This is simply on par with the best gear out there. Well done Reebok!
A few of my other reviews that you might find helpful:
Fitting Goalie Gear
Vaughn Legacy 6000 Chest and Arm
Louisville Xhale II Chest and Arm
Koho AB570 Chest Protector
Battram Custom Goalie Equipment
? 2005 Scott Noble All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited.
Thanks to openroad for adding this item so I could review it.