Fishbowl vs. Cage vs. Visor Hockey Helmets

Fishbowl vs. Cage vs. Visor Hockey Helmets

When it comes to protecting your head during a hockey game, the helmet you choose plays an important role.

Among the popular options are fishbowl, cage, and visor helmets. Each type offers different levels of protection, visibility, and comfort.

Let’s dive into the details to help you decide which helmet suits your game the best.

Fishbowl Helmets

Fishbowl helmets come with a clear, full-face visor made of high-impact plastic. They offer excellent visibility, allowing players to see the puck and other players without obstruction. Since there’s no metal grid, the risk of cuts from the cage during collisions is eliminated. However, they can fog up during intense play, although anti-fog treatments can help. Fishbowl helmets are great for players who prioritize clear vision and face protection.

Cage Helmets

Cage helmets feature a metal grid that covers the face. They offer the highest level of protection, especially from direct impacts to the face. The metal bars can slightly hinder visibility, but many players adapt quickly. Unlike fishbowls, cages don’t fog up, making them a reliable choice in all conditions. They’re particularly popular among aggressive players who are more likely to face high-impact situations.

Visor Helmets

Visor helmets strike a balance between the fishbowl and cage helmets. They have a transparent shield that covers the eyes and upper face. This design provides good visibility and protection against flying pucks and high sticks. However, the lower part of the face remains exposed, which might not be ideal for players who engage in physical play around the net. Visor helmets are a favorite among players who want protection for their eyes and face without the full coverage of a fishbowl or cage.

Choosing the Right Helmet

Selecting the right helmet depends on your playing style, position, and personal preferences. If visibility is your top priority and you play in a position where facial injuries are less of a concern, a fishbowl helmet might be the best choice. For those who engage in more physical play and want maximum protection, a cage helmet is advisable. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a compromise between visibility and protection, consider a visor helmet.

Q&A – Fishbowl vs. Cage vs. Visor Hockey Helmets

Why don’t NHL players wear full helmets (e.g., cage or fishbowl)?

NHL players often prioritize visibility and comfort over the maximum protection that full helmets provide. Full helmets like cages or fishbowls can reduce peripheral vision and may lead to fogging, which affects in-game performance. Also, NHL rules and the culture of professional play emphasize skill and speed, where players are expected to avoid high-impact collisions that are more common at amateur levels. Moreover, NHL players have immediate access to medical care, reducing the perceived need for full-face protection.

Which helmet style offers the most face and head protection?

Cage helmets offer the most comprehensive face and head protection. They cover the entire face with a metal grid, protecting against pucks, sticks, and direct impacts. This style is particularly effective in safeguarding against facial injuries, including the eyes, nose, and teeth, compared to visors and fishbowls which leave parts of the face exposed.

Does a fishbowl protect your teeth as well as a cage?

A fishbowl helmet provides good protection for the teeth, but not quite as effectively as a cage. The solid plastic shield of a fishbowl can distribute the force of a hit over a larger area, but direct impacts, especially from sticks or pucks slipping under the shield, can still pose a risk to teeth. Cages offer more reliable protection against direct hits to the mouth area.

Are visors safe enough for high-impact play?

Visors provide a significant level of protection for the eyes and upper face and are considered safe for high-impact play. However, they do not protect the lower face and jaw, making them less ideal for players who engage in physical confrontations or are at higher risk of facial injuries. Players who prefer visors value the balance between visibility and protection.

Is there a helmet style better suited to youth players?

For youth players, cages are generally recommended due to the high level of protection they offer. Young players are still developing their skills, including awareness and avoidance of dangerous situations, making the full-face protection of a cage beneficial. Additionally, youth leagues often mandate full-face protection to safeguard against injuries.

Do cages or fishbowls obstruct your vision?

Both cages and fishbowls can slightly obstruct vision, but the effect varies. Cages can hinder peripheral vision slightly due to the metal bars, although players often adapt quickly. Fishbowls offer clearer frontal vision but can distort vision slightly at the edges due to the curvature of the plastic. They can also fog up, which further obstructs vision.

How hard is it to see the puck with a full cage?

Seeing the puck with a full cage is not significantly difficult once players adapt to the metal grid. The design of modern cages minimizes visual obstruction, and players often learn to look through the grid without it hindering their ability to track the puck. The initial adjustment period can vary from player to player.

Do visors scratch easily, affecting your view of the game?

Visors can scratch if not properly cared for, which can affect visibility during the game. However, they are made from high-impact resistant materials designed to withstand normal gameplay conditions. Regular maintenance and proper storage can significantly reduce the risk of scratches. Players often use specific cleaning solutions and soft cloths to clean their visors, maintaining clear vision.

Which style gets the most hot and uncomfortable?

Fishbowl helmets tend to get the most hot and uncomfortable, especially during intense play or in warmer conditions. The full-face plastic shield can trap heat and moisture inside, leading to increased sweating and a potential for fogging. Cages, with their open-grid design, allow for better air circulation, making them cooler and less likely to cause discomfort.

Does a fishbowl restrict breathing more than a cage?

A fishbowl helmet can slightly restrict breathing more than a cage, due to the solid shield that covers the entire face, limiting air flow. In contrast, cages have an open design that allows for easier air exchange. Players who are sensitive to feeling confined or who require more ventilation generally prefer cages or visors for this reason.

Can you wear glasses or contacts comfortably with a fishbowl?

Yes, you can comfortably wear glasses or contacts with a fishbowl helmet. The spacious design of fishbowl helmets accommodates glasses, and the solid shield protects contacts from drying out due to air flow. Some players prefer fishbowls when wearing glasses, as they offer protection without the pressure points that can sometimes occur with cages.

Is it harder to clean a fishbowl compared to a cage or visor?

Cleaning a fishbowl helmet can be a bit more involved than cleaning a cage or visor because it requires careful handling to avoid scratches. The plastic shield of a fishbowl needs to be cleaned with specific cleaners that are safe for acrylics or polycarbonates and a soft cloth to maintain clarity and prevent fogging. Cages can be rinsed and dried more easily without the same concern for scratches.

Are visors prone to fogging up, and how do you prevent it?

Visors can fog up, especially during high exertion levels or in humid conditions. To prevent fogging, players often apply anti-fog treatments to the inside of the visor. Keeping the visor clean and free of scratches also helps maintain clear vision. Some visors come with built-in anti-fog technologies or coatings that reduce the likelihood of fogging.

Are fishbowls still popular, or are most players switching to cages or visors?

Fishbowls remain popular among certain groups of players who prioritize visibility and full-face protection. However, there’s a trend towards visors among professional and competitive players for their balance of visibility and protection, and cages in youth and amateur leagues for maximum safety. Player preference often depends on the level of play, personal comfort, and specific league requirements.

What do NHL players prefer – cages, visors, or something else?

NHL players predominantly prefer visors. The league mandates some level of facial protection, and visors offer a balance of visibility and protection that suits the high-speed, skill-oriented nature of professional play. Full cages and fishbowls are not commonly used in the NHL, mainly due to the visibility and comfort preferences of the players.

Some NHL players will wear a fishbowl or cage after a facial injury. Connor Bedard wore a fishbowl his rookie season after breaking his jaw in a collision.


The right helmet not only protects you but also enhances your performance on the ice by suiting your style of play. Take your time to try different helmets and consult with experienced players or coaches to make the best choice for your needs.


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