Polar Fibre: An Unusual Grip Texture Offered Exclusively by BASE Hockey
If you’ve ordered a BASE stick or browsed a hockey equipment forum, you might have heard the name “Polar Fibre” mentioned. This little-known texture is one of five shaft finishes offered by BASE, and it’s available on the SuperNatural, Nasty, and Nasty R one piece sticks and shafts. Yet, Polar Fibre remains a mysterious niche option in BASE’s expansive stick customization program, loved by a group of very selective players. Today, BASE Hockey is lifting the veil on its best-kept secret: a grip texture which combines the old-school feel of the first generation of composite sticks with a manufacturing process which still has no equal among hockey stick brands in 2017.
Polar Fibre traces its genesis to the Innovative PF1000, one of the first composite hockey shafts ever made. The stick featured a unique, sandpaper-like grip finish loved by pros such as Alexei Kovalev and Sergei Fedorov. This texture was developed by one of Innovative’s engineers, who was an expert in the bonding of composite materials. The engineer adapted a material used in the aerospace industry, known as “peel ply”, making it suitable for sport applications. Thus, Polar Fibre was born.
As composite sticks became more widespread, manufacturers switched to spray-on grip coatings. These coatings were more compatible with flashy graphics, which helped sticks stand out on the racks of hockey retailers, where looks are often the deciding factor for the average player’s stick purchase. With more commercial competition and sales pressure, spray grip coatings came to dominate the stick market out of financial necessity, despite an important number of players who still craved Polar Fibre’s unique feel. These coatings are still prevalent today.
With the sale of Innovative, the Polar Fibre finish was lost. Although it briefly lived on in the early shafts and sticks of its purchaser, the increased commercialization and flashier graphics of composite hockey sticks pushed manufacturers away from Polar Fibre, and the expertise and technology to produce it faded away into hockey history. For a long time, Polar Fibre was relegated to a niche item, available only on vintage sticks and shafts circulated through online hockey gear exchanges. It was hoarded by players who cherished the unique, old-school feel, which was no longer available on any stick on the market. The victim of market forces, Polar Fibre seemed doomed to extinction.
In 2012, BASE Hockey, the spiritual successor to Innovative, secured peel ply material from a new supplier. After several years of absence from the hockey stick market, Polar Fibre returned as a hallmark feature of BASE’s Natural, a new mid-kick stick to complement the original Savoy Special. The higher kickpoint of the Natural dampened the transmission of vibrations through the shaft while stickhandling, so BASE Hockey engineers added the Polar Fibre finish to better transmit vibrations from the puck. The result was a stick which had the same type of dampened yet precise puck feel as a wood stick but incorporated the durability, weight, and performance of a composite stick.
Responding to feedback from customers and pro players, BASE delivered an improved version of the Natural a year later, which it named the SuperNatural. This new stick improved upon the Natural in almost every way, yet it retained the original stick’s Polar Fibre finish, and with it, its incredible feel. For a long time, the SuperNatural was only offered with a Polar Fibre finish, but it was eventually introduced in BASE’s full array of shaft finishes in order to give players the maximum amount of customization options.
With roots extending back to the infancy of the composite stick, Polar Fibre probably sounds like outdated technology. Would it surprise you to learn that it’s the most advanced shaft finish on the market today? Not only is Polar Fibre the lightest grip you can find; it also gives the player the most direct contact with the stick’s carbon fibre, and thus the most responsive feel. How is this possible?
Polar Fibre isn’t actually a coating at all. In fact, nothing is added to the stick to produce it, aside from a slightly richer resin mixture in the top layer of the shaft layup. When carbon fibre is rolled around the mandrel prior to curing, the final layer is a loosely-weaved peel ply fabric. This layer of perpendicular fibres allows a small amount of excess epoxy resin to seep through. When the curing process is finished, the peel ply is ripped off the shaft, but the excess epoxy stays in place as a resin imprint. This produces the rough texture which is known in the hockey world as Polar Fibre.
Since nothing is sprayed on or added to the stick to create Polar Fibre finish, it is incredibly durable. While modern spray-on grip coatings can rub off with the constant friction of game use. Polar Fibre is actually an integrated part of the stick. The hardened epoxy resin extends from the top layer of carbon fibre, providing an uninterrupted connection between the player’s gloves and the stick’s core materials. No other stick finish on the market provides a more direct link from player to stick to puck. Therefore, it produces the most natural vibration transmission of any grip texture, resulting in an extremely responsive feel.
Furthermore, since Polar Fibre only depends on a small amount of excess epoxy resin being left over in the manufacturing process, it is the lightest shaft finish on the market. The difference may not seem like much, and of course weight isn’t everything. However, for players who are really particular about the weight and balance of their sticks, Polar Fibre can mean the difference between a stick that feels slightly “off” and one that’s perfectly balanced.
Polar Fibre Today
If you’re looking to try Polar Fibre, you’re in luck - the finish is offered on BASE’s SuperNatural, Nasty, and Nasty R sticks. While other manufacturers have shied away from Polar Fibre technology due to the difficulty of applying complex graphics to it, BASE places performance and feel ahead of marketing convenience. In fact, many BASE stick users prefer the simple, clean matte look that Polar Fibre provides.
The performance advantages of Polar Fibre are evident. In addition to its unparalleled lightness and durability, Polar Fibre distinguishes itself from spray grip coatings by providing adequate grip even when wet. Late in a game, when your gloves’ palms are soaked through with sweat, Polar Fibre won’t let you down.
Furthermore, Polar Fibre balances grip with slide for an effortless transition from stickhandling to shooting. The stick will feel like an uncoated non-grip stick when stickhandling with little pressure on the shaft, but it will provide instant grip when downward pressure is applied in the shooting motion. Your hands can slide around freely to give you optimal control but still lock down on the shaft to ensure maximum power.
If you’re interested in giving this exclusive and unique shaft finish a try, you can book a fitting session at the nearest BASE Hockey fitting center, or order your custom BASE stick today with Polar Fibre grip.
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