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The 10 Best Cheap Football Helmets Round Up (Buyer’s Guide)

A helmet is the single most important piece of equipment a football player can wear. So when in the market for a new helmet, you want to be sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. Unfortunately, some helmets retail for as high as $1000, which is understandably out of many people’s budgets.

That’s why we’ve developed this list of the best cheap football helmets available in today’s market. Everything on this list is of top-quality and features some of the best brands in football.

The best part is that all of these helmets are relatively affordable, ending up on the lower-end of price points while still landing among the high-end helmets in terms of quality.

PRODUCT

PRODUCT DETAILS

OUR #1 RATED

Schutt AiR XP Pro Adult Football Helmet

  • Light and comfortable
  • SUREFIT liner is inflatable and can be adjusted for the most secure fit
  • Easy to clean

OUR #2 RATED

Schutt Adult Vengeance VTD II

  • High-performance, ultralight shell.
  • Disperses impact from high-velocity hits.

OUR #3 RATED

Xenith Varsity X2E

  • X2E’s shock absorbing technology is simply cutting-edge.
  • 5-star rated by Virginia Tech.
  • Mitigates linear and rotational forces.

OUR #4 RATED

Riddell Youth Speedflex

  • Ranked 8th overall in safety and protection by the Virginia Tech STAR rating system, with an overall 5-star rating.
  • Ergonomic fit with an aesthetic that is unmistakably SpeedFlex’s.
  • Improved helmet stability thanks The Flexliner.
  • Ratchet-Loc chinstrap attachment system allows for easy adjustments in the heat of play.

OUR #5 RATED

Riddell Victor-i Youth Helmet

  • Excellent entry helmet.
  • Comfortable and protective.

1. Schutt AiR XP Pro Adult Football Helmet

With the AiR XP Pro, Schutt continued to evolve its excellent helmet manufacturing and design. Besides using lightweight materials, Schutt also inserted into the AiR XP Pro the most advanced TPU Cushioning and SUREFIT Air Liner. 

TPU stands for thermoplastic urethane, which is a kind of cushioning material that is proven to absorb more impact. This is a great feature as TPU is virtually impervious to the mold, mildew, fungus and other bacteria that can grow in a football helmet. Plus, it is super resilient and flexible, thereby offering much in the way of protection.

The SUREFIT Air Liner is outfitted along the back and sides of the helmet, and gives this adult football helmet a soft “pillow like” feel. Additional comfort comes by way of a soft cup chin strap and inter-link jaw pads, which can be replaced and customized to offer the most secure fit.

All of this lightweight technology comes under the hood of a polycarbonate shell, which is the most protective material on the football market today.

PROS

  • Light and comfortable.
  • SUREFIT liner is inflatable and can be adjusted for the most secure fit.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Traditional helmet shell offers low-center gravity.

CONS

  • Smaller shell design means less thick padding.
  • Helmet sits a little higher on the neck, giving less protection on the back of the head and neck.
  • Jaw pads are not inflatable.

Overall, the Schutt AiR XP Pro is best known for delivering amazing impact absorption with a super comfortable fit in a traditional helmet shell.

2. Schutt Adult Vengeance VTD II

When the Schutt VTD II was first released, it was immediately awarded the highest-rating in Virginia Tech’s STAR evaluation. Virginia Tech ranks helmets based on their ability to protect and ensure the safety of its wearers. At the time, the VTD II scored 0.18 (lower is better), while the next best helmet was ranked at 1.57.

With a number of state-of-the-art features, it’s easy to see why Virginia Tech ranked the Schutt VTD II so highly.

Firstly, the airliner is fitted with SUREFIT TPU cushioning, which helps to improve the absorption properties of the VTD II.[1]

Secondly, more TPU cushioning is found on the inside of the helmet, where a combined dual layer of TPU sits in the front and a single layer in the back and crown of the helmet. The single layer TPU is ribbed, meaning that it will deliver even better impact absorption.

Moreover, the Schutt VTD II features a dynamic faceguard line with an offset design that greatly increases impact dispersion.

Schutt has re-engineered the durometers in the helmet to work more effectively against low-velocity impacts, which have been shown to lead to higher rates of concussions than high-velocity impacts. The reason for this is the combined effect of low-velocity impacts can be dangerous.

PROS

  • High-performance, ultralight shell.
  • Disperses impact from high-velocity hits.

CONS

  • Most expensive option on this list.

However, the VTD II does an adequate job of dispersing the impact from high-velocity blows as well. Schutt Sports was one of the first helmet manufacturers to use TPU cushioning, while other manufacturers relied on traditional foam padding.

3. Xenith Varsity X2E

The Xenith Varsity X2E football helmet was designed for high school, college, and professional football players, and is adaptable to any level of competition.

That is in large part thanks to the custom fit provided by Xenith’s patented Adaptive Head Protection System, which conforms to the shape of your head without the need for air pumps.

Xenith introduced the FitBand silicon band, a new kind of technology in football helmets, which conforms to your head shape and cinches to provide a custom fit. Moreover, the repositionable jaw guard provides even more comfort and stability.

X2E’s shock absorbing technology adapts to hits, providing an optimal response to linear impacts. The shock suspension system allows the bonnet and head to move independently from the shell. Both of these offer a ton of flexibility when taking on impact from rotational forces.

Additionally, VN comfort pads on the inside provide high impact resistance, while the polycarbonate shell itself is designed for high level impacts.

PROS

  • X2E’s shock absorbing technology is simply cutting-edge.
  • 5-star rated by Virginia Tech.
  • Mitigates linear and rotational forces.
  • Ton of flexibility in the shell.

CONS

  • Towards the higher-end of the “cheap” budget.

Overall, the Xenith X2E is one of the few 5-star rated helmets on the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings, and with so much safety technology, it’s easy to see why.

4. Riddell Youth Speedflex

The Riddell Speedflex is the gold standard in Youth helmets. That’s because of Riddell’s Patented Side Impact Protection (PSIP), which is a mandible protection that minimizes the force of rotational impacts, which are so commonly the cause of concussions.

The PSIP is particularly important to Youth players, since a blindside hit can cause irreparable damage.

What’s also great about the Youth Speedflex is that Riddell has lined the inside of the helmet with some of the most comfortable and quality lining available. Moreover, the helmet has five inflation locations so that you can pump the helmet to conform to various head sizes for the most optimal and secure fit.

The helmet is also highly customizable with a Ratchet-Loc attachment to make adjustments to the chin strap on the fly. It also features a Quick Release system that disengages the facemask from the helmet without hassle. Plus, the helmet has a Tru-Curver liner system that conforms to the player’s head and contours around the helmet’s shell.

Parents will also appreciate the inflatable liners that cradle the occipital lobe to further reduce impact and increase player safety.

PROS

  • Ranked 8th overall in safety and protection by the Virginia Tech STAR rating system, with an overall 5-star rating.
  • Ergonomic fit with an aesthetic that is unmistakably SpeedFlex’s.
  • Improved helmet stability thanks The Flexliner.
  • Ratchet-Loc chinstrap attachment system allows for easy adjustments in the heat of play.

CONS

  • Ability to reduce concussions is still debated.
  • Lacks some features of newer helmets.

Thanks to the PSIP and impact reducing features, along with the innovative interior padding, the Riddell Youth Speedflex was rated 5-stars by Virginia Tech, and with good reason.

5. Riddell Victor-i Youth Helmet

The Riddell Victor-i Youth is an excellent helmet for Youth players who are just starting out in football. It has everything a player needs to keep safe and protected on the field.

All of the padding on the inside of the helmet can be inflated to customize the fit of the helmet to each individual player’s head. Meanwhile, an overliner ensures players stay comfortable throughout the course of the game.

Vent holes in the sides of the helmet allow for more air circulation, increasing breathability so the player can stay cool as a cucumber even under the pressure of the Friday Night Lights.

In terms of keeping costs low, this  Riddell helmet has a mechanical attachment for facemasks, which requires using a screwdriver to manually attach and detach the faceguard. This helps keep costs lower than other helmets that use more cutting-edge technology.

PROS

  • Excellent entry helmet.
  • Comfortable and protective.

CONS

  • Lacks many of the features of other helmets.

Overall, this no-fuss helmet is perfect for players still trying to learn the fundamentals of football, as they wouldn’t have to worry about safety and comfort.

6. Schutt Vengeance A11+ Youth

The Schutt Vengeance A11+ Youth has got some swag to it, as Schutt redesigned the original Vengeance shell to be sleeker with a lower profile.

The A-11 is a non-inflatable version of one of Schutt’s best youth helmets, and that is the main reason why it retails at a lower price point. However, the padding in the shell is super lightweight, which in turns reduces the weight of the helmet, reducing the strain on the player’s neck.

Another A11+ feature that is particulary important for Youth players, is its polycarbonate shell. Polycarbonate is the most durable and shock-resistant material on the market, but can sometimes be too heavy for youth players to wear

Schutt mitigates the weight by lining the front with a single layer TPU which contains poron, adding more stability and support.

PROS

  • Lightweight shell with durable polycarbonate material.
  • Super lightweight TPU padding.
  • Sleek helmet design.

CONS

  • Padding is non-inflatable.
  • Fit is not as comfortable as other helmets in this price range.

This helmet also comes with a standard Carbon steel Youth Vengeance faceguard and 1” Inter-Link jaw pads. The jaw pads can easily be removed and customized thanks to a Twist Release retainer.

7. Xenith Youth Epic+

The best thing about the Xenith Youth Epic+ is that it has all of the same Epic technology as the Varsity Epic+.

This includes the patented Adaptive Head Protection System, which provides a custom fit without the need for air pumps.

The Xenith Youth Epic+ also has multi-stage shock absorbers, which work together to counteract the force of linear and rotational impacts.

What’s incredible about this feature is that during impact, the bonnet of the helmet actually de-couples from the helmet, which enables the head to move independently from the shell.[2]

This gives the helmet some flexibility, which prevents the neck from snapping and causing a concussion.

On top of that, the Xenith Youth Epic+ is equipped with Aware Flow shock-absorbing technology, and it comes with a Xenith Prime facemask that provides a wide field of vision without compromising protection.

Like the Xenith X2E, the Youth Epic+ has integrated FitBand, as well as FitLock, which is a high-density foam pad that conforms to the occipital bone.

Players will remain comfortable in the Youth Epic+ throughout the course of the game thanks to XRD and VN comfort pads which provide superior comfort on the inside of the helmet, in addition to impact-resistance.

Six vents on the helmet maximize airflow to keep the head cool during play.

PROS

  • A ton of flexibility in the helmet of the shell keeps you well protected.
  • So much shock absorbing technology.
  • Protects parts of the head that many other helmets do not.
  • Will keep you cool as a cucumber.

CONS

  • On the higher end of “cheap”.

All in all, the Xenith Youth Epic+ offers pro-level performance in a youth helmet.

8. Schutt Vengeance A3+

With a sleeker, lower profile shell and upgraded TPU padding, the Schutt Vengeance A3+ Youth football helmet offers youth players a cool new look with plenty of protection.

The Schutt Vengeance A3+ is outfitted with SUREFIT lateral liner to give you a customizable fit in the crown, back, and sides. Extra padding of TPU throughout the helmet offers plenty of protection against low-impact blows and high-impact hits.

What’s more, Schutt has raised the brow design to deflect impact away from the helmet and help disperse the force of impacts to the front of the helmet.

However, the best part about this helmet is that Schutt effectively managed to reduce the weight of the helmet, which is a major factor for youth helmets.

There are also Inter-Link jaw pads that mechanically attach to the helmet to further give you customizable fitting options.

PROS

  • Awesome helmet aesthetic.
  • Lightweight shell reduces strain on the neck.
  • Mechanical attachments for Inter-Link jaw pad keep the price point low.

CONS

  • Does not come with a facemask.

The ultimate downside is that the Schutt Vengeance A3+ does not include a facemask upon purchase, and only Vengeance facemasks can be used for this helmet.

9. Schutt Youth Recruit R3+

The main selling point of the Schutt Youth Recruit R3+ is the PLUSHFIT Comfort liner, which is an ultra-comfortable fabric that covers the entire helmet and secures the D30 Cushioning.

The D30 padding is combined with TPU cushioning, which is the most optimal combination of padding available. That’s because the TPU helps to spread the impact across the surface, and then the D30 hardens and absorbs the shock from the impact.

The helmet is also inflatable to allow for the best fit for your head shape and size. Best of all, the inner lining is removable, washable, and treated with an antimicrobial treatment.

PROS

  • Incredibly comfortable thanks to the inner lining.
  • Open to customization to get the best possible fit.
  • Durable and impact-resistant.

CONS

  • Faceguard not included.
  • Lacks some of the cutting-edge technology of newer, higher-priced models.

Like most Schutt helmets, the Recruit R3+ also comes with Inter-Link jaw pads and a twist release retainer for easy face mask customization. Keep in mind though that a faceguard is not included with the purchase of this helmet, and that this helmet requires a Youth DNA facemask.

10. Riddell Speed Youth

The Riddell Speed Youth has a Quick Release attachment software, which makes switching out facemasks relatively easy. However, the Quick Release hardware does cost more than having a mechanical attachment, so expect price points to reflect this.

The Riddell Speed also has an outer rear bumper, which helps to protect the back of the head from falls.[3]

Moreover, Riddell’s Patented Side Impact Protection makes a return to enable proper fit, comfort, and stability.

PROS

  • PSIP is always an awesome feature to have.
  • Overliner is super comfortable and offers additional stability.
  • Incredibly lightweight.

CONS

  • Not as cutting-edge as some of the other helmets in this list.

Thanks to the ABS plastic, the Speed Youth only weighs about 2 pounds, which is an underrated but awesome spec feature, as Youth players require a helmet that will not put too much strain on the neck.

How We Chose Our Selection of Football Helmets

#1 Budget

Budget is probably the most important consideration to make when selecting a football helmet. After all, it won’t do you any good to look at $1000 helmets if your price range is between $100 to $300. Likewise, if you have the opportunity to grab a higher-end model, you often should, as you want to get the most support and protection for your brain as possible.

That is why we have considered affordability in helmets we have selected on this list. That means that none of the products here will break the bank, as they are all on lower-end price points.

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#2 Durability

Even if we chose helmets on the affordable side, that doesn’t mean that they are low-quality. Many of the helmets on this list use polycarbonate material, which is the material used on helmets worn by pros.

What’s more, we have also considered the durability of the helmets in terms of protecting the wearer’s head, and so none of the helmets on this list have scored less than 3 stars by the Virginia Tech STAR Rating System – some even scored 5 stars.

#3 Weight

Weight is an important factor as helmets must always be worn with ease. Moreover, some of the helmets on this list are for Youth players, where it is doubly important the helmets are lightweight to prevent undue strain to the neck.

Therefore, we have also considered the weight of football helmets when compiling this list, so you can be assured knowing that all of these helmets are lightweight.

#4 Fit

All of the helmets on this list are ultra-comfortable, and many of them have multiple customizable options to achieve the best possible fit. Moreover, many of the helmets that have been selected in our collection come in various sizes to fit every football athlete.

While not all of the helmets come with a faceguard, all of the helmets we’ve chosen here do come with chin straps that can be adjusted for the snuggest fit.

#5 Key Features

A helmet is nothing without a bunch of awesome features! All of the helmets we selected include amazing key features, whether it’s the type of padding used in the overliner or the shock absorbent technology that decouples the shell from the crown.

A lot of the features highlighted here are still being used in future models and designs, so you can be sure that what you’re getting is of top-quality.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Football helmets are designed to minimize the risk of player concussions and prevent such injuries as facial lacerations.

Helmet shells made of polycarbonate material do this a little better, as polycarbonate is a strong, tough material that can withstand a lot of punishment across a wide range of temperatures.

Helmet shells made of ABS plastic, on the other hand, are more frequently used by Youth players, because although the plastic is not as tough as polycarbonate, it is much lighter, and therefore causes less strain on the neck. Youth players in particular are susceptible to neck straining as they have not yet developed the appropriate strength.

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How much you should spend on a football helmet depends on your budget. There are plenty of good, supportive and protective “budget” helmet options, many of which we have already compiled for you above.

The key is to do your research. Stick to the main helmet manufacturers – Riddell, Xenith, and Schutt – as these are leading developers in player safety, and many of their older or cheaper helmets are still chock-full of awesome technology.

The bonus to sticking to the three main helmet manufacturers is that all of their helmets must be certified and undergo rigorous training – so you know, no matter what you’re getting, that you’re getting a quality product.

It’s important to pick the right football helmet because it will determine how much protection your brain will get during a football game. Your brain is one of the most important organs in your body. Therefore, it is vital that you protect it from brain injuries and other issues.[4]

That is why the helmet is the most important piece of equipment a player can wear, and it’s important that the helmet adequately protects the player while also fitting comfortably. An uncomfortable fit will not reduce the risk of concussions, and can, in fact, increase them. 

So, always choose the best helmet that you can afford.

An NFL helmet is typically between 4 to 6 pounds. This does not factor in any additional padding or inflation a player might do to customize the fit.

Final Words

Overall, it’s hard to argue against any of the helmets on this list. All of them offer some variables between “entry-level” to “professional play”, so part of making your decision will depend on your personal level of competition and commitment to pursuing football.

Our favorite helmet, however, is the Xenith X2E, because it’s hard not to be wowed by the abundance of cool technology that’s laden within this helmet. This is definitely a pro player’s helmet, and anybody that purchases this helmet will immediately feel and reap the benefits.

Xenith X2E

Our Favorite Helmet

  • X2E’s shock absorbing technology is simply cutting-edge.
  • 5-star rated by Virginia Tech.
  • Mitigates linear and rotational forces.
  • Ton of flexibility in the shell.

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Resources:

  1.  Schutt Sports. Retrieved from https://www.schuttsports.com/football/vengeance/vtd-ii/?SID=701rrkpj8s045ub7op9fefsak6
  2. EPIC+ Youth. Retrieved from https://www.xenith.com/products/epic-plus-youth-helmet
  3. Riddell Speed Youth Helmet. Retrieved from https://www.riddell.com/riddell/en/Open-Catalogue/Helmets/Youth/SPEED-ICON-YOUTH/p/FB_HELMET_SICY
  4. A guide to proper fit and maintenance. Retrieved from https://youth1.com/football/gear-guide-proper-fit-and-maintenance-football-equipment
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