Brian’s “Optik” Checkerboard Set Initial Review

16 min read


Travis Ridgen, more recognizable known as "Trav4" is an ice hockey goaltender still playing competition Junior hockey in the KJHL for the Lundar Falcons. Most known for his dead honest and big personality, Trav is one of the most respected voices in the online goalie community which can be seen on his Youtube channel in his video reviews, features, commentaries and his infamous Junior Hockey Vlog series.

So incase you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably seen my latest checkboard Brian’s set and love it (unless you’re in GGSU). I’ve had a million and 1 DM’s on social media and questions in the comment section about this set so in this article I want to go over this set and all of it’s custom mods/specs, etc.

Why Brian’s

So if you havn’t seen my video touching on my last experience with Brian’s on my Sub Zero 3 set than allow me to quikly fill you in. Looking back I don’t think it could have gone worse. Custom specs where incorrect, custom mods where missing, I ordered through a retailer that was the worst customer service experience I’ve ever had in my life due to the inability to deal with problems or resolve them for that matter and it was a snowball effect from there.

If you where following my content while this was unfolding and right after everything came to a conclusion, you probably would have been more optimistic about a new Nirvana album than seeing me in a set of Brian’s gear, or anything Brian’s at all for that matter but in the words fo Kurt Cobain “Here we are now, entertain us” so clearly something had to have changed so in this article I’m going to give you the breakdown on that and some first impressions of this checkboard master piece so far

Why Optik

So back in about June, Eric Vogel hit me up and told me I should give brian’s a second chance. He said to talk to Chris Joswiak (pro rep for Brian’s) and I’ll be honest at first I laughed at the idea of that BUT I gave it some thought and I figured it might be worth a shot. So I gave Chris a text. We had chatted a bit about the future at brian’s, gear as well and with the current state all the other companies are headed towards; I felt Brian’s was the most exciting on the market with their Optik line.

Originally the plan was to set me up with early access on the Optik line at cost, and have a set in my hands by around Sept-Oct ish but some of the employees at Brian’s (understandably so) didn’t want that to happen. So I ended up ordering locally in Winnipeg and went G Netik 3 and spec’d it out the best I could to be as “optik” like as possible.

So I ordered my set middle of September. The total came out to I believe $3100 plus $1000 upcharge on the checkerboard graphic and then the rest of the total came from all the mods. These mods included the following

– Optik core / face foams

these are the stiffest hardest foams Brian’s has ever built

– Opti-slide

all primo material on the inside as well as no bindings on the inside

– Floating anchor tee

the anchor tee is great cause it’s a single tee and has a super thin spine allowing for much more lace in the pocket. Then the floating aspect of the tee is essentially a tee that isn’t tied down to the base of the pocket like on traditional gloves. Instead it is left to “float” and then pure lacing is at the base. It may sound slightly dumb but for the added $100 upcharge I believe it was worth every penny.

– Strapping

So stock smart strap on the calf but I modded the knee so it has a traditional velcro elastic tab going from the knee stack to the tab on the other side and that was also an extended strap. No boot strap and with smart toe ties.

– Checkerboard Graphic

So this as basically the old school checkerboard design. I wanted to add some personal flare to it so I blended the Felix Potvin throwback set I did at the end of last year, with this checkerboard design and that’s basically the entire face plus the stitch lines on the knee roll area to make it look like knee rolls despite it being a flat faced pad Add some colour nylons on the back, the team sock graphic design on the calf wing and finally custom team logos on the inside of the leg channel.


As far as everything else goes the set is pretty stock. 36+1 (which is down from 36+3 on my last Brian’s set and 37+1/XXL in my last 2 1S sets). Single break on the outside roll with a 1-2-3 flex. Smart strap, stock leg channel with an added leather strap below the knee. I was talking to Ed Minney (Michigan State Spartans goalie) and we both got leather straps on our pads. Not because it gives us an advantage or something like that, it’s just traditional and having a pad without a leather strap on feels weird. I was always a “luongo style” strapping guy with all my straps placed below the knee.

Glove is a 2 piece cuff sub zero 3 pro glove. Stock anchor tee that I made into a floating tee and then the blocker is stock but I asked for a Sub Zero palm and Gnetik finger protection, I ended up getting Sub finger protection instead which is currently being addressed.

Initial Review Impressions

So right off the bat there are so many positives. The optik slide mod is the biggest difference and coming from the CorTech skin with my 1s and let me tell you, this stuff slides like butter. I have never slid better in my entire life. Slides are crisp, and clean. The Optik face foams make a huge difference. Rebounds are long, hard and crisp and go shooting to the corners. I found the pads been over rotating a bit I think due to the smart toe straps but I’m working on fixing that as your reading this article.

Catch Glove

With the glove this is without a doubt the best glove I have ever owned. It came game ready out of the box and closes like butter. Super soft feel. It’s got the 40 degree closure which again is as close to optik without ordering it. 2 piece cuff I feel ads a bit more flexibility and mobility with puck handling and movements. That floating anchor tee takes catching the puck to another level. Never in my life have I ever been so confident while catching pucks and knowing that anything that finds its way into the pocket will not come out. Protection is great so far, havn’t had any real stingers yet but I do feel a few palm shots.


The blocker is ridiculously lightweight. Great mobility and a big upgrade from the sub zero 3. I wish it would have came with the Gnetik finger protection like I originally asked for but so far (knock on wood) I havn’t gotten any bad shots to the fingers yet. Palm feels great with my 1S twig and puck handling couldn’t be better.


Thus far I’m pretty happy with my purchase so far. I do feel that the custom upcharges were pretty expensive and Brian’s needs to find a way to limit those cause at the consumer level most people can’t afford 3K for a set let alone the custom upcharges I made. Price aside though I don’t think I’ve ever felt more comfortably stopping pucks, from a movement perspective or style wise. I think Brian’s absolutely nailed the design and graphic despite doing my glove design on the cuff upside down (I feel it looked better anyway so that’s a plus) and I asked for a 2-1-2 checker pattern above the knee and these have a 1-2-1. Apparently it’s due to sizing limitations but I’m happy with how the final product turned out and look forward to using these moving forward and moving into the playoffs this season.


Thanks again for reading this article, if you have any questions or comments feel free to hit me up on social media @ Trav4oilers


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