The Complete Guide to Lacrosse Gear: How to Choose the Best Equipment for Your Needs

Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in North America. As more and more athletes from youth to college take up lacrosse, having the right gear is essential for safety, comfort and high performance on the field. This comprehensive guide will provide you with expert advice and recommendations on choosing the best lacrosse equipment for your needs and budget.

Whether you’re a beginner picking up a stick for the first time or a seasoned player looking to up your game, having properly fitted pads, an optimal lacrosse stick, and other key accessories can give you an edge over your competition. We’ll review the essential lacrosse gear by position, top choices for sticks, helmets, gloves, pads, cleats, bags and more. You’ll also find key factors to consider when shopping for lacrosse equipment, plus tips for caring for your gear.

Ready to gear up for your best season yet? Let’s dive in!

Finding the Right Lacrosse Stick

The lacrosse stick is the most important piece of gear for players. Lacrosse sticks come in different shapes, sizes, materials and configurations depending on the position and skill-level they are designed for. Here’s an overview of the types of sticks:

Attack: Attack sticks have narrower heads that allow for better ball control and quick passing/shooting in tight spaces. They are lightweight and optimized for offensive players.

Midfield: Midfield lacrosse sticks have a balance of ball control and scooping ability for all-around play. Their heads are a moderate width.

Defense: Wider heads on defensive sticks allow defenders to scoop up ground balls and intercept passes. Their length helps defend against attackers.

Goalie: Goalie sticks have extra wide heads and areas to block shots along with improved durability. Goalie heads must be 10-12 inches wide.

When choosing a lacrosse stick, consider your position as well as size and skill level. For example, youth players may want more lightweight sticks for quick handling while taller/stronger players can handle more rugged sticks. Budget is also a factor – cheaper sticks work fine for beginners while serious players may invest over $150 for high-end sticks.

Here are our picks for the top lacrosse sticks by position:

Best Attack Sticks

For beginners: STX Lacrosse Stallion 50 Attack Stick – An affordable attack stick with excellent durability from a trusted brand. Fiberglass shaft and ABS plastic head.

Intermediate players: Maverik Optik Attack Lacrosse Stick – Provides great feel and control with its hybrid carbon shaft and nylon head. A step up for developing players.

Advanced players: Nike Vapor Attack Stick – The lightest attack stick available at under 9 ounces. Made with premium materials for elite-level performance.

Best Midfield Sticks

For beginners: Warrior Evo 5 Lacrosse Stick – This budget composite stick offers nice balance and feels like a stick beyond its price range. Great entry-level option.

Intermediate players: STX Lacrosse Exult 600 – A strong alloy shaft with Exult 6 alloy handle make this stick lightweight yet sturdy for improving middies.

Advanced players: East Coast Dyes Carbon Pro – The ultimate pro-level stick with handmade construction and ultra lightweight carbon for incredible quickness.

Best Defense Sticks

For beginners: Maverik Charger – This beginner-friendly stick has a wide head for checking and scooping ground balls. Its stiff shaft adds control.

Intermediate players: Warrior Burn Diamond Defense – Excellent stiff alloy shaft paired with Warrior’s diamond defense head for added ball protection.

Advanced players: Epoch Dragonfly Phantom – High-end carbon fiber and hybrid shaft construction stands up to slashing and throwing big checks. Great reach.

Best Goalie Sticks

For beginners: STX Shield 100 – With a basic yet sturdy alloy shaft and wide head, this stick makes saving shots doable for young goalies.

Intermediate players: Maverik Rome NXT Goalie Stick – An upgraded goalie stick with better durability and stiffer shaft optimized for blocking shots. Nice price range.

Advanced players: Warrior Nemesis 2 – A top-shelf goalie war stick featuring high-grade materials and an extra wide triangular head. The stiff carbon handles heavy shots.

When buying a stick, it also helps to consider the pocket type that suits your style of play. Mesh pockets provide nice hold and ball control while traditional leathers and synthetics offer more customized stringing.

Be sure you know the proper way to string your stick – double check that the pocket depth and dimensions meet regulation requirements for your league. Improper pockets can be illegal and result in penalties during games.

Take good care of your stick by storing it properly, re-taping the handle when worn, and fixing any loose strings in the head. A well-maintained stick will last longer while giving you prime performance.

Essential Protective Lacrosse Gear

While the stick gets all the glory, lacrosse requires plenty of protective equipment to keep players safe during those all out battles for ground balls and bone-crushing hits. Protective gear is mandatory in all levels of organized lacrosse – here’s what you need:

Helmet – Lacrosse helmets consist of a hard outer shell, inner padding, facemask, and chinstrap. Must meet NOCSAE standards.

Shoulder Pads – Worn under the jersey, these have hard caps on the shoulder with foam padding down the chest.

Gloves – Provide padded protection on the back of the hand and palm, plus improved grip.

Arm Pads – Optional for some positions but useful for shielding the forearm area from checks.

Mouthguard – Crucial for protecting the teeth and mouth area from direct impact.

The type of protective gear can vary slightly by position but all players need adequate padding to shield their body from injury. Goalies in particular wear extra equipment like throat protectors and chest protectors.

Here are the top lacrosse protective gear picks by category:

Best Lacrosse Helmets

For beginners: Cascade CS Junior Lacrosse Helmet – Provides great protection for youth players with a dial-fit system for customized fit. Meets all safety standards.

Intermediate players: Warrior Regulator II Lacrosse Helmet – A step up in protection with polycarbonate shell and 20 air vents for ventilation. Improved ponytail compatibility.

Advanced players: Cascade S Lacrosse Helmet – Impressively lightweight but extremely protective helmet equipped with Poron XRD foam that manages high impact. Ultra comfortable liner.

Top Lacrosse Shoulder Pads

For beginners: Brine King 3.0 Lacrosse Shoulder Pads – Lightweight, low-profile pads focus protection on key contact points. Good mobility.

Intermediate players: Maverik Rome NX Shoulder Pads – Bulkier shoulder caps improve protection while ventilation channels cut down on weight. Great value.

Advanced players: Warrior Regulator II Shoulder Pads – High-end shoulder pads with carbon fiber caps and removable bicep guards. Contoured foam provides elite-level protection.

Best Lacrosse Gloves

For beginners: Brine King 3.0 Lacrosse Gloves – Basic gloves with molded foam padding on the back of hands/fingers and ventilation holes for breathability.

Intermediate players: Maverik Rome NXT Gloves – These provide substantial padding on the palms and customizable cuffs for a secure fit during play.

Advanced players: Warrior Regulator II Pro Gloves – Featuring advanced materials like Poron XRD and D3O to absorb even elite-level checks. Great dexterity.

Top Lacrosse Arm Pads

For beginners: Maverik Rome Arm Guards – With dual-density foam and abrasion resistant caps, these basic arm pads get the job done on a budget.

Intermediate players: STX Stallion Arm Guards – Mid-level padded sleeves with molded plastic caps on the elbows and forearms. Grow with young players.

Advanced players: Warrior Regulator II Arm Pads – Top protection including carbon fiber caps and adjustable straps for secure fit. Lightweight and breathable.

Best Lacrosse Mouthguards

For beginners: Shock Doctor Gel Max Convertible Mouthguard – Well-fitted gel mouthguard that’s convertible for Braces wearers. Good protection at a beginner price.

Intermediate players: SISU 1.6 Adult Mouthguard – This slim, customizable boil-and-bite guard offers great protection. Allows for easy breathing/hydration.

Advanced players: Battle Oxygen Predator Mouthguard – Impression-molded guard enables easy talking and breathing during play. Provides ultimate fit and protection.

Proper sizing and fit is crucial when buying any lacrosse protective gear. Be sure to measure arm span, torso/chest size, waist size, helmet circumference and other dimensions against sizing charts. Gear that is too large can hinder mobility while undersized equipment leaves you exposed. Most lacrosse gear comes in youth/adult divisions – adult sizes start around age 14-15.

Safety certification is also key when choosing helmets, gloves and other gear especially for youth players. All equipment should meet NOCSAE or SEI standards to ensure adequate protection. Buying from reputable lacrosse brands also helps.

Take care of protective gear by inspecting for cracks or damage after games, washing padding regularly and replacing worn out straps when needed. This ensures optimal safety and extends useful life.

Finding the Best Lacrosse Cleats and Footwear

In lacrosse, sudden accelerations, quick cuts, and change of direction are par for the course. Having proper footwork and traction is essential on both grass and synthetic turf fields. That’s where lacrosse cleats enter the picture. Here are the main types of lacrosse cleats:

Molded cleats – With non-removable TPU or plastic studs, these are most common for beginners and younger players. Inexpensive and good on turf.

Detachable cleats – Screw-in cleats that can be changed for grass vs. turf. More versatility for intermediate/advanced players.

Turf shoes – Feature rubber turf nubs instead of spikes for excellent grip on synthetic fields. Some can convert to spikes.

Indoor shoes – Low-profile rubber soles for grip on hard indoor arena surfaces. No studs.

What should you look for in lacrosse cleats? Attack players prize responsiveness for quick cuts while D-middies need stability for physical play. Consider stud configuration – middle studs aid pivoting while edges add traction. Comfort, ankle support and weight are also factors.

Here are our choices for the top lacrosse cleats by position:

Best Attack Lacrosse Cleats

For beginners: Under Armour Highlight MC – Great molded cleats at an entry-level price featuring a supportive ankle collar and studs for acceleration.

Intermediate players: Nike Vapor Untouchable 4 Pro – Lightweight synthetic cleats with side zip for easy entry. Good traction from molded studs in a speedy boot.

Advanced players: New Balance Freeze 2.0 – Featuring cold-forged speed plate for energy return plus Detachable RipStuds for elite acceleration and cuts.

Best Midfield Lacrosse Cleats

For beginners: Adidas Adizero 8.0 – Affordable cleats with lightweight sprintframe and molded studs for new players.

Intermediate players: Under Armour Hammer MC – Solid TPU studs and external heel counter aid aggressive pushes and stability in the midfield.

Advanced players: Warrior Regulator 3 Detachable – Pro-level cleats with Warrior’s WarpSpeed chassis and detachable spikes ideal for midfield play.

Best Defense Lacrosse Cleats

For beginners: Nike Vapor Carbon Elite 4 – Entry-level molded cleats with solid traction from TPU studs and durable construction.

Intermediate players: Adidas Adizero 5-Star 7.0 – A metallic midfoot plate adds stability for physical defense play along with molded spikes for traction.

Advanced players: New Balance Freeze Detachable – Provides elite-level lockdown and support with its detachable spikes. Great for defensive checking and positioning.

For youth players, be sure to find properly fitting cleats by measuring the foot against sizing charts. Break in new cleats gradually before full usage in games. Replacing cleats yearly helps maintain support and traction.

Proper footwear like turf shoes or indoor shoes is also key when not on a grass field. Having shoes tailored for each surface keeps feet comfortable and performing safely.

Must-Have Lacrosse Bags and Accessories

Every lacrosse player needs a fully stocked gear bag on the sideline to store their equipment and must-have items. Lacrosse bags come in backpack or wheeled/duffel bag styles. Look for bags with plenty of pockets, ventilation for wet/stinky gear, and water resistant materials.

Here are our top lacrosse bag picks:

For youth players: Adidas Linear III Backpack – Roomy while still compact, with specialized pockets and straps to carry everything needed. A great starter bag.

For high school/college: Maverik Rome Lacrosse Wheeled Bag – Its large main compartment fits all your gear while the wheels make transport easy. Lots of pockets.

For pros: Warrior Pro Force Duffel Bag – A huge capacity ventilated gear bag built rugged for the demands of pro players. Room for everything including gloves and shoes.

Every lacrosse bag should also contain these must-have accessories and extras:

  • Water bottle – Crucial for hydration during hot practices and games. Look for squeeze bottles with straps to attach to gear.
  • Practice balls – Having backup balls helps you get extra reps in. Bring a rebounder or find a wall to practice passing/catching against.
  • Socks – Having multiple pairs allows you to swap out sweaty socks between events. Look for moisture-wicking athletic socks.
  • Uniforms – Pack weather-appropriate jerseys, shorts, sweatpants etc. depending on the weather. Always bring extras.
  • Protective cup – For boys/men, a vital piece of equipment for protecting the groin from checks and balls. Should have snug non-chafing fit.
  • Tape – Bring pre-wrap and athletic tape to re-tape your stick handle when worn or add grip.
  • Hand warmers – For cold weather games, pocket hand warmers can keep your hands toasty during play.
  • Nutrition – Pack healthy snacks like protein/granola bars, fruit, and nuts to refuel during the day. Avoid heavy/sugary treats.

Properly organizing your bag makes it easy to find items quickly on the sideline. Use compartments, dividers, and hard cases to protect delicate electronics. Sideline chairs, blankets, and umbrellas are extras for player comfort during games.

Buying Guide: Key Factors for Lacrosse Gear

With countless equipment and accessory options on the market, it can get overwhelming when gearing up for lacrosse. Keep the following key factors in mind when buying any piece of lacrosse equipment:

  • Fit – Gear should fit snugly but allow full mobility – double check sizing charts and measure. Ill-fitting equipment can hinder performance and be unsafe.
  • Position – Select equipment tailored for your position like attack sticks for scorers or defensive pads for physical players.
  • Skill level – Beginners can start with basic affordable gear then upgrade quality as they improve. High-end gear suits competitive players.
  • Certification – Helmets, gloves, eyewear, mouthguards should meet safety standards like NOCSAE – check labels.
  • Budget – Set a reasonable budget then look for best value picks. Buying last year’s gear on sale saves money.
  • Where to buy – Shop lacrosse specialty retailers for the best selection. Check sports stores and online for deals.
  • Ask for help – Consult coaches, teammates or store employees to find options suited for you.
  • Try before buying – Always try on helmets, pads and shoes in-store for fit, if possible.
  • Care for gear – Maintain equipment well for safety and longevity. Replace worn out gear like aged pads/helmets.

Investing in high quality protective gear, sticks engineered for your position, and accessories to boost performance is well worth it as your skills progress. With proper gear, you can play confidently and maximize your potential on the lacrosse field.

Wrapping Up

I hope this complete guide has helped demystify lacrosse gear and provided you with useful recommendations for choosing equipment as a beginner or seasoned player. The right gear makes all the difference.

The key takeaways are:

  • Determine the optimal lacrosse stick for your position and skill level. Proper stringing and maintenance extends useful life.
  • Wear all required protective equipment for your safety. Helmets, gloves, pads and mouthguards should fit comfortably while providing robust protection.
  • Choose lacrosse cleats that provide support and traction suited for your position and field surface. Whether molded, detachable or turf shoes – make sure they fit your feet.
  • Stock your lacrosse bag with all the essential accessories you need at the ready during games and practice. Keep it organized!
  • When buying any item, consider key factors like fit, position, budget and certification to end up with the best gear for YOUR needs.

Lacrosse is a thrilling, fast-paced game. Entering the field fully equipped gives you the confidence and edge to take your skills to the next level. Thanks for reading and best of luck this season!

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