Choosing the right helmet can be the difference between playing a full, productive season or suffering an injury that prevents you from being out on the field when college or NFL scouts are watching. You wouldn’t want the latter one to happen, right?
Now, I know… football helmets are expensive. And finding the right helmet can be stressful if it means it’s going to break the bank. But, I have some good news! Did you know Riddell, one of the leading helmet manufacturers in the world, produces a line of cheap Riddell football helmets?
So put all the stress away. Below is a list of the top 6 cheap Riddell football helmets on the market today.
1. Riddell Victor-I Youth Helmet: Best for Entry level
The Riddell Victor-I Youth is like the Toyota Corolla of football helmets. It’s affordable, chock-full of solid features, has great resale value, and will hold up over the course of several years if taken care of.
In terms of technology and benefits, there is plenty on the inside of the Riddell Victor-I Youth to keep players feeling safe and protected on the field.
Take, for instance, all of the padding on the inside of the helmet, which can be inflated to customize the fit to each individual player’s head. This is a great feature, especially for youth players, as comfort and fit are some of the more important features.
There is also an overliner in the crown of the helmet to ensure players stay as comfortable as possible throughout the course of the game, and vent holes in the side of the helmet allow for more air circulation. This helps keep the player cool as a cucumber, even under high-pressure situations.
Perhaps the most underrated feature of the Riddell Victor-I Youth Helmet, however, is the mechanical attachment that enables switching facemasks in and out. Compared to other, high-end facemasks, the mechanical attachment may seem like a detriment, as you need to use a screwdriver to manually attach and detach the faceguard.
While this may seem like a drawback compared to helmets that can switch facemasks in and out with ease, I like to look at the glass as always half full. The mechanical attachment actually keeps costs lower than other helmets that use more cutting-edge technology, so the price point of this helmet simply cannot be beat.
We have a feeling that if you’re reading this article, this is a feature that you will appreciate.
Overall, the Riddell Victor-I Youth Helmet is a no-fuss helmet that is perfect for players still trying to learn the fundamentals of football without having to worry about safety and comfort.
2. Riddell Youth Revolution Speed: BEST FOR SKILL PLAYERS
Figures that a helmet with the word “speed” in its name would be suitable for skill and speed players, right?
The Riddell Youth Revolution Speed helps wide receivers, defensive backs, quarterbacks, and really anyone reliant on speed to turn the corner and kick into extra gear. With an ABS gloss shell paired with a moisture-wicking liner, these can help you feel safe going across the middle.
Parents will appreciate the moisture-resistant, anti-bacterial overliner, as it is fully removable and can therefore be cleaned after every game. This prevents buildup of mold and mildew to offer a long-lasting wear.
Moreover, Riddell has outfitted the Revolution Speed with inflatable S-pads in the back, neck and sides which delivers a comfortable and light feel. This enables your young speedster to snap off the line of scrimmage as he or she high-tails to the endzone.
Little bonuses include “no rust” stainless steel hardware and a mid-hook soft cup chin strap to keep you locked-in. The pads on the inside are inflatable, but please keep in mind that a pump is sold separately.
3. Riddell 360 Youth Football Helmet: BEST SCIENTIFIC DESIGN
All of Riddell’s helmets are informed by science, with a number of closed variable tests done to improve safety and protection. But with the Riddell 360 Youth football helmet, Riddell has taken helmet design to the next level.
The Riddell 360 Youth was designed after testing 1.4 million – yes, million – high impact hits, using energy-managing materials and a face mask attachment system that disperses the energy of front impacts.
After endless experimentation, advanced research and development, and countless hours of on-field tests and hit-analysis, Riddell concluded that the majority of hits resulting in concussions are caused by hits to the front of the head. So, Riddell has shifted the design of the 360 Youth to primarily protect the front of the helmet and jaw area.
This includes a Flex Impact System, which improves frontal protection to absorb more impact forces and reduce the shock felt by the player, and an Enhanced Facial Frame which protects more of the front and jaw areas.
What’s more, a Hexagonal Liner System made up of energy-managing foam improves the fit of the helmet, delivering comfort and stability around the sides and the jaw area to add even more protection to the susceptible front of the head.
An Occipital Lock in the back of the helmet cradles the back of the head, creating a more secure fit and protecting the wearer when falling backwards and preventing the daunted “snapping” of the neck.
As a bonus, the 360 also features an All-Points Quick Release Facemask System which enables you to quickly replace a facemask more easily than ever before.
This helmet is the absolute pinnacle of scientific design, and that translates to an increase in performance and in protection.
4. Riddell Speed Icon Football Helmet: Best Budget Option For Speed Players:
The Riddell Speed Icon football helmet is as classic a helmet as they come, featuring an HS4 facemask that is made of high-strength spring stainless steel that Riddell has somehow managed to make thinner and lighter without compromise to performance. The major benefit of this facemask is that it improves sightlines and the field of vision for the wearer, giving players that extra tenth of a second to see the ball and adjust.
Riddell’s Patented Side Impact Protection (PSIP) makes an appearance in the Speed Icon helmet, offering protection on the mandible that helps reduce the force of impacts from the side. This is particularly important as the technology prevents side impacts from causing the neck to “snap”, which mitigates the risk of concussions.
We’re not saying it’s safe to go over the middle, but it’s definitely safer doing so with the Riddell Speed Icon than most other football helmets.
Moreover, a removable, moisture-resistant liner with antimicrobial properties is built into the overliner of the helmet, and provides comfort and stability. All this while inflatable Air Fit liners make adjusting the size and fit of the helmet a breeze.
Overall, this helmet is perfect for players that rely on their speed and vision to get off the line of scrimmage and make a play on the ball, whether that be for the go-ahead touchdown or a game-sealing interception.
5. Riddell Speed Classic Football Helmet: Easiest to Maintain
The Riddell Speed Classic has many of the “classic” features found in Riddell helmets: Patented Side Impact Protection, inflatable air liner pads to customize fit, helmet design that glances blows off the helmet, etc.
But where the Speed Classic stands out is in its ability to be maintained and last throughout the course of many seasons.
This makes it ideal for those on a budget, as the price point is effectively mitigated if we consider “price per season.” So long as you follow proper maintenance protocols, the helmet will last you over the course of several seasons.
Thankfully, maintaining the Riddell Speed Classic is easy, thanks to a quick release face mask attachment system that makes removing and replacing facemasks easy as a pinch. You’ll be able to clean and wipe any mildew, mold, or buildup off the facemask with the simple twist of the retainer.
Moreover, the classic liner system is removable and easy to maintain, and can be inflated to provide a custom fit, even as the player’s head grows and changes. This makes the Riddell Speed Classic one of those helmets that is ideal for “growing up with” as the player progresses through High School and eventually into Varsity.
6. Riddell SpeedFlex Youth Football Helmet: BEST IN CLASS
No list of Riddell helmets would be complete without Riddell’s flagship helmet: the Riddell SpeedFlex Youth.
This helmet is like the Zac Ertz of helmets: all-purpose, always useful and totally reliable. Riddell’s Patented Side Impact Protection (PSIP) is a familiar feature, with mandible protections that minimize the force of rotational impacts, which are so commonly the cause of concussions. The PSIP is particularly important for Youth players, as a blindside hit can cause irreparable damage if not cushioned properly.
Moreover, the inside of the Riddell SpeedFlex is lined with top-quality lining that gives the wearer that “locked-in” and ready to go feeling. When you put this helmet on, you’ll immediately feel the adrenaline coursing through your veins. It’s gametime.
The helmet has five inflation locations so that you can pump the helmet to conform to various head sizes for the most optimal and secure fit. Customization options, like the Ratchet-Loc attachment that can adjust the chin strap on the fly, means you can adapt your fit and comfort even during the course of the game. Plus, the Tru-Curve liner system conforms to the wearer’s head and contours around the helmet’s shell to offer the most comfortable fit ever.
An inflatable liner in the occipital lobe cradles the back of the head to further reduce impact and increase player safety, and a Quick Release System enables you to disengage the facemask from the helmet and replace it with another without hassle whatsoever.
All of these features are backed by a 5-star Virginia Tech rating, which means that this helmet is one of the best helmets on the market, period.
Riddell has essentially been a leading manufacturer in football and helmet equipment since 1939 when John Tate Riddell invented the first ever plastic suspension helmet. Since then, Riddell has been a premier developer of football equipment. They designed a number of football helmets that have received acclaim for their protective and performance enhancing properties.
Each helmet Riddell releases takes about two years of Research and Development before hitting public shelves. What Riddell does is create a human head surrogate with a brain-like liquid center, and smash it into all kinds of things at all kinds of speeds and angles. Then, Riddell brings in crash test dummies and attacks the helmet at angles specific to football. After that, Riddell tests out the helmet in real-world conditions.
Tinted visors are not technically illegal in the NFL, it’s just that they are only permitted for a few players with a rare medical exemption. In fact, last year, only 18 players in the entire NFL were eligible to wear a tinted visor.
Moreover, the tinted visor rule does not apply to the practice field, where you’re more likely to see players wearing one.
While players wearing tinted visors look cool, the issue that the NFL had with the visors is that there may be times when medical staff have to look at an injured player’s eyes without removing the helmet, which tinted visors interfere with.
Some quarterbacks wear visors because it dulls the brightness of the sun, while others like that it keeps the opposing defense from reading their eyes.
You won’t see many quarterbacks wear visors in the NFL. Many quarterbacks actually prefer that the defense read their eyes, as this can enable the quarterback to manipulate defenders. Moreover, quarterbacks can communicate with receivers just with their eyes, which can definitely be a useful tool when playing an away game, particularly if you’re on the road in a noisy stadium like Seattle’s.
The difference between Riddell youth and varsity helmets are the size. Youth helmets are intended for players under the age of 14, while varsity helmets are meant for everyone above.
Moreover, the other primary difference is that most youth helmet shells are composed of ABS plastic, which is a lighter but less durable material that does not strain a youth player’s neck, while varsity helmets are typically composed of polycarbonate.
To measure your head, first wrap a measuring tape around the circumference of the head. Measure the tape approximately 1” above the player’s eyebrows and, after recording the measurement, cross-reference with the Riddell size chart on their website to find the proper helmet size.
Pro-Tip: If the measurement falls between two different helmet sizes, choose the smaller size.
When you’re trying on the helmet, hold the helmet with thumbs over the bottom of the jaw pads with your fingers in your ear holes when putting the helmet on. To take it off, remember to unbuckle the chin strap and lift the helmet up and off the head by pressing the thumbs into the bottom of the jaw pads.
You’ll know you’ve measured your head correctly if the skin of the forehead moves with the front pad. If the skin twists or slides too easily over the forehead, you may just need to inflate or deflate the pads.
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably looking for something that offers all-around safety and comfort. The Riddell SpeedFlex pretty much fits this bill, as it has ever since it’s been released, with a number of protective paddings that contour to the head to fit like a glove, mitigating the impact from stiff hits to the head.
Moreover, the SpeedFlex can easily be found online and in stores, which is not necessarily the case for some of the other helmets in Riddell’s budget line. A nice bonus is that Riddell continues to recondition the SpeedFlex for you, adding some longevity to your purchase.
Sports Unlimited, Riddell Speed Icon Football Helmet. Retrieved from https://www.sportsunlimitedinc.com/riddell-speed-icon-adult-football-helmet-with-facemask.html
Riddell Shop for Riddell Speed Classic Youth. Retrieved from https://www.riddell.com/riddell/en/Open-Catalogue/Helmets/Youth/SPEED-CLASSIC-YOUTH/p/FB_HELMET_SPD_CL_Y
Riddell Shop for Riddell SpeedFlex helmet. Retrieved from https://content.riddell.com/speedflex/
SB Nation, Why NFL players love the dark visor. Retrieved from https://www.sbnation.com/a/nfl-preview-2019/visors
- Comparison of Impact Performance between Youth and Varsity. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5798230/https://content.riddell.com/speedflex/