Making it out of a football game unscathed can often to come down to a player’s protective gear. In a sporting activity as competitive as this one, shoulder pads are arguably the most important purchase when it comes to keeping you safe. During your search of the best shoulder pads on the market right now, you need to be able to determine which will be the best fit for your needs before parting with your hard-earned dollar. Thankfully for you, we’ve taken a look at everything on offer so that you can narrow down your search and get it right the first time around. So, get ready to spend more time on the field doing what you love and less time shopping around.
The Best Football Shoulder Pad
If you’ve already started shopping around for shoulder pads or you’re not new to the world of football, you’ll have heard of Schutt, and rightly so. These particular shoulder pads from Schutt are good for both offensive and defensive line positions thanks to their non-epaulet design exclusive to the brand. Thanks to the careful design and construction, these pads will give you a huge advantage because the opponent will have nothing to grab onto, unlike many of the options available. As with all Schutt sporting equipment, Schutt Sports XV HD Varsity shoulder pads have been constructed for high-performance so that you can be the best on the field whilst being safe and comfortable. Make sure you also check our guide to the best elbow pads.
High-performance arch design
Minimal additional weight
Raised corrugations for added strength and improved airflow
- Weight3 pounds
Nothing for opponents to grab
A little pricey
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option that will improve the fit, comfort and safety of your shoulder pads, it’s worth considering investing in cushions opposed to a whole new set. If you’re in need of an extra layer of protection, these shoulder pads from Athletic Specialities might just be the choice for you. This particular model has been carefully designed to fit under your shoulder pads and provide extra cushioning where needed. The foam can be cut to remove padding over the clavicle area to create a fit that is tailored to you. Pair that with non-restricting under arm straps and this is most definitely a solid investment when it comes to a budget-friendly option. You may want to combine this with some knee pads from our list.
Designed to fit under shoulder pads
Foam can be cut for a tailored fit
Non-restricting under arm straps included
- BrandAthletic Specialties
- ModelSC-Shoulder Pad
- Weight1 pounds
Great for additional protection and support
Quality could be improved
It’s no real surprise that Schutt has once again made it onto our list. After all, they dominate the market and once you try them out, you’ll understand why. Sports Varsity FLEX 4.0 model from the brand is best suited for players in the quarterback, wide receiver, running back and defensive back positions. With a deeper cut in the arch design offering a complete range of motion and improved versatility than the standard option, you’ll be thankful for this model if you play in one of those positions, not so much if you’re on the opposition! As with the varsity model, there is nothing for opponents to grab onto, giving you a helping hand when it comes to making headway on the field in style and comfort. If you love football make sure you also check our guide to the best football gloves.
Quarterback, wide receiver, running & defensive back positions
Deep cut arch design for a range of motion
Designed for maximum versatility
- Weight4 pounds
Lightweight yet durable
Nothing for opponents to grab
Not suitable for all positions
Fly around the field making plays from start to finish with the peace of mind that you’re both safe and comfortable in these Prospect Pro Adult shoulder pads from Sports Unlimited. These versatile and universal pads offer plenty of protection for any player on the field, no matter their position. Featuring a flat pad design, and breathable foam you’ll be able to move about in comfort like a pro! What’s more, your opponent’s job will be made a little more difficult with nothing to grab onto as you navigate the field in these pads made specifically with adults in mind. As if that wasn’t enough, you can make the most of lightweight foam for durable protection that won’t let you down.
Good for all positions
Breathable yet durable
Flat pad design for full movement
- BrandSports Unlimited
- Weight4 pounds
No grab points for opponents
Not suitable for youths
Designed specifically for quarterbacks and wide receivers, the Air Maxx Flex 2.0 is yet another model from Schutt that have made it onto our shortlist. This particular pad comes complete with an attached back plate and reduced art cut that protects you perfectly without restricting flexibility and range of motion so you can give it your all, in comfort. As with all Schutt shoulder pads, this sleek design offers nothing for opponents to grab onto so you can maneuverer around the field with no trouble at all. So, if you’re looking for shoulder pads designed specifically for quarterbacks or wide receivers, this is most definitely a front runner for you! Be sure to also check out our list of the best football helmets for more great items like this.
Specifically designed for quarterbacks and wide receivers
Smaller arch cut for a blend of protection and movability
- Weight3 pounds
Nothing for opponents to latch on to
Lightweight yet durable
Specifically designed to certain players
Some options very pricey
As another well-known brand in the world of football, it was only right that Xenith received a feature on our review. The XFlexion Velocity model might just be their best design yet. This modern, aggressive and sleek design offers improved protection and flexibility so that you can tackle any opponent. This particular design is suitable for all positions at the varsity level, however, when it comes to skill players, these shoulder pads were created with quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs in mind. As you make the most of the lightweight yet durable foam, flexible chest plates, and great maneuverability, you’ll appreciate the high impact removable front and back pads for the ultimate protection.
Suited to all players at the varsity level
Improved protection and flexibility
Lightweight, molded plates to retain anatomical form
- Weight5 pounds
Removable front and back pads
Sternum and spine protecting plates
The Gear Pro-Tec X2 Air shoulder pads offer a traditional pad design paired with modern innovation for improved moisture management and protection for a great, well-rounded option. These shoulder pads don’t only look the part, but they perform well too. With AC notch-out cradle pads for joint protection, an adjustable cap system and strategically placed vent holes for quicker drying and increase breathability, you’ll be both safe and comfortable in these pads. Surprisingly, for pads suitable for all positions, these have received glowing reviews, so they’re most definitely worth a go if you’ve been considering them! Get ready to take on the field in these affordable pads that perfectly blend traditional style with modern technology to keep up with your performance demands. Our handy guide to the best mouthguards features more great products like this.
Low profile flat pad design
Front lock stabilizer for sternum protection
- Weight5.4 pounds
Pro-loc design for maximum arms up motion
Suitable for all positions
Sleek, traditional design
A little pricey
If you’re willing to part with some serious cash in the search for the perfect shoulder pads, you might just have your eye on Riddell Power SPK+. Designed with quarterbacks and wide receivers in mind, you can make the most of updated corrugations offering improved strength and stability as you battle it out on the field. Specifically, designed for maximum mobility in the arms paired with protection, you can give it your all knowing you’re safe without compromising on performance. What’s more, in case of an emergency, RidKord technology is in place, utilizing a cord strategically integrated into the shoulder pad to separate the pads and access the player where needed.
STAC shoulder system to improved movement
RipKord safety technology
Screw-on backplate for additional protection
- Weight20 pounds
Safe and secure
Strategically placed pads for ultimate movability
Most expensive option
Limited to quarterbacks and wide receivers
Football Shoulder Pad Buying Guide
When it comes to finding the correct shoulder pads for you, you’ll likely be looking at dropping a minimum of $100, particularly if you want those designed specifically for your position. We found that most of the shoulder pads on offer right now are retailing between $100-$200, but we see that as a solid investment to ensure you’re staying safe whilst enjoying your hobby. Of course, there are cheaper options on the market and a lot more expensive options too, but a budget of around $150 is sufficient to find an option that performs effectively. If you’re shopping for football pads for a specific position, be sure to check that you have selected the best model for you before purchasing. A lot of brands featured in our review of the best shoulder pads offer a number of options to suit all players.
How We Chose Our Selection Of Football Shoulder Pads
We know you’re probably wondering how exactly we came up with this list, so we’ll tell you our process. First and foremost, we source all of the leading products on the market right now before considering two elements, brand and price. We always like to bring our readers products from reputable brands, which is why you’ll likely recognize all of those featured in our review. Secondly, it’s important that we bring you a range of shoulder pads to suit various budgets so that you can find something within your price range as well as understanding the difference in each price point whilst you’re shopping around.
Of course, price and brand alone simply aren’t enough. So, once we’ve whittled down our choices, we look at reviews so that you don’t have to. With a product such as football shoulder pads, the most important consideration is, of course, the performance, which is why we sift through hundreds of tried and tested reviews so that you don’t have to. Performance doesn’t just come down to the reviews of users, it’s a result of the features offered on our choices, which leads us onto our next point…
Features To Look For In Football Shoulder Pads
If you’re still exploring the market in your search for the best football shoulder pads, we’re about to give you a helping hand in selecting the features you’ll need.
Construction - The quality of the overall design and construction of your shoulder pads is essential to your safety in a tough game like football. When you’re getting dragged, bumped on and pulled around in the field, it’s important that your pads are high-quality and durable enough to withstand even the heaviest abuse.
Weight - If you plan on making your decision based on your position in the field, the weight will for sure be one of your considerations. You need to consider the weight of the pad and the way it will affect your body on the field. Ideally, the construction of your shoulder pads should be lightweight and dynamic without sacrificing safety and quality. There needs to be an ideal balance of lightweight pads and durability in order to guarantee the utmost comfort and protection for you.
Cushioning and padding - The cushioning of your football shoulder pads will have a direct effect on its overall performance. Too much cushioning and it will affect your movability, too little and you’ll be lacking in protection. Ideally, the cushioning you’ll go for will be TPU: thermoplastic urethane cushioning. Most brands will integrate this particular cushioning into the back, shoulders and chest of their pads. TPU cushioning can offer improved protection as it absorbs more force and impact in comparison to other choices as well as lasting longer.
Position - If you’re just getting started with your footballing hobby, the position might not be one of your first considerations. If you’re still in the stages of trying out various positions or you play on both sides of the field, you should, of course, opt for multi-position shoulder pads. A number of the leading brands offer universal pads that will perform just as well as position specific pads.
However, if you know which position you will be playing you need to make an informed purchase based on this valuable knowledge. For example, if you’re a receiver or quarterback, you’ll need shoulder pads that offer the mobility to allow you to complete the movements required within your position. If you in a position such as a lineman, you’ll know that you’re likely to be receiving the highest amount of impact and hits out on the field, therefore, you’ll need shoulder pads that offer improvement reinforcement where you’ll need it most.
The point here is, ensure you’re buying shoulder pads that offer ample protection and movability for your chosen position for the best performance.
Flat padding - Flat padding refers to the padding system in your shoulder brands. Several brands utilize this type of padding in their shoulder pads as it offers highly efficient, low profiling cushioning that is great for absorbing any force without being too bulky. Thanks to flat padding, you can remain protected without having to compromise your agility on the field while almost minimizing helmet interference. If you’re looking for a streamlined, mobile pad, opt for flat padding.
Mobility - Your shoulder pad of choice should be designed to ensure that it won’t hinder your mobility. In order to guarantee that, you’ll need to invest in the lightest pads that are still able to perform their function and protect you. If you find your shoulder pads are too chunky and they limit your ability to move, they will cause you to move unnaturally, not only will that affect your performance, but it could also leave you more prone to injury.
Ventilation - Last but not least, you need to be comfortable. The correct ventilation will play a big part in this. In most cases, you’ll find that proper ventilation comes from holes that are directly drilled into the holes of the shell. It’s also worth considering the materials used in the cushioning that can have an effect on ventilation. Ideally, you’ll want a waterproof yet breathability cushioning such as those that use Z-cool cooling technology.
To summarise, although they don’t exactly come cheap, the best football shoulder pads are designed with safety in mind, and that’s something that you can’t put a price on. It’s important that you ensure you are protected from injuries whilst enjoying your hobby by investing in the correct pads to take on those punishing hits. It’s worthwhile ensuring that you’re buying a high-quality shoulder pad so you can enjoy the ultimate comfort, protection and performance on the football field no matter your position or ability.