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Tackla 5500 Air

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5’10” 140 lbs

Tackla Size 48

Background :

I picked these pants up as part of an overall gear upgrade I had in August of 2011 and I now feel that I have enough experience in them (4.5 months, 1-3 times a week) for a review. I bought these guys as a replacement for my old Bauer Supreme One35s (review a few links down) which I felt was both a little short in length and lacking rear end protection. Another reason for choosing Tackla was that they definitely appear to have an excellent long-standing reputation to be perhaps the best pant manufacturer on the market; and the Made In Canada labelling was definitely a bonus.

Fit/Comfort : 10/10

Tackla pants feature a ‘European’ or ‘Euro’ style fit, which is characterized by a tight waist and a wide or roomy leg/thigh. A personal preference for sure, but one that I enjoy. The size 48 was perfect length-wise for me, as the pant leg approached or sits on the upper ½ of the kneecap, eliminating any gap issues I had with the One35s.

The tight waist is perhaps the greatest positive here, as the pant wraps very snugly and extremely comfortably around the body; perhaps the most comfortable pair of pants I have ever had on. It was heavenly! The low-density foams around the inner waist (kidney) of the pant are soft enough to give you that comfort level and beefy enough to be protective as well.

Although the pant features both the traditional lacing system and belt system for tightness, I felt that just the lacing was enough to achieve that level of fit/tightness, rendering the belt unnecessary. This could be that it wraps around the outside of the pant rather than on the inside.

The wider legs are also well fitted as they provide excellent, almost unnoticeable mobility without interfering with the top of the shin pad. The leg zipper with stretch liner backing (so while it does expand, there is no gap where your leg is exposed) was a nice feature as well.

Protection : 10/10

Being a high-end (over $200 price-point iirc) pant, the 5500s feature amazing protection to be expected at that price namely multi-density layered foams with high quality moulded plastic inserts. The type and method that Tackla uses with their foam placement overlaps with the high comfort level as well. Everything from the tailbone piece to the kidney areas and hips pads contain a surface layer of soft foams that provide a nice base for the other inserts. Definitely an excellent consideration if you were to play high level hockey.

Durability : 8/10

There are various places on the pant where the stitching has come loose, especially on the bottom rim of each leg. Although this is not an issue at the moment, there could come a point where it will be. The liner of the left side of the pant has also frazzled slightly. Slightly disappointing, given that domestically made gear is supposed to be ‘superior’ to Asian-made. This just goes to show that QC trumps that mindset.

Weight : 8.5/10

This is definitely a pant on the bulkier side, although the level of mobility offsets that in my opinion and is a non-issue. However it is also important to consider that pants sit near your centre of gravity or your core, so a difference in weight conceivably wouldn’t be as noticeable as if it was further away, such as a stick.

Intangibles :

Absolutely no issues with odour or with moisture retaining. The liner on these guys appear to wick away moisture very well and the pant dry quickly as a result. One aspect however that I personally would like to see on these guys is a raised spinal guard, similar to the Tackla 951 and on countless other non-Tackla models.

Another qualm that I have on these pants is the single segment on the tailbone pad inside the pant. The tailbone pad features thick low-density foams with a sturdy insert, but has a single segment on the lower third of the pad. This is supposed to offer better mobility but I’ve found that it can get stuck poking into your backside, especially if you hop over the boards and definitely not what you want if you fall directly on it (ouch!). Perhaps this would not be an issue with larger set people, but sometimes is a minor annoyance to me.

Overall : 9/10

An excellent product which should be on clearance at most retailers (if they have any stock left that is). Definitely something to consider if one plays high level hockey or would simply like to give Tackla a try as I have. Quite impressed.

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