Who's Online 1 Member, 0 Anonymous, 4 Guests (See full list)
Preface and Introduction
For a while now I’ve been wanting to write up a piece about my experiences, thoughts, critiques, opinions, etc. about the Brian’s G-NETik series. I’ve been wanting to do this to do this because I’m a huge gear enthusiast/nerd, a Brian’s gear nerd, and have a lot of experience in their gear as my first set of gloves were a Brian’s blocker (Thief) and Heaton (Helite 2 or 3) glove in 1995.
I want to focus on what the gear is, where it came from with respect to where I come from, what I think Brian’s could do to improve upon the series/idea, what I think Brian’s could do to improve on their statistical process control in manufacturing (where it’s strong and where it’s weak), what my design philosophy is for a “good” equipment, and generally whatever else I end up throwing in the mix.
Ideally, I would love to do more of these but gear is hard for me to come by in Oregon. I’d love to demo stuff and provide journalistic written reviews with pictures. I’ve always wanted to do truly dedicated gear reviews for companies or help with the design process.
Everything in here is my opinion or information I gleaned from watching videos Joz made with various outlets or older Brian's catalogues:
Summary, but not complete list, of respective gear items I have personally had experience with devoid of my thoughts on each:
Owned: DX2 gloves, middle edition Vision pads, late edition Vaughn Legacy gloves, Vaughn Velocity 1 pads, G-N3Tik pads, Optik gloves, G-NETikIV pads and catcher.
Demoed: DX2 pads, 2S pads and blocker, G4 gloves, VE8 pads and blocker, SLR2 pads, G-NETikIV blocker.
Off-ice takedowns: G-NETik 1 pads, Velocity 2 pads, Velocity 3 pads, Velocity 1 gloves, Velocity 6 pads, first edition Epic gloves, 5500 glove, CCM Retroflex pads, and Optik 2 blocker.
Section 1: Background & Perceptions on Design Philosophy
1.1 Going back in time to see how the series has shifted throughout the years I started with what media I could find on the series from the first incarnation, in 2012, to the current 2018 revision. From this video we can learn that the G-NETik started as a hybridization of the Zero G and SubZero line for a hybrid goalie. It started out a flexible pad, focusing on the boot break, featuring a double break and still functional internal knee rolls. Over time this has come to define the series as a pad that has torsional flex, light weight, and can play like a properly sealing butterfly pad.
--What does this all mean?
The goal was to make a pad that a hybrid goalie would want, that a butterfly goalie could use and would appreciate, and to iteratively innovate upon both the past and each individual piece over time. We could draw high-level model comparisons to the Vaughn Velocity, the CCM Eflex, the Warrior Ritual GT, to name a few. Do I think these are all entirely accurate? No, but they’re the closest from each manufacturer.
--What do I think they are doing to achieve this philosophy and are they achieving it?
Brian’s has been pushing their strapping methods and design hard since its inception because they clearly believed and do believe in it. I think they were and are absolutely right to do so.
A summary of things I think they’re doing right and should continue to do:
Keep gently iterating the strapping, though maybe slow down a tad since it could be reaching its finality could become a case of “change for the sake of change.”
The identity of the series is spot on. The torsional flex is definitely a thing and key factor as well as the overall richness of the materials used on the leg channel.
All bells and whistles are pragmatic.
The weight and balance of the gear manufactured is very good.
The level of options after purchase is very nice.
The materials used and their locations used on the pads are spot on. Keep pushing the materials boundary.
Please make it stock to have at least the instep of the boot also covered in Primo though, the nylon could/would wear away much faster and absorbs water. This is something I customized after demoing a set and getting a wet boot after only 20 minutes, it was stock on the G-N3Tik.
The toe options are great, but please improve their quality or make it easier to order replacements. I wore through a set in 6 months and could not get a response on how to replace them.
For change I have two points here though:
I feel like they should offer the option to make any/all straps nylon (specifically the calf in is my desire) instead of only the boot (default) and the optional lower leg strap on the IV (mine is nylon, I love this thing). My feeling is that they already offer such amazing customization that this ability could really push them even further. Maybe they already would do this if asked, but I’m not sure.
Push your envelope of making a modular leg pad even further. By this I mean:
Please make the Rotational Control/Professor/Upper Calf strap standard and add a spot where it can be added/removed. This was done on the Optik 2, but make it standard instead of custom/when asked on the G-NETik. This strap encompasses what I feel this pad is trying to do: be for the goalie that wants to feel like the pad is an extension of their leg without hindering their hybrid or butterfly style game.
Make it so that a calf pillow can be added/removed with it default removed. I actually talked to a rep (still have his card, but it feels weird to name people) about this at Tendyfest when I first demoed the 4s.
1.2 Being a Brian’s pad meant a few things immediately: it was going to be highly customizable, it would be (mostly) devoid of traditional strapping, and the leg channel would feature some sort of material. Each revision tries to improve on something from the previous. Some examples include:
1->2 Added primo on high wear areas and, refined the outside calf wrap, added a way to integrate the knee pad, flattened the outside knee rolls further, new elastic boot strap, nylon boot strap, and added the pro bump on the knee.
2->3 Refined the boot area, opened the knee cradle, refined the strapping for the knee further, thinned out the calf, thinned out the thigh further, all semblance of outer knee rolls are gone, and x-static leg channel.
3->4 Opened the leg channel (now Airknit material), stiffened the standard boot slightly, primo bindings and landing surface, SBA knee cradle, rid all landing zones of binding and thus squared off and heavily stiffened all landing areas, refined the strapping further, thinned the profile further, reshaped the outer roll from square to right-trapezoidal
The Smart Strap system has only gotten more streamlined and integrated in the design with each revision, starting from a loose “Y” shape in the 1 and 2 series, an “X” strap in the 3 (where the knee rise strap was now tied to the calf strap, and to a “IV” strap for the IV/4 version. The calf strap is now fully integrated into the calf-wing instead of there being a separate closure. This slow incrementation has allowed for the calf region to slowly become more spacious as well, which I think only benefits the pad. The knee strap has moved around a bit, becoming less traditionally placed and thinner over time, always with the option to drop to the calf velcro.
Figure 1 & 2. G-N3Tik strapped and G-NETikIV strapped
Section 2: Comparative General Review of the G-N3Tik and G-NETikIV
2.1 I think about Statistical Process Control quite a lot as a big portion of my job revolves around it. I also think about gear a lot and base many judgments on what I am personally considering implementations or a lack of SPC in the manufacturing process.
2.2 Suffice to say, I have very little issues with the quality of the products. What I have mostly amount to are small gripes, for example of a thing I like, but then want to complain about. Case and point, starting with the toe of both models. On the 3 the lace binding the toes is horizontally oriented, exposing more of it to wear. As seen here, my right pad’s toe has some visible wear directly on the lace, as well as the expected wear on the Primo. The lace should not be here, but that’s difficult to avoid with its orientation.
Figure 3 & 4. Boot wear on G-N3Tiks after 2 years of use (rate of 3-4 ice times/week)
On the 4 the lace is oriented vertically, thus exposing less of it outwardly. A simple design change with a potentially large impact to durability, a simple decision to make once thought of with simple implementation. What I want to point out here is that the binding is also more recessed on the left pad and that the lace is in a more vulnerable spot on the right pad (I measured, they are in different locations and not always equispaced). It’s apparent that the right one has a lace that is worn (I have mitigated this by coating it in super glue). This lace should not be here and is avoidable with this set-up.
This wear appeared in about the second month of use and never got worse after I coated it, but was easily avoidable if the laces were placed exactly the same on both pads and with the exact same finish.
I will own up and say this did teach me that I am harder on the boot of my right pad, I suspect because of right post RVH use and other factors.
Figure 5 & 6. Boot wear on G-NETikIV after 6 months of use (rate of 4-5 ice times/week)
None of this is to say that this is egregious, but rather here is a space for further improvement in the manufacturing of top tier products. I would like to postulate that some tighter SPC on this could prevent this from happening, and thus prevent potential return requests or complaints while requiring (likely) minimal effort. I am absolutely not worried about this wear having a large effect down the line on these pads nor do I think it’s difficult to fix if necessary.
The inside of the ankle is a similar story, supporting that boy am I harder on my right boot than my left. On both my G-N3Tik and G-NETikIV pads I wore through the stitching in the middle of the right ankle. I caught it right away on the 4’s and also coated it with super glue, and again, with no further wear visible since. I do not fault this as a manufacturing process, but instead would suggest maybe a wear-plate like what Bauer is doing on their pads. I suspect this has either been tried, or has been ruled out in design for whatever reason. In looking at other manufacturers I have noticed that no others include a boot that is stitched or cut like Brian’s. The way Brian’s does it is the most transparent statement I see of, “this boot is made to be flexible on demand” compared to other brands.
Something I really like that was done between the 3’s and 4’s is that this stitching has been intelligently recessed on the 4s around the stiffer inside foams, decreasing its likelihood of dragging on the ice. Some might argue that the binding should be removed entirely, but it’s not a problem when it is this recessed. Perhaps revise that further and see what can be improved or if the stitching can somehow be hidden.
Figure 7-10. Close up image of the ankle breaks of each pad.
Continuing on the foot/ankle area, let’s look at the part of the calf flap that comes down to the foot. A very nice change that was made from the 3 to the 4 is covering the end of this with Primo. It stymies the water absorption and prevents wear in one of the highest wear areas on pads.
Figure 11-14. Bottom edge of calf wrap change
With respect to Figure 21, I feel this should be entirely standard. For whatever reason after the G-N3Tik Brian’s went away from covering the whole underside of the boot with Primo and thus I asked for it to be done on my G-NETikIVs. I say this because without this cover the nylon soaks water and can become a major wearpoint in my experience. A nice touch they implemented when I had this done was that they covered the laces on the instep portion of it, making it much smoother and out of harm’s way.
Figures 15, 16, 18, 20 are to show the wear I’ve kicked up on the strap tab over my course of playing. Nothing bad here, you’ll notice that the taper measure on my boot wore off on the 3’s, which is 80 degrees. This marking was omitted on my 4’s since I asked for minimal logos (only the Bstar and model name). I have found it interesting that my black straps and nylons have had more visible thread splitting, but nothing of a quality concern and more of an observation.
I really like having the nylon boot strap. I wear them through my Lundy loops and find them very easy to dial in to the tension that I want.
Figure 15-21. The boot, its straps, and other friends
To close this section out I want to talk about the toe-ties. You have probably noticed that I am not using the stock ties on either pads; on my 3s I have ECOproFOAM elastic ties that have served me very well and on my 4s I have prolaces. For the first year I used skate lace with knots for slack in them on my 3s, which I have since been cannibalizing for uses like tying my dangler on my mask and using as a carrier strap for my 4s.
On my 4s I used the stock elastic ties, which function great, until I wore through them entirely. This quality needs to be addressed, the function of the stock ties on the 4s is great, but their durability was rather poor (I have no pictures, I could not find them after a quick look). I have used the ECOproFOAM ties longer on my 3s than I did on my 4s with barely any wear however that was achieved. Perhaps I needed to wax them to keep them going or something. I do prefer the way the stock ones velcro together over the other two completely.
I have used all my toe-ties in the offset manner for easier pad rotation and less stress on my knees.
2.3 The leg channel material compositions are notably different between the 3 and 4.
The 3 has a Primo hex-air imprinted cradle, which I frankly quite liked except for it squeaking against the knee pads, the 4 have use the SBA no-slip-grip nashlike material, which is quite plush. I don’t think I favor either here completely, but I’ll lean toward the nash with regards to making sure my leg doesn’t slip off the knee.
The leg channel in the 3 is X-static, which I really liked theoretically and in practice as the things didn’t smell at all after two years. I’m not sure I’m as big of a fan of the Airknit and SBA leg channel on the 4s, but I also don’t have negative opinions about it since it dries out really fast due to the surface area provided by the Airknit. I had thought a big change for me when going from the 3 to the 4 was going to be the feel of the leg channels given how much more open the inside area is on the 4s, but it felt totally fine even when I first demoed the 4s prior to ordering/owning a set. I drastically prefer the outer calf wrap on the 4. I think I’d like to have a sort of Air-Pac pillow in the calf area if it were removable, but I get why there isn’t.
Everything about the inner leg of the 4 is stiffer, and not because it is newer. The knee block is stiffer and all wings and wraps are stiffer. The only thing I did not like this on was the outer knee wing, but it didn’t matter too much.
I have since removed the outer knee wing on the 4s and added a Kennesky professor strap that I had done with a magnetic buckle. I have not gotten to try this out but know I will like it just from having tried it on; I had planned to build my own professor strap but after pricing it out and looking at getting friends/family to help me construct it knew I was a little in over my head when it came to achieving the quality I knew I wanted.
I usually use the pads with the knee pads mounted to the little tab provided on the pads. I removed it for the sake of picture taking and to re-try it without them attached now that I have the professor strap as an anchor point, but I suspect I’ll be going back since having them attached hinders no movement or form of rotation due to the generous length of the elastic and it helps keep the knee pads in place.
Figure 22-24. The leg channels
This is what sold me on the pads immediately; the landing on the 4s is greatly improved and really brought the G-NETik into the modern era. It’s stiff, it’s rigid, it’s hard, it slaps the ice when you drop. The overall shape of the features are the same: the kneeblock is square, there is a rectangular calf wing, and both knee blocks have the pro bump.
If it’s not immediately obvious from Figures 25-27, the 4s are entirely squared up on the landing edge and the 3s are not. Additionally, the 4s have Primo here standard, and it slides just as great as everyone else has said. I was overshooting slides for the first couple of weeks when I got these, and that is not a complaint. It made my games so much easier to keep my energy during, there is much less energy lost to friction on these pads.
There is nowhere that any binding could touch the ice on the 4s, everywhere above the knee above both pads is bindingless, but the 4s has hidden the binding on the inside edge behind the calf landing, knee landing, and recessing it.
Figure 25-27. The landing edge
2.4 The face of the pads on the 4s is taut, with no visage bindings, and stiffer. Thus the rebounds kick out much harder. Many of my teammates immediately noticed that I was kicking them out further. Of course there are pads that kick out harder, like the Optiks, but these are not soft rebound-killer pads.
My 3s were a little loose on the face, I suppose by design and due to the softer flex profile I had on them of a 5-3-2 (ankle-knee-thigh). My 4s have a flex profile of 4-3-1 on them and the pad has a much more defined precurve that I am a huge fan of. They are by far the stiffest pad I’ve ever owned, which does not say much since they are not an incredibly stiff pad.
The torsional flex is welcome when playing on the posts and moving since I tend to get my pads bigger and it makes them feel like they are moving with my leg. For the most part, I hardly notice the torsional flexibility. The 4s are laterally much stiffer than the 3s and I think that is entirely for the better.
In Figures 28-31 below the seal of the pads can be observed. I would like to note that the 4s have a little give on the landing so that the seal is slightly better than pictured, but I do still notice a little rise because the knee sticks out a little more than the thigh. Thus, the 3s seal better upfront, but my 4s actually hold the fort slightly better due to their stiffness. I’ve experienced some pretty hard shots kick off the thighs on the 4s that would have made, and did make, the 3s bend in.
Edit: Adding that I've never had a goal go in due to a seal problem on my 4s. I have a couple stuff under my 3s calves when RVH leaning on the post, which is partially technique and partially the pad being soft enough to allow it to move off the ice.
I do think on the next pad in the line there should be a focus on really making this thigh seal a stronger point of the pad since it does everything else so well.
I like the more trapezoidal outer roll and I like that it’s still there. If I were to ever get something like the Optik I would want the outside roll of the G-NETik. I do not RVH with my pad inside the net and have made a few saves because of my roll, so I do want to keep them while I can, especially if it adds rigidity.
Figure 28-31. Mock Butterfly and Pad Seal
2.5 The QC on both pads is fantastic, not a stitch out of place and both of my (relatively simple) graphics requests were beautifully executed. The attention to detail as an evolution of the line from one to the other is great to see, for example the hiding and recessing of the bindings on the inside edge, the revision of the strapping to be more simplified and comfortable, and the use of high quality materials.
There are a few things that, in my opinion, could be improved on without risking the identity of G-NETik. Namely thigh seal, make the leg channel more customizable after manufacturing (add a location to mount a professor strap and calf pillow), and improve the durability of the toe bungees. All of these are very small and not make-or-break.
I am greatly looking forward to whatever comes next in this line. I plan to do a review of my Brian's gloves and blockers as well.