Do you feel confused when it’s time to choose a suitable youth football helmet amid an ocean of helmets on the web?
Do you have a kid who needs is well outfitted but is lacking the most crucial part of his or her football gear – the helmet?
You are not alone.
After our recently published article on best football helmets, we have got quite a number of interest requesting us to do a review on youth helmets.
You may have been at odds at what to do to demystify the science of getting the right youth headwear.
Not to worry. We have painstakingly analyzed a good number of youth athletes, parents, and other authoritative, first-hand sources, who have given their views on what they feel is the top 10 youth football helmets in 2020.
Here we go!
The Riddell brand is a household name among youth football players. They are a topline helmet designer known for their artful engineering which manifests superbly in the Riddell Youth SpeedFlex Football Helmet – famed for its incredible durability and comfort.
In an industry crazed with fancy marketing and where gleaming, eye-catching products trumps quality, Riddell is one of the few brands that acknowledge the fact the young at heart need something that fits and safeguards them from concussion-causing impacts when practicing or competing.
And that is why the SpeedFlex Helmet offers one of the best youth football helmet in the market with its aggressive design which guarantees protection through and through. This Virginia Tech-rated 5-star unit is manufactured with the Patented Side Impact Protection (PSIP) to reduce impaction from the sides. It is also embellished with a well-fitted liner and S-jaw pads.
Furthermore, the overliner reassures protection for the different head shapes of youth players. The overliner fabric implies the absence of additional weight on the helmet while providing air cushioning against collisions. The outer shell appears robust because it is composed of polycarbonate materials.
Unfortunately, Riddell is a renowned upmarket football gear outfitter, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the SpeedFlex helmet is charging at premium. Nonetheless, the fact that it appears like adult wear should be a confidence boost to your kid when they step onto the field to pursue their dream of playing in the big leagues.
- Shock absorbent
- Soft foam padding
- Looks and feels professional
- Ergonomic fit
- Skin-friendly chinstrap
- Expensive (editors pick; most expensive)
For those who adhere to the maxim that protection is the most critical element of football, Schutt Sports Vengeance A3 Helmet is one skull-bone protector that must not be ignored.
Why so? The Schutt Sports Vengeance A3+ is engineered with a TPU cushioning enablement which, according to our research, absorbs a wide range of knocks. The headdress is also fortified with SUREFIT Air Liner, which allows the wearer to make individualized changes to fit the back, crown and sides of the helmet. The interlinking jaw pads provide ancillary support and an assured locked-in fit at the lower part of the face when strapped on.
The low-profile tapestry of the A3+ ensures that the problem of weight is eliminated from your young one’s head. Once play begins and blows and shoves start flying in the air, the unit feels like a pillow in the head of the intermediate football player. At the same time, the inner lining wicks away most of the moisture that builds ups during perspiration.
We would have loved if this head covering came with an accompanying facemask to make it ready-to-use. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, but it was built to be compatible with the most common facemasks in the e-commerce marketplace.
Based on our investigation, this Schutt iteration has an ergonomic feel, is sturdy, affordable, and has superb longevity. Therefore, Vengeance A3+ gets the nod as one of the top youth football helmets this year.
Pros and cons
- TPU shell
- Reasonably priced
- No real demerits
Any youth footballer with high aspirations for the elite leagues would be in dreamland if they laid their hands on the Riddell Victor Youth Football Helmet. Sharing the same design with the SpeedFlex, this is a part of the youth player’s kit also comes with Patented Side Impact Protection for the intermediate athlete.
The Riddell victor youth helmet is crafted for maximum safety and comfort on the gridiron. It is remarkably lightweight, weighing just 2.05 pounds to prevent the heat from dropping, complementing the essentials of US tacking styles.
It ranks as one of the best youth football helmets on account of its inflatable S-jaw pads for added comfort and protection and rear-inflatable rear liner that enables players to adjust as per best fit. The headgear also features an overliner that is made from cloth, which is detachable and cleanable.
It is one of the newest youth football helmets in Riddell’s line, which upgrades the popular Attack series. The shell is made of ABS plastic. And guess what? It features an S2B facemask suitable for running backs, quarterbacks, and other dynamic positions, making it a no brainer for any beginner gridiron athlete.
As with all other Riddell merchandises, the Victor Youth helmet is exorbitantly priced. But you know what they say: “Speed look without the speed price.”
- Glossy look
- Super lightweight
- Highly comfy
- Chinstraps could be better
Now the Xenith brand is an American company that has extended the research on football-related head mishaps to forge a failsafe head protection device. The Xenith Youth X2E+ Football Helmet is undoubtedly one of the most eligible picks if you’re seeking ventilation and an easy-fitting unit.
Middle school football players will be pleased to experience its ABS plastic shell, engineered with the Fit Seeker® and Shock Bonnet® technology that eradicates the need for pumps. The Xenith X2E+ also packs a repositionable 3DX jaw guard which is manufactured from XRD high impact foam for additional reinforcement.
Despite all of this, X2E+ is lightweight and keeps the young at heart cooled all game long, owing to its six-vent cooling mechanism which supplies a steady flow of air to the player.
Thanks to the Xenith’s Aware Flow® shock absorber technology, the helmet benefits from a maximum response when pitched against linear forces that can concuss or maim the rookie. So, this innovative, confidence-boosting headgear rightfully makes the cut as one of the top youth football helmets around.
- Ergonomic fit
- No real demerits
The incredibly comfortable, antimicrobial, moisture-wicking helmet features a repositionable liner delivers a secure fit to the back, neck, side and mandibular areas of your head. Intermural players can also rely on the exclusivity of its high-impact, glossy ABS plastic outer shell with a 3-year warranty.
Made mainly from energy management components, the inflatable jaw pads emphatically diffuse any force coming towards the face and sides. The S-Pad jaws are designed to give protection to your jaw.
Interestingly, you will be delighted to find oversized ventilation holes with superfluous detailing for enhanced breathability. The Youth Revolution Speed Helmet has push-in valve retainers and plugs as well as a mid-high hookup soft-cup chinstrap.
Additionally, the overliner wicks moisture effectively and can be removed easily for laundering or periodic cleaning. It features a built-in T-nut wrench pump needed to inflate the pads in the helmet.
The Riddell Youth Revolution Speed Football Helmet meets NOCSAE standards.
- Snugly fit
- Inflatable back, side, and neck liner for comfort
- Well ventilated
- Not suited for adults
The Schutt Youth DNA+ Pro Football Helmet was first released in 2003, and is an advancement of traditional padding methods. It is engineered with the enthusiastic youth, varsity, or intermediate player in mind as it provides better impact diffusion. This helmet is one of the most sought-after youth headgears around with its TPU cushioning for optimum corroboration and some added foam which wicks away moisture superbly during hot practice sessions.
And if you’re a player who’s concerned about your helmet deflating in-play, you need not worry as Schutt has once again ingeniously imbued this head protector with Air-Loc technology that ensures the retention of air as you play. The visor has a wide interface to allow you to have a wide field of vision and gain full awareness of all that’s going on around you
The DNA+ Pro is, like most other Schutt headpieces, lightweight and offers maximum protection against collisions due to its ABS outer shell. The youth will definitely appreciate its reassuring properties and play without fear of getting knocked off or slugged down.
When the temperature of the surrounding air starts to rise, you can trust its well-crafted inner cushioning to snugly insulate you. And in conjunction with the built-in SUREFIT liner, you can rest assured knowing that you are securely cinched for a sporty afternoon.
More so, this head shell is built to have high resistance to fungi, bacteria, mold, and mildew while availing a better barrier to staph and MRSA concerns. The DNA+ meets NOCSAE standards.
- Heat and hygiene manageability
- Wide field of vision
- Provides adequate ventilation
- Maintains airflow
- Face mask sold differently
- Hard-to-find replacement parts
Schutt products keep popping up in our list as an attestation of their excellence in biomedical and biomechanical research over the years. Hybrid, stylish, and solid, the Youth Recruit Hybrid Football Helmet packs a powerful combo of TPU cushioning and D30 Technology. Thanks to patented D30 Technology throughout the sides and back, this unit is flexible, lightweight and provides optimum breathability.
According to our investigation, many users have christened this headgear “The most advanced of all impact engineering on a helmet.” The Recruit Hybrid features a padding material that is more hygienic than most of its counterparts.
And the advanced shock-absorbing powers are not all that there is to this helmet. One of its most significant merits is that it is designed with an adjustable faceguard provision that can fit almost every facemask on the market.
Much like the other Schutt rollouts, the Hybrid features a padding material that is more hygienic than its counterparts. Youth players of any designation can strap it on for protection from ram-ins on the field.
- Shock-absorbent padding
- Durable shell
- Getting the right size can be tricky
- Facemask sold separately
At this point, it’s safe to say that Schutt Sports is the kingpin of youth football helmets. And while the AiR Standard V may have a name fit for fancy marketing, this headgear is a very player-friendly and affordable youth football helmet.
At the heart of it, this contraption gives you the much-needed edge while making you feel like you’re wearing a helmet from a top pro’s locker room. And with all the investments that have gone into making this headgear safe and cozy, this Schutt brand also promises high-level protection.
It comes with an EVA and EPP foam liner that is uber-lightweight for great fittingness to the player. It pleases us to mention that this traditional standoff helmet is accompanied by an attached facemask.
Its outer shell is made from ABS plastic as it also features very comfy Air Maxx TPU 1-1 1/4” jaw pads, a soft cap chinstrap, and plastic buckles to snap this NOCSAE-standard headpiece in. Like the others, the AiR Standard V holds up well as a veritable Schutt Football helmet.
- High-level fortification and support
- Utmost snugness
- Facemask included
- No real demerits
This famous Vengeance helmet line was tweaked by its legendary manufacturers to bolster the impact-containment properties. It features the hybridized TPU outer shell protection in the front crown and the patented D30® cushioning system at the sides and back, that will absorb all blows to the head.
The ever-reliable ABS plastic shell is lightweight and enables smaller players to withstand less powerful hits. It also prevents them from dropping their heads late in the game. The Vengeance DCT also comes with 1 1/8” AiR MAXX TPU jaw pads for superior support and comfort for the chin.
The DCT has a twist and release system designed to enable the player make adjustments to the helmet easily. It effectively eliminates the need for upper loop straps. Unsurprisingly, this headgear is inexpensive while the faceguard is not included but can be easily attached using a broad selection of Schutt facemasks.
The helmets have an inflatable Air Liner attachment mechanism that holds the inflation port in place.
- Even weight and pressure distribution
- Reassures protection and comfortability
- Heat management and hygiene
- Compatible with a variety of facemasks
- Faceguard sold separately.
Since 1887, the Rawlings Sporting Goods company has been revered for its proclivity to conceptualize and deliver innovative high-performance football gears for entry-level players. The Rawlings Momentum Plus Youth Football Helmet is synonymous with adjustability.
This quality makes this youth football shell customizable to get the right fit for maximum head protection, thanks to its rear inflation port. In addition to its repositionable properties, the momentum plus is built with Heat Exchange® technology.
Furthermore, the outer shell is made of high-impact ABS shell, making it rust-resistant, weather-resistant, durable, and long-lasting, just like adult helmets. The Momentum Plus has an aesthetic design that keeps the player cool as they ply away at the field.
We are happy to reveal that it has a custom fit liner for a toned-down impact and comfortability. Another distinguishing feature is the shell design that parodies that of pro athletes; many who are role models to these aspiring players. Thus, the Momentum Plus serves as a real morale booster as the rookies thread through the field.
One drawback to this accessory is that it doesn’t include a facemask; it is sold separately.
- Sturdy shell design
- Highly adjustable
- Customizable liner
- Face mask sold separately
What to Look Out For When Buying A Youth Football Helmet
When choosing a youth football helmet, the major consideration is to know what works for you and what doesn’t. The shape of our heads varies and therefore very specific needs arise when searching for a top-rated youth football helmet.
To ensure that your decision is not hastily done, keep these factors in mind during your selection process. It is imperative to find a helmet that offers the right fit above everything else. The right fit not only answers the question of comfort, but it also minimizes the risk of injury.
Finding the right size helmet size may even involve the contribution of a friend. Simply have them encircle a measuring tape around your head and ensure that it is 1 inch above your eyebrows. Record the circumference because this is where the headgear rests on your head.
Furthermore, we advise consulting a sizing chart if available, so you can view instructions in finding the right-sized fit. How then do you know you’ve got the right fit for sure? Simple! You’ll feel that it rests tightly but comfortably when you try it on.
Apply hand pressure on top of the helmet. The right helmet makes you feel an evenly distributed pressure. Also, make sure that you’re purchasing a product from the youth helmet category so you don’t end up buying an incorrect, adult helmet. Adult helmets are heavier and might set the head of the developing player at risk.
Pay attention to any shifting or wobbling. None of these should occur as your helmet should fit snugly to your head. There should be no gap between your jaw and the headwear as well as the temple and the headwear.
This criterion is given top priority without much fanfare and should never be put at the backburner in your shopping decisions, ever! Top-quality safe helmets should include a certification signage or the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE).
This seal designates the helmet as safe, well-made, and with top-of-the-line materials that can be relied upon not to fall apart or become weakened during play.
The best youth football helmets of 2020 will not be 100% safe if it doesn’t guarantee optimum comfort. To ensure the highest level of protection, spend ample time checking the cushioning the moment you snap it in.
Make a habit of customizing it based on your head’s density and contours. Gauge the pressure of the helmet at regular intervals as this is essential in determining whether the padding gas not deflated – a situation which can increase the risk factor of injury to the young athlete.
The durability of the outer shell
Let us remember how aggressive a gridiron game can be even at the developmental level. Head-to-head collisions are a way of life rather than something we hope to completely minimize. And with the durable outer shell, you can lessen the linear and rotational velocities directed towards you.
You can make your search for a high-end outer shell more proactive by keeping abreast of the ever-changing standard safety measures, organizations, and ratings.
This attribute is also related to a helmet’s comfortability. Avoid buying heavy helmets that are tedious to carry. Dense helmets can also hinder your performance on the field; make you fatigable and more susceptible to injury. Instead, procure a lightweight helmet that disencumbers your head’s movement and improves your performance.
It is noteworthy to state that lightweight headgear practically diminishes the incidence of fatigue when put on.
Examining the comfort enhancing properties of the inner padding of the helmet is also a smart best practice. Make certain that the paddings and liners are soft, convenient and abrasion-resistant, availing you freedom to play with zest and buoyancy, only making slight adjustments on the field.
Find a well-constructed visor as you shop for an appropriate youth helmet because it will safeguard your eyes from unexpected hits. Choose a facemask configuration that enables visibility. There is a broad array of case designs on the market that allows you to make uniquely personal selections.
Don’t buy used helmets
Given how exorbitant some youth football helmets can be, you may be tempted to purchase a second-hand helmet. This is an extremely dangerous decision to make, and you may be liable to infection or injury. To add to your misery, the device may ultimately fail to serve its intended l purpose, leaving you kicking yourself for not buying a brand new one.
Should you insist on buying a handed-down helmet, ensure that it has been certified “Fully Reconditioned” by the NOCSAE. Helmets that have been put out for sale after refurbishment by a licensed reconditioner are tagged with a recertification seal at the interior part of the helmet.
These helmets can now be regarded as “good’ or “brand new,” although, with a less pricey price tag. Reworked helmets need to carry the seal of reconditioning, as without it, the headwear may not be safe for use. Most grievously, you risk having your young player injured by a subpar helmet just because you wanted to save back a few bucks.
What is the difference between youth and varsity helmets?
The most obvious difference is the size. Other differentiators include strength and durability. Varsity headwear is larger and packs more robust components because they are designed for boisterous, high-octane games. Youth helmets are typically feature thicker jaw pads but smaller chinstraps.
The strength of either helmet is a function of the material used to construct them. While varsity helmets and varsity helmets are made from polycarbonate material, youth helmets are usually made from ABS plastic.
Polycarbonate is a tough plastic that demonstrates remarkable compressive strength as it doesn’t compress or shatter significantly upon repeated impact. Conversely, ABS is an engineered plastic that is cheaper, lighter and has a lower tensile strength, making it suitable for less devastating blows.
As a consequence, some youth leagues prohibit the use of polycarbonate helmets because it can damage an ABS upon helmet-to-helmet collision, causing injury to the weaker player.
There isn’t a hard and fast rule regarding when a player should start using an adult helmet, but generally, an upgrade to an adult helmet is made once the player reaches the age of 14 or starts to play in high school (source).
Can youth football helmets be worn by adult players?
Yes, they can and only if they fit them well. The fitting is the most crucial part criteria here as it should not be too tight, close-fitting or tout. A youth football helmet cresting on an adult’s head may become weakened upon collision or at the end of a long season. In any case, it is better to wear an adult helmet.
Do youth football helmets come with a facemask and chinstrap?
Most of them do while others don’t. But not to worry, major football gear manufacturers Riddell, Schutt, and Xenith design their helmets to fit their individual brands. Other standalone facemasks may fit a variety of shells.
Popular facemask brands include Schutt’s DNA, and Schutt’s Super Pro facemasks. Thankfully, virtually all youth football helmets come through with chinstraps.
How do I clean a football helmet?
Sweat happens – straight facts. After hours of intense practice and gameplay, you will be engulfed in sweat and grime. And if not cleaned immediately, the air will reek of smelly, putrid bacteria. Quite unlike the football girdle or other linen material, you can’t throw a helmet into the washing machine. Helmet cleaning must be a manual exercise.
You will need a soft fabric material as abrasive cleaning pads may ruin the helmets finish or the protective coating of the pads. Microfiber pads are the most suitable, but a plain cotton cleaning material won’t damage of your helmet either.
Get a gentle detergent; a dishwasher liquid would be just fine because it can cut through grease and grime without leaving behind any residue. Additionally, a disinfectant spray is needed when cleaning in order to destroy all the germs that have accrued in your helmet over time.
Start from the outside of the helmet. Simply remove the pads and spray down. If you desire some extra sheen fir a special outing, you can grab a car polish and a soft cloth. Afterwards, you can jump on the pads.
Immerse the pads in warm, soapy water and make a quick wipe with a soft microfiber or linen cloth to remove all the grime. Once dry, use the disinfectant spray to obliterate any lingering germs.
As soon as all the components are clean and dry, simply reassemble the headwear and keep securely; waiting for its next outing. For some, cleaning a football helmet is no fun, but if it’s dirty and unsightly, everyone around you will notice.
Avoid using harsh chemicals such as bleach, turpentine, or ammonia. If you can’t find surface-friendly cleaners around, you can clean your helmet with a warmly dampened rag, scrubbing gently.
What kinds of youth football helmet visors are available?
Besides the usual youth helmet manufacturing brands, Nike, Under Armour, and Oakley are also popular visor brands. Visors come in a bevy of coloring options including clear, tinted, colored and reflective mirror visors.
NB: Before buying a helmet visor, double-check to see to make sure it’ll fit a youth-sized helmet. It is important to note that most youth leagues do not permit the use of reflective, tinted or colored visors.
Eye shields must be made from clear materials according to the national federation of state high school associations. Many youth leagues, the NCAA, and the NFL have similar rules.
Some parents are concerned about the sun’s rays impinging on their young athlete’s eyes during an afternoon game. Thankfully, many clear visors still provide advanced UV protection. Always check the product description before buying to know if the visor you have selected shields from UVC, UVA and other strains of harmful light.
Youth players who have optical impediments such as long-sightedness and short-sightedness know that it is not possible to design prescription visors. Football visors are usually manufactured with a single piece of curved material fastened to the helmet to provide safety.
Unfortunately, due to the curvature and distance to the eye, it is not possible to develop corrective visors. Players with vision impairments will need to get prescription sports contact lenses or goggles.
Read: Best Football Helmets