I would like to apologize for how long the video is. I wanted to get into all of the details in it and I wanted to show off the pads I compare it to (since those are in my regular rotation) as I mention them a lot in the written review as well.
Usage time: 3 months for me 4 months before me
Price: I paid $300 used
Pad History: Battram Fury Retro, Bauer Scott Munroe Pro Return X60/One95, Bauer Scott Wedgewood Pro Return X60 skinned as RX10s.
These pads aren’t the newest model offering for the Simmons 99x Series pads, they are very similar to the newest 998 series. My understanding is that the 998’s just have knee rolls and the 997’s do not.
Initial Thoughts: When I grabbed these pads the first thing I noticed was how light and soft they were. When I pick up my Bauer pads they feel almost like a solid piece while when I pick up the Simmons you can feel the pad flexing. I had a feeling these were going to be very mobile pads from the get go. I knew when I got these that I am more comfortable and prefer a stiffer style of pad but I have heard good things about the 99x series and wanted to try them for myself.
Fit: These pads are pretty bare bones when it comes to features and adjustability, in fact the only piece that I could find to be adjustable (besides the straps of course) was the knee block and knee cradle which is attached by velcro and can thus you can adjust how the knee cradle attaches to the knee block. I really like this feature as I have pads where I wish the landing gear was slightly lower or higher on the knee block as I more often than not don’t hit dead center of the knee block when I wear big knee pads. Besides the velcro on the knee cradle I found even with the smallest knee pads I have my knees were still bulging out of the knee cradle and I had to strap the elastic there as loose as possible. In a perfect world the knee cradle would be adjustable but that is rarely the case. I could’ve just cut out the outside flap on the cradle but since I was passing these pads along I decided against that. The back of the pad and the calf wraps are not adjustable at all either. Most pads I have seen don’t have much adjustability here but since it is a feature on others now I figured I’d mention it. On my Munroe X60s the calf wraps were adjustable with velcro tabs which allows them to be strapped tighter or looser on your legs. Warrior Ritual 2s now have a removable pillow on the shin area of the pad which would be nice for an even more custom fit. With all of that said a lot of pads don’t need the multiple adjustability pointsand the only thing I’d change on these pads fit wise would be a larger knee cradle. 7/10 (because of no adjustability)
Comfort: These pads are one of the most comfortable pads I have ever worn. They are a close second to my Wedgewood pads as I like how the boot feels on those slightly more. The knee block and knee stacks are super soft and don’t require knee pads (unlike my Munroe pads). The back side of the pad doesn’t have an special materials along your shin, but the nylon there covers a very soft and comfortable base combined with cushiony calf wraps and soft boot creating a comfortable environment for your leg and foot. 10/10
Weight: In the video portion of this review I state that these are the lightest pads I have ever worn, and that is true…but they do weigh more compared to the Ritual G2, Brian’s Sub Zero are both much lighter than these. The Bauer pads I have are pretty heavy pads and these 997s felt like featherweights in comparison. With the way these pads were made and their weight I felt extremely mobile when wearing these. Weight of equipment is never really an issue or a huge factor to me as I’d gladly sacrifice weight savings for added protection, but because they aren’t the lightest on the market I can’t give them full marks for weight. 8/10
Durability: All pads wear over time and 99% of the pads have specific wear bars to prevent wear happening to the structure of the pads. These bars are fairly easy to replace and appear around the toe area of the pad where the most contact with ice happens. I won’t be commenting on that type of wear on these pads as that is impossible to stop.
The 997s have held up fantastically on the knee block and the basic nylon backing of the pad did wonders to stop the tongue of your skates wearing out the leg channel area. While other pads feel more “luxurious” with nash or digital material along the leg channel the nylon on the 997 show significantly less wear for little to no performance or comfort loss.
I am quite surprised and not to happy that the stitching is ripping out of the toe of the pad where the toe leather has worn out quite significantly. Here there isn’t just a wear spot like what happens on the wear bindings but instead it is actually a strip of wear where the leather has been worn down and the stitching in place there is completely gone. This worries me as if this type of wear continues to happen the pads would have to be sent in for repairs because if the stitching continues to fall out then the leather on the boot of the pad could come undone. While I have a feeling the wear that is visible in the pictures and the video is already at the maximum extent the fact that there is this exposed seam and thread is a little worrisome. 7/10
Protection: I will say that most pads that I have worn are protective enough where they do their job. These are no exception and they don’t have any special protection areas that make them stand out. They are missing the lower skate protection flap that the Wedgewood Bauers have. That said this is pretty normal for pads and I don’t ever recall being hit where the Wedgewood flap is. I believe these pads are a pro level pad so any pucks off the face or inner side of the pad will not be any issue. 9/10
Performance: These pads play vastly different to the pads that I am used to. They are extremely flexible and they felt like they were extensions to my legs compared to blocking devices that I position to make a save. I tend to like a stiffer pad (especially in the thigh rise) and these are the exact opposite. I found I was able to slide well in these and on multiple occasions the flexible and curve thigh rises saved me when my stick was out of position. The same play has happened countless times before in my stiffer pads but instead of just deflecting away these dropped dead for an easy cover. I am a taller goalie and have a slightly wide butterfly so I usually don’t need the double break and flexible thigh rises, thus these pads would be great for a less flexible and tight butterflies. I found leg movements in these pads to be fast and more mobile than my 2 usual sets, but I also felt I began moving too much (again, I am more of a blocking goalie). The soft boot is great for pushing off the post and butterfly slides, but I found the squared off toe of the boat to get in the way a bit in a deep crouch and making those butterfly slides. The boot angle seemed to be too flat on my foot and I found rebounds would come straight back out instead of out to the side. Perhaps I could fix this my learning to adjust my foot but for my time with them anything off the boot came right back out in front. The rebounds were pretty soft and unlike my Bauers I felt I couldn’t really kick the puck out past the shooters. When I did I found the puck fluttered off the pads and into the air as the soft faces would deaden the rebounds. On multiple occasions shots that hit my knee would go out to players standing off to the side of the net, here I wish these pads had knee rolls to make those rebounds more random and harder for the other players to control. 7/10 (All of my issues outlined here are just because of personal preference. I know people who would prefer how these pads are made vs the Bauers that I like better)
Conclusion: I quickly found out that the Simmons 997 Pro Series pads are simply not fitting to my style of play. With that said this is a well made pad and one that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone in the market for a flexible pro level pad. For the price point this pad beats out the big brand competition (with maybe the exception being Warrior Ritual Pros and Ritual 2 Pros, but the Simmons comes custom and the Rituals do not). Like I said before I prefer a stiffer pad and these are just simply not my prefered style. The only real issue I have with these is the wear on the boot where the stitching is coming undone and that might be a non-issue all together as I never noticed it getting worse. 7.5/10
The inside landing gear of all 3 pads. Simmons has the flattest/most solid sliding area and the skinniest calf landing area. This never caused issues with pucks slipping through and I found I “caught” more pucks under the pad than I did with the others.
Large velcro on the knee cradle allows for adjustability of the knee block. I wish more pads had this as you can adjust the knee block up and down depending on where your knee lands when doing down in the butterfly.
The boot on the Wedgewood Bauers (left) is noticeably thicker and on a more steep angle. I find pucks off the boot go into the corners with the Bauers and pucks off the Simmons go back out in front.
While the Simmons 997 is the simplest in terms of construction, it is the best for durability. I Munroe X60s (middle picture) are the best for the smoothest boot but Simmons has the best leg channel.
Shows the deepness of the boots, the Simmons is the most table top boot of the 3, basically just sits ontop of your skate without a real channel for the skate to sit in.