The 7 Best Football Shoulder Pads: Quarterbacks, Linemen, Kickers, Youth

Best Shoulder Pads

The best football shoulder pads help players stay safe on the field, playing any position in the game. They absorb the hits so running backs and tight ends can spring right back up for the very next play. Because no position in the game of football is the same, however, no one pair of football shoulder pads are right for every player. Quarterbacks need something less bulky, for example, while linemen need different kinds of pads to disperse the impact.

In this article, we examine seven of the very best football shoulder pads on the market, with an eye for what makes them better to buy for all the different positions on the field. Keep reading to find the best football shoulder pads for yourself, or for someone in your life who is passionate about the wonderful game of football.

Our Top Picks

Here’s a quick 2-minute drill through the shoulder pads we reviewed.

Schutt Sports XV HD Varsity Football Shoulder PadBest Overall: Schutt Sports XV HD Varsity Football Shoulder Pad.
With a longer cut for all positions, the XV HD are the best football shoulder pads to buy.
Schutt Sports Varsity AiR Maxx Flex 2.0 Football Shoulder PadBest for Quarterbacks: Schutt Sports Varsity AiR Maxx Flex 2.0 Football Shoulder Pad.
The lightweight and flexible D30 energy lock technology helps quarterbacks stand tall in the pocket.
Douglas Legacy RD Adult Football Shoulder PadBest for Linemen: Douglas Legacy RD Adult Football Shoulder Pad.
These football shoulder pads offer protection where linemen need it most.
CHAMPRO AMT-2000 Varsity Football Shoulder PadBest for Running Backs: CHAMPRO AMT-2000 Varsity Football Shoulder Pad.
The low-profile cantilever pad construction gives running backs a greater range of motion.
BARNETT-Vision-II-bk-Football-Shoulder-PadBest for Wide Receivers: BARNETT Vision II bk Football Shoulder Pad.
The Vision II bk football shoulder pads won’t slow receivers down.
Xenith-Velocity-2-Shoulder-PadBest for Kickers: Xenith Velocity 2 Shoulder Pad.
The light and versatile Velocity 2 are the best football shoulder pads for kickers.
Xenith-Flyte-Youth-Football-Shoulder-PadBest for Youth: Xenith Flyte Youth Football Shoulder Pad.
To keep young players safe in the game, we like the Flyte youth football shoulder pads from Xenith.
 

A Closer Look: The Best Football Shoulder Pads

Take a closer look at each product in our ranking.

1. Schutt Sports Varsity AiR Maxx Flex 2.0 Football Shoulder Pad

The best football shoulder pads overall

Schutt Sports XV HD Varsity Football Shoulder Pad

Brand: Schutt Sports | Best For: All Purpose | Cushioning: High Density EVA | Price: 💰💰💰

The all-around best football shoulder pads on the market are the Varsity AiR Maxx Flex 2.0 shoulder pads from Schutt Sports. With open-cell, high-density EVA foam, these shoulder pads are lightweight with good hitting zone protection. The deep cut arch also offers improved range of motion.

Those who’ve tried the pads across all positions in the game call them great, adding that they absorb plenty of hard hits without a problem. Overall, they’re comfortable, providing every player the protection they need. That’s especially true for defensive backs and tight ends, we learned. 

Some do remove padding in the armpit area for improved range of motion, however.

  • Very good quality
  • Pads removable
  • Worth the price
  • Takes a bit to break in

2. Schutt Sports XV HD Varsity Football Shoulder Pad

The best football shoulder pads for quarterbacks

Schutt Sports Varsity AiR Maxx Flex 2.0 Football Shoulder Pad

Brand: Schutt Sports | Best For: Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers | Cushioning: D30 Cushioning | Price: 💰💰💰

Natural throwing motion is particularly important for a quarterback in the pocket. This makes the light and versatile XV HD shoulder pads from Schutt Sports the best choice for the position. With these pads, range of motion is overall excellent, we learned. That’s true for overhead, front upper, and front mid-section throws, and all without sacrificing protection where QBs need it the most. 

Otherwise, the clavicle area is protected, and the internal pads are adjustable, we found out. The improved impact absorption comes from high-density EVA foam with raised corrugation for tougher construction and better air flow. Also notable are the vents and pre-drilled holes for accessory attachment.

Feedback on the shoulder pads reports quality construction with a sleek look and accurate sizing.

  • Back plate and extra hardware pack sold separately
  • Only one strap to secure on either side
  • Not too bulky
  • Small still too big for some youth players
  • Sizes not accurate, some say

3. Douglas Legacy RD Adult Football Shoulder Pad

The best football shoulder pads for linemen

Douglas Legacy RD Adult Football Shoulder Pad

Brand: Douglas | Best For: 0ffensive Linemen, Defensive Linemen, and Tight Ends | Cushioning: Open Cell Foam | Price: 💰💰💰💰

The best football shoulder pads on the market for linemen are made by Douglas. With open cell foam, these shoulder pads are perfect for both the offensive and defensive line, as well as the tight end position. What makes them great for these positions are the larger than average epaulets and reverse cups with a lower profile for better range of motion.

We also like the breathable air management system with soft, removable clavicle channels and a redundant top cushion. Otherwise, these pads offer great fit and mobility, based on feedback, with lightweight pads and extra arm motion. 

In short, they’re just a really solid set of shoulder pads for the money, coming highly recommended from several adult football players.

  • Lighter than the Schutt XV skill pads
  • Some quarterbacks also like the fit
  • Accurate sizing
  • Limited sizing
  • Bit pricey

4. CHAMPRO AMT-2000 Varsity Football Shoulder Pad

The best football shoulder pads for running backs

CHAMPRO AMT-2000 Varsity Football Shoulder Pad

Brand: CHAMPRO | Best For: Skill Positions | Cushioning: Padded Clavicle, Deltoid, and Epaulets | Price: 💰💰💰💰💰

When it came time to choose the best football shoulder pads for running backs to buy, CHAMPRO’s extra cushioning in the clavicle, deltoids, and epaulets really sealed the deal. That’s while the swiveling front and back connectors provide better mobility for jump cuts and jukes, with natural running motion further improved by the low-profile cantilever pad construction.

The air management system features a removable liner made of open-cell foam, and the adjustable deltoid pads can be removed for cleaning. Overall, these shoulder pads can really take the hits, according to reports, with a good look and great fit. That’s particularly true for larger players.

  • Extra padding where it matters
  • Feels like they move with you
  • Trusted brand in the industry
  • They ain’t cheap
  • No youth sizes

5. BARNETT Vision II bk Football Shoulder Pad

The best football shoulder pads for wide receivers

BARNETT Vision II bk Football Shoulder Pad

Brand: BARNETT | Best For: Skill Positions | Cushioning: Nylon and Dual Density PU Foam | Price: 💰💰

Designed for skill positions like wide receiver, the BARNETT VIsion 1 bk football shoulder pads are up next in our ranking. Reasonably priced, these pads offer dual density PU foam and nylon cushioning. There’s also an impact resistant ABS shell and clamping from only two elastic bands for improved range of motion.

These are also the best football shoulder pads to buy for under $100, according to many. And they’re as-described, consumers report: lightweight, durable, and well-made. They also stay firmly in place. They’re also a good pick for fullback, tight end, and halfback, we learned, as well as wide receiver.

  • Good choice for smaller players
  • Great value for the cost
  • Antimicrobial treatment
  • Not great for particularly large players
  • Only one color

6. Xenith Velocity 2 Shoulder Pad

The best football shoulder pads for kickers

Xenith Velocity 2 Shoulder Pad

Brand: Xenith | Best For: Kickers | Cushioning: Air Management Foam and Deltoid Pads | Price: 💰💰💰💰💰

Shoulder pads for kickers tend to be smaller and more lightweight than those worn by other position players. For this reason, we recommend the Xenith Velocity 2 shoulder pads because they’re low-profile and form-molded for a closer body fit. This makes them far less likely to get in the way of the kicking motion

With full chest coverage and deltoid pads, the pads are also known for offering greater mobility in general. They’re a good option for really any position that prioritizes speed. But kickers and punters, in particular, say with Xenith, they feel like they aren’t wearing pads at all. 

The all-black color scheme also looks sleek, players report.

  • Feels good when moving around the field
  • Don’t feel restricted
  • Absorbs contact
  • No removable clavicle padding
  • No youth sizes
  • Expensive

7. Xenith Flyte Youth Football Shoulder Pad

The best football shoulder pads for youth

Xenith Flyte Youth Football Shoulder Pad

Brand: Xenith | Best For: Youth Position Players | Cushioning: Air Management Foam and Injection-Molded Plates | Price: 💰💰💰

Because fit is everything when it comes to the best football shoulder pads for young players, Xenith Flyte shoulder pads are up to next in our ranking. These pads are not only designed to fit younger players — with a lightweight, low profile —they also feature air management foam and injection-molded plates.

Overall, they’re easy to maintain, which football parents will like to hear. There’s removable padding and laceless buckle straps, reaching over the chest to mid-back for added protection. One young wide receiver preferred them over any other shoulder pads he tried. And nicely, they’re available in XS for the youngest of players. 

Some do caution, however, that they do run small, generally speaking.

  • Straps on the side are comfortable
  • Provide good shoulder protection
  • Great range of motion
  • Shoulder to shoulder fit particularly important
  • Buckle durability concerns reported

Our Process

For this guide on the best football shoulder pads, our team spent 5 hours researching the most popular options from over 35 brands and manufacturers. We then read about 175 user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each set of shoulder pads. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 7 football shoulder pads on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.

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