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What Are the Best Football Gears for Protection and Improved Performance? Buyer’s Guide & Review

Did you know that in the last NFL season, 431 NFL players across the 32 teams acquired some kind of injury that makes their status questionable to start the season’s training camp?

You may not be a professional player but the stats tell you how easily it is to get yourself injured during a game. And if you are looking for the best football gears to protect yourself with, then I got you all covered.

From football helmets to cleats, to mouth guard and all the way down to compression shorts. I reviewed some of the best brands in the market such as Riddell, Nike and Adidas so you can be sure that they aren’t some knock off you find online, but gears with reputable quality.

Without further ado, let’s begin!

Best Football Gears

1. Riddell SpeedFlex Adult Football Helmet: Best Football Helmet

The Riddell SpeedFlex Helmet by Virginia Tech is one of few 5-star quality football helmets on the market. 

It has the ability to reduce linear and rotational acceleration, effectively mitigating the damage done from head impacts on the football field.

This means that the Riddell SpeedFlex is one of the best helmets at reducing concussion risks.[1]

So what makes the SpeedFlex so great? The shell is made from a durable polycarbonate material that fortifies your head on impact.

What’s more, the SpeedFlex helmet utilizes a Flex System called the Patented Side Impact Protection (PISP) which engineers flexibility into the shell of the helmet and facemask, reducing the force of impact from blows to the side.

Ideal for Varsity and Youth players alike, the Riddell SpeedFlex is one of the top choices for safety and protection.

The Riddell SpeedFlex comes in a number of sizes. You will therefore have to measure the size of your head by wrapping a measuring tape around the circumference of your forehead, then check the sizing chart on the official Riddell website here.

Once you have received your helmet, try it on with wet hair (to simulate game conditions), and test to see if the helmet fits snug but comfortably. 

The helmet should sit an inch above the brow, and the ear holes should align with the ears. 

When fastening the strap onto the chin, the strap should simply lock everything into place, and should not be used to tighten the helmet.

Tug at the helmet some to ensure it remains snug even after contact, pulling on the helmet from side to side and up and down.

 If everything feels secure and comfortable, you’re ready to get out onto the field!

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Our favourite list on top recommended football helmet brand

2. Adidas Freak X Carbon Mid Football Cleats: Best Football Cleats

Cleats are, quite literally, what move you forward and keep you on your feet, so it is important to invest in a pair that will fit right, meet your performance needs, and prevent unwanted foot or ankle injuries.

With a sleek, high-top design, the Adidas Freak X Carbon Mid cleat will have you looking good and feeling even better. With breathable mesh and a reinforced overlay, the Freak X delivers extra support all the way around the shoe, from toe to ankle.

The lateral sides of the cleats are capped with Ironskin to provide superior abrasion resistance, and the heel has a cushion pod to reduce wear and tear from running.

Made with synthetic and textile lining, the Adidas Freak X is built with Razorframe, a stabilizing material placed in the forefoot and heel of the cleat to allow for multidirectional acceleration and traction.[2]

So, not only will you be comfortable and protected in an Adidas Freak X cleat, you’ll be quicker than ever, with technology designed to help you accelerate in any direction in the blink of an eye.

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See our curated list of amazing football cleats

3. Schutt Sports XV HD Varsity Football Shoulder Pads: Best Football Shoulder Pad

Featuring a light, almost weightless arch design for high performance, raised corrugations to increase air flow and provide strength, and a high-density EVA foam for greater impact absorption, the Schutt Sports XV HD Varsity shoulder pads are designed to maintain maximum comfort and coverage while improving mobility and performance at pro-level standards. 

What’s more, the arch is ventilated with 7mm vent holes, and there are pre-drilled holes to keep the body cool and attach accessories, all the while providing protection to the clavicle and AC joint.

Keep in mind that different styles of shoulder pads are made for different positions. 

The Schutt Spots XV HD is ideal for players who play the linebacker, fullback and offensive and defensive line positions, as the careful design of the pads does not allow opposing players to grab onto you.[3] 

However, Schutt does also offer an All Purpose variant with a longer cut to accommodate athletes who play multiple positions.

4. Men's Nike Vapor Jet 5.0 Football Gloves: Best Football Gloves

The Nike Vapor Jet 5.0 is perfect for wide receivers, featuring incredible grip with breathable, mesh at the back-of-hand, strategically placed to allow maximum ventilation.

 Manigrip on the palms helps you catch and have more control over the football, and lightweight padding on the thumb keeps your fingers protected and prevents hand injuries.[4]

The mesh on the 5.0 is a little thicker than on the 4.0, making the glove tighter on your hand and extending all the way up to the fingertips, offering a compressive fit that enables the 5.0 to fit better on the hand than the 4.0. 

Furthermore, the material feels light yet durable, giving you an excellent ball feel, with the thumb being quadrupled-stitched, meaning you will not experience any ripping of the glove. 

The wrist cuff is also sturdy, helping to prevent wrist injuries and overextension. 

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Our favourite list of Best Football Gloves

5. Battle Back Bone Back Plate: Best Football Back plate

The Battle Back Plate is designed to deliver maximum protection and comfort to players of all competition levels.

 It is made mainly of high-impact foam interior, allowing you to absorb impact while keeping your back region protected and healthy. 

The plate is sturdy and does not flop around like other back plates, which means it can effectively disperse impact, due in large part to the curvature of the plate.

 

With a one-size-fits-all scheme, the Battle Back Bone Back Plate attaches snugly to the majority of shoulder pads and should make for a great accessory to Varsity and Youth players alike.

6. Men's Nike Pro Hyperstrong Core Football Short: Best Football Girdles

The Men’s Nike Pro Hyperstrong football short provides Hyperstrong technology which helps mitigate impact absorption. 

Additionally, there are strategically placed foam pads on the front and sides of the shorts to offer extra cushioning and layering, while also utilizing a compressive fit around the legs to keep everything tight and secure. 

What’s more, the flat seams help minimize chafing and irritation, while the design and weight of the shorts are top-quality.

However, do keep in mind that some have reported that the shorts rip easily during the intensity of the game, sometimes falling apart as quickly as three weeks after purchase.

This is a girdle that is best for high school levels of football, since Varsity level players might find the shorts a little large and a bit restricting of their movements.

7. Shock Doctor Gel Max Flavor Fusion Mouthguard: Best Football Mouth Guard

The Gel Max Flavor Fusion mouth guard offers all of the same, essential protection and comfort as Gel Max’s other top-end mouth guards, but adds a great taste that is designed to last an entire season.

Constructed with a front breath channel, the Gel Max Flavor Fusion allows for easy breathing while clenching your teeth. 

Furthermore, the mouth guard features high impact shock absorption and a heavy duty frame that mitigates wear and tear, and is latex free, to be used strapped or strapless, though not with braces.

Three different materials combine to provide a precise fit, maximum protection, and complete comfort with no compromise in performance.

The top Gel-Fit liner takes an exact impression of the teeth, keeping the mouth guard secure at all times. 

The middle EVA foam layer provides additional support and protection. 

The external Exoskeleton Shock Frame with integrated jaw pads provides maximum impact protection for the teeth, jaw and brain.

Overall, Gel Max Flavor Fusion mouth guard is an all-around, quality performer.[5]

To fit the mouth guard, first fill a saucepan with 3 to 4 inches of water, then bring to a boil. 

Remove the water from the heat source, then let stand for 30 seconds.

Place the mouth guard in water for 60 seconds, though make sure not to exceed 60. Carefully remove the mouth guard from hot water and cool under tap water for a couple of seconds. 

Then, line up the mouth guard carefully with the centerline of your upper teeth, fit the mouth guard onto and around your upper teeth and press firmly into molars, then front teeth.

Bring your lower jaw forward and up into the base of the mouth guard and bite down hard while sucking in strongly, using your fingers to press edges of mouth guard into your teeth and gum line. 

Remove mouth guard and cool under cold water for 30 seconds, then re-insert into your mouth to test. Repeat steps if the mouth guard is misaligned or needs adjustment.

8. Green Gridiron Riddell SpeedFlex SF-2BD Facemask: Best Football FaceMask

The SF-2BD Facemask from Green Gridiron is a versatile, wide-ranging facemask that offers maximum visibility for making plays on the football field thanks to its large area of vision. 

On top of that, the facemask itself is light, durable and made of stainless steel, so it will last you the entire season. You can even fit a visor as large as the Oakley visor into the facemask. Simply attach the visor using UA Visor clips instead of the clips that come with the Oakley visor for the most comfortable fit.

The SF-2BD Facemask fits S, M, L, XL, Adult and Youth SpeedFlex exclusively, however, which means that if you already own a helmet from another manufacturer, you will not be able to fit this facemask on.[6]

Overall, owing to its high visibility and lightweight design, this facemask is ideal for the QB, RB, WR, DB and even LB positions.

Any skill positions which require “play-making” can benefit from using the SF-2BD Facemask.

9. Riddell Hard Cup Chin Strap: Best Football Chin Strap

Looking for an affordable chin strap? Look no further than the Riddell Hard Cup strap, featuring a solid, polycarbonate casing lined with a hypoallergenic inner padding, this comfortable but secure chin strap lives up to the Riddell name. 

Offering maximum protection, the Riddell Hard Cup strap includes stainless steel buckles, mid/high hook up, and the Large size contains four vent holes, while Small and Medium have two.

The majority of the time, you will want to try to match the chin strap size to the helmet size.

If you are unsure what size you should purchase, head on over to a sports store like Dick Sporting Goods and try on a variety of sizes in helmets and straps. 

This chin strap is recommended for use with all Riddell Revolution football helmets.

10. Mcdavid 6440 Hex Knee Pads: Best Football Thigh & Knee Pads

McDavid 6440 Hex Knee pads benefit from 9mm Hex technology, which features superior, closed cell foam padding that gives every football player, no matter the position, a remarkable advantage in protection and durability.

A highly versatile pad, the McDavid 6440 Knee pads also uses hDc fabric wicks which moisture the skin, adding another layer of protection against cuts and scratches.

Furthermore, due to its tight, compressive fit, the knee pads provide even more protection in helping to reduce the incidence of hyper-extension and injury, which helps to enhance performance.[7]

However, there are some drawbacks. 

With a few weeks of use, the hexagon piece of foam at the point of the knee might get worn out if you take some wear and tear to that location. 

The surrounding hexes will remain in good condition and continue to provide some measure of protection and comfort, even after a year of use.

11. NIKE Men's Pro Shorts: Best Football Compression Shorts

Made of 90% polyester and 10% spandex, The Nike Pro Shorts are a versatile base layer with Dri-FIT technology to wick sweat when you compete, promoting quicker evaporation to help you stay dry and comfortable.

A wide elastic band has a snug, comfortable fit, with a breathable base layer, and the fit of the shorts as a whole is tight and smooth for a body-hugging feel.

The mesh gusset adds ventilated support, a mid-length cut to be as non-restrictive as possible, and the flat inseam makes the shorts practically disappear under your football pants.

You can’t really go wrong with this quality of compression shorts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Strange as it may seem, although football players cover from head to toe in protective gear, the majority of football players actually do not wear cups or jockstraps.

The reason is simple: most feel that less is more, and that the more equipment you wear, the more you are encumbered in your athletic performance. 

It’s a matter of trying to improve mobility, and besides that, if the cup moves to the side and you get hit in the groin, the cup ends up pressing into the area, causing additional pain.

“Football pants” usually refers to the term “girdle”, which is a pair of shorts with multiple pads protecting the upper leg.

Underneath the girdle, you can wear compression shorts with knee pads inserted into the pockets of the knee for added protection.

NFL players cannot show their legs because of a rule enacted by Commissioner Elmer Layden in 1945 that decreed that all players must wear long stockings, because “A player’s appearance on the field conveys a message regarding the image of the League and directly affects the League’s reputation and success”.[8]

If that seems a little tight-lipped, consider that the NFL has previously fined players for not wearing socks properly as well.

There are four checklists you should try to follow when fitting a helmet for yourself:

  1.  Measure for yourself or have someone measure for you the circumference of your head, comparing the size to sizing charts of available helmets.
  2. Mimic gameday conditions by wetting your hair while trying on the helmet.
  3. Earmark where the helmet sits: the ears should align with the ear holes and the helmet should sit an inch above the brow. Overall, the fit should be snug but comfortable.
  4. Pull the chin strap around – if the strap latches easily, then you’re good. However, if you need to use the strap to tighten your helmet, you may need an adjustment.

Make sure to tug at the helmet from side to side and up and down, just to ensure that the helmet is not too loose.

Also, have someone put a hand on top of your helmet and apply a bit of pressure.

If the pressure is evenly distributed, this means that the fit is good. If the pressure localizes in the back or the front, the helmet is still too loose.[9

 If you’d like to read more on football helmets, see: 60 Best College Football Helmets.

Disliked what you read above because you are not yet a grown-up? Then do check out our best football gears for youth.

Resources

  1.  Riddell SpeedFlex Helmet Product Description. Retrieved from https://www.riddell.com/shop/on-field-equipment/helmets/riddell-speedflex-helmet.html

  2.  Adidas Freak x Carbon Mid Product Details. Retrieved from https://www.adidas.com/us/freak-x-carbon-mid-cleats/B37101.html

  3.  Schutt XV HD Skill. Retrieved from https://www.schuttsports.com/xv-hd-skill.html

  4.  Nike Adult Vapor Jet 5.0 Receiver Gloves Product Details. Retrieved from https://www.dickssportinggoods.com/p/nike-adult-vapor-jet-5-0-receiver-gloves-18nikadltvprjt502fta/18nikadltvprjt502fta

  5.  United Sports Brands, Shock Doctor Mouthguards. Retrieved from https://www.shockdoctor.com/products/gel-max-flavored-mouthguard?variant=14354314625077

  6.  Green Gridiron Products, SF-2BD for Riddell Speedflex Helmet. Retrieved from https://www.greengridiron.com/products/riddell-speedflex-sf-2bd-1?variant=1224969846797

  7.  United Sports Brand, McDavid 6440 Hex Knee Pads Description. Retrieved from https://www.mcdavidusa.com/products/hex-knee-elbow-shin-pads-pair?variant=31057186193504

  8.  Fun and Fashion on the gridiron. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/espn/page2/story?page=lukas/040909

  9.  Gear Up: A guide to proper fit and maintenance of football equipment. Retrieved from https://youth1.com/football/gear-guide-proper-fit-and-maintenance-football-equipment

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