Today's hockey equipment comes from the realm of high technology. Ultra-lightweight synthetics have replaced heavy padding and leather. Kevlar (the material used in bullet-proof vests) is popular, as is Clarino, a Japanese-made material that is light and won't absorb water. Special foams are sewn into the pads to absorb impacts and deflect the puck. Helmets are made of a polycarbonate lightweight plastic. The outer shell offers protection, while an inner liner provides extra padding and comfort.
The research and development that goes into goalie pads is astonishing. Every surface of the pad is designed to deflect the puck in a certain way, depending on the goaltender's style. Even the graphics on the pads can be designed to create the illusion of a gap for a player to shoot at. While today's goalies are completely armored, with virtually no spot on the front of their bodies going unprotected, their gear weighs less than ever.
The current cutting edge in stick technology is the one-piece composite design, made of Kevlar and carbon. Fewer players are using wood sticks these days, though there is some debate over the advantages of the composite sticks. Some claim they offer few benefits in terms of shooting, are too expensive and break too easily. On the other hand, many players swear the new sticks add power to their shots.