A year and a half since the release of the Optik pro series, Brian’s has finally brought the performance version of the leg pad to stores at a more affordable price. After the success of the Optik pro series line, it’s always exciting seeing new mid-tier pads from Brian’s. Brian’s mid-tier gear always gets me amped up because after using a few different sets of their mid-tier leg pads in the past, I can safely say that I’ve been impressed each time. Featuring streamlined knee rolls, weave sliding surface and Brian’s signature smart strap system, these pads are ready for play. Let’s dive into the Optik 9.0 leg pad first before covering what’s new for the catch glove and blocker!
First off, rather than offering a flex and fly version of the pad, the Optik 9.0 will be somewhat in the middle. The core isn’t as stiff as the Optik FLY option but isn’t as soft and flexible as the FLX version, which enables the pad to be reactive without sacrificing the structure and performance of the pad. Using High Density foams, the Optik 9.0 remains light and thin, though not quite as thin as the pro Optik series.
The face of the pad is still flat, without any knee rolls or outer breaks. The reason behind this is for consistent rebounds and the lack of outer breaks keep the pad from breaking down by keeping the structure and pad shape. The outer roll has been minimized to be almost non-existent, allowing the outer roll to help keep the pad shape while cutting down on weight and improving vision during scrambles in tight. Rocking the same design as the Optik pro pads, you’ll stand out whether it’s your league finals or a local pick up game.
One thing you’re going to be missing out on with the Optik 9.0 series pads is Brian’s fun and effective Opti-Slide technology on the sliding surface of the pad. This feature is only available on the pro series and was a sacrifice Brian’s had to make to keep the pad at an affordable price. To compensate though, Brian’s did put weave on the slide surface, providing a slight advantage when sliding due to the smooth and durable material. Before goalie brands developed specific slide materials for their pads, weave was the go-to for a sliding edge. Brian’s now offering it on their lower level pad is a nice improvement over previous performance pads such as the G-Netik 8.0 or Subzero 7.0.
The leg channel is innovative in the way its designed and how pieces are cut such as the knee stack. Designed almost to be a triangle shape with the base being in the boot channel, this allows for a snug fit around your leg while leaving tons of room for rotation and a lack of interference in the ankle area. The pad is lined with a quick drying air-knit material to reduce odor and more importantly water weight, keeping the pad light and mobile.
The boot on the Optik 9.0 is a 90-degree boot to promote the pad being reactive while also staying tall on you leg. This is crucial because since the boot isn’t tapered, in order to get into a deep stance, the pad must sit up correctly on your leg to prevent any slipping out.
Another feature that separates these pads from the pro level would be the strapping style. The Optik 9.0 leg pad sports Brian’s infamous classic smart strap system rather than the X-style they debuted on the Optik pro. This system was one of the first all Velcro strapping systems and led the way for innovative strapping, with other brands still borrowing similar strapping styles. Brian’s has used this strapping on most of their pads including the Airlite and the Subzero lines. Consisting of a behind the knee strap which has the option to strap down around your upper calf, an inner calf strap to provide a snug fit and an outer calf strap to fasten the pad on your leg, this strapping is more than just simple, it’s effective.
The boot strap is the same as Brian’s always uses, a Velcro strap with a nylon material to keep it light while also working similar to a traditional leather boot strap. As for the toe ties, Brian’s uses their popular smart strap toe ties on this pad, keeping them easy to use while providing great functionality. We’ve seen most brands switching to a similar idea, although Brian’s has been using this system for years. The toe ties work by looping through the holder/cowling of the skate and meeting on top of your skate laces with Velcro.
Leg Pad Final Thoughts
In conclusion, these pads may not offer every bit of technology that the pro series does, but they do make impressive competition for the mid-range market. Personally, I’ve always preferred the original smart strap system on my Subzero 3’s over the newer X-Strapping style so I don’t mind them going away from that for the Optik 9.0 pads although I’m sure it won’t be a hit with everybody. The only thing I wish Brian’s included was the Opti-Slide sliding surface as I would be inclined to say it’s the best material I’ve tried, but the weave is a good addition that makes up for the lack of Opti-slide. As for the rest of the pad, it looks to be an impressive pad for an even more impressive price, with the hybrid core, flat face and outer roll, this light weight pad is one of the best sets I’ve seen for any style or level of goalie
Brians Optik 9.0 Catcher and Blocker
This performance catch glove and blocker feature the same look and design as the Optik while being a great option for those that want great gloves without breaking the bank.
The catcher was designed with the help of NHL goalie, Scott Darling. The ‘Darling Spec’ combines a Subzero 3 cuff and a G-Netik 3 thumb, which features an angled cuff designed for rebound control while the thumb is angled to direct pucks right into the pocket. The bottom of the glove has been flattened to fit and seal perfectly to the top of your pads for when you’re in your butterfly.
The fingers on the Optik 9.0 glove have been extended to create a bigger glove as well as grant more leverage to the user, enabling easy opening and closing without spending weeks breaking the glove in. The glove closes nice and flat ensuring that you can always snap your glove closed and trap the puck.
With the Optik 9.0, you will unfortunately not get the revolutionary BOA system that Brian’s uses on the pro model, but that isn’t the end of the world. With traditional strapping, the glove will feel more natural and still closes very nice. Some of the best Optik pro custom gloves I’ve tried had the BOA replaced by traditional strapping. The traditional strapping consists of finger adjustments, a wrist strap and a backhand strap for a lot of customization.
The Optik 9.0 uses a single T to encourage easy opening and closing of the glove. Even though it is only a single T, don’t be fooled as this glove presents itself to look massive due to the large deep pocket and the ultra wide T. The lacing of the glove promotes the pocket to snap shut when you catch a puck, resulting in some people referring to the Optik gloves as vacuums.
Brian’s uses Non Slip Grip material to line the glove, eliminating the need to wear an inner glove inside the trapper. This material is designed to prevent your hand from slipping and allow you to have full control over the glove. The material is also designed to dry quickly, reducing odor and keeping you comfortable when you play.
The Optik 9.0 blocker uses high density foams to promote bigger rebound while staying light and durable.
Brian’s uses HD foams to produce a light but performance based blocker. The HD foam is in the blocker face, but also added into the sidewall and finger protection, making sure you’re protected from any angle the puck might be coming.
The thumb has a removable pillow that increases protection and comfort. The thumb pillow is designed to position your thumb comfortably as well as absorb as impact that hits that area. If you aren’t a fan of the thumb pillow, Brian’s provides the option to just simply remove it.
Once again, if you want a BOA system, you’re going to have to splurge for the pro model. The Optik 9.0 blocker features a classic Velcro wrist strap for adjustments.
In conclusion, I know that Brian’s fans will be happy now being able to buy Optik leg pad technology for an affordable price. The trapper has a nice deep pocket and an enormous face, creating a massive appearance. Along with the wide T-pocket and no slip grip internals, the Optik trapper offers great features for a fair price. The blocker is lightweight and well balanced to provide consistent performance and rebounds. While you’d have to upgrade to pro for a BOA strapping system, don’t let that be a deal breaker, the Optik 9.0 gloves are here to make sure all goalies can have most of the Optik pro features without the pro price tag.
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Written By: Jono Holloway