With the release of all the impressive new technologies and features in the Hyperlite pad, the midline 3X has been placed in the shadows. However, with the same StabiliFlex knee block, upgraded materials and a lightweight core, the 3X is by far the best iteration of a pro pad at a mid line price point we’ve ever seen.
One of the most surprising innovations Bauer brought to the 3X leg pads is the same StabiliFlex knee block seen on the Hyperlite pad. First seen in the Ultrasonic line, this design creates an ultra stiff knee block that’s built right into the core of the pad. There are many advantages to this design mainly that the goalie is able to drive straight through the knee block into the butterfly without losing any energy in the process. This is a huge addition to a second price point pad and shows the Bauer is trying to make the best possible pad at a more accessible price for all goalies.
The butterfly seal and sliding are also improved due to the more structured knee block that more evenly distributes weight across it and into the core of the pad maintaining great seal even in a softer pad such as the 3X. The 3X pad also features a calf plate similar to that seen on the 3S which in conjunction with the new knee block will make the pad feel a lot more stable on the ice and should improve sliding a noticeable amount. The StabiliFlex knee block also uses the same C.O.R. Tech Plus outer skin seen on the Ultrasonic knee block which has been much more durable and eliminates any durability issues goalies may have had with the sliding surface of the 2X’s.
Dynamic Flex Core
Bauer elected to keep a similar Dynamic Flex Core to that seen on last year's popular 2X pad along with the CURV Composite reinforcement in the thigh rise. The main difference between the core on the 3X and the 2X is a slightly lighter, thinner and more flexible precurved shape that makes the 3X a comfortable, usable pad right off the shelf. The use of CURV in the thigh both helps keep the pads shape throughout repeated use while also giving the pad the same sort of quick rebounds that goalies have come to know and love from their Bauer pads.
The flex profile of the 3X leg pad is similar to that of the Hyperlite, pairing a flex point both above and below the knee with a pre curved shape to give the pad a soft, forgiving feel with good butterfly seal.
Free-Flex 110 Degree Boot
The 3X features the same ultra soft, Free-Flex 110 Degree Boot as the Hyperlite pad. This new boot sits slightly flatter than the 2X allowing the pad to sit deeper onto your leg giving a more attached feel to the pad. One thing worth noting is that due to the flatter boot, goalies who are coming from a pad with a steep boot like in the Supreme, Premier or Axis lines may find it necessary to size up in the 3X leg pads in order to get a proper fit.
Bauer did a good job keeping the rich feel in the leg channel of the 3X pads. A Nash lining runs from the knee to the boot while the StabiliFlex knee block is lined with CatchGrip material in order to give goalies a bit of extra grip to reduce the likelihood of their knees shifting and sliding when in the butterfly or sliding.
The most noticeable change is the new calf block which sits on the inside of the shin. Much like the calf pillow seen on the Ultrasonic pad, the new Balance Plate is designed to keep the goalie’s ankle in line with their knee reducing stress and strain on the joints while also providing a better seal due to the goalies weight being more evenly spread across the pad.
Tune-Fit 2.0 Strapping
Bauer elected to keep their successful Tune Fit strapping setup but had to make a few adjustments to accommodate the new knee and calf blocks. The knee strap is the same as the one seen on the Ultrasonic featuring an adjustable velcro attachment to the back of the knee block.
The updated “Y” shaped calf strap has an adjustment built more like that seen on the knee to work with the Balance Plate while maintaining the feel of the original Tune Fit strapping seen on the 2X Pro. Bauer now uses their own bungee toe tie system and just like on the 2X Pro they also offer the option to attach a boot strap if desired.
Just like the Hyperlite, the 3X’s stay true to Bauer's theme of simple, clean graphics offering a more angular appearance than the previous Vapor line. Bauer does offer the option to customize the colours on the 3X, an option that is unrivaled on a midline pad.
Whether you’re a growing goalie playing competitive hockey or a beer leaguer looking for a good performing pad without breaking the bank, the 3X leg pad has you covered. Packed with all the innovation Bauer brought to their Hyperlite pad but at a more reasonable price, the 3X pad is without a doubt the best value pad releasing this year.
Reviewed By: Cedric Hastings
Bauer Vapor 3X Leg Pads Gallery