American football is one of the most-loved contact sports in the world, and in order to play it with utmost safety, you need the best protective gear, most importantly a football helmet. Football helmets are available in several sizes and colors, and with features for both competitive play and fan gear, making it a bit tricky when shopping for the best protective shell for your time on the stands or gridiron. But we’ve done the homework and rounded off five excellent helmets from five of the best football helmet brands, with a mix of features and prices, so that you can play well and play safe. And if you’re looking for other football protective gear, be sure to check out our football gloves, football knee pads, football shoulder pads, football rib protectors and football tees reviews.
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Our Top Choice
Schutt Sports Youth Hybrid Football Helmet
Schutt Sports, founded 100 years ago, is today one of the biggest and most reputable designers and manufacturers of protective equipment for several different sports.
Outfitted with TPU cushioning and backed by D3O technology for superior shock absorption. Large shell. Fitted with twist release system. SUREFIT air liner for great fit.
Does not come with a faceguard.
Jaw pads, SUREFIT air liner
TPU cushioning/D3O technology
Franklin Sports NFL Helmet & Jersey Set
Founded in 1946, Franklin Sports has since been a prestigious supplier of a diverse range of products and is affiliated with world class athletes, including Dan Marino.
Perfect to show team support. Can be ordered in a choice of several different team names. Team jersey is made of 100% polyester for kids between 5 and 9 years.
Stickers may peel off after a while if not taken care of.
Team logo helmet and jersey
Kids between ages 5 and 9
Polyester mesh jersey
20+ team logos
Xenith X2E Varsity Football Helmet
Xenith was founded in 1996, and is regarded as an industry leader in football helmet technology, and one that manufactures a wide range of superior-quality sports gear.
Fitted with a black face mask for added protection. Exclusive shock suspension system, which allows the helmet and shell to move independently from each other.
Solid build, but its price tag is a bit high, compared to the competition.
X2E+ shock absorber technology
High school, college, pro levels
Polycarbonate shell, TPU pads
Riddell Full Size Replica Speed Helmet
Established in 1922, Riddell is a highly esteemed name in the football gear market and offers a massive array of products that include on-field equipment, collectibles and accessories.
Made from solid plastic. Can be customized with several different team logos. Fitted with a 4-point chin strap, molded foam jaw pads and a non-wear plate.
Not suitable for competitive play
Non-wear plate, foam jaw pads
Youth and adults
Plastic shell with chin strap
20+ team logos
Rawlings Momentum Plus Youth Helmet
The Rawlings Sporting Goods Company is one of the biggest manufacturers of innovative sporting goods and high-performance equipment in the United States.
Can be ordered in a choice of six different sizes and 11 vibrant colors. Heat exchange technology. Customizable liner. Rear inflation port for a great fit.
You will have to buy the easily available face mask separately.
Before heading out to buy the best football helmet, it is highly important to find out which size suits you best and whether it’s for youth, adults or simply a helmet to cheer for your favorite team. Now that you’ve read our football helmet buying guide, you should be in a much better position to choose the perfect one among our top five picks so, without further ado—let’s get right to them!
Our Top Choice
The Schutt Sports Youth Recruit Hybrid Football Helmet boasts a solid design for great impact protection and absorption. However, if you’d like to enhance protection and reduce impact and injury, the Schutt Sports Super Pro Carbon Steel Varsity faceguard makes an excellent attachment for your helmet. It is made of high-quality carbon steel, includes the attachment hardware and is available in 14 different colors.
Schutt Sports Youth Recruit Hybrid Football Helmet - Available in 6 Sizes and 20 Colors
Founded in 1918 by Bill Schutt, Schutt Sports took the stage with the design and manufacture of basketball rim eyelets, and in 1935, became the first company to mass manufacture football safeguards. The company today boasts an expansive range of products designed for several sports, including football, baseball, softball and lacrosse.
The Schutt Sports Youth Recruit Hybrid Football Helmet is pampered with TPU (thermoplastic urethane) cushioning, and backed by D3O technology which, when combined with the large exterior shell, results in excellent comfort and impact absorption. Further, it is fitted with a SUREFIT air liner that not only ensures a firm fit, but ups the comfort quotient. And, in case you’re wondering about jaw protection, the Youth Recruit Hybrid Football Helmet doesn’t disappoint with its factory-equipped 1 1/8" AiR Maxx TPU jaw pads. It can be ordered in six different sizes and 20 different colors, including burnt orange, cardinal, black and green so there’s definitely the right fit out there.
The Franklin Sports NFL Replica Youth Helmet and Jersey Set is great for costume play and can be emblazoned with most of your favorite team names. However, if you’d like team pants and an iron-on number kit, the Franklin Sports NFL Deluxe Youth Uniform Set is worth a second look. The jersey in this set is crafted from 100% polyester and the pants from 100% double-knit polyester, making them comfortable to wear even for longer periods.
Franklin Sports NFL Replica Youth Helmet and Jersey Set – Multiple Sports Team Logos Available
Franklin Sports, established in 1946 by brothers Irving H. Franklin and Sydney Franklin, offers a wide range of sports products, including baseball, soccer, football, basketball and pickleball gear. The company is renowned for bringing to the table best-in-class products, and is even affiliated with several leading athletes across the globe, including Sugar Ray Leonard, Dan Marino, David Robinson and Barry Bonds.
The Franklin Sports NFL Replica Youth Helmet and Jersey Set is NOT designed to serve as protective gear for football or any other sport, but rather as a costume or fan gear. The jersey is crafted from high-quality polyester mesh, and the helmet is fitted with a chin strap to help get you as close to game play as possible. Both can be engraved with your favorite team name, including the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers, and are geared toward kids between the ages of 5 and 9 years.
The Xenith X2E+ Varsity Football Helmet showcases a robust build and a matte black finish. However, if you’d like the same quality build, except in a glossy black finish, this other Xenith X2E+ Varsity Football Helmet is worth checking out.
Xenith X2E Varsity Black Football Helmet with Attached Black Prime Face Mask
Xenith, conceived in 2006 by a former Harvard quarterback, sets the gold standard in football helmet technology with a floating suspension system, among other features. Headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, the company boasts a sprawling 66,000-square-foot facility, and is the preferred choice for a wide range of sporting gear, including helmets, shoulder pads, face masks and accessories.
The Xenith X2E Football Helmet is geared toward high school, college and pro levels, and features a unique shock suspension system, which allows the shell and helmet to move separately from each other. Further, it is backed by X2E+ shock absorber technology for excellent responsiveness in the event of an impact. With regards to fit, the X2E doesn’t disappoint with an integrated silicon band within its polycarbonate shell that conforms to the shape of your head, with TPU comfort pads, face mask and tight chin straps that require no pumping action. It can be ordered in several different sizes and colors, including different finishes of black and white, making it easier to get the best protection for the gridiron.
The NFL Riddell Full Size Replica Speed Helmet showcases great craftsmanship and is designed to fit medium-sized game enthusiasts. However, if you’d like to buy the same quality costume helmet, only one that’s designed to fit young football fans, the Riddell New York Giants Replica Mini Helmet is an excellent option. This sought-after collectible is fitted with a quarterback-style facemask and is officially licensed by the NFL.
Riddell Full Size Replica Speed Helmet – Multiple Sports Team Logos Available
Founded in 1929, Riddell is an all-American manufacturer of high-end football gear, such as helmets, face masks, apparel and accessories. Pioneers of the removable cleat and plastic football helmet, the company continues to grow exponentially, owing to the innovative design and technology infused into each product that leaves its stable.
The Riddell Full Size Replica Speed helmet is made of high-quality plastic, and can be ordered with your choice of official NFL team logo. This medium-sized helmet is not designed for competitive play, but does come with key features that get you close to game play action, such as molded foam jaw pads, non-wear plate and even a 4-point chin strap.
The Rawlings Momentum Plus Youth Football Helmet is backed by innovative technology and can be easily adjusted for a great fit. If you’d like to buy a helmet with an attached face mask, the Rawlings Momentum Plus Youth Football Helmet with Face Mask is a great choice. It features a high-impact and performance ABS shell, and is fitted with stainless steel hardware for top-notch durability.
Rawlings Momentum Plus Youth Football Helmet - Available in 6 Sizes and 11 Colors
Founded in 1887, the Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc. is touted for its ability to develop and produce innovative and high-performance sporting equipment and protective apparel for seasoned, amateur and entry-level players.
The Rawlings Momentum Plus Youth Football Helmet is fitted with a rear inflation port to easily adjust it to your child’s size. It boasts a high-impact ABS shell and is backed by heat exchange technology and, along with its customizable fit liner, allows for a better fit and makes it a joy to wear for longer periods. Further, it can be bought in a choice of six sizes and 11 colors, including light gold, ND gold, royal, scarlet and silver metallic.
Just like shin pads and football gloves, the primary goal of a football helmet is to help reduce or prevent injury on the gridiron. There are several factors to consider when buying a football helmet, most notably the size you’re comfortable with, the level of protection you desire, and whether it’s for professional or costume play. In order to get the right size, you or your coach should measure your head circumference, then compare it with the manufacturer’s sizing chart and follow their fitting instructions. Just like shopping for the best football, you should ensure that the respective football helmet offers a long service life, given that it can be an expensive item to replace it often. Keep reading to learn the important aspects to consider before hitting the shopping trail for the best football helmet.
The prices of football helmets vary, mostly depending on its size and the level of protection it offers. However, cheap football helmets may not feature rich padding in the interior, which is something that is significantly important for two reasons—first, it offers superior comfort and second, reduces impact and subsequently injury. The material a helmet is made from could also spike up the price – plastic helmets will cost much less than those made of polycarbonate and high-quality ABS material. But, if you’re buying a helmet for team support or to dress up as Tom Brady at a Halloween party, a high-quality plastic shell football helmet with a chin strap should suffice.
Furthermore, certain features can also add to the price tag but work out to be much more cost-efficient than buying them separately, such as an attached, essential facemask. To give you a rough idea of price, football helmets can cost anywhere from about $30 for a youth football helmet to $200+ for one designed for pro players. When all is said and done, you should never cut corners when buying sport protection gear, because this essential gear could save you bucket loads in medical bills and, needless to say, greatly reduce the chances of long term injury.
Football helmets are most commonly available in two types—youth and adult helmets. The difference between the two is that the former is made with shell material that is lightweight, whereas the material used for the latter is stronger and, consequently, makes the gear a bit heavier.
Type of Helmet –Common designs are youth, adult and costume play.
Shell Material –You want to choose a helmet with a robust exterior shell, and one that can take a beating so that you don’t have to.
Cushioning –Foam-padded football helmets are able to absorb a higher level of impact than ones that have no padding at all.
Liners –Some football helmets are fitted with inflatable air pockets for an improved fit.
Chin Strap –A few helmets come with them, and others without, but they are important for securing the helmet to your head.
Face Mask –This piece of metal hardware offers an essential layer of protection for your face, and some helmets come factory-fitted with it, whereas you will have to buy it separately for others.
Emblazoning –If you’re buying a helmet to support your favorite team, look for options that can be engraved with your team decals and name.
Construction and Design
The exterior of the helmet, known as the shell, can be made of several different materials, and is a crucial component to keep your head as safe as possible. Pro helmets are generally embedded with one of two types of padding – pre-sized or inflatable – to absorb impact and provide support and comfort. Further, some football helmets are fitted with chin straps for a snug, secure fit. Face masks are usually made of stainless or carbon steel, and can be found in several different designs, including oral protection only and jaw and oral protection. Other accessories you may want to add to your helmet include eye shields, visors and mouth guards. You will probably not require the aforementioned superior protection if you’re just buying a football helmet for non-competitive purposes, but you still want one that looks and somewhat feels like the real deal, such as those with chin straps or foam jaw pads.
Performance and Ease of Use
In order to get the best performance, it is highly important to buy a football helmet that fits like a glove, without causing discomfort of course. Sizes may vary across football helmet manufacturers, which is why it is crucial that you refer to the manufacturer’s sizing chart once you have accurate head measurements. And, it goes without saying that you will have to clean your helmet every so often in order to eliminate sweat, dirt and bacterial buildup. While the exterior shell of the football helmet can look pretty again by simply wiping it down with a soft cloth, the interior will require a bit more attention with a damp cloth and, preferably, some antibacterial cleaner to disinfect the interior pads, and keep them smelling fresh for the next game.
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