Schutt releases new Air XP Pro Q10 Football Helmet

For the past several years, Schutt has followed a similar pattern when it comes to releasing new football helmets: take a recognizable helmet shell and tweak the padding inside.

While this strategy hasn’t exactly changed the face (or head) of football, it has strengthened Schutt’s position when it comes to helmet safety. The Litchfield, Illinois-based manufacturer now owns five of the top six ranked helmets in the Virginia Tech Helmet Study and has six styles that have earned five star rankings. Those numbers figure to increase in the 2017 study with the recent release of the Schutt Air XP Pro Q10 Adult Football Helmet.

Following on the heels of 2016’s new offering, the Vengeance Z10, Schutt has taken its Helmet Stabilization System and applied it to the classic Air XP shell in the Q10. The system uses both internal and external stabilizers around the jaw area to give players a more locked in feel. Special jaw pads, also used in the Z10, work in unison with newly designed facemasks to provide addition protection to the side of players’ faces by extending above the helmet shell.

Other than the shell design, the biggest difference between the new Q10 and last year’s Z10 is in the front padding. The Z10 uses traditional foam wrapped in a faux leather comfort pad, while the Q10 has shifted away from that and put TPU throughout the entire helmet, including underneath the newly designed front pad. The lighter padding brings he helmet’s weight down to 2.95 pounds without a facemask. That weight doesn’t increase much when you add an included titanium facemask in your choice of style and color.

While the Q10 has yet to be rated by the Virginia Tech study, Schutt’s track record shows that if they’re releasing a new helmet, it’s sure to be given a 5-star rating. Look for the Q10 to start popping up on NFL and college fields during this spring’s mini camps or get your own on SportsUnlimited.com today.

Product Spotlight: Schutt Vengeance DCT Hybrid Youth Football Helmet

Vengeance!The health and safety of youth football players is paramount to players, coaches, parents, and us at Sports Unlimited.  At the core of the safety concern is the helmet; the one piece of equipment that is designed to protect the brain.  Using an improperly-sized helmet is just as detrimental as wearing a helmet that does not provide great protection from cushioning systems and advanced shell construction.

As safety is the most important portion of the decision-making process for buying a football helmet, price and style still have their place because gearing Junior up for football season is time-consuming and cash-consuming.  With all exaggerated grandeur, I do now present to you the new Schutt Vengeance DCT Hybrid Youth Football Helmet!

SchuttYVDCTH+

With Schutt’s mastery of helmet design and construction, the Vengeance DCT Hybrid is built with advanced protection technology in the most critical areas at an affordable price.  The front, crown, and back parts of the helmet are strategically protected with Dual Compression TPU (DCT) technology that has elite protection against high and low velocity hits.  This is accomplished with one layer of hard TPU supplemented by one layer of soft TPU to maximize the absorption of shock from impact.  Schutt’s extensive research and development have determined those areas (front, crown, and back) as the highest levels of impact, needing the most advanced defense.  The sides of the helmet are lined with a vinyl nitrile padding that supports and protects the rest of the player’s head. The comfort liner allows the DCT Hybrid to rest properly on the youth player’s head for a snug fit, which is not only important for comfort, but also for safety through proper fit.Back of Vengeance Hybrid

The immediately noticeable difference from this helmet to others is the brand new Vengeance shell design.  The largest standoff of any helmet manufactured, the Vengeance shell provides greater impact absorption as well as strength.  The shell is made of ABS plastic, which is lightweight and is featured on all Schutt youth helmets to bolster protection for any young player on the field.  Another impact of the new shell design is a redesigned Faceguard Line with offset eyebrow bars to augment impact absorption. Along with the face mask change, Schutt introduces the Twist-Release System to aid in the event of injury.  This allows the facemask to be removed quickly and easily.

AiR Maxx Jaw Pads TPU

Schutt is really pushing their TPU technology, which is yet again in the AiR Maxx Jaw Pads to protect the youngster’s face.  TPU is the same material used to make United States Armed Forces fighter pilot helmets.  The advanced protection of this helmet through Dual Compression TPU, Vengeance Shell design, and new Faceguard Line is truly shocking at the $84.95 price.

Expertly designed and packed with new protection technology, this helmet is one that we recommend with great fervor.  You can’t beat the price at Sports Unlimited and don’t forget that we’re rooting for the overall safety of all players and of course, your team!

I leave you with a video of  the Doug, our Web Team Leader and the DCT Hybrid…

By Isaac Clark

Isaac is a writer at Sports Unlimited.

New Schutt AiR XP Pro Football Helmet Unleashed!

Schutt AiR XP Pro Schutt is loaded with elite quality football helmets and they’ve added to the arsenal again.  An upgrade to the popular AiR XP, the AiR XP Pro Adult Football Helmet has been whispered about for some time, but is now available at Sports Unlimited!  Featuring Dual Compression TPU, the Surefit TPU Air Liner, and AiR Maxx TPU Jaw Pads, the beloved AiR XP is now immensely more safe in the Pro version.

Dual Compression TPU

The original AiR XP was made famous by its on-field performance and lightweight design, and the new AiR XP Pro maintains its light weight (3 lbs, 2 oz) with the added benefits of the most advanced cushioning system in existence.  I would say this is shocking, but when it comes to Schutt, nothing really shocks me anymore.  Consistent innovation and excellence are now the expectation from Schutt, and truly, they have not disappointed.

Surefit TPU Air Liner

We’ve witnessed the Dual Compression TPU (DCT) system in Schutt Vengeance helmets and by golly have we been impressed with this technology.  It is no surprise that they’ve moved on to add this system to the lightweight AiR XP series to improve shock absorption from both high velocity and low velocity impacts.  If you’ve ever been on a football field, you know how often collisions happen, and the way a helmet responds to these impacts is vital to the health of any player.  The DCT system simultaneously utilizes two types of TPU to best protect from every-play impacts as well as infrequent violent collisions.  The combination of protection and lightweight construction will surely make this one of the greatest on-field performing helmets we have ever seen and as Schutt spoils us with so many exceptional helmets to choose from, now is the time to give your game a boost with a brand new helmet with the safest, lightest, and strongest technology football has ever seen!

We, here at Sports Unlimited, are devoted to bringing you the very best football equipment because we take pride in our passion for the game.  Stay safe and practice hard!

By Isaac Clark

Isaac is a writer at Sports Unlimited.

2013 Sports Unlimited Football Equipment Draft – Top 10 Picks

Let's Get Started!Welcome to the 2013 Sports Unlimited Football Equipment Draft. With all of our minds on the upcoming NFL Draft, we decided to present our own style of draft that features the best of the best football equipment that you can find at SportsUnlimited.com because we want to equip you with what you need to make 2013 the most memorable season of your life.

We have randomly generated a draft order for some of our expert compatriots at SU and I will be documenting the draft so that you can stay informed with the top-of-the-line, most advanced products in the industry.  Here are the top ten picks!

1.  Schutt Titanium Big Grill 2.0 Super Pro XL Football FacemaskTitaniumBG2.0XL

With the luck of the draw, the coveted first overall pick in our draft goes to Andre from the Customer Service department. With every product still on the board, Andre selects the Schutt Titanium Big Grill 2.0 Football Facemask. Lighter and stronger than steel, this facemask brings the performance of a No.1 pick.  Peak performance with the most intimidating and wicked design on the market make the Titanium Big Grill 2.0 one fearsome mask only available at Sports Unlimited.

Quarterback and Wide Receiver Shoulder Pads

2.  Schutt AiR Maxx Flex Adult Football Shoulder Pads – QB / WR

With so many incredible products remaining, Jason felt the pressure when he was on the clock and let it get down to 00:01 before deciding that the Schutt AiR Maxx Flex Adult Football Shoulder Pads – QB / WR were worthy of the 2nd pick. I have to agree with him because the Quarterback to Wide Receiver connection can put six points on the board on any given play. Ultimate protection with strategically placed TPU and superb range of motion give these pads the best draft rating in the biz. Drafting performance and protection for some of the most important positions on the field is always an excellent choice.

3.  Cutters X40 C-Tack Revolution Adult Football Receiver GlovesBest Football Gloves on the market!

In an early shock, Steve from our Web Team is going deep with the Cutters X40 C-Tack Revolution Adult Football Receiver Gloves. Equipped with a self-restoring C-Tack grip and available in an array of colors, these gloves make plays. Steve knows that fumbles and drops can cost dearly on the gridiron and he wasn’t afraid to snag an elite pair of ‘hands’ this high in the draft. Great pick!

Mean looking helmet with superb protection with Dual Compression TPU lining4.  Schutt Vengeance DCT Adult Football Helmet

The fourth pick belongs to our wise leader and President, Don who makes the most popular pick of the draft with the Schutt Vengeance DCT Adult and Youth Helmets. Don goes with the numbers here because he knows this popular helmet lives up to the hype and “has been our number one selling helmet this year”! The TPU in the DCT is the same material used in United States Armed Forces fighter pilot and paratrooper helmets. Combined with a re-imagined shell design, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see this go first overall!

5.  Riddell 360 Adult Football HelmetThis may be the best football helmet in the world!

Having had head and jaw injuries in the past, I knew from the start that I needed to draft a great helmet. With Don having taken the Schutt Vengeance DCT off the board, my decision became a lot easier because my internal argument was between the former and the Riddell 360 Adult Football Helmet. With Concussion Reduction Technology, Flex Face Guard, and Riddell’s Hexagonal Liner System, I may have just picked up the best helmet in the world.

Vision on the field6.  Oakley Football Eyeshield

Web Team is here with another pick, and Steph, with an understanding of how important vision is on the field, dashes to our imaginary podium to select the Oakley Football Eyeshield. Steph trusts the Plutonite construction and HDO (High Definition Optics) technology from Oakley because wherever you are on the field, your decision-making relies on vision. The value here is playing smart and Steph’s team is going to be built on great vision and smart decisions.

7.  Schutt Vengeance DCT Hybrid+ Youth Football HelmetDual Compression TPU Padding

At the seventh pick, Doug, the feared Web Team Manager, picks up the product at the top of his draft board, the Schutt Vengeance DCT Hybrid+ Youth Football Helmet. “I like the combination of all the latest protection technologies and the value you get versus the Youth Vengeance DCT.” The innovative combination of Dual Compression TPU and traditional vinyl nitrile padding makes this youth helmet high in protection and low in price. This could be the steal of the draft!

New Balance Men's Football Lacrosse Cleats8.  New Balance 993 Mid Mens Lacrosse / Football Cleats

Michele, one of our Customer Service Supervisors, has the football knowledge and competitive spirit to know that winning on the gridiron takes great footwork and her strategy is speed, speed, speed.  She’s getting some traction with the New Balance 993 Mid Mens Lacrosse / Football Cleats.  These cleats were designed to have the versatility, durability, and lightness to make a player dangerous.  Speed with stability can go a long way.

9.  Wilson TDS Leather High School Football Approved for High School Play

We have back to back Customer Service Supervisor picks and this one belongs to Jamie.  One of the friendliest people around, he cares about our products and our customers, which is why he is going with the Wilson TDS Leather High School Football.  Without a ball, you can’t play and this beauty is approved by NFHS for high school play.  Practice your skills with the ball or play some catch out back because a tight spiral just looks better with an official ball. You can see and feel the quality with 899 full-grain leather.

All Purpose for any player on the field!10.  Schutt Y Flex All Purpose Youth Football Shoulder Pads

Ryan received the tenth and last pick in the draft, but with the expertise he has as a Buyer and Customer Service Manager, he can draft in any position and come out with a winner. He calls the Schutt Y Flex All Purpose Youth Football Shoulder Pads, “great youth shoulder pads that our customers love for all positions. Value is excellent.” Ryan picks for strength and versatility with these youth shoulder pads that feature Air Flex tech and vapor holes to maintain protection with great comfort. Safety is paramount whether you are developing football skills or playing at an elite level.

There you have it, our inaugural Sports Unlimited Football Equipment Draft is complete. I’d like to thank the participants for lending their expertise. I’ll declare the draft a success due to my personal happiness with my pick and I know you all were rooting for me. This draft could have gone any which way because the top ten draft picks were only a tiny sample of what SportsUnlimited.com has to offer!

Good luck this season folks!

By Isaac Clark
Isaac is a writer at Sports Unlimited.

New Schutt Vengeance Helmet Designed for Youth Football Players

Schutt Vengeance Youth

One of the highest-rated and most sought-after football helmets in the game today has finally been re-designed and re-sized to protect the young, developing grid-iron star! Schutt Vengeance Youth helmets have hit the market…and they’re not alone. In addition to the fully-featured Youth Vengeance DCT, Schutt has also developed new Youth Vengeance DCT Hybrid helmets, delivering the protection and performance of dual compression TPU, and the aggressive look of the Vengeance, at a much more affordable price for youth players.

Back of Youth Vengeance Helmet

The new Youth Schutt Vengeance DCT Helmet gives you all of the same amazing and innovative features you get with the incredibly popular adult version. A larger offset, Mohawk-style shell houses two layers of TPU cushioning, designed to absorb different levels of impact force, protecting developing heads from any kind of hit they’ll experience on the field. In addition to taking huge amounts of force, both layers of TPU never break down, develop mold, or compress. And because of the lightweight and rounded design, TPU also breathes naturally, so these helmets never get super-heated and uncomfortable. The Youth Vengeance also features the aggressive new Vengeance facemask design and twist-off bumper, for a great look and easy facemask removal.

The key difference between the youth and adult version is the weight and the fit of the helmet. Designed for smaller heads, the Schutt Vengeance Youth is built with an ABS plastic shell (the adult version uses a stronger polycarbonate shell) to provide solid protection while abiding by youth football league rules.

Coinciding with the release of the fully-featured Youth Vengeance DCT helmet, Schutt has also produced the Vengeance Youth Hybrid and Hybrid + helmets.
These helmets give you everything you’d get with in a fully-featured Vengeance helmet, but utilize a Hybrid Padding System, which combines the next-generation protection and performance of DCT cushioning with the traditional lightweight impact protection of vinyl nitrile padding. Strategically constructed with DCT in key hitting areas along the front, crown, and back of the helmet, and traditional padding in the sides, these new Vengeance Hybrid helmets give young players the latest look and protection, at an incredible value.

Schutt Vengeance Youth Hybrid Plus

The Vengeance DCT Hybrid is the most affordable option, delivering the Vengeance look and DCT performance with a basic, non-inflatable comfort liner.

The Vengeance DCT Hybrid + ups the ante a bit, with a more advanced SUREFIT ventilated air liner, allowing kids to inflate their helmet for a more secure, safe, comfortable, and custom fit.

Whatever option fits your needs and you budget, it’s just great to know that finally you can give your kids one of the most protective and highly-rated football helmets out there!

By Brandon Porter.

Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

Can I Get a Custom Facemask Like NFL Players Wear?

Can I get a custom football facemask? Can I customize a big grill 2.0 facemask? Can I get a Big Grill 2.0 for the ION 4D? Customers are more and more set on creating custom football facemasks for their game, but today, people are confused if this is even possible.

Ray Lewis Custom FacemaskCustom football facemasks have been a part of the game for years, but only recently have they taken on a completely new form, changing from mere performance and protection pieces into full on branding mechanisms! Starting last year with players like Justin Tuck and Chris Canty, and now with even more unique facemasks like the sick one worn by Ray Lewis recently, players are seeing the wide benefits of customized and unique facemasks. Custom configurations not only give football players a more aggressive look, and better protection, but they are also starting to identify players, make them stand out, and are getting people talking…like, in this blog for instance.

But with this big move towards facemask customization in the NFL, comes a clamoring for all of these new, unique, and aggressive facemasks from the masses of football players around the world! Not surprisingly, everyone from Pop Warner kids to NCAA College players want to rock their own custom football facemasks, to get the same look they see on their favorite NFL players. That’s why over the passed two years, since appearing on famous players, the original Justin Tuck facemask, and now the new Big Grill 2.0 Ray Lewis facemask have together become the best selling facemasks of all time!

Justin Tuck FacemaskSchutt Big Grill 2.0

But now people are starting to wonder, how can I get my own custom football facemasks?

The reasons are many. Some players want the new Big Grill 2.0 look, but on a helmet that the retail-produced facemask simply isn’t compatible with. They want a Big Grill 2.0 for the ION 4D, or a Big Grill for a Riddell Revo Speed. Others want completely new football facemasks bar configurations never seen before, to create their own look. Whatever the reason though, the question is always the same; where can I get a custom facemask, and how much would one be?

The answer is short, and unfortunately disappointing. You can’t.

According to football gear production companies, they simply cannot allow end users (i.e., retail customers…people like you and me, who aren’t professional football players like, say, Ray Lewis) to create and use their own faceguards. Many things come into play, but mainly, the issues are logistics, engineering, and overall, safety.

Creating a new facemask configuration for full production and manufacturing can be an expensive and difficult process, one which is too involved to warrant making only one custom facemask for one person. But in addition to the complications and costs arising from the production process, every facemask that helmet manufacturers like Schutt, Riddell, Rawlings, or whoever else creates and releases for sale, must be approved by NOCSAE (the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment), and unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily apply to NFL players.

NOCSAE FootballNOCSAE approval in and of itself can be a lengthy process, and is done to ensure the facemask is safe for use by adult and youth football players in regular game situations. It would be extremely difficult, and take a huge amount of time for football gear companies to create, manufacture, and have NOCSAE examine and approve a slew of individualized custom football facemasks for retail sale. And without the NOCSAE approval, facemask performance and in turn, player safety could be at risk.

It’s disappointing to hear, I know. But it looks like, for now, we non-NFL pro players are just going to have to settle for football facemasks manufactured and approved for retail sale. Thankfully though, companies like Schutt and Riddell have responded to the call for custom football facemasks, and are creating new and even cooler configurations for mass release all the time, developing styles similar to the Chris Canty, Ray Lewis, and Justin Tuck facemasks for sale!

Specialty Football Facemasks

By Brandon Porter.

Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

Attaching a Big Grill 2.0 Facemask to the Schutt Vengeance Football Helmet

Learn how to properly attach a Big Grill 2.0 facemask to a Schutt Vengeance helmet. Complete video directions include attaching an XL Super Pro and DNA facemask to the helmet. All directions can be applied to the new Big Grill 2.0, as well as any XL Super Pro or DNA style facemask.

In response to many of your questions and requests, we went ahead and shot a video explaining how to properly attach the new Schutt Big Grill 2.0 facemask to the equally new and equally cool Schutt Vengeance helmet! Our video explains how to attach the new XL Super Pro and DNA Big Grill 2.0 facemasks to the Vengeance football helmet, but it’s important to understand that these techniques can be used for any XL Super Pro or DNA style football facemasks!

[EDIT: Sadly, our Youtube page went rogue, so we no longer have this video]

The Vengeance is designed to fit specially designed Vengeance facemasks, as well as Schutt DNA and Super Pro XL facemasks. The sizing and attachment specifics can get confusing though., I think it’s important to spell out all of the details and hopefully answer some of your questions:

1. Only XL Super Pro facemasks will fit on a Medium or Large Vengeance football helmet. Unfortunately, no Super Pro facemask will fit on an XL Vengeance.

2. Attaching an XL Super Pro facemask to a Vengeance helmet requires no additional hardware (outside of those included with the facemask) or modification.

3. Regular size DNA facemasks will fit on a Medium or Large Vengeance.

4. An XL DNA is required if you wear an XL Vengeance.

5. To attach a DNA facemask to a Vengeance helmet, you must drill holes in the shell to accept the increased depth of the facemask design.

Big Grill 2.0 Questions

There are also some similar issues surrounding custom football facemasks that I’d like to address, to answer any further questions and dispel some rumors. For one, as of now, there is no big grill facemask for the Revo Speed, or any Riddell helmet for that matter. The Big Grill 2.0, and original Big Grill facemasks are products of Schutt, and are not designed to fit any Riddell football helmet, including the Revo Speed and 360. If Riddell develops a similar custom facemask, we will definitely stock it, and let everyone know immediately!

Secondly, many customers wonder why there is no Big Grill 2.0 for the ION 4D helmet? Although there is an original Big Grill for the ION 4D, the latest version, the Big Grill 2.0, is not compatible with it. For many, this is frustrating, because they’d like to get the look of the Ray Lewis facemask on their ION 4D. Unfortunately, Schutt is not going to produce a Big Grill 2.0 for the ION, because, with the introduction of the new Schutt Vengeance, Schutt is tapering back production of the ION 4D. This is not meant to reflect poorly on the ION 4D as a great, and highly rated helmet. It is simply a business decision of the helmet manufacturer.

By Brandon Porter.Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

New Schutt Big Grill 2.0 Facemask Now Available to the Public

The new Schutt Big Grill 2.0 football facemask is available for immediate sale at Sports Unlimited! The single most intimidating facemask ever created by man, the Big Grill 2.0, made famous by a certain New York Giants defensive back, will transform your game! Available in a wide variety of colors and styles, including the new Aqua Tech specialty color designs.

Schutt Big Grill 2.0 Football FacemaskThe wait is over and one of the most insanely aggressive football facemasks ever devised is finally available for sale to the public! That’s right, the infamous Big Grill 2.0 facemask (made famous by a certain New York Giants defensive end) is here and ready for immediate purchase (at Sports Unlimited).

We all remember where we were the first time we saw the original Big Grill on TV. It was unlike anything else out there; 6 horizontal bars and three vertical pegs made it look like a dangerous Darth Vader mask of intense football aggression. Then the guy goes ahead and one up’s himself…starting the 2012 NFL season with a completely new and even more ridiculously intimidating facemask!

Justin Tuck wearing the Big Grill 2.0The new Big Grill 2.0 revamps the original grid design, creating something completely unheard of. A modified ROPO (Reinforced Oral Protection Only) facemask with a 5 horizontal bar structure, and 12 diagonal bars cutting across the face, literally daring any opponent to just try and get his fingers in there. It’s intense athletic aggression sharpened to a razor’s edge!

Available in a wide variety of colors, Schutt has released the new Big Grill 2.0 in DNA and Super-Pro styles. The Schutt Big Grill 2.0 DNA facemask will fit on your youth or adult Schutt DNA Pro +, and the Big Grill 2.0 Super Pro will fit your youth or adult Schutt AiR XP, AiR Advantage, or XP Hybrid. XL versions of both of these Big Grill 2.0 facemasks are also available for players, to fit your extra large helmets.

For those of you with a brand new Schutt Vengeance, don’t fret; the The Big Grill 2.0 is designed to fit the Vengeance as well! An XL Super Pro Big Grill 2.0 will fit on any Schutt Vengeance helmet easily. But if you’re more interested in the DNA Big Grill 2.0, that will fit as well, with slight modifications. All you’ll need to do is drill holes in the pre-marked spots on the Vengeance shell, and the DNA facemask should fit perfectly.

Big Grill 2.0 Facemask Colors
Big Grill 2.0 Aqua Tech FacemaskFor an even more intimidating and unique look, check out the exclusive Schutt Big Grill 2.0 DNA Aqua Tech or Super Pro Aqua Tech Facemasks! Designed with permanent specialty coloring effects, Aqua Tech graphics turn your face guard into something sleek, beautiful, and dangerous on the gridiron.

Buy your Big Grill 2.0 today, and protect yourself with the single most impressive and aggressive football facemask on the planet!

By Brandon Porter.

Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

Today’s Best Football Helmets: Riddell 360 vs. Schutt Vengeance

Compare the design and features of the Riddell 360 and Schutt Vengeance football helmets, to decide which is the best football helmet today!

A lot of people have been asking, lately, what is the best football helmet; the Riddell 360 or the Schutt Vengeance, and I’ve found it a really tough question to answer!

Both of these helmets are the absolute pinnacle of performance and protection, from two companies at the top of their game. Schutt and Riddell have spent decades dominating the football equipment industry, and each of their next-generation football helmets are the end result of vast experience, endless experimentation, advanced research and development, and countless hours of on-field testing and hit-analysis. They both not only protect the player better, but with the latest facemask and shell designs, create a more aggressive look than ever before. And while it’s hard to say which the best football helmet is, what I can say is that both are really impressive!

To give you a better idea of what each football helmet offers, and help you decide which the best football helmet is for you, we’ll delve deep into each new helmet, investigate their advanced features and technologies, and review their designs. So without further ado, I give you the Schutt Vengeance vs Riddell 360:

Riddell 360Riddell 360

In a Nut Shell:

After analyzing over 1.4 million helmet collisions with their HITS impact-severity recording devices, Riddell concluded that many of the impacts that result in concussions are caused by massive forces to the front of the head. So with major re-designs and improvements to the traditional helmet, the 360 utilizes new features and technologies to not only protect the entire head, but shifts the focus of protection to the front of the helmet and the jaw area.

Most Interesting New Features:

Flex Impact System: To improve frontal protection, Riddell’s new Flex Face Guard, combined with new facemask hinge clips, absorbs more impact force, reducing the shock felt by the player and the force transferred to his head.

Enhanced Facial Frame: Expanded to protect more of the front and jaw areas, Riddell improved the face frame of the polycarbonate shell, reducing impact force from side hits.

360 Hexagon LinerHexagonal Liner System: One of the most noticeable new features of the 360, the unique hexagonal helmet liner not only looks cool, but is made of energy-managing foam that absorbs more impact force, while improving and securing helmet fit, and delivering comfort and stability to the helmet. This liner is extended around the sides of the football helmet and the jaw areas, adding even more protection to the front of the head.

Occipital Lock: Placed in the back base of the helmet, this new feature cradles the back of the head, creating a more secure fit, and improving comfort and helmet stability. It also helps protect the head in the case of backward falls and tackles.

All-Points Quick Release Facemask System: You saw the Quick-Release face guard system in the Revo Speed. Now the 360 steps it up a notch, giving you quick-releases at each of the four facemask attachment points, letting you remove the new facemask faster and more easily than ever before.

Our Impressions:

This is a serious helmet for serious players. If you liked the Revo Speed, you are going to love the 360. It is definitely heavier than the Revo Speed, but the new liner and frontal protection, along with the lightweight facemask make up for the added weight. It delivers a stiffer, more secure fit inside as well, so you’ll feel almost indestructible. The increased shell offset and more aggressive shell detailing are really impressive too, and give you a great look on the field. Because of its price and weight, I’d suggest it to high school, college, and pro-level players, although it also comes in a lighter-weight youth 360 version, which is great for really serious younger, middle school players.

Schutt Vengeance

Schutt Vengeance Adult HelmetIn A Nut Shell:

Three words; Dual Compression TPU! Years of clinical and on-field research showed that football concussions can result from consistent low-impact collisions, as well as less-frequent high-impact, violent collisions. So Schutt went about improving the popular TPU cushioning system, found in the ION 4D and DNA, to protect the player from both levels of impact force. DCT adds a second layer of less-dense TPU, on top of the traditional stiff TPU cushioning, designed to protect you from both the typical, low-impact hits, and the infrequent hard, high-force collisions, changing helmet protection forever!

Most Interesting New Features:

Two-Layer TPU: An outer layer of stiffer, harder TPU cushioning, and an inner layer of softer, less-dense TPU, protects the player from every type of impact on the field. TPU never compresses, cannot be cracked, won’t break down, and resists heat, mold, mildew, and bacteria.

Vengeance Mechanical Cushioning AttachmentsMechanically Attached Padding: Different than any football helmet before it, the Vengeance TPU cushioning system is now attached directly to the helmet shell with screws instead of Velcro. These mechanical attachments stabilize the TPU cushioning and keep it exactly where it needs to be, even after hard hits.

Aggressive Mohawk Shell: With the largest shell offset of any Schutt football helmet, the Vengeance packs more Dual Compression TPU in, for enhanced protection without a significant weight or profile increase. The aggressive shell also features a new Flexural Resistant Shelf, which makes for a stronger, more impact-resistant back-of-the-head.

Vengeance FacemasksNew Vengeance Facemask: In a radical move, Schutt completely re-designed the traditional football facemask, creating one of the most innovative, high-performing, and aggressive-looking facemasks ever seen. Its larger offset, flexible design and arched brow take the place of the popular Energy Wedge system, and absorb even more impact force than before, while also providing an incredibly wide field of view. Also, by not using the energy wedges, Schutt lets you use existing DNA and XP XL facemasks on the Vengeance as well as the specially designed face guards.

Fit Liner System: High-impact foam inside the football helmet’s liner increases impact protection to the front and crown, helping to improve force-absorption in critical and vulnerable hitting areas.

Our Impressions:

The Vengeance is a bold, aggressive, and unique looking helmet, that delivers inside and out. The new two-layer TPU is incredibly cool and seems to really absorb a wide variety of impact forces, while the new liner and foam system cradle the head and feels secure and comfortable. The new facemask takes some getting used to, but it looks sick, definitely absorbs more force, and gives you crisp and wide field visibility. Overall, it’s a heavier helmet, but with the aggressive new look and vastly improved protection features, absolutely perfect for upper-end high school, college, and pro players.

There you have it, my review of the top two helmets in football today. I hope this has helped you gain a greater understanding of what these helmets have to offer, and maybe answered the question for you, which is the best football helmet.

By Brandon Porter.Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

 

Should You Trust the Virginia Tech Football Helmet Ratings?

Explanation of the Virginia Tech STAR Rating for football helmets, and the benefits and objections to the study.

Concussions have always been a part of the game especially in football. But what was once referred to as simply “getting your bell rung,” has now become an incredibly serious health concern, leading to mental degeneration, persistent physical impairments, depression, and death. Concussions and Football helmets Among players, parents, and coaches, the growing fear of, and focus on concussions, their effects, and prevention have become priority number one, and for many, the first line of defense is the football helmet. Concussions are the result of a complicated event, with many variables, forces, and factors, ranging from the acceleration of the player to his genetics. Yet, at the end of the day, parents and players just want to find the best helmet to protect themselves from injuries. Unfortunately, consumers are really looking for a simple answer to a complex question.

Enter The STAR Rating System

After eight years of data collection, research, and experiments, in 2011, and again recently in 2012, Virginia Tech and their engineering department gave us an answer; the “STAR System” for rating the effectiveness of football helmets. Virginia Tech STAR helmet ratingSTAR, or the Summation of Tests for the Analysis of Risk, is a rating given to helmets, meant to describe their perceived effectiveness at reducing the risk of concussions. Each helmet is tested in an accredited lab, and using an algorithm developed by Stefan Dumma, lead engineer on the Virginia Tech rankings project, given a STAR value. According to Virginia Tech, this value is derived from 120 impacts on 3 new helmets, caused by dropping the helmet from a variety of heights, at four different positions, to simulate the range of helmet-to-helmet hits a player would experience on the field. After analyzing the results and data, the helmet is given a STAR rating, which attempts to define the number of concussions a player can expect to experience over the duration of one season, playing with that particular helmet.

2012 STAR Football Helmet Ratings

In 2012, Virginia Tech tested 15 adult large football helmet models using the STAR evaluation system. Helmets with higher STAR ratings provide a reduction in concussion risk, while those with lower ratings tend to provide less protection from concussions. Below are the published results of the 2012 STAR football helmet testing performed by Virginia Tech. Most of these helmets can be found at Sports Unlimited.  Please see the updated 2014 Virginia Tech Football Helmet Ratings.

5 Stars:
4 Stars:
3 Stars:
2 Stars:
1 Star:
NR:

Riddell 360

Rawlings Quantum Plus

Riddell Revolution Speed

Schutt Vengeance DCT*

Schutt ION 4D

Schutt DNA Pro +

Rawlings Impulse

Xenith X1

Riddell Revolution

Rawlings Quantum

Riddell Revolution IQ

Schutt AiR XP

Xenith X2

Schutt AiR Advantage

Riddell VSR4

AdamsA2000 Pro Elite

 

The Controversy Over Virginia Tech and STAR

Since it was first introduced into the industry in 2011, the Virginia Tech STAR rating for helmets has received both praise for informing players and parents of the effectiveness of certain helmets, and opposition from independent organizations like NOCSAE (the National Operation Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) and manufacturers like Schutt and Xenith, accusing the study of dramatic limitations and misleading results. The controversy over the Virginia Tech football helmet study has grown heated in the past few weeks, following the publication of the 2012 results. Press releases and rebuttal statements from Schutt, NOCSAE, and engineers from Virginia Tech have cast the issue further into the public light, and have people questioning, at once, the validity of the STAR ratings, and the intentions of some of the most trusted manufacturers in the game today!

Objections to the Virginia Tech STAR Rating System

Opposition from Schutt, NOCSAE, and others center on the authority of the helmet rating system and Virginia Tech’s methodology in the lab. Since the testing only focuses on lateral acceleration impacts (direct helmet-to-helmet contact) and ignores rotational impacts (the glancing blows that twist the head and neck), many believe its results and data are severely limited. Virginia Tech football helmet test

“We believe the assumptions behind the study have been flawed from the start because it fails to acknowledge that current science has yet to pin down the actual injury mechanics that cause concussions.  The STAR rating system is limited in too many ways because it considers only linear force impacts and totally ignores many other factors that are involved in a concussive event.”

-Cortney Warmouth, Director of New Product Development, Schutt

Although respecting the tests and results as a leap forward in understanding the nature and prevention of concussions, NOCSAE and Schutt have both expressed concern that concussions are too complex an event to draw any strong conclusions by testing only one of many variables.

“NOCSAE does not recommend that parents and athletes form decisions on the safest and most effective equipment based on any single individual data point, rating, or measurement, including the Virginia Tech STAR football helmet rating system. Doing so may lead to inaccurate conclusions that one helmet brand or model has a measurably higher level of concussion protection than another for a particular athlete.”  

– Taken from NOCSAE press release

Schutt has taken their objections a step further, even though many of their helmets, such as the ION 4D and DNA Pro +, have received top STAR ratings in each test. Schutt’s objection to the Virginia Tech helmet study accuses it of prioritizing lower-velocity impacts over harder hits. In low speed impacts, softer helmet padding tends to perform better and absorb more shock, while at higher speeds, harder padding has been shown to protect players better. Typically, softer padded helmets are better at protecting younger players, who are generally not getting hit as hard as college or pro players. For instance, the Schutt 2012 AiR Standard II received a 5 STAR rating when tested by the same independent accredited lab, under the same conditions, and using the same algorithm used by Virginia Tech.

Schutt AiR Standard II 2012“While it passes the NOCSAE helmet standard, the 2012 AiR Standard II is an entry level helmet designed for younger players. The idea of putting such a helmet on a player at any high school, college or NFL team is absurd. The fact that it’s the best helmet in the STAR rating system should cause concern for anyone relying on the system for purchasing decisions.”  

– Robert Erb, President and CEO, Schutt Sports

In response to these accusations, the Virginia Tech team has admitted its limitations and explained that its STAR rating is merely meant as a research tool, not a buying guide. Their claim is that some information on the effectiveness of football helmets is better than nothing. Virginia Tech STAR Helmet RatingIn Virginia Tech’s helmet study methodology, the researchers directly describe the test’s limitations, admitting the complex, multi-faceted, and variable causes and nature of concussions. Admittedly, their numbers and rating system are simply based on trends and probabilities. While they also admit to only testing linear acceleration as well, the team explains that while all head impacts result in both linear and rotational accelerations, Virginia Tech engineers believe a correlation exists between the two forces. So, as they explore the one, they are also exploring the effects of the other. Obviously, this is a complicated issue, one based in science and sport, but also rooted in health and emotion. In our quest to provide the most well-rounded, up-to-date, and unbiased sporting goods information, we at Sports Unlimited have tried to present all of the facts and varying opinions on this developing issue. But to get the full picture, we need to hear from the people using this information and buying new helmets. So please, feel free to share your opinions and feelings on the Virginia Tech helmet ratings below! *Update: As it was not available for public purchase at the time, the Schutt Vengeance helmet was not tested in the VA Tech STAR Rating Study. However, using the same lab (Southern Impact Research Center in Rockford, TN) and publicly posted methods and algorithms as the VA Tech Study, Schutt independently tested the Vengeance, as well as others in its Varsity level helmet line. They found the Vengeance to score a STAR Value of 0.185. According to VA Tech’s publicly posted ratings, a 5-Star Helmet is rated between 0.200 – 0.299 STAR Value, while a 4-STAR helmet falls between 0.300 – 0.399 STAR Value. This would actually put the Vengeance above 5-STAR rated helmets. However, although their latest helmet is technically the highest rated, Schutt still believes the test to be inevitably flawed, and inaccurate of a helmet’s actual in-game performance and protection.

By Brandon Porter.Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.