The Best Football Helmets

Football helmets keep players safe, even during dangerous tackles and falls. Whether you play football recreationally or on a team, it’s a good idea to invest in a high-quality football helmet for protection. It can make a significant difference in how safe it is to play football and whether you get a concussion from a serious tackle.

We looked at dozens of football helmets to identify the best options available. We considered traditional helmets, as well as soft shell helmets. We evaluated faceguards, padding, and reviews to find the best of the best football helmets you can buy online.

Top pick
Schutt Sports Vengeance VTD II Football Helmet without Faceguard

For a popular, versatile football helmet, choose the Schutt Sports Vengeance VTD II Football Helmet without Faceguard

$299.99 USD

The Schutt Sports Vengeance VTD II Football Helmet without Faceguard stood out as a clear winner. It comes in 15 different colors, so you’ll be able to find a helmet in your team’s color.

The 5 Top-Rated Football Helmets for 2018

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best Overall PickSchutt Sports Vengeance VTD II Football Helmet without Faceguard5
Runner Up PickSchutt Youth ION 4D Football Helmet without Faceguard5
Best Budget PickSchutt Sports Vengeance VDT Football Helmet (FACEGUARD NOT INCLUDED)4
Best Adult Football Helmet PickSchutt Sports Adult Air XP Purpleo Football Helmet (Faceguard not Included)4.5
Best Best Youth Football Helmet PickSchutt Sports Vengeance A3+ Youth Football Helmet (Facemask NOT Included)4.7

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Our Top Pick: Schutt Sports Vengeance VTD II Football Helmet without Faceguard

The Schutt Sports Vengeance VTD II Football Helmet without Faceguard is the among the best football helmets you can buy online in 2018. It’s a football helmet from a leading manufacturer that is known for safety and top function. It has a single layer dual compression TPU padding that’s both lightweight and comfortable.

It’s available in 15 colors from Kelly Green and Scarlett to Burnt Orange and Metallic Silver. It is also available in 5 sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, and XX-Large. It has a Surefit TPU Air Liner for a better, more comfortable fit.

Schutt Sports Vengeance VTD II Football Helmet without Faceguard Key Features: 

  • Available in 15 colors
  • Available in 5 sizes
  • Comfortable, well-fitting Surefit TPU Air Liner
  • Single layer cushioning system

Our Runner Up Pick: Schutt Youth ION 4D Football Helmet without Faceguard

Runner Up pick
Schutt Youth ION 4D Football Helmet without Faceguard

For a stylish, high-quality youth football helmet, consider the Schutt Youth ION 4D Football Helmet without Faceguard

$154.18 USD

The Schutt Youth ION 4D Football Helmet without Faceguard is a high-quality youth football helmet that is comfortable and safe. If you play a position where you need a faceguard, this is an excellent option. Its quarter turn release system makes it fast to install or release.

This model focuses on comfort and function. Its comfortable Surefit Air Liner conforms to your head, providing you with a better fit. Its exclusive shock absorbing Energy Wedge Faceguard Attachment provides even more shock absorption for front impacts.

Schutt Youth ION 4D Football Helmet without Faceguard Key Features: 

  • Quarter turn release for faceguard
  • Comfortable Surefit Air liner
  • Exclusive shock absorbing Energy Wedge Faceguard Attachment
  • Mold, mildew, fungus, and bacteria resistant TPU cushioning

Best Budget Pick: Schutt Sports Vengeance VDT Football Helmet

Budget pick
Schutt Sports Vengeance VDT Football Helmet

For an inexpensive football helmet, look at the “Schutt Sports Vengeance VDT Football Helmet

$131.75 USD

At less than $43, the Schutt Sports Vengeance VDT Football Helmet is an ideal first helmet for recreational players. It’s available in a small and medium size, as well as metallic silver and navy color options. Its TPU cushioning and Surefit Air Liner deliver a more comfortable fit.

This helmet does not come with a faceguard. However, it is compatible with many Vengeance faceguards including the V-ROPO-DW-TRAD, V-EGOP, and VEGOP-II TRAD. This means that you can use your preferred faceguard with this protective helmet.

Schutt Sports Vengeance VDT Football Helmet Key Features: 

  • Works with a variety of Vengeance faceguards
  • Small and medium size
  • 2 color options
  • Surefit Air liner

Best Adult Football Helmet: Schutt Sports Adult Air XP Purpleo Football Helmet

Adult pick
Schutt Sports Adult Air XP Purpleo Football Helmet

Meet the Schutt Sports Adult Air XP Purpleo, one of the lightest and most breathable football helmets on this list

$199.95 USD

The Schutt Sports Adult Air XP Purpleo Football Helmet is among the most breathable and lightweight football helmets for adults available on the market. It is available in adult size small and medium, as well as two color options: black and white. It’s a more expensive helmet, so it’s probably only an option for more serious players.

It features single layer TPU cushioning for less weight and more comfort. The Surefit Air liner that both soft and durable. Although it doesn’t include a faceguard, you can choose the faceguard that fits your needs.

Schutt Sports Adult Air XP Purpleo Football Helmet Key Features: 

  • Available in Small and Medium sizes
  • 2 color options
  • Single layer of TPU cushioning
  • Includes Surefit Air liner

Best Youth Football Helmet: Schutt Sports Vengeance A3+ Youth Football Helmet

Youth pick
Schutt Sports Vengeance A3+ Youth Football Helmet

Check out the Schutt Sports Vengeance A3+ Youth, a youth football helmet with many options

$144.00 USD

The Schutt Sports Vengeance A3+ Youth Football Helmet is a great choice for youth football teams. The helmet is available in 16 unique colors, including burnt orange, metallic silver, and metallic vegas gold. It is available in six sizes, from 2X-Small to X-Large.

This football helmet is extremely lightweight with a low profile. Its lighter than the original Schutt Sports Vengeance shell. It fits many different position-specific Vengeance faceguards.

Schutt Sports Vengeance A3+ Youth Football Helmet Key Features: 

  • Compatible with position-specific faceguards
  • Available in 16 colors
  • Available in 6 sizes
  • Lighter in weight than original Vengeance shell from Schutt Sports

Who Should Buy a Football Helmet

If you play tackle or flag football recreationally or on a team, it’s important that you buy a high-quality football helmet to provide adequate protection against head injuries. It’s vital that the helmet provides thorough coverage to your head and have enough structure not to be crushed during a tackle. Most teams have standard colors or equipment policies that should be followed. Parents may also need to purchase football helmets for their kids.

Coaches of football teams often buy football helmets for team use. They’ll need to look at the price per unit to make sure the football helmets fit within any budgetary constraints. All football helmets sold for athletic use should be certified for use in sports, as opposed to replica or decorative pieces.

Top pick
Schutt Sports Vengeance VTD II Football Helmet without Faceguard

For a popular, versatile football helmet, choose the Schutt Sports Vengeance VTD II Football Helmet without Faceguard

$299.99 USD

Important Features to Consider

A football helmet should have several important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a football helmet:

  • Facemask. A facemask attaches to the football helmet to provide additional protection for your face and teeth. Not all football helmets come with facemasks.
  • Size. For the best fit and protection, you’ll need to purchase a football helmet that fits. Manufacturers vary in sizing, so it’s important that you use the size chart and measure your head circumference.
  • Youth vs. adult. Football helmets come in youth and adult sizes.
  • Color. There is a wide range of color options available, based on your team’s colors or personal preferences.
  • Construction materials. How much the football helmet weights largely depends on its construction materials.
  • Bumper. An interior bumper is a soft pad that can make it more comfortable to wear the helmet. Bumpers are commonly found on chin straps.
  • Chin strap. A chin strap keeps the helmet in place. The chin strap may have a buckle or velcro to keep it in place.
  • Heat vents. Heat vents help to keep you cooler, even during long practice sessions and in hot weather.
  • Eyeshield visor. This clear plastic eye protector keeps debris and impacts away from your eyes. It can be attached to most football helmets.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a football helmet?

A football helmet is a protective device used in American style football to protect a football player’s head during play. Most football helmets have a hard shell with thick interior padding that can provide additional protection during a tackle or fall. Some soft shell football helmets are now available but may not be allowed for certain teams.

How does a football helmet protect you?

According to Healthfully, football helmets have several components that keep you safer. The outer, hard shell protects your head by deflecting some of the impact away from your heat. The padding and inflatable liner system found inside the helmet absorb some of the shock, while a facemask protects your face and teeth.

What are football helmets made of?

What the helmet is made of depends on the specific helmet. However, helmets are generally made with a polycarbonate alloy, fiberglass, Kevlar, or TPU outer shell with a thermoplastic polyurethane, polystyrene, or EPS foam inside. The facemask is usually made from metal or plastic bars.

When were helmets required in football?

Although some college teams required football helmets as early as 1939, football helmets became mandatory in the NFL in 1943.

Other Football Helmets We Reviewed

Top pick
Schutt Sports Vengeance VTD II Football Helmet without Faceguard

For a popular, versatile football helmet, choose the Schutt Sports Vengeance VTD II Football Helmet without Faceguard

$299.99 USD

We looked at 20 other football helmets. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best football helmets list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.

Adult Football Helmets

Rawlings Adult Impulse Football Helmet

Rawlings Adult Impulse Football Helmet

This Rawlings Adult Impulse Football Helmet features everything that you need to play safely. It has a polycarbonate shell that is resistant to wear and percussion damage. It also has a custom comfort cushion that adds additional protection as well makes the helmet more comfortable for prolonged games. The top of the helmet has heat vents that help keep your head cool. The shell has stainless steel hardware attached and has a high-gloss finish available in several colors.

Key Features:

  • Custom comfort cushion
  • Heat vents
  • Stainless steel hardware
  • Polycarbonate shell

Cost: $187

Schutt Sports Adult Vengeance DCT Football Helmet (Faceguard not Included)

Schutt Sports Adult Vengeance DCT Football Helmet (Faceguard not Included)

The Schutt Sports Adult Vengeance DCT Football Helmet (Faceguard not Included) has a new faceguard system. Instead of clipping on, the faceguard twists into a holder system. That way, you can quickly twist it off and reattach it when needed. Inside the helmet is the same airflow technology found in other Schutt helmets, which helps keep your head cool during the game. With reinforced padding, it provides extra protection too.

Key Features:

  • Twist release faceguard holder
  • High gloss finish
  • SUREFIT Air Liner
  • Chin strap included

Cost: $255

Schutt Sports Youth Vengeance DCT Hybrid Football Helmet without Faceguard

Schutt Sports Youth Vengeance DCT Hybrid Football Helmet without Faceguard

This version of the DCT Hybrid is designed for younger players. The Schutt Sports Youth Vengeance DCT Hybrid Football Helmet without Faceguard has Schutt’s new twist-off faceguard system that makes changing your faceguard quick and easy. The helmet is lined with a dual compression TPU padding system that has one type of padding for high-velocity impacts, and another type of padding that works better for low-velocity impacts. The combination of the two makes this helmet a good option for most games.

Key Features:

  • Dual compression padding
  • Twist-off faceguard system
  • Airflow design
  • High-density shell material

Cost: $70

Schutt Vengeance Pro Adult Football Helmet

Schutt Vengeance Pro Adult Football Helmet

The Schutt Vengeance Pro Adult Football Helmet provides multiple layers of head protection alongside a design meant to increase air flow. Football helmets can trap heat on your head, but a series of openings in the padding and side vents help air flow in and out easily. That way, your head stays cool while you play even during hot days.

Key Features:

  • VA Tech Star 5-star rating
  • Open sides
  • Designed for air flow
  • Available in extra-large

Cost: $220

Hybrid Football Helmets

Schutt Sports 798004 Youth Recruit Hybrid Football Helmet (Faceguard Not Included)

Schutt Sports 798004 Youth Recruit Hybrid Football Helmet (Faceguard Not Included)

The Schutt Sports 798004 Youth Recruit Hybrid Football Helmet (Faceguard Not Included) is a good option for a young player. It has many of the features that make it a good first choice or a preferred favorite. It uses a standoff shell design for added protection. Inside, it has a combination of TPU cushioning and D30 technology to absorb impacts and prevent injuries. It is also available in a wide range of sizes and colors to fit each player’s needs.

Key Features:

  • Available in sizes from double extra small to extra large
  • Standoff shell design
  • TPU cushioning
  • D30 technology

Cost: $95

Schutt Sports Youth Air XP Hybrid Plus Football Helmet

Schutt Sports Youth Air XP Hybrid Plus Football Helmet

Another good youth option is the Schutt Sports Youth Air XP Hybrid Plus Football Helmet. It uses a combination of padding types to absorb different types of impacts. The rounded disk design for the padding requires less physical contact with your head and allows it to breathe. That way, you can wear the helmet longer without overheating. The padding is mechanically attached for a sturdy connection that won’t shift or degrade over time.

Key Features:

  • Hybrid TPU cushioning
  • Mechanical padding attachments
  • Traditional shell
  • Airflow enhancing design

Cost: $115

Schutt Sports Youth FB Recruit Hybrid Plus Helmet

Schutt Sports Youth FB Recruit Hybrid Plus Helmet

This Schutt Sports Youth FB Recruit Hybrid Plus Helmet gives players a wide range of color options to choose from to match other uniform pieces. It uses TPU and D30 technologies to improve the absorption of impacts. For more padding and a better fit, it has a liner in the back that is inflatable. For added flexibility, this helmet can accommodate a variety of faceguards for different positions.

Key Features:

  • Inflatable liner
  • Fits multiple faceguard types
  • TPU and D30 technologies
  • Wide selection of colors

Cost: $108

Schutt Sports Youth Vengeance Hybrid MF Football Helmet (Faceguard Not Included)

Schutt Sports Youth Vengeance Hybrid MF Football Helmet (Faceguard Not Included)

The Schutt Sports Youth Vengeance Hybrid MF Football Helmet (Faceguard Not Included) is built to absorb and disperse impacts so that they are less severe. It uses advanced TPU padding to improve impact protection. This padding adds several improvements including ribbing and a single layer construction design for a more durable and comfortable fit. The new TPU also helps this helmet maintain a lightweight and its breathability even on hot days and through long practices.

Key Features:

  • Upgraded TPU padding
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Designed for impact dispersion

Cost: $67

Soft Shell Headgear

Barnett Heat Pro Helmet, Rugby, Flag Football, 7 on 7 (Royal Blue)

Barnett Heat Pro Helmet, Rugby, Flag Football, 7 on 7 (Royal Blue)

The Barnett Heat Pro Helmet, Rugby, Flag Football, 7 on 7 (Royal Blue) serves as a lightweight but durable head protector for medium contact sports like flag football. It is made primarily out of Spandex and Nylon for an adjustable and breathable fit. This also makes it easy to wash and keep clean. When not in use, it can be stored easily in a small container. With an adjustable chin strap, this headgear can be adjusted to fit nearly any head. It is also IRB-certified for use in sanctioned sporting events and leagues.

Key Features:

  • Adjustable chin strap
  • Washable
  • IRB-certified
  • Nylon and Spandex construction

Cost: $29

EliteTek Soft Padded Helmet Headgear

EliteTek Soft Padded Helmet Headgear

The EliteTek Soft Padded Helmet Headgear is a good option for lighter sports like flag football. It offers a very lightweight protection option that is also flexible enough to fit most players. This headgear is made of Spandex and Nylon. The Spandex lets it stretch to fit comfortably while the Nylon makes it durable. Both materials make it breathable so that you can wear it through long games without needing to take it off constantly.

Key Features:

  • Velcro adjustable closure
  • IRB certified
  • Nylon Spandex
  • Adjustable front and back closures

Cost: $26

Gamebreaker Multi-Sport Soft Shell Protective Headgear

Gamebreaker Multi-Sport Soft Shell Protective Headgear

The Gamebreaker Multi-Sport Soft Shell Protective Headgear is another good option for players that need something light and breathable. It uses a Lycra outer shell, which lets air flow through easily. Combined with other breathable materials, this headgear helps keep players from overheating. The Gamebreaker Multi-Sport Soft Shell Protective Headgear is available in 11 different colors so that players can match it to the rest of their uniform.

Key Features:

  • 11 color options available
  • Designed for multiple sports
  • Adjustable chin strap
  • Lycra outer coating

Cost: $60

Gamebreaker PRO Powered by D3O Soft Shell Headgear

Gamebreaker PRO Powered by D3O Soft Shell Headgear

The Gamebreaker PRO Powered by D3O Soft Shell Headgear is designed to provide more protection than other soft options. It combines D30 technologies with a comfortable design so that players get the protection that they need with a fit that they enjoy. You can get it in seven different colors and six size options, so you can find the perfect football helmet for your head size and team. You can also have your logo printed on it for full customization and have the team wear the same style football helmets.

Key Features:

  • Seven available colors
  • Wide size range
  • Can be logo printed
  • D30 technology

Cost: $80

Youth Football Helmets

Rawlings Momentum Plus Youth Football Helmet (Mask Sold Separately)

Rawlings Momentum Plus Youth Football Helmet (Mask Sold Separately)

For young players, a good helmet is essential. The Gamebreaker PRO Powered by D3O Soft Shell Headgear is a good first choice as it gives players all of the protection and adjustability that they need. The liner is inflatable so that you can adjust the fit easily. The rear cushion also inflates to get a better fit. Rawlings worked in heat exchange technology, which helps remove the heat built up inside the helmet and keep players cool. That way, they don’t overheat during games.

Key Features:

  • Customizable fit liner
  • Heat removal system
  • Inflatable adjustor
  • Available in double extra small

Cost: $55

Rawlings Youth Quantum Football Helmet

Rawlings Youth Quantum Football Helmet

The Rawlings Youth Quantum Football Helmet combines Rawlings’ best technologies to develop a helmet that gives players everything that they need in a smaller size. It starts with a polycarbonate shell that is highly durable, scratch, and impact resistant. It also has the Rawlings Active Impact Absorption system which diffuses impacts quickly to protect players from high and low-velocity impacts. Rawlings also added its heat exchange technology to help keep players cool, and its custom fit system that allows plays to inflate the liner for a perfect fit.

Key Features:

  • Polycarbonate shell
  • Rawlings Active Impact Absorption
  • Heat exchange system
  • Custom fit system

Cost: $56

Riddell Youth Speed Football Helmet

Riddell Youth Speed Football Helmet

This Riddell Youth Speed Football Helmet is designed for players that need to move fast. It uses an impact-resistant ABS shell that can withstand and help absorb high-velocity impacts. Inside, it uses an inflatable liner system that allows players to adjust their helmets to fit properly. Combined with large vent holes and a quick release facemask system, this helmet is easy for young players to use and to wear without assistance.

Key Features:

  • Impact ABS shell
  • Oversized vent holes
  • Quick release facemask system
  • Inflatable liner pads

Cost: $180

Schutt Sports 789601 Youth AiR XP Pro Football Helmet (Faceguard Not Included)

Schutt Sports 789601 Youth AiR XP Pro Football Helmet (Faceguard Not Included)

Players can take advantage of the Schutt Sports 789601 Youth AiR XP Pro Football Helmet’s features for better performance. Schutt updated its design to be lighter and better at absorbing impacts with its new single layer, double compression TPU. It offers the same kinds of protection as older systems but in a lighter and better-performing single layer design. Schutt also added a nose cushion to prove better face protection. This helmet is available in seven color options to help players match their uniforms.

Key Features:

  • Dual compression TPU
  • EVA comfort nose pad
  • Seven options available
  • Lighter design

Cost: $119

Schutt Sports Varsity AiR XP Pro VTD II Football Helmet(Faceguard Not Included)

Schutt Sports Varsity AiR XP Pro VTD II Football Helmet(Faceguard Not Included)

This Schutt Sports Varsity AiR XP Pro VTD II Football Helmet uses some of the latest technology to provide enhanced support and safety. It uses a new version of the TPU designed to absorb impacts faster and disperse that energy across the helmet. That way, the impact has less on an effect on the player’s head. It even has a five-star rating from Virginia Tech for its design. Finding the right one is easy since there are 15 color options to choose from, so you can find the perfect football helmet to match your team’s colors.

Key Features:

  • 15 versions available
  • Enhanced TPU
  • 5-star rating
  • Standoff shell design

Cost: $215

Schutt Sports Youth AiR Standard V Football Helmet (Faceguard Not Included)

Schutt Sports Youth AiR Standard V Football Helmet (Faceguard Not Included)

The Schutt Sports Youth AiR Standard V Football Helmet is designed for added protection. It uses a combination of EPP and foam, as well as a specially blended polypropylene liner. This liner system provides a better fit as well as enhanced impact absorption. Combined with a standoff shell design and Air Maxx TPU jaw pads, this helmet is a great option for players that take big hits often.

Key Features:

  • EPP/foam liner
  • EVA fit liner
  • Air Maxx TPU jaw pads
  • Standoff shell

Cost: $79

Schutt Youth DNA Pro + Football Helmet without Faceguard

Schutt Youth DNA Pro + Football Helmet without Faceguard

This Schutt Youth DNA Pro + Football Helmet is a good option for a basic design that offers the same level of protection as more robust helmets. It uses TPU padding for added durability, impact protection, and hygiene.  The face opening is wider than on other models, which gives players a better field of vision. The lining uses an inflatable pad system to get a better fit, and Schutt outfitted it with new, more secure Air-LOC closures.

Key Features:

  • TPU padding
  • Larger view opening
  • Air-LOC inflation system
  • High-impact ABS plastic shell

Cost: $130

Xenith Youth X2E+ Football Helmet With Mask

Xenith Youth X2E+ Football Helmet With Mask

The Xenith Youth X2E+ Football Helmet With Mask is one of the few helmets that come with a mask and chin cup included. That way, you won’t have to worry about finding one that fits. The Xenith Youth X2E+ Football Helmet has an ABS shell lined with the Adaptive Head Protection system, which reduces rotational and linear impacts to protect the player’s head and neck from harm.

Key Features:

  • Mask included
  • Adaptive Head Protection
  • ABS shell
  • Chin cup included

Cost: $166

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Melanie Green