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How Much Does A College Football Helmet Weigh?

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When football players take the field, they wear what looks like a lot of safety gear. How much does the helmet that a college football player wears weigh?

How Much Does A College Football Player’s Helmet Weigh?

About 4 to 5 pounds, depending on the type of plastic and padding. The weight does vary by position as some players prefer to have more padding and a more significant facemask. Overall, helmet technology has come around to the point where 4 to 5 pounds is acceptable and helpful.

We’ll examine the purpose of a college football helmet as well as what materials are used to arrive at the fairly common weight. 

While the actual weight of a helmet can range as low as 3 pounds for some positions, the more typical weight of a college football player’s helmet is 4 to 5 pounds.

Weight is rather important in the world of college sports – and football for a variety of reasons. 

An extra ounce, or a whole pound, can make a significant impact on performance as running with more weight on is more difficult.

Athletes also want to be careful not to wear a helmet that is heavy enough to have extra neck strain because that increases the chance of injury.

Football equipment is heavy and weighs enough already, even with the lightest of gear.

What gives a helmet weight?

Helmets have a bit of heft behind them. That’s not really a bad thing, as helmets can be broken down into several elements that are up to 3 pounds or more. Let’s look at the pieces.


A hard exterior shell is needed to protect players from the impact of other players and the ground. The most common material used today for the plastic exterior is molded polycarbonate.

Interior Padding

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The inside of the helmet has a layer of foam that is meant to hold the player’s head in place a bit and give the head a soft place to land in the chance of a potential brain-rattling hit.

Note that the NFL and player safety studies have shown that the player needs some amount of movement within the padding on the helmet, so they don’t want to wear a helmet that has excess interior padding that “hugs” their head, so much as a dense but light foam that absorbs the exterior impact.

The average NFL lineman, defensive back, and wide receiver might have thicker padding in their helmet because they are the most likely to take a hit on a play.

The offensive and defensive linemen especially have the heaviest helmets because they risk hitting their head on nearly every play while the receiver and running back aren’t always involved.

Face Mask

This is a hardened plastic grid that projects the player’s nose, mouth, and eyes from impacts from other helmets as well as accidental use of fingers, feet, elbows, and knees to the face. 


Some players wear a visor. The visor itself tends to add very little weight to the overall helmet.

Can players reduce the weight in their helmets?

Potentially, though there is a fine line between safety and comfort. If a football player’s neck hurts or they otherwise become less mobile while wearing a helmet, they may need to adjust the helmet in some way to make it feel more comfortable. 

With adjustments aside, it is possible to find a lighter helmet with the same level of protection – it’s just a matter of working with the athletic department to get one that works well.

What’s next for helmets?

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We’ve come a long way in the last few decades. Helmets were previously made of leather. Until Bill Simpson, a former professional race car driver came along, helmets were very heavy and hard – and not streamlined for a running experience.

Instead, helmets were designed to avoid crack skulls though concussions and brain injuries are a much bigger concern.

The next step in head protection for college football and the NFL is the Guardian Cap. 

The Guardian Cap is a “hat” that covers a typical helmet and is made of closed-cell polyurethane foam with a filling that is meant to take an impact – and reduces the impact on your head by up to 20% if both players are wearing a Guardian Cap

These have been tested in the NFL for the first couple weeks of the preseason when they hit the most prior to the season.

The major difference is that the guardian cap is believed to be a bit cooler since it is more breathable, and has the potential to be lighter.

That makes it invaluable when playing football in the heat. The cap is designed in a way that has more crevices and packets – thus reducing the amount of weight on the player’s head.

These are likely to make appearances in NFL and college games soon.

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Key Takeaways

  • A typical college football helmet weights 3 to 5 pounds depending on their desire and positions
  • The helmet’s purpose is to prevent concussions and brain injuries as well as impacts to the nose, mouth, and eyes
  • An offensive or defensive lineman might have a helmet with thicker padding because they take impact on many of the game’s plays
  • New technology is coming that offers the players an additional layer of protection within a foam that is strapped to the exterior of the helmet.
  • Helmets have become significantly lighter over the last few decades and were previously designed to avoid skull fractures instead of preventing more frequent brain injuries.

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