Hockey elbow pads are equipment that protect players' elbows from the physical play of hockey. Elbow pads actually extend to cover players' forearms and triceps as well in order to protect more of the arm, whether that be from slashing and checking or just the ice itself. A number of companies make hockey elbow pads, including Bauer, CCM, and Warrior. Each of these brands can be found at places like Dick's Sporting Goods, Pure Hockey, and Hockey Monkey.
Elbow pads are meant to be fastened to the arm without sliding around, but should still be flexible. Moreover, pads should not leave any area on the arm exposed. Rather, they should cover the arm right up until the cuff of the glove without extending into it. They should also cover up to the bicep guard of the shoulder pad in order to protect the entire arm.
Some elbow pads are of a much higher quality than others. Lower quality pads are only made of a cheap foam, and have no hard, protective outer surface. The protection offered by these pads is subpar and should not be seriously considered to use in a competitive game of hockey.
More expensive pads make use of a plastic layer over a small amount of foam. Some polyethylene foam is also placed in specific parts of the pad for added protection. The highest quality pads use even thicker plastic and foam as well as better materials in general.
The first elbow pads worn in 1910, but were only made of felt. The 1930s saw leather pads introduced to the game, and in 1945, plastic and fiberglass were used. Because of how much elbowing was taking place, the NHL mandated that a softer material be placed on the outside of the pad for the safety of other players between 1950 and 1951. Over the years, more rules were put in place concerning the coverage of the outermost, hard shell of the pads. In 1988, longer elbow pads were introduced as gloves became shorter and failed to protect the forearm.