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In a position where shots can clock in at over 100 mph, the chest protector is not just another piece of equipment for a goalie but the difference between walking off the field or being carted off.
Chest protectors are built to protect your vital organs that are regularly in the line of fire and could be damaged if struck with the force of a normal lacrosse shot. A good chest protector has a solid padded surface that provides efficient protection without adding weight that can obstruct movement.
This guide to the best lacrosse goalie chest protectors goes over the new NOSCAE ND200 standard and highlights some of the best options that meet that standard.
New Lacrosse Goalie Chest Protector Rule for 2021
In an important move for goalie safety, US Lacrosse is requiring all chest protectors to meet NOCSAE ND200 standards at all levels of the sport beginning this year.
This standard is not a design change but solely a measurement of protection in the effort to reduce impact forces that heighten the risk of commotio cordis (cardiac arrest due to a blow to the heart area).
ND200-compliant products are certified by the Safety Equipment Institute and should include the NOCSAE Lacrosse label on the tag. You should also look for this label on the packaging of any chest protector you purchase.
Best Lacrosse Goalie Chest Protectors
We researched the lacrosse goalie chest protector market to find the best options that currently meet the NOSCAE ND200 standard.
Here are our top picks:
1) STX Shield 600 Chest Protector
The ND200-compliant STX Shield 600 relies on more than just trust in the company name to give you the peace of mind that you are protected.
A large floating chest plate guards your vitals without infringing upon the moves you need to make to execute on the field. Soft stretch points along the sides allow full mobility to your arms for that quick high-to-low save and quell any reservations about breaking the crease for clearances.
Personalization comes standard here with adjustable straps to customize the fit to your comfort. An additional removable stomach pad increases the coverage area by a third depending upon individual preference.
The main knock (if it even really is one) is that there is not a lot of feedback in terms of full-speed performance given that this product is very new to the market. As much as that “newness” is an asset, it also does not provide us with a ton of information as to how this chest protector will hold up…but maybe this is where you do look to STX’s track record of trusted performance in their protective gear.
2) Maverik Max EKG Goalie Chest Pad
Maverik has found their niche in the goalie market with a focus on position-specific products such as gloves and now chest protectors with the Max EKG.
The Max EKG employs its namesake padding to reinforce chest coverage in compliance with the ND200 2021 standards. Users celebrate its impenetrable top half coverage for those wayward high shots.
The progressive design, namely the sort of rounded teardrop shape of the padding, gives freedom to your arms while hitting specific vital areas in the top half and maximizing coverage on the bottom.
Now the cold shower: in Maverik’s war on the inevitable pad bunching that goalies face, they created a relatively stiff product that moves as one piece. This proves problematic with any rapid upward movement as the pad can regularly strike your helmet in such circumstances.
Additionally, users question the bottom half padding as you can be left trying to catch your wind on a stomach shot.
3) Warrior Nemesis Pro 19 Chest Pad
Warrior enters the fray with the Nemesis Pro 19 chest pad. This protector employs Warrior’s familiar Impax foam technology to distribute the impact of shots and minimize damage.
The three-piece construction is definitely the highlight of this protector. Removable pieces along the sides and bottom give you the ability to customize the fit and prioritize protection to mobility depending upon your preference.
The rub comes in the coverage area of the protector. Even with the additional padding zones in use, the protector is a bit short for those goalies with longer torsos so this is something to keep in mind. There may also be a break-in period as noted by some users.
4) Maverik MX EKG Goalie Chest Pad
Maverik’s MX EKG chest protector is a dialed-back spin on its Max designed specifically for younger beginner and intermediate players who do not require quite the clunky protector necessary for more advanced stages of the game.
Like the Max, the MX EKG emphasizes mobility with its teardrop design and employs the same familiar padding that provides elite-level protection at an entry-level price.
Unfortunately, as with the Max, the MX does bring up concerns regarding its solidity as a piece that can cause it to move in manners that may disrupt or distract your play. Additionally, the bottom half, while providing a larger cover area, may leave some more padding to be desired.
Overall, this is a great goalie chest protector to consider for any younger player looking to try their hand between the pipes without breaking the bank.
5) Budget/Youth Option: STX Shield 400 Chest Protector
STX provides a more affordable option to its Shield 600 with the Shield 400. It employs much of the same protection and mobility features as its more expensive counterpart at nearly half the price.
Like the 600, the Shield 400 gives you the ability to remove and add padding along the shoulders and base for flexibility. Adjustable straps provide further customization for maximum comfort.
To the negatives: the removable elements (shoulder caps and stomach pad) do have durability questions in terms of the elements holding them in place. These elements have been said to wear out quickly and not fit as smoothly as the main chest protector.
The Shield 400 is another great chest protector for a younger prospective goalie that will not hit your wallet too hard without sacrificing the quality that comes with STX equipment.
6) Budget/Youth Option: STX Shield 200 Chest Protector
STX offers an even cheaper option for chest protection with the Shield 200. The 200 keeps the basic design principles of its two relatives but with scaled-down material befitting its price point.
The Shield 200 is the most affordable protector on our list and possibly on the market, great for a younger goalie just starting out. This is a protector that you will not bat an eyelash at your young laxer growing out of.
The knock comes from simply a downgrade in the quality of material. Engineering foam is replaced with hard plastic that is up to code for NOCSAE standards but may not disperse impacts quite so efficiently. Additionally, the protector does have a much narrower frame which provides less coverage.
Lacrosse Goalie Chest Protector Buying Guide
Beyond our list of the best chest protectors on the market, we wanted to provide you with the tools to make informed decisions when it comes to a chest pad that we may not have covered.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a chest protector.
It’s in the name—chest protector—so needless to say this is the most important factor when choosing a product. The two elements of protection to keep in mind are padding and coverage.
Padding has seen a major leap forward with the introduction of ND200 standards, with reinforcement now being an emphasis around the sternum/center chest area. A lot of the high-end protectors feature foam with fancy names that distribute force at the point of impact to lessen blows.
Coverage area is the next major component. Does a protector cover the vital points properly and how long or wide does that area go? These are the important questions to ask especially depending upon your body type. A longer torso may need coverage around the base for instance.
2) Comfort & Flexibility
As always, comfort and the flexibility offered in a pad are two other huge elements to consider in the selection process. As much as you need to feel protected, it’s all pretty pointless if you cannot make the movements necessary to man the cage properly.
A lot of pads offer adjustable straps at each fit point—shoulders, ribs, waist, and back—to customize the fit to your liking. The additional removable components have also made this generation of chest protectors extra personalized to your preferences of play and fit.
Another major consideration is the rigidness of the central padding. Some pads will bunch during movement while others will be so stiff you end up with your protector giving you an uppercut at every high sniping shot you move to save. The latter scenario may be more manageable for those keepers with larger frames while bunching may be less of a nuisance for smaller goalies.
Basically, your body type is something to put at the forefront of your mind when judging a protector’s potential comfort and flexibility.
We always look for the highest quality we can get in a product; something that will last us for season after season.
Some elements to consider when it comes to longevity are the quality of straps (and their connecting elements) as well as the dependency on things such as Velcro in removable pieces. These pieces have a tendency to be the most vulnerable points when it comes to breaks so any questions regarding their quality should give you pause as to their durability.
Durability will be a hard element to judge considering the change over in chest protectors to meet the new ND200 standard. Most compliant protectors are barely a year old so there is not a lot of first-hand input in this regard. Trust your gut if you have any doubt as to the quality of a protector’s construction or material.
You need a chest protector that will not soak up sweat or external moisture over the course of a game. The last thing a goalie needs is to be carrying around a twenty-pound sponge for four quarters.
Some pads will note moisture-wicking tech built into their product. This is definitely something to look for in a listing.
5) Customer Reviews
As noted under durability, there may not be a ton of feedback on this new generation of chest protectors given the advent of ND200 coupled with the truncated 2020 season for many. Still, there is some feedback out there for protectors.
Like we say for every product we cover, do your own research. Look for customer reviewers as more and more feedback is always coming out each and every day.
Other customers are an invaluable resource in judging elements like durability and comfort; they can also help you escape the unspoken pitfalls of certain products.
And do your part as well—pay it forward by reviewing any protector you settle on as well.
As previously demonstrated in our lacrosse goalie gloves buying guide, the market tends to put a premium on position-specific gear and chest protectors are no different.
It may be hard to find something that fits your budget but do not forget that you are paying for one of the most important pieces of protection you can have next to your helmet.
If you are looking to cut costs, it is great to look at scaled-down versions of the top of the line outputs on the market. STX has done a tremendous job of putting out subsequent, cheaper protectors that still employ high-end design techniques.
Like anything though, you get what you paid for, so cutting costs here may leave you vulnerable in the areas of protection and longevity. Do not expect some of the cheaper options out there to last you season after season.