Our Top 5 List of the Best Shoulder Pads for Lacrosse consists of several manufactures and styles that meet the new NOCSAE ND200 Safety standard, SEI Certified, and are approved for all levels of play in 2022.
In the fall of 2019, US Lacrosse approved a rule improve to shoulder pads in an effort to reduce the risk of an injury known as commotio cordis. Starting in 2022 all players will be required to wear the approved shoulder pads which will feature extra padding on the chest plate made to meet the new standard. Find out more about the new rule change in our other blog about this rule change.
Several Manufacturers have new shoulder pads on the market that are approved for the new rule. At Lax.com, we only sell approved shoulder pads, but be cautious when shopping on discount sites and 2nd hand sites, as we found many other places still selling pads that will not be approved for play in games.
When shopping for lacrosse shoulder pads there will be several factors to take into account when picking the right pair for yourself, player, or team. The first is choosing between a full shoulder pad and a liner or speed pad. The main difference between these two styles of padding is the amount of protection provided. Liners are designed with defensemen in mind and provide more mobility with limited protection. Regular shoulder pads feature a hard cap on the shoulders and biceps. These are designed for attackmen who absorb a lot of contact going to the net. You can find out more about the difference between shoulder pads and liners in our video here.
The next feature to consider is the type of chest plate. Maverik has a hard chest plate that sticks out from your chest, it is very lightweight, breathable, and lays flat on your chest. On the other hand, STX and Nike have a bubble-like pad that sits inside the chest plate, it is a little less bulky since you can tighten the straps to mold it to your body shape, but you can feel the pad more than on the Maverik style. Warrior and True have sort of a hybrid between the two options. We have found that it really comes down to personal preference and suggest trying a few different ones on or asking your teammates to try theirs.
A few other things to consider are the type of strap (velcro or clip), mobility, range of motion, and adjustability. We will break down some of the top lacrosse shoulder pads approved for play and list some of their best attributes below.
The Maverik M5 Shoulder pad provides high-level protection with Maverik’s External Kardiac Guard (EKG). This shoulder pad liner meets the new NOCSAE performance standard ND200 to help address commotio cordis. Our pros are impressed with the lightweight, and comfortable chest coverage that this pad provides. The hard triangular chest plate sticks out away from your body adding breathability. Durastretch panels lacrosse the torso and back allow movement with the body. Velcro elastic straps to tighten around the chest and the caps for the shoulder pad version are adjustable, but no other adjustment straps. This is a simplistic pad, designed to be lightweight, range of motion, and extremely comfortable and meet the new safety standards. Also available in a full shoulder with caps and a liner.
The Warrior Evo QX Shoulder pad is a nice hybrid of styles having a low profile chest plate but still meeting the new NOCSAE Standard. It is a full shoulder pad but has deep cuts in the arms for full range of motion and smaller shoulder caps than your average shoulder pad. The velcro straps are adjustable on the front and back and the bicep pads are removable. These pads are a great option for intermediate to advanced players on offense or defense. They provide a great comfortable lightweight feel while still being very protective.
The Nike Vapor Elite Shoulder Pad Liner is the most minimal of the bunch. Having a very large arm cut out, very small shoulder straps, and back panel. The chest plate is the “bubble pad” style and meets the new standard for play in 2022. This pad is for the player that wants the least amount of protection possible while still being legal for play. These Shoulder Pad Liners have adjustable plastic clips and no other adjustment straps. This is for advanced-level players that won’t mind taking a few checks to the upper arms but want the extreme range of motion and lightweight feel.
The Maverik Max Shoulder pad is one of the most protective, having large non-adjustable shoulder caps and removable bicep pads. Like the Maverik M5, the hard triangular chest plate sticks out away from your body adding breathability. The main differences here are the plastic clips on the straps and the molded plastic pads by the ribs and back rather than the quick-dry fabric pads. Also, available in the speed pad style with adjustable shoulder straps for added mobility and range of motion.
The STX Cell 5 nailed this design, they look and feel super high-end with super adjustable straps. The Geoflex material and 7 point stretch zones make a very comfortable fit that conforms to your body. They have a hard flat chest plate with a bubble-type pad on the inside to meet the new rule. Both the shoulder pad and liner have plastic clips on the straps and adjustable shoulder straps/caps and the bicep pads are removable. This pad comes in XS all the way to XL and can be used for any level of play.
Maverik Charger EKG Shoulder PadThe Maverik Charger EKG lacrosse shoulder pad is approved for the new US Lacrosse rules change to enhance heart protection for young athletes. The Maverik Charger EKG is the perfect shoulder pad for the entry level players.
Maverik MX EKG Shoulder PadThese are a step up from the Charger version and a step below the best-selling Max Shoulder pads. These wont fit the real little guys but is perfect for 6th-9th graders looking for the best technology in shoulder pads. Made with Maverik's External Kardiac Guard (EKG) their revolutionary pad that meets the new NOCSAE performance standard ND200 to help address commotio cordis. The MX is designed for new players, and to help them reach their highest potential. Our Pro's are impressed with the lightweight, comfortable, and protective shoulder coverage this pad provides. This traditional fit is designed for the younger player to provide comfort and mobility.