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Friday, October 29, 2010

Equipment Review - Adidas 111 Shoulder Pads

Although I have been a long time fan of Adidas shoes and apparel, I have not cared much for the Adidas line of lacrosse equipment. Instead of being made by Adidas or their subsidiary, Reebok, Adidas lacrosse equipment is made under license by a third party company, The Henson Group. The original product line looked bulky and inflexible. Last year's John Grant Jr looked like a major improvement, but was too narrow in scope and too high in price for consideration.
Earlier this year, the 2011 line was launched. Much like their original product line, the 2011 line featured three levels of equipment at different price points: 111 (top), 211 (middle), 311 (bottom). Since the launch, the company has announced that they will be equipping Notre Dame and Bucknell. Adidas is also adding several MCLA squads to its portfolio alongside Michigan, who has won the last two MCLA national championships wearing Adidas equipment.
After the Notre Dame announcement, an Adidas/Henson representative contacted me about trying some equipment. Because their first generation gear was so poorly received by myself and others, I eagerly accepted their challenge. Among the items I received was a pair of the 111 Shoulder Pads.
Of course I tried the pads on as soon as I yanked them out of the shipping box. I was stunned by their extremely light weight and amazing flexibility. Just trying them on let me know that I was wearing something vastly superior in comfort to the Warrior Hitlites I had been wearing.
I first wore the shoulder pads while running a clinic to get a feel for them in action (patience is not always my best virtue). As I ran, cradled, passed, and shot, the shoulder pads moved with my body. Unlike every other pad I have ever worn, they did not creep up onto my neck or shift sideways on my shoulders. When I finally took them off, I was amazed at how wet the Climalite lining was; I felt dry the entire time.
Having passed the first test, I was very excited to test the pads during Valley's fall ball Orange vs White game last week. Once again I found the pads to be extremely light and flexible. Even with the added pressure of a game and follow through checks, the pads stayed away from my throat and let me breathe easily. I felt dry the entire night despite the pads' dampness upon finishing; the sponge-like Climalite material is simply amazing.
Since I did not get hit enough during the game to really get a feel for the pads' protection level, I convinced a d-pole to take some swings and pokes. After about a dozen hard pokes around my mid section followed by some flat out baseball swings, I got a pretty good feel for the pads' level of protection. While they are not as tough as Reebok's 9k pads, they are comparable to the Warrior Hitlites. I could feel the hits, but not to the point of pain or impediment.
As a heavier guy, I have always had a problem finding a set of pads that fit just right. My large frame made getting the right pads difficult even when I was in top shape. The 111s not only make it around my ribs, but they also sit comfortably on my abdominal area. The pads stretch with my body which allows easy breathing - unlike other pads I've worn. The capacity to stretch helps prevent the pads from creeping towards my neck. In fact, the movement of the pads is so in tune with my body that I often forgot I was wearing them!
Comfort: 10

Flexibility: 10

Moisture Management: 8

Protection: 7

Overall: 8.75 out of 10

These pads will now be my primary shoulder pads; my Warrior Hitlites have been relegated to loaner duty. I am very interested to see how their technological innovations will perform in the heat and humidity next summer. I am also interested in trying the 111 gloves and arm protection, although Lacrosse All Stars' review of the 111 Arm Guards left me weary...
Regardless, I highly recommend the 111 Shoulder Pads to most midfielders and attackmen. Hardcore dodgers may find the protection lacking, however.

Thank you, Adidas Lacrosse!

Tribe 7