Here’s Your One-Stop Shop for Top-Rated Youth Football Helmets and Accessories
For parents of football athletes, back to school means buying a lot more than school supplies—and can be a huge expense. Growing kids will likely need new equipment—helmets, visors, and mouthguards—and shopping for them can be a daunting task to navigate. But fear not, as we've done all the legwork to suss out top-rated options on the market for all these must-haves, no matter your budget. Read on for our recommendations, plus advice on the most important things to consider before shopping for each item.
What to Consider
It goes without saying that safety is the number-one consideration when shopping for contact sport protective equipment—especially football. No helmet can prevent a concussion but wearing one certainly diminishes risk of injury. The most important factors when shopping for a football helmet are fit, weight, and overall comfort. You'll want to consult specific guidelines from the Center of Disease Control and look for helmets that meet certain standards for safety from the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (more on that below).
For visors (also called sunshields), most attach to helmets with clips—some better than others—and are listed as having a universal fit, but keep in mind that it may not hold true for all helmets brands or sizes, particularly those that are small or extra-small. You'll want a visor with anti-scratch and anti-glare coating, along with protection from UV rays.
Although mouthpieces target specific age groups, like 10 and under or 8 to 16 years old, shopping for one involves personal preference and it may take some trial and error to find the right one. That said, most require boiling or heating up in advance for first-time use, which helps to get a good fit off the bat, plus there are options for kids with braces and flavored mouthpieces for those who can't stand the taste of rubber or silicone. There are also models that can be worn attached to helmets or worn strapless.
How We Chose
We consulted several top sources for our football helmet research, comparing rankings and studying standards and guidelines, to make our selection. The CDC offers guidelines for helmet safety and there are standards set by NOCSAE, though the organization has yet to develop youth football helmet standards. Virginia Tech is a highly respected source for helmet safety, and publishes yearly laboratory testing result reports for youth and varsity helmets. The National Football League does the same for professional helmets.
Each visor and mouthguard we write about has ratings of 4 stars or more, and during our research we read through countless customer reviews to narrow down our choices. We offer options across multiple price points for every product category we feature below, and highlight the most notable features for each.
Fall is just around the corner—and so is the first game of the year. Here's how to get jump on buying the essentials before the start of the season.