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Probably the first thing parents think when their kid starts playing football is the head. After all, football involves a lot of colliding bodies ~ and bonking heads. Are some youth football helmets better than others?
That’s a subject we wanted to explore, since we get asked about football helmets all the time. So here we present the results of our research to help parents find the very best youth helmets for football from 2023-on.
- The Riddell SpeedFlex Youth football helmet is our top choice for a number of reasons, primarily the protection and peace of mind it provides for parents.
- We like the Schutt F7 LX1 Youth Football Helmet, which adds to its typically fine features some extra help on the sides and in the back.
- Sometimes simple is quite effective, and along these lines the Riddell Victor Youth Helmet is an affordable version of the previously mentioned model by this fine football brand. It’s very light and protective.
- Speaking of light weight, the Schutt Vengeance A11 Youth Football Helmet is the lightest on our list and provides super TPU-cushioned protection.
- The Xenith Youth X2E+ Football Helmet is a cool model for the players who really want to look different on the field.
Football helmets are meant to protect a player’s head and, especially, brain. In recent years, more attention has been focused on helmets due to concerns about repeated occurrences of concussions from hard play.
It’s not just concussions to worry about, but also possible protection from injuries to spinal cord and major nerves. Add to that the fact that many helmets just perform better than others in terms of football play alone.
So parents who are looking to buy their new football player his or her first helmet, or to replace an old one, should think about goals first. Is the priority protection for the head and body? Or is it equally important that the helmet not only not get in the way, but perhaps help improve a player’s actions.
With that in mind, here are key points to look for in those youth football helmet ads:
- Padding. Football helmets have on the inside different types of padding ~ that layer of protection between the hard round exterior shell of helmets, and the player’s hair, skin, skull, and upper organs. Some helmets may carry a higher cost due to more foam pads, or application of new technology to boost safety. Also, some types of padding, like air-filled, may require ongoing maintenance, which the parent (or player) may not be up to performing. Finally, some pads are removable and washable, a feature many parents will appreciate.
- Weight. As with any piece of sports equipment, whether or not a player will be slowed down is a very important factor. Too much weight up top, whether from the helmet or the shoulder pads, or a combination, can make it harder to run fast or change directions swiftly. More weight also impacts stamina, as muscles in the beck and upper body must exert energy to stabilize the head and helmet.
- Face Mask. Not all face masks are the same. Some have more bars, or patterns of bars purposely designed to boost strength or improve the view line. Others are made of high-tech materials to better prevent bending or breaking. Understand that breaking a face mask is extremely rare in youth football. Much consideration should be given to its design, sight line, and weight. Note: Some helmets do not come with face masks.
- Helmet Shell. The material of a football helmet’s outer shell will impact its weight, and also ability to withstand significant blows from fast-moving hard objects. Super-cheap youth football helmets might be made out of inferior plastics, which are cheaper ~ but less safe.
- Style. Nowadays available is the old-school perfectly round sphere look of the exterior; or newfangled surfaces with extra holes or even ridges that kind of look like the brain, designed to enhance protection. This element along could make a huge difference in price points.
- Miscellaneous. Other details that may come with a youth football helmet include special chin straps (either bigger coverage over the chin, additional strap connections, or adjustability); and expanded venting to keep the player cool.
1. Best Youth Helmet for Football Overall ~ Riddell SpeedFlex Youth Football Helmet
This brand has produced top-quality football helmets for youths for a long time, and we remain impressed with one of its top models, the Riddell SpeedFlex Youth Football Helmet. This is a helmet parents can put on their little player’s head and gain true peace of mind.
The big attraction here is the balance between protection and performance. The company’s patented side-impact protection system, to protect the jaw bone and reduce force upon impacts, is unique in the field. Furthering protection is connections of the outer shell and face mask engineered to give a little on impacts, reducing their force.
On the comfort side, there’s the Ratchet-Loc chin-strap attaching system to marvel at. This allows players to adjust the strap easily and wherever they are, even if that means on the field. Finally, this helmet looks cool, with its various vent openings in distinct places adding a space-age touch.
- Weight: 5.4 lbs.
- Material: Expanded Polystyrene interior; and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) shell
- Style: Air Fit Liner System
- Special Feature(s): Unique side-impact protection
What We Like
- Joint flexibility in the connections of face mask to helmet cushions impacts to the face
- Extremely researched (from more than 2 million data points of impacts)
- 3-year warranty (for normal use, with proper maintenance including annual reconditioning)
2. Best Youth Helmet for Football Runner-Up 1 ~ Schutt Sports F7 LX1 Youth Football Helmet
Quite known for its focus on the youth sports segment, this sporting equipment maker scored big with the Schutt Sports F7 LX1 Youth Football Helmet. Besides its protective prowess, we give extra points here for the super-cool futuristic appearance of this helmet.
In all honesty, it’s hard for parents to err with any Schutt model, but we really like the protection-related features with the F7 LX1. The TPU cushioning is something to behold, and note the SureFit inflatable Air Liner on the interior sides and rear of the helmet, making for a very comfortable, snug, and light-feeling fit.
The biggest protection feature is the company’s Tektonic Plate Technology on the outer shell. These “plates,” like the tectonic plates under the Earth’s surface, move independently with pressure or force. It distributes energy on impact, reducing the potential for injury or pain.
- Weight: 3.4 lbs.
- Material(s): thermoplastic urethane (TPU)
- Style: Modern; inflatable air liner
- Special Feature(s): Tektonic Plate Technology
What We Like
- Light and comfy fit
- Tektonic Plates and Flexural Resistance design and engineering for a very safe outer shell
- Inflatable air liner
3. Best Youth Helmet for Football Runner-Up 2 ~ Riddell Victor Youth Helmet
The first 2 youth football helmets on our list are among what would be called the modern look; the next couple of models we showcase for their simplicity and affordable pricing. Let’s start with the Riddell Victor Youth Helmet, and it’s old-style purely spherical outer shell and no-frills touches.
The low pricing means parents will see this model on players all over the field ~ which can be comforting. This model is very good for really young players as it’s a very light weight football helmet that’s easier on youngsters whose upper-body muscles have not yet developed fully.
Despite the no-nonsense look, Riddell put plenty of safety oomph here, including its patented Side Impact Protection (PSIP) technology. This superb protection of the jawbone and tender areas around the ears is almost worth the price of admission alone.
- Weight: 4.4 lbs
- Material(s): Plastic
- Style: Old-style outer shell with air-inflated lining inside
- Special Feature(s): Moisture-resistant liner cover to fend off odors or mold
What We Like
- Very low-priced for the quality
- Proprietary side-impact protection technology
- 3-year warranty (for normal use with annual maintenance
4. Best Youth Helmet for Football Safety ~ Schutt Vengeance A11 Youth Football Helmet
The company does quite well once again with the Schutt Vengeance A11 Youth Football Helmet, also applying those TPU cushions for the ultimate in protection. This model gets points for style, as you have the choice of 22 colors.
If you’re looking for a visual hint as to what makes this model distinct, look closely at the raised-brow design. This purposely applied element adds more protection from impacts to the sensitive forehead area.
Non-inflatable foam pads inside give this a liner system that should reduce the need for any in-season maintenance. Of particular importance is how they designed the jaw pads, to inter-link to make the fit feel especially snug. Something almost every young football player hates with his or her helmet is a floppy feel around the jaw.
- Weight: 2.95 lbs.
- Material(s): Plastic
- Style: Old-style sphere shell; non-inflatable foam interior
- Special Feature(s): Raised eye brow protection elements up top and in the front
What We Like
- Schutt’s impact absorption applications
- Neat appearance kids will like
- Very light in weight
5. Best Youth Helmet for Football Uniqueness ~ Xenith Youth X2E+ Football Helmet
For players disinterested with the brands everyone else is using, we point to the Xenith Youth X2E+ Football Helmet, which has everything you want in a youth football helmet ~ and in a purposely compact form.
As stated, most things you want to see in a youth football helmet are there, like the ABS padding inside, or application of modern technology to absorb shock. What kind of sticks out for this model are details aimed squarely at comfort, or face protection.
First off, this model is very lightweight. It also features a face mask made of titanium which is super strong without adding too much additional weight. And the company is really proud of its comfortable chin strap for very secure fits during fast game play. The lighter-than-usual polymer shell is yet another element that cuts weight without sacrificing protection. And the large vent cuts in front and back are well-placed to fend off excessive heat.
- Weight: 3.5 lbs.
- Material: Polymer shell; ABS cushioning interior
- Style: Blend of old style and modern
- Special Feature(s): Adjustable chin strap with large padded chin covering
What We Like
- Neat appearance with uniquely placed vent openings
- Long and well-placed vent openings
- Modern, compact style
All youth football helmets should be stamped indicating approval from the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (on helmets usually abbreviated in logo form to NOCSAE). This independent, nonprofit organization is dedicated to setting standards for sports equipment. Most youth leagues and schools require football helmets to meet NOCSAE standards.