best football shoulder pads

7 Best Football Shoulder Pads In 2023 [Ultimate Buying Guide]

Are you in the market for the best football shoulder pads? Football shoulder pads are must-have protective gears in football if you want to play unscathed. 

In a Hurry? Check Out Our Top Recommendations
Schutt Sports Football Backplate for Shoulder Pads
Schutt Sports Varsity XV HD QB/WR Shoulder Pad
Riddell Surge Youth Shoulder Pad

In fact, football shoulder pads are the most important gear in football when considering safety. You always bump into opposing players at high speeds. 

These collisions can have a great impact on your body and health. However, shoulder straps help.

Choosing a suitable shoulder pad can help absorb impacts and keep your shoulders and chest safe. However, choosing the right fit can be confusing due to the numerous brands and models in the market.

In the comprehensive review and buying guide below, we help you narrow down your choices. Read through carefully as you find a matching shoulder strap.

Best Football Shoulder Pads: Top 3 Picks Side-by-Side

Table could not be displayed.

Best Football Shoulder Pads For Wide Receiver

Schutt Sports Football Backplate for Shoulder Pads

The Schutt Sports backplate is an exceptional choice shoulder pad for wide receivers. It’s a premium shoulder pad engineered from the highest quality materials. 

The construction features a breathable fabric and high-density EVA foam cushioning. It’s a breathable shoulder pad that ensures excellent airflow. Players can feel comfortable and keep cool throughout the game.

What’s more, it’s a versatile purchase that fits all Varsity Scutt shoulder straps. The 5mm holes ensure excellent air circulation.

Key Feature

Ventilated padding: The plate features 5mm holes that provide excellent ventilation. This helps players keep cool and dry.


  • Keeps players cool due to ventilation holes
  • Unmatched comfort and protection
  • Versatile fitting most pads
  • Secure fitting


  • A little big for youths but works

Schutt Sports Varsity O2 Maxx Football Shoulder Pads

The Schutt Sports Varsity 02 is another excellent football shoulder pad to consider. It’s a premium pad with upgrade padding for added protection. 

You can never go wrong as a wide receiver when looking for extra protection. It is a superbly designed shoulder strap for heavy-hitting players.

In addition, the pad features quality AIR MAX TPU cushioning to ensure added comfort and protection. The cushioning helps absorb impacts when colliding. 

It’s a lightweight, soft, and flexible shoulder pad with Energy Lock Technology. The molecular structure locks together and disperses impact evenly keeping the player safe.

Overall, this is a decent choice shoulder pad that absorbs impact around the AC joints. It is also ventilated with 7mm holes and raised corrugated arches that reduce heat build-up.

Key Feature

Energy Lock Technology: It boasts the energy lock technology that makes it soft, lightweight, and flexible. This ensures excellent comfort and great fitting throughout the game.


  • Upgraded padding for extra protection
  • Enhanced impact absorption
  • Excellent ventilation thus keeps cool
  • Soft, lightweight, and flexible


  • Straps dig into the shoulders a little, but it’s comfortable

Best Football Shoulder Pads For Quarterbacks

BARNETT Vision I bk Football Shoulder pad, QB-WR

The Barnett Vision I is another exceptional shoulder strap designed for the quarterback. It’s also versatile and can work for defensive backs and wide receivers. 

The shoulder pad construction features the highest material qualities to ensure maximum protection. It also fits perfectly and feels flexible for excellent motion in the game.

Fitting the strap is quite easy with two elastic strips. The strips ensure the pad fits snugly throughout the game. Overall, this is a durable shoulder pad with a strong ABS plastic construction. 

There is a further dual-density PU foam for impact absorption. What’s more, the cushions feature heavy-duty nylons for added protection. Overall, this is a secure and comfortable shoulder pad that meets most needs.

Key Feature

Dual-density PU foam: A dual-density PU foam and extra nylon cushioning give the pad excellent impact resistance. It can withstand heavy bumps and keep the player safe.


  • Resistant ABS shell hence protective
  • Secure fitting due to elastic straps
  • Flexible and easy motion
  • Versatile for multiple positions


  • Elastic strips are of poor quality but last

Best Football Shoulder Pads For Linemen 

Schutt Sports Varsity XV HD QB/WR Shoulder Pad

The Schutt Sports Varsity XV is a high-performance shoulder pad for linemen. It is one of the lightest shoulder pads on the list designed to minimize weight. 

On the sides, the shoulder pads feature raised corrugations that provide extra protection and increased airflow. This is by far a lightweight design pad that will not add any extra weight to your shoulders.

What’s more, the pads feature an exclusive non-flap design which is only available on the Schutt Sports brand. Lack of flaps/epaulet means there is nothing for your opponents to grab on. 

In addition, the pads feature a high-density EVA foam padding for increased shock absorption. 

Overall, this is a durable shoulder pad to order today. It also features 7mm holes for excellent airflow.

Key Feature

Exclusive non-epaulet design: It boasts a unique non-epaulet design. The unique design ensures that opposing players don’t have anywhere to hold on to when playing.


  • The non-epaulet design thus no grabbing from opponents
  • Lightweight design hence easy on the shoulders
  • EVA foam padding thus comfortable
  • Breathable due to vent holes


  • A little restrictive when new but gets flexible

Best Football Shoulder Pads For Running Backs

Schutt Sports Varsity FLEX 4.0 All Purpose

The Schutt Sports Varsity Flex 4.0 is an all-purpose design shoulder pad and an exciting choice for running backs. It’s a versatile shoulder strap that can fit any player. 

The pad offers maximum protection and performance. It also works perfectly for linebackers, defensive linemen, and offensive linemen.

Schutt Varsity 4.0 can fit almost any player on the pitch. It is an ideal solution for most players and easily tackles heat and moisture problems. 

The perforated body cushions work well combined with a breathable mesh to ensure excellent airflow. The Schutt also features vents that enhance breathability. Players are sure to keep cool and dry during the game.

Key Feature

Perforated body cushion: The Schutt features a perforated body cushion for exceptional breathability. There are vent holes, and that ensures air flows well. This helps keep the body cool even on hot sunny days.


  • Good breathability due to vent holes
  • Comfortable and flexible
  • Easy to wear
  • Versatile for most players


  • A few sizing issues

Best Adult Football Shoulder Pad 

Gear Pro-Tec Razor RZ7 Adult Football Shoulder Pads

The Gear Pro-Tec Razor is an excellent choice shoulder pad that fits most adults. It is a solid design shoulder pad with injected-molded components that withstand the heavy rigors of football. 

The shoulder pad works well for games and practice matches. This is a unique shoulder pad with SAS-TEC impact zone protection. There is a further dynamic R.O.M hinge that keeps players safe through tackles.

It is a unique design shoulder pad with a Pad-Lok strap system. The strap system helps secure a great fit and ensures the pad remains in place. Overall, this is a comfortable shoulder pad with a moisture-wicking fabric. 

The HEX foam lining helps wick moisture keeping players cool and dry. Lastly, the pad features spine protective pads for all-around protection.

Key Feature

SAS-TEC impact zone protection: The pad, unlike most models in the market offers impact zone protection. There is a dynamic R. O . M hinge that will keep players safe throughout the game.


  • Zone protection
  • Heat and moisture safe
  • Excellent spine protective pads
  • Durable and can withstand heavy tackes


  • none

Best Youth Football Shoulder Pad 

Riddell Surge Youth Shoulder Pad

The Ridell is a great choice shoulder pad for youth football. It is a decent-quality shoulder pad with lightweight plastic material construction. 

The pad weighs a mere 3 pounds and will not put much weight on the shoulders of kids. It’s a safe and secure pad with a built-in shoulder plate that adds to the protection. You can be sure your kid is protected while playing.

In addition, this is a customizable shoulder strap with a secure belt. Players can adjust the belt and create a secure fitting. In addition, the belt comes with a velvet collar for extra comfort. 

Overall, this is a versatile shoulder pad that can be worn without interfering with your movement on the pitch. It’s highly recommended and makes a great purchase on the list.

Key Feature

Flat pad design: It boasts a flat pad design that sits across the shoulders. The flat design allows for easy movement without any restrictions. This is a great feature that does not interfere with the rotation movement of the helmet.


  • Protective design due to a built-in back plate
  • Secure fitting due to PVC adjustable belts
  • Velvet collar for added comfort
  • Flat pad design thus no interference with helmet’s movement


  • A little pricey but worth it

Football Shoulder Pads Buying Guide

If you’re looking for a suitable football shoulder pad, then consider reading our buying guide. In the guide, I’ll discuss everything you need to know before making a purchase. A clear understanding of shoulder pads is essential for a wise purchase decision.

Parts of Shoulder Pads

The first step to understanding a shoulder pad for football is knowing the different parts. Below are the main parts of a football shoulder pad.

white football helmet and shoulder pads

Central Body Cushion

The central body cushion of the pad covers the entire chest diaphragm. It’s the main body structure of the pad that protects the chest’s rib bones. Rib bones are at the highest risk of a fracture.


Next, we have the neck part that protects the neck region. It’s a V-shaped part of the shoulder pad that slides over the head. In some models, the neck part features a circular opening.

After sliding it through the head, the pad sits on the bones with the cup covering the socket joint and ball of the shoulder girdle.


Rivets create a connection between the outer plastic shell and inner cushioning. It’s an important part of a shoulder pad that helps keep the cushioning material in place. 

Rivets feature pretty solid and strong construction materials that can withstand the rigors of football. 

Flap or Epaulet

This is the extended part of the shoulder pad. Flaps extend at the top and provide extra protection. They help keep the scapula, joint radicular region, and other parts of the cervical safe from impacts.


The auxiliary is the extra inner cushion padding that absorbs impacts during collisions and falls. It is a crucial part that ensures accelerating players are protected when they bump into each other.

Belt with buckle

Lastly, the shoulder pad comes with a belt with a knuckle to ensure the shoulder pad is firmly secured in place. Belts fit on the chest and upper abdomen helping keep the shoulder pad in place. They ensure the pads never get loose during the game.

What Factors You Need To Consider To Choose The Best Football Shoulder Pads

Before deciding on a suitable football shoulder pad, there are a few important factors to consider. These are factors that ensure you choose a quality shoulder pad that best suits your needs and desires.

Field Position

When buying a football shoulder pad, make sure you consider the field position you’re playing. Gears vary in features depending on the position you’re playing.

Quarterbacks don’t need extra flap covers since inner padding can absorb impact forces. Multi-position pads are needed for players playing in different positions. These are pads with a secure and strong feeling.

Body Fitness and Size

After choosing a suitable pad that suits your position, then you need to consider fitness and size. The good news is that pads are large enough on the shoulder region and can easily slide through the head. However, the pads need to fit perfectly on the shoulders.

shoulder pads and helmet on a blue bench

Consider pads with multiple pads or cups for the shoulders. In addition, choose pads with internal chest cushioning for a comfortable fit.

Design & Cushioning

An ideal shoulder strap should feature sturdy construction, good design, and excellent cushioning. You need a shoulder pad with a sturdy outer shell that can absorb impacts. 

In addition, make sure the pads feature a thick chest cushion. The cushioning absorbs impacts when colliding with other players.

Often, players collide when tackling each other. As their bodies collide, the cushioning will absorb the impact.

Weight of The Shoulder Pad

Lastly, you need to consider the weight of the shoulder pads. The ideal shoulder pad should be lightweight and flexible. This allows for easy and flexible movement. You don’t want a heavy pad that will make it difficult for you to move freely.

How Do You Know Your Shoulder Pad Size?

When buying a shoulder strap, you need to choose the right size that will fit your shoulders snugly. This requires you to measure your shoulder size and choose a matching shoulder pad.

Take the following steps to find the right shoulder pad size.

  1. Put your arms to the sides while standing straight
  2. Locate the joints on your shoulders and measure their width from one AC joint to another. Note the shoulder width down while rounding off by half an inch
  3. Next, measure your shoulder circumference using a measuring tape. Wrap the tape around your chest just under the armpits and record the measurement
  4. The shoulder width and chest circumference give you your shoulder pad sizing.
  5. For kids and youths, shoulder pad sizes are determined by their weight class. Actual sizing might vary slightly from one product to another. Always remember to confirm weight sizing from the manufacturer.
SIZEWEIGHT (pounds)CHEST (inches)SHOULDERS(Inches)

Football Shoulder Pads FAQ

What Shoulder Pads Do NFL Players Use?

NFL players can use any type of shoulder strap that feels comfortable and offers good protection. There are no set standards by the NFL. Trainers and management allow players to choose a shoulder strap that they feel okay wearing.

football player in maroon jersey wearing shoulder pads underneath

What is the Lightest Football Shoulder Pads?

The lightest football shoulder pad is the Schutt Sports Varsity O2 Maxx Football Shoulder Pads. It is soft, flexible and pretty lightweight with not much weight on the shoulders.

How Long Will New Shoulder Pads Last?

A good quality shoulder pad should last you at least one year. One year is the average lifespan but some cheap quality gets damaged fast.

How Often Do I Need To Clean The Shoulder Pads

You can clean shoulder straps after every game by wiping off any stains and dirt. However, these straps require professional cleaning to ensure they are clean and without any sweat smells.

Players on their own can wipe the pads with a clean cloth using a soft detergent. Additionally, shoulder pads should be stored properly in cool and dry places. This helps protect against mold.


There you go! These are the best football shoulder straps on the market right now. Looking for a fitting shoulder strap to match your position? Go ahead and analyze our top picks above as you decide on a suitable pick. A quality shoulder pad for football should fit snugly and comfortably.

After all, you need to run freely without any hindrance while enjoying maximum protection. Consider football shoulder straps with quality material construction, accurate sizing, great design, and comfortable cushioning. 

The right football shoulder strap should offer optimal protection while feeling comfortable throughout the game.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *