The Best Football Shoulder Pads

Schutt Sports Mid Flex 2.0 All Purpose Shoulder Pad

Our Top Pick for 2016: Schutt Sports Mid Flex 2.0 All Purpose Shoulder Pad
Read our full review.

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Anyone who knows anything about football knows that it is fun and exciting. But as most know, it can also be a pretty dangerous sport. No matter your skillset, when playing football there’s always a strong chance that you could get hurt. That’s why wearing the correct and appropriate equipment is essential in helping keep you, and your different body parts, properly intact and safe. One of those essential pieces of equipment for all players of all positions on the field, are shoulder pads. Finding a good set of shoulder pads could seem pretty simple, and generally it is, but there are a few considerations you may want to keep in mind before you buy. We’ve done the research in an attempt to help make this process easier for you find the best football shoulder pads for your player. Read on to learn more.

Table of contents

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Aware-flow Shock Absorbers
All-purpose Arch
Protection And Ease Of Motion
Injection Molded Plates
Raised Corrugations
High Quality
Superior Stiffness And Protection
Strong Arch
Designed For The Skill Positions: RB-DB-TE
Chest, Back And Bicep Plates Move Independently
Aggressive Look
Clamping Through 2 Elastic Strips
Maximum Mobility In All Directions
7mm Vent Holes
Resistant ABS Shell

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Schutt Sports Mid Flex 2.0 All Purpose Shoulder Pad

Schutt Sports Mid Flex 2.0 All Purpose Shoulder Pad Gold Pick

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*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerIf you’re looking for a well-priced and protective shoulder pad, The Schutt Sports Mid Flex 2.0 All-Purpose Shoulder Pads might just be what you’re looking for, for your player. These are a lightweight football shoulder pad that are designed for youth to Junior High players (that might be able to be worn by some high school players as well). It’s suitable to be worn by any player on the field – no matter their position – and was designed for protection as well as comfort.

The Mid Flex 2.0 Shoulder Pads have an aggressive look to them – provided by the raised corrugation design. This design allows for extra strength to be added to the pads. Unlike other shoulder pads, the Mid Flex 2.0 has the really cool feature of extended body length protection. This is awesome because it provides your player with extra coverage and protection in places normal shoulder pads don’t provide. For example, full ribcage and back coverage.

Along with the extended body length feature, these pads have Schutt’s Flat Pad Design. This special design feature is a flat pad that allows for full mobility without sacrificing the protection the pads are supposed to deliver. This is because Schutt eliminated the cantilever for a lower profile. The lower profile allows for better head and neck movement which is usually a lot more restricted in other shoulder pads.

The actual padding used for the Mid Flex 2.0 Shoulder Pads are made with internal channels with double layer EVA foam. They’re covered in Aero Dry spacer fabric that is lightweight and durable. The double layer of EVA foam allows for better impact absorption upon being hit, an important feature when considering all the hits a player takes during a game.

Drilled throughout the arches of the pads are 7mm vent holes that were strategically placed to help with keeping your player cool. They do this by allowing for better air ventilation. Anyone who’s played any sport on any type of warm day knows how hot any added equipment can be, so these special ventilation holes are wonderful in releasing some of that extra heat and allowing some breathability.

Even with the strategically placed vent holes, your player is still going to sweat, and with all that compacted sweat after a couple of games, there can be a strong offending smell. This isn’t as big of an issue with the Mid Flex 2.0 Shoulder Pads as these are treated with AEGIS Microbe Shield. AEGIS Microbe Shield is an anti-microbial which resists the development of bacterial odors. That means it’s going to take a lot more than a couple of hot games to makes these shoulder pads smell bad.

In order to keep the shoulder pads in place, Schutt made these pads with an easy 3-point elastic attachment system. This system allows the player more flexibility while being worn, while still providing a secure fit. They’re also easy to get on for practice or at game time, and just as easy to take off when it’s time to head home.

Extra features these shoulder pads provide is that they come with pre-drilled holes for easy hook-up to optional accessories (i.e. backplate, neck roll, etc.) as well as having stainless steel hardware.
Overall, the feedback about these shoulder pads has been primarily positive in tone. The only concern most customers have had in experience with the Schutt Sports Mid Flex 2.0 All-Purpose Shoulder Pads has had to do with the overall fit of the product. Some customers found the fit of their pads to be too large and because of this, it made the pads hard to keep tight against their body. Checking the sizing chart and taking your measurements could prevent any problems with this.

The Schutt Sports Mid Flex 2.0 All-Purpose Shoulder Pads is moderately priced – not too high, but not cheap either. They are sized for x-x-small, x-small, small, medium, large, x-large and x-x-large. There are three color options available. You can choose from black, scarlet and black or gold.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Xenith Xflexion Varsity Shoulder Pad

Xenith Xflexion Varsity Shoulder Pad

View it on Amazon for $250.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerAnother lightweight football shoulder pad to consider, but possibly a more expensive one, is the Xenith Xflexion Shoulder Pads. Much like the Mid Flex 2.0 Shoulder Pads, the Xflexion Shoulder Pads can be used by any player of any position on the field. Unlike the Mid Flex 2.0, they have a recommended use for not only middle school age players and high school age players, but as well as college players and even professional players.

These shoulder pads are super lightweight and breathable as they’ve been designed with compression molded padding. This is a dimple design to the pads that helps to increase air flow through the pads. This keeps your player cooler while playing hard in the heat.

You can rest assured that your player will be safe when wearing these shoulder pads. This is because of the multi-layered protection system Xenith used when creating the Xflexion Shoulder Pads. This system has allowed for superior stiffness in the shoulder arch without adding unacceptable weight for your player while wearing the shoulder pads.

So, what is this multi-layered protection design? It’s a three part system involving the Aware-Flow Shocks, the cantilever and the injection molded plates. The Aware-Flow Shocks is Schutt’s patented shock absorbent technology. So when your player takes a hit it is better distributed throughout the pads. The design of the cantilever straps also helps in minimizing the effect of hits. Lastly, the injection molded plates retain the anatomical form of your player, keeping snug to their body while being protective and comfortable. All of these feature together create a more flexible shoulder pad system with better protection.

Another special design exclusive to the Xfelxion Shoulder Pads is the sternum and spine plates. Because of these plates, the chest, back and bicep plates move independently from the rest of the equipment. This allows for maximum mobility in all directions, a huge advantage for any player on the field. These pads are made from a special polymer designed for strength and toughness. Additionally, just to make things simpler for you and your player, the front and back plates are removable for easy cleaning any time.

For the majority, reviews for the Xflexion Shoulder Pads is pretty positive. Most customers who have purchased and used these pads think the design of Xenith Xflexion Shoulder Pads is pretty cool. They appreciate and like the lower profile look and the narrow chest plates. But while the physical design of the shoulder pads is pretty cool, quite a few customers felt that the pads – though they all definitely believed them to be quality pads – interfered with the ability for the player to turn their head easily because they sat too high on their shoulders. This is not good at all for most positions (if not all), so it’s something to keep in mind.

One of the biggest drawbacks though to purchasing the Xenith Xflexion Shoulder Pads is the price as they’re pretty expensive. They’re available with only one color option, black, and the sizing available is small, medium, large, and x-large.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Barnett Vision II Football Shoulder Pads

Barnett Vision II Football Shoulder Pads

View it on Amazon for $88.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardIf you’re looking for another moderately priced and good, protective shoulder pad choice to consider, look into the Barnett Vision II Football Shoulder Pads. These pads are competition grade that are lightweight and durable. They’re designed with football’s key players in mind – Quarter Back, Wing Back, Right Back and Defensive Back – but can be worn by any player, of any position, just like the Mid Flex 2.0 and the Xflexion Shoulder Pads.

The Vision II Shoulder Pads were created to take hard hits and tackles, while still allowing your player to feel comfortable and unencumbered by the pads. They offer protection for your player while still allowing them the ease of motion and mobility. This is an important feature since all players take a hit at one point or another and if it’s while they’re capturing the ball, the mobility these pads offer is will be a huge benefit.

These shoulder pads were designed for impacts. The shell is made from ABS – a hard substance often used in both football and other helmets. The pads of the Vision II are constructed of heavy duty nylon, PVC and shock resistant double density padding. All of these materials provide excellent protection, but aren’t heavy on your players shoulders. Barnett has managed to make them strong and durable while they’re still able to maintain a lightweight feel.

Keeping these shoulder pads securely on your player’s body are two elastic strips that clamp together. These strips ensure your player’s protective shoulder pads stay on nice and tight throughout the whole game and that your player is braced against and for every possible hit or tackle.

Much like the Mid Flex 2.0 pads, you don’t have to worry about your player’s Vision II pads starting to stink up their sports bag or closet after a couple of games of sweat fueled hard hitting fun. These pads are also treated with an anti-microbial treatment. So, despite all the sweating your player does, these pads will fight against the pads becoming smelly and gross.
Those customers who purchased and used the Barnett Vision II Shoulder Pads generally had only positive feedback to give. Most customers loved these shoulder pads noting that they felt the pads were both comfortable and protective as they were worn throughout the game. Many really liked how well the pads absorbed the hits they’d received. However, some customers noted that they didn’t like that the arm movement seemed to be limited with these pads, despite the supposed mobility. A few customers even noted that if a player had larger shoulders and arms they had a hard time fitting in the shoulder pads correctly as they were a bit too tight a fit. It was recommended that these pads might be better suited for those players who are on the slimmer and/or smaller side.
The Barnett Vision II Football Shoulder Pads are a quality product that are moderately priced. They come in only one color option, black and white. They can be purchased at size small, medium, large, X large or XX large.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Riddell X-Force II JR Varsity Football Shoulder Pads

Riddell X-Force II JR Varsity Football Shoulder Pads

View it on Amazon for $34.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickIf you’re looking for a more budget friendly pick – whether it be for monetary restrictions or because this is your players first time playing the hard hitting sport of football – and you want a set of shoulder pads that still provides great protection for you player, you need to check out the Riddell X-Force II JR/Varsity Shoulder Pads. Just like the Mid Flex 2.0, the Xflexion and the Vision II Shoulder Pads, the X-Force II Shoulder Pads can be worn by any player, in any position, on the field. The X-Force II Shoulder Pads though, unlike a couple of the above, are only recommended for youth players and players at a high school level.

These pads have an all-purpose flat pad design. This flat pad design offers a “no grab” and low profile look and function. This means that when your player is wearing these pads they have move mobility capability. The extended arches of the X-Force II Shoulder Pads offer exceptional coverage for your player. This is an important feature when playing in such a hard hitting contact sport.
The X-Force II Shoulder Pads are designed with smooth epaulets that assist with the low profile look. These epaulets are dished and snubbed to be secure when in place.

These shoulder pads are fitted with two fit belts that hold the pads in place with a secure fit. It’s important to note that in order for the flat pad to function properly your player will need to make sure the belts are tightened securely around their torso.

Customers who purchased and used the Riddell X-Force II JR/Varsity Shoulder Pads appreciated that the product, though inexpensive, still provided the protection their player needed to stay safe while playing. Riddell is a well-known football brand and is known for producing quality products so customers felt confident and assured that these pads are of quality construction for protection.
If you wish to purchase Riddell X-Force II JR/Varsity Shoulder Pads, they come in the sizes x-small, small, medium and large. There is only one color option available and that is a black and yellow design.


Pre-purchase considerations

Weight

When you go to purchase your players football shoulder pads, it’s important to consider how much the actual pads weigh on your players shoulders. If the weight is too heavy, even by the slightest bit, they’ll slow your players speed down and steal their endurance as they’ll be wasting that much needed energy supporting all that extra weight. As speed and endurance are important play factors, it’s even more important not to impair your player by buying shoulder pads that will hold them back in any way. Look for lightweight designs that don’t sacrifice on quality construction.

Quality Construction

Keep in mind that the shoulder pads that you purchase for your player are going to be put through some heavy abuse. They’ll be pulled on, dragged, bumped and pretty much just bashed on. You’ll need to make sure that they’re made of quality construction to hold up under the stress of each and every abuse that will fall upon it. This not only ensures that they’ll keep your player safe, but it’ll also keep you from having to buy a new set every season. Also, always buy from reliable brands because you know that you’ll get the best value of quality from them as they’ve already established themselves as a strong product company.

Positive Ratings

Now, positive ratings may seem like a silly thing to consider when buying your football shoulder pads, but it’s actually the exact opposite. Looking at the ratings and reviews of each of the products you’re looking to buy gives you real life knowledge of how they work for actual, real customers like yourself. If you have the manufacture saying how wonderful the product is but fifty people who bought and used it saying it’s not so fantastic, who are you more prone to believe?

Range of Motion

Like the weight of the shoulder pads you look to purchase, considering how much range of motion will be allowed while wearing them during a game needs to be part of your evaluation as well. Being able to move your arms, head and neck comfortably during a game is essential to every catch or through or even tackle. If even one of those things are restricted it could completely ruin a good play, and no one wants that in the final seconds of a big game.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

Buying shoulder pads for your football player is a no brainer. They’re essential in keeping your player safe whether they’re taking a hit or being dragged through the mud. Football is a dangerous – but fun – sport, so having the right equipment is imperative to your player’s health and wellbeing.

Even if purchasing one of the above football shoulder pad products isn’t what you’d choose for your player, maybe it’s helped you by giving you a better idea of what to look for before buying. Remember, not matter what shoulder pads your choose for your player, it’s important that they provide a light weight design, quality construction, have positive rating and reviews from other customers and allow for the right amount of range of motion.

Remember that football is a fun sport and past time to be involved in. It’s full of excitement and action and provides a fantastic opportunity for family bonding. But no one has fun when someone gets hurt because they aren’t wearing the proper equipment. Stay safe by buying good shoulder pads – and other equipment – for your player. But most of all, have fun.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Sports Unlimited, Youth Shoulder Pads, 2008 – 2016
  2. Academy Sports + Outdoors, Football Pads & Protection > Shoulder Pads, 1998 – 2016
  3. Safety First Sports, Youth Shoulder Pads, 2016
  4. League Outfitters, Football Shoulder Pads, 2016
  5. Sean Murphy, Safety First Sports, Importance of Choosing the Right Football Shoulder Pads, August 5, 2015

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