The New “Protective Cap” Flag Football Helmet

Technology |  2 min. read

Flag football is about to get safer.   Good news for the kids who play the game (more than 1.5 million) and their parents.

That’s because the company (VICIS) that makes the top-rated helmet for NFL players, has just come out with a flag football version of head protection.

We say “version”, because it doesn’t look like this….

…that’s the NFL version.  And it doesn’t look like this either…

…that’s the youth football version.

The new headgear for flag football players looks like this…

…more like a soft protective cap than a traditional helmet.  No face guard.  No visor.  No hard plastic shell.

But it IS built with some of the same tech, and high-tech materials, as its top-rated NFL-cousin.  And even though the VICIS cap is new this summer, the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings has already named the VICIS ULTIM™ #1 in its class as well.

What makes it safer — is a combination of:

  • how it’s built — in layers, including a honeycomb-like structure that gives when a player gets hit. That helps soak up the impact.
  • what it’s made from, advanced polymers (the “advanced” word for plastics), made from petrochemicals.

There are several shock-absorbing technologies at play with VICIS products. The honeycomb material and padding is based on specialized polyurethane and poly(ethylene-vinyl acetate), or PEVAc for short, foams. They behave like supercharged memory foam and actually spreads the shock from a hit all around the padding. Polyurethane starts with benzene or toluene and as you may have guessed the PEVAc is based on the petrochemical ethylene.

The other technology, which is becoming more and more prevalent in advanced sports equipment, we have discussed in previous stories about professional football helmets and a new protective baseball hat worn by Danny Farquhar. It’s aramid fiber (like Kevlar®) coated with a secret sauce called shear-thickening fluid. The aramid fiber is made possible by the petrochemical xylene. The magic sauce (the fluid) is usually nanoparticles of silica for carbon fiber suspended in a polyglycol made from either ethylene or propylene. Oh, and that carbon fiber comes from polyacrylonitrile, which starts with propylene.

There are lot of questions about the safety of playing football these days, especially for kids.  ULTIM, and other high tech, polymer-based protective gear can’t answer those questions for kids or parents.

But if you have a son or daughter who IS playing, whether it’s flag football, high school or college — it is good to know that the helmets protecting those young heads, are getting better.