What’s The Best Football Shoulder Pads? Buyer’s Guide & Review

Have you ever thought of making a good dive without the use of your shoulders? You can think about it. But as long as football is concerned, you need those two parts of your body to be an efficient football player. As resourceful as they are, so are they at risk of injuries. 

This is where football shoulder pads come in. These protective gear are not just “protective”, they are also necessary for a good attack on the field. But I got to tell you that buying the wrong one will surely subject you to an avoidable disaster. That’s why we’ve put up this list of 11 best protective gear you can find on the market.

Are you ready?

PRODUCT

PRODUCT DETAILS

OUR #1 RATED

Schutt Sports XV HD Varsity Football Shoulder Pads

  • Very durable and shock absorbing
  • Simple and lightweight, without compromising your professional performance
  • Promotes good freedom of movement
  • Has pre-drilled accessory holes
  • Minimizes the weight on your shoulders thanks to the curved design

OUR #2 RATED

Adams VS500 Varsity Football Shoulder Pads

  • Useful for almost all purposes and positions
  • Well ventilated
  • Can handle large physical impact
  • Provides complete freedom of movement, thanks to the narrow front bow
  • Easy adjustment to the correct fit

OUR #3 RATED

Schutt Mid Flex 4.0 Youth Football Shoulder Pad

  • Very versatile, making it compatible with all players and positions.
  • Has an adjustable system
  • Prevents the growth of bacteria and mold
  • Can handle heat effectively

OUR #4 RATED

Schutt Sports Varsity FLEX 4.0 All-Purpose Football Shoulder Pad

  • Provides maximum protection and absorbs shocks well
  • Good ventilation and air circulation
  • Safe to wear
  • Promotes maximum versatility and full freedom of movement
  • Works well for different football positions

OUR #5 RATED

Gear Pro-Tec Z-COOL OL / DL-Pro Select Football Shoulder Pad

  • Fully flexible and lightweight
  • Can provide a comfortable, custom fit
  • Adjustable
  • Can handle moisture and heat well
  • Ideal for attackers

1. Schutt Sports XV HD Varsity Football Shoulder Pads

If you’re looking for Schutt shoulder pads, then this prestigious XV HD football shoulder pad would be our suggestion. The high-density foam used in this pad is so amazing because we noticed that it offers a higher level of durability and cushioning.

The use of this material also increases the range of motion of the pad. It is known that this is one of the best NFL football shoulder pads for receivers. We are also impressed with the lightness of this product. It’s lightweight and helps you to deliver professional field performance while playing.

Another amazing thing about this shoulder pad is that it makes attaching accessories easier. This is mainly due to the pre-drilled holes. You would be glad that this product has a curved design, as it ensures that your shoulders are minimally loaded.

PROS

  • Very durable and shock absorbing
  • Simple and lightweight, without compromising your professional performance.
  • Promotes good freedom of movement
  • Has pre-drilled accessory holes
  • Minimizes the weight on your shoulders thanks to the curved design

CONS

  • Not a good fit for players with small physique

It is built for high performance. Plus, this popular and reliable protective equipment ensures better air flow due to its raised corrugation and gear holes.  

2. Adams VS500 Varsity Football Shoulder Pads

This multi-purpose variant of the Adams VS500 is also one of the best protective equipment for adult football players. What we like about this product is that it has a well-ventilated body pad. This means that you feel well and cool in the field under any weather condition.

We also love the fact that it can help players stay up to date after every game. This is possible with the special antimicrobial treatment included in the product. If necessary, you can also easily remove the cushion pad. We are also pleased with the utmost protection it offers.

This type of protection is provided by the integrated shoulder pads and narrow bow design. This football shoulder pads is intended primarily for adults. You can, however, use it for all purposes. It is suitable in almost any position. This is mainly because its construction can have enormous physical effects.

PROS

  • Useful for almost all purposes and positions
  • Well ventilated
  • Can handle large physical impact
  • Provides complete freedom of movement, thanks to the narrow front bow
  • Easy adjustment to the correct fit

CONS

  • Works only for adults

This particular adult football should pads promotes full freedom of arm movement with the help of the narrow front bow. We are also glad to inform you that you can customize it to ensure you have the right fit during every game. You can adjust it with the help of your belt buckles.

3. Schutt Mid Flex 4.0 Youth Football Shoulder Pad

Number three on our list of best shoulder pads for football is the Mid Flex 4.0. This product is great for anyone looking for Schutt youth shoulder pads that adults can also wear. We particularly like its versatility to provide the needs of every position or player on the football field.

It features high-density perforated padding, so you feel protected on the pitch. Such padding also combines the use of a highly breathable mesh and vent holes. With such features, we can say that it is well-designed for comfort.

You would be happy to hear that this shoulder pads has an adjustable system. You can attach it to the arches with three dots. The two dots on the back of the bow allows for a more comfortable fit. It also protects you while aiding freedom of movement with the help of its arch design.

Another thing we love about this product is that it hinders the spread and growth of bacteria and mold with its antimicrobial solution. We are also thrilled that the bow has additional strength due to its high ripple.

PROS

  • Very versatile, making it compatible with all players and positions.
  • Has an adjustable system
  • Prevents the growth of bacteria and mold
  • Can handle heat effectively

CONS

  • Problem size

The Schutt Mid Flex 4.0 Youth Football Shoulder Pad was also designed to promote superior field performance while ensuring excellent heat management.

4. Schutt Sports Varsity FLEX 4.0 All-Purpose Football Shoulder Pad

We can also say that Schutt has done a great job in making the FLEX 4.0 All-Purpose Shoulder Pads. We think it’s an excellent choice for those who want to invest in a shoulder pad that gives them ultimate protection. What we like about this product is that it effectively absorbs the impact caused by hard knocks.

This is possible with the second foam layer located in the shoulder pad. With the help of its built-in vents, this football shoulder pads promotes air circulation and good ventilation. 

I’m also pleased to say that Schutt is known to meet recommended safety standards. Expect this shoulder pad to be safe for use. Thanks to the deep cut in the arch design, you can also enjoy maximum versatility and freedom of movement.

PROS

  • Provides maximum protection and absorbs shocks well
  • Good ventilation and air circulation
  • Safe to wear
  • Promotes maximum versatility and full freedom of movement
  • Works well for different football positions

CONS

  • Compatible with adults only

The Schutt Mid Flex 4.0 Youth Football Shoulder Pad also works for different positions, including wide receiver, defensive back, running back and quarterback. There are also many sizes – from small to twenty.

5. Gear Pro-Tec Z-COOL OL / DL-Pro Select Football Shoulder Pad

On number five comes this impressing Gear Pro-Tec shoulder pad. One thing we noticed about this shoulder pad is that it’s lightweight and flexible. We also like its ability to give users a more comfortable. The adjustable 1-inch belts that have uncut buckles makes it possible for a more personalized fit.

The removable and adjustable waterproof clavicle of this shoulder pad ensures a more customized fit to your body. We also like the patented moisture transfer technology used in this product. This technology allows the shoulder pad to dry within three hours of after a game or training.

PROS

  • Fully flexible and lightweight
  • Can provide a comfortable, custom fit
  • Adjustable
  • Can handle moisture and heat well
  • Ideal for attackers

CONS

  • Does not work for players that hold skill position in the field.

It uses the Z-COOL moisture management system, which works by pushing out hot air and pulling in cold air. This adult football shoulder pads also uses an antimicrobial fabric and a moisture absorbent, which makes it more convenient to use. Therefore, the Gear Pro-Tec Z COOL OL/DL-Pro works well for attackers because they are the least runners.

6. Schutt’s Sports Varsity AiR Maxx Flex 2.0 Football Shoulder Pad

We also recommend the Varsity AiR Maxx Flex 2.0 shoulder pads offered by Schutt. Many consider it the best shoulder pad for high school quarterbacks and broad receivers for maximum protection with the help of its back plate and small arc cut.

This design not only provides shoulder and sternum protection but also offers maximum freedom of movement and flexibility. This ensures that you perform well on the football field. 

The open-cell foam construction of this shoulder pad is quite impressive too. It consists of small and tiny chambers that can trap air, which is beneficial as it makes taking and handling hits even more effective. It’s good that it is made with a lightweight design.

PROS

  • Provides maximum protection for quarterbacks and wide receivers
  • Promotes a high range of motion
  • Flexible
  • Can handle hits, thanks to its small tiny chamber design

CONS

  • It takes several days to break-in

You can also choose a custom fit to ensure you do not feel uncomfortable when you’re out in the field. It is also designed to be effective with running and jumping.en

7. Schutt Sports Y-Flex 4.0 All-Purpose Youth Football Shoulder Pads, Small

If you’re looking for a shoulder pad for young football players, we recommend the proven and reliable Y-Flex 4.0 multifunction pads from the reputable Schutt brand. We like it’s lightweight, all-purpose design that is suitable for young athletes who want varsity-style protection.

It has an elongated body length that is known to provide additional sternum protection without compromising mobility. Another positive feature of this shoulder pad is that it is compatible with all positions on the football field.

This means that any footballer, regardless of position, can benefit from it. It also promotes maximum and sufficient airflow. This is all thanks to the double padding system used in this product, as well as the highly breathable mesh material and integrated 7 mm vent holes.

PROS

  • Has a lightweight and compact design
  • Works as a general-purpose shoulder pad and is compatible with all positions
  • Highly breathable
  • Promotes proper and maximum airflow
  • Adjustable and customizable

CONS

  • The padding used is thinner than others

With these features, this particular product can reduce the impact normally caused by trapped body heat. It also allows adjustment by three points due to the adjustable elastic strap that has a 3-point attachment to the arches. This provides you with extra protection while ensuring that the shoulder pad stays in place.

8. Gear 2000 Youth Intimidator Shoulder Pad

In number eight comes the Gear 2000 Youth Intimidator Shoulder Pad as it is one of the most powerful shoulder pads on the market today. We found that it has a flat and discreet construction due to its built-in smooth epaulets. The flat structure of this shoulder pad adapts perfectly to your body.

What we love about this shoulder pad is that it’s light. It weighs only about a pound, so you can be sure that it does not put a lot of pressure on your shoulders when worn. Another benefit of this shoulder pad is that it keeps you cool throughout the game and absorbs sweat well.

The ability to absorb sweat is made possible by the use of a highly effective moisture management system. You can adjust the fit or length with the front strings. That way, you can be sure that it fits your body well to make sure comfort on the field is not compromised.

PROS

  • Has a flat and discreet construction
  • Feels gentle with the body
  • Can absorb sweat well, thereby keeping the player cool throughout the game
  • Affordable
  • Adjustable fit and length

CONS

  • Not as durable as others

Another thing that makes a good impression about the Gear 2000 Youth Intimidator Shoulder Pad is its affordable price, plus the fact that it makes use of a material that can handle moisture effectively also makes it able to dry completely within a few hours after use.

9. Sports Unlimited Prospect Youth Football Shoulder Pads

The Sports Unlimited Prospect Youth football shoulder pads might end your search for the most reliable football shoulder pads. We are so impressed by its lightness as it uses lightweight materials and elastic bands.

With these features, you can safely travel comfortably at full speed. We are also impressed by the high protection this shoulder pad offers. It provides additional impact protection and ensures that you feel comfortable with the help of its double-layer foam body cushion.

This youth football shoulder pads also provides maximum coverage in terms of protection. This is possible, thanks to its extended body length, which means that it has a cushioning that extends across the arches. With this advanced cushioning, your back and abdomen are safely protected.

PROS

  • Lightweight and elastic, making it comfortable to wear
  • Provides a high level of protection against access
  • Provides extended body length for maximum protection
  • Universal sports design
  • Well ventilated and breathable

CONS

  • Not suitable for adult football players

Another notable benefit of this shoulder pad is its universal design that promotes full freedom of movement. In that sense, it’s perfect for multiple positions. You can even use it everywhere. It is also well ventilated and breathable as heat can escape because of its breathable inner channels.

10. Gear Pro-Tec Z-CooL Youth/ JV Football Shoulder Pad

The last shoulder pad on our list of best football shoulder pads is the Pro-Tec Z-COOL Youth / JV football shoulder pad. What we find so good about this all-purpose shoulder pad is that it is light and works well for all young football players, regardless of their position.

It uses a moisture transfer technology that speeds up sweat evaporation. With that, we can say it improves your performance while keeping your body cool during the game. We also discovered the breathability and moisture absorption properties of this product while using it.

It has Z-COOL padding that removes moisture from the skin and will keep you dry throughout the game. We also noticed that it’s completely breathable with the air release clavicle padding system that you can easily adjust.

PROS

  • Works for multiple positions and players
  • Keeps your body cool thanks to the moisture transfer technology
  • Breathable and adjustable padding system
  • Promotes a comfortable, custom fit
  • Prevents perspiration

CONS

  • Not compatible with skill positions

Another advantage of this youth football shoulder pad is that it provides a comfortable and personalized fit thanks to its adjustable 1-inch belt with uncut buckles.

Buyer’s Guide -Things To Consider Before Buying Football Shoulder Pads

There are a lot of factors you should certainly put into consideration before making up your mind over the right shoulder pads to buy. As you know, there are literally tons of youth and adult football shoulder pads in the market, and each of them is begging for your attention. But if you’re are armed with this information, you won’t make the wrong choice.

#1. OVERALL CONSTRUCTION

This entails the architecture of the shoulder pads, it’s aesthetics, sophistication, and how quickly it appeals to your sense of judgement. If the overall construction of the shoulder pads does not look pleasing enough, there is no need to opt for it.

It has to be of high quality and strong enough, as this resistance makes it possible to deal with the most severe hits. Note that football is an exciting but challenging game. There are actually cases where it is pushed and pulled on the field. 

In a number of instances, a player’s shoulder pads have been ripped on the field because its construction could not afford the luxury of receiving excess pressure from opponents. If you want to gain extensive protection from your shoulder pads, spend sufficient time analyzing it.

#2. WEIGHT OR BUILD

All shoulder pads have different weights depending on the material used to construct it, the proportion of such materials, and the size of the pads. These three are very important factors to consider because the weight of the pads can affect the player’s movement.

As a football player, you should know how much weight you are willing to bear on your shoulders in addition to the weight of other protective gear like helmet, back plate, knee pads, etc. If the overall weight of the football gear on your body is too much, you may find it difficult to move on the field.

 

Nonetheless, you shouldn’t buy utterly inferior shoulder pads that can not afford any reasonable impact when other players hit you. To make sure of this, ensure the pad is not made of puffed foam or some bloated materials that is intended to make it look big.

As a team manager, you’ve got to consider this before making an investment in multi-position or generic football shoulder pads. The reason is you need something all your players can wear without grumbling. Just as I’ve insinuated earlier, it should not be too heavy that saps all the players’ energy and ruin their stamina.

It doesn’t matter the brands that is producing the pads, you’ve got to evaluate them to see if they are still strong and durable enough to prevent multiple hits and impacts. There must be a balance between lightness and durability to ensure your protection and comfort on the field.


#3. CUSHIONING OR PADDING SYSTEM

The cushioning or padding system is one of the major things that determines whether your shoulder pads can absorb a hit without affecting you adversely. Before you purchase any shoulder pad, try to check the technology behind it. Apart from the numerous padding systems in the market, there are three major technologies adopted by major brands in the industry, which are:

1. TPU CUSHIONING

TPU is the most advanced padding system you can find. It is made of the seemingly indestructible TPU material, which means Thermoplastic Urethane. If you’re conversant with the tech of football protective gear, you’d realize that there is so much fuss and media attention on this material because it doesn’t break down, compress, allow mildew formation, nor does it retain heat as with most of the other materials.

 

The TPU cushioning is found in a number of Schutt shoulder pads and protective gear, including the Schutt AiR Maxx Flex shoulder pad. With this padding system, you can take in enough hits without crashing down.

2. FLAT PADS

Flat Pads are the most commonly used for generic football shoulder pads. They are low-bulk built with high-efficiency cushions that absorb impact using the smallest amount of space.

These pads combine a closed and open-cell foam to successfully spread the force of a hit over the largest surface area surrounding the direct point of impact.

3. QUILTED BROCK BEADS PADDING

This type of cushioning system boasts of tiny padded bead-like shaped protrusion. These beads are filled with air and are spread across the chest, shoulder, and back region of the pad. When you sustain a hit, the beads release air, spreading it across the surface area underneath the shell.

That way, the hit is rebuffed by the released air using the same working principle as a trampoline. The only difference is that the shell of your shoulder pad isn’t elastic, so don’t expect it to bounce every one off. This cushioning system also ensures that air circulates around your body, to keep you relaxed through out the game.

#4. POSITION

There are different playing positions in field, and the one you play in should determine the type of shoulder pads you should buy. If you are still trying out several positions or playing on either side of the field, the multi-position pads will be perfect for you.

These pads are usually medium weight and designed so that they do not reach the sternum. With this design, it can support many movements. Expect these pads to get thicker and heavier on your shoulders as well. This is necessary to be able to hit effectively.

If you are a wide receiver or a quarterback, keep in mind that both positions usually require movement. This is the main reason why shoulder pads with the right design are compatible with you if you are in any of these positions. The pads must be made of minimal plastic.

If you are positioned as an attacker, remember that you get the most frequent hits. This requires investing in a lineman’s shoulder pad that has the sternum and shoulders as the strongest reinforced parts. The pad for this position must also withstand the arm-up movement required for football players in the position mentioned above. 

Knowing your position on the field and taking it into account during your shopping spree will undoubtedly help you choose the most suitable football pads for your needs.

#5. MOBILITY

Shoulder pads have a direct impact on your ease of movement in the field depending on its size, weight, bulkiness, and materials they are made of. The selected shoulder pad should be designed so as not to interfere with your mobility. To ensure this, it is better to invest in lighter football shoulder pads that can still do the job. You need protection while you are still mobile to avoid injury.

Note that you may feel unnatural due to the limited mobility of the pad. If you realize that the shoulder pad you want to buy does not support safe movement, it may be best to find a new set.

#6. VENTILATION

A well-ventilated shoulder pad will allow air to flow around you body, keeping you relaxed throughout the game. In most cases, there is adequate ventilation in the form of ventilation holes drilled directly into the shell.

Hot air can escape through these holes while fresh air can circulate. So you can feel comfortable, dry, and cool on the football field. You can also view products using Z-cool cooling technology. This technology uses waterproof beads for air flow in the cushioning actively.

You can expect the beads to separate from one another after the pad receives an impact. They then absorb the force then let fresh air flow through your body. It promotes better ventilation in the pad’s shell, thereby ensuring that it lets hot air come out while letting cool air go in. This results in less accumulation of sweat.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

#1. WHY DO FOOTBALL PLAYERS WEAR SHOULDER PADS?

Football players wear shoulder pads because it absorb most of the impact when players are hit. The pads protect the shoulders, collarbones, chest, and back. They have hard, heavily padded, and adjustable plastic shell affords them the protection they need during what you’d call the “dangerous” game of football.

 Shoulder pads are probably one of the most essential part of a football player’s gear, and they must have it on at all times while playing.

#2. HOW ARE FOOTBALL SHOULDER PADS SUPPOSED TO FIT?

It is expected that your football shoulder pad will fit if you choose the right size and measurement. What you need to do is ask someone to measure it first. Avoid measuring alone, as this can make you feel uneasy and lead to ill-fitting pads and inaccurate measurements.

The first thing to measure is your chest. Get up and wrap a measuring tape with the help of someone around your upper body. Note the measurement. Next, you need to measure the width of your shoulder. Just sit down and let someone stretch the measuring tape over the shoulder contours.

It is usually between the AC joints or the joints between the upper shoulders. Make a note of the resulting measurement. You then have to weigh yourself. This is essential if you want to invest in the best youth soccer football pads.

This is because these pads are usually sized by weight class. To set the pads correctly, you need to know your exact current weight.

#3. WHICH SIZE OF FOOTBALL SHOULDER PAD DO I NEED?

The size of your football shoulder pad depends on your physique and position on the field. However, the main goal is to find a size that completely covers certain areas of the body, especially your collarbones or clavicles, deltoids, shoulder joints, and shoulder blades.

Your chosen size should also have a comfortable opening at the neck, which does not restrict your body and arm movement. Also, a secure fit must be guaranteed, which guarantees not to slip after tightening. Also, to find the right size, every time you lift your hands, make sure there is enough space on both sides.

#4. HOW DO I CLEAN FOOTBALL SHOULDER PADS?

There are different ways to clean shoulder pads depending on the material it is made of. However, the average shoulder pad have the same cleaning procedure, which involves the use of detergents or washing agents.

The first thing you need to do is to take the pad out of your gear right after you return home from a football game or practice.

Let the pads dry naturally by spreading them on the floor and drying before the actual cleaning is crucial to minimize the growth of fungi and bacteria. Moisten a cloth with water and wipe off the dirt from the pad. Take a dry cloth and wipe it on the pad to dry it.

Use a household disinfectant or a cleaning solution for gears to remove unpleasant and stubborn streaks from the pad and then disinfect it. Make sure the cleaning solution you choose is safe when used on plastics.

It is not only advisable to clean it yourself, but also to have your shoulder pads cleaned professionally right after the season ends. Through professional cleaning, the pads are reconditioned and disinfected.

#5. WHERE CAN I BUY FOOTBALL SHOULDER PADS?

You can buy the best football shoulder pads at sports shops or department stores selling sports equipment. If you want to shop conveniently, you can also visit various sellers and online sites that sell these things.

Just make sure you spend time checking the seller’s authenticity and finding the right size, so you do not end up with a buy that does not fit.

It may be an easy choice as to which shoulder pad is right for you, as you are shopping for an adult or a young player, but sometimes the players are in between and can choose one of the two options. It may also be helpful to understand some of the differences between the youth and adult shoulder pads in general. Not all Youth Pads are the same, and not all Adult Football Pads are the same.

#6. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ADULT AND YOUTH SHOULDER PADS?

The major differences between adult and youth shoulder pads is price and weight. In general, boys’ shoulder pads are cheaper than adult ones. This is because they are usually smaller and lighter (use fewer materials). This does not mean that young pads are not as safe as adults, but players that are getting hit are smaller than their adult counterparts, which means they need less to the pads. This allows the creation of pads that are easier to use for young players, so they do not carry much more pad weight than part of their body weight and, in return, are less expensive as players are likely to grow out of their youth pads faster.

#7. HOW DO FOOTBALL SHOULDER PADS PREVENT INJURIES?

Shoulder pads prevent injuries and protect the body through the different parts of its structure. First, it has a hard plastic shell which serves as a body armor against the hits of your opponents. They give your shoulders a broader look protecting both shoulders against dislocations and joint related injuries.

They are also padded underneath the shell to cushion the effect of the impact of the hard shell on your chest when you are hit. Thus, protecting your ribs and vital organs.

In summary, you can say that shoulder pads do two things for the player:

  • They absorb part of the impact by deformation. Shoulder pads are tied in tight tracks and deform on impact.
  • Distribute the effect over a larger area, resulting in less pressure at the point of impact.
Schutt Sports XV HD Varsity Football Shoulder Pads

Our #1 Best Football Shoulder Pads

  • Very durable and shock absorbing
  • Simple and lightweight, without compromising your professional performance.
  • Promotes good freedom of movement
  • Has pre-drilled accessory holes
  • Minimizes the weight on your shoulders thanks to the curved design

Enjoyed the article above? Check our top recommendations on youth shoulder pads.

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