Company: STX Lacrosse / Product: Shadow Arm Guards / Price: $99.99
These days when I purchase my own gear, I am very picky about what I actually end up buying. I would much rather find a high-quality pair of pads and wear them until they fall apart. I really enjoyed the STX K18 Arm Pads I bought, so when STX started promoting their new Shadow line, I started looking into them more and more. It also helped that I was already in the market for some bigger arm guards, as I mentioned in the last review. When they finally came out, I immediately went into the local lacrosse shop to check them out. Needless to say, I left with a new pair of arm guards.
The Shadow Arm Guards look fantastic. Aesthetically, the lines are clean and the design is very pleasing to the eyes. STX seems to have pulled together the styling of the K18 and Cell II lines into their next generation of pads. Which isn’t a bad thing by any means, both of those were very popular and top of the line gear. The only reason I am docking them points is because they are currently only available in black, royal, navy, and red (or custom if you order the minimum required quantity). If STX wanted to, I think they could claim a huge stake in the market by offering these in more colors.
Once I started wearing the smaller elbow and arm pads, I realized how much I disliked the bulkiness and immobility of the larger arm guards. Even though I wanted to pick up some bigger pads, I was a little hesitant about how much flexibility I would lose. STX touts that the pads are made with a low-profile design that provides maximum freedom of movement. As I’ve worn them longer, they definitely feel more broken in. As all pads are at first, they were a little stiffer than what I had been used to. After some wall ball to loosen up the pads, they began to break-in really well. They fit great on my arms and I was surprised at the amount of coverage I received from the pads. The arm guards have a full-length spandex sleeve that helps to provide a more contoured fit for its user. They also have interior silicone nubs to reduce the slippage. The key word there is reduce though, I have yet to find arm guards that don’t slip, even if it is just a little as with these pads. There is also something a little different with the straps for these pads. As you’ll see in the following pictures, the top strap is your run of the mill strap with a piece of Velcro to secure it tight around your arm. The difference is with the lower portion of the pad that usually straps around the forearm – there is none. At first, I wondered why they wouldn’t have one there. Wouldn’t this make the pad more likely to slip down? Apparently not, because I would say this pad actually slips less than any full arm guards I’ve worn in the past.
The protection side of the Shadow arm guards is spectacular and at the level you’d hope for when purchasing full arm guards. The Shadow line of arm protection is made with PLUS foam technology, a 100% recyclable material (brownie points!). Since I’ve exchanged my K18 arm pads for these arm guards when playing indoors, I haven’t even thought about the hard hits on the arms and especially forearms anymore. I can ‘go hard in the paint’ without worrying about paying for it later. The elbow cap wraps securely around your elbow and the bicep and forearm pads are wonderful. Just as with other STX arm guards/pads I’ve had in the past, there is extra padding on the arm where the straps secure (or don’t secure in this case).
I have been using the Shadow AGs quite frequently each week for several weeks now and have been nothing but impressed with the quality and durability of these pads. I’ve seen no signs of wear and tear and all the fastenings and stitching seems to be very secure and in place. One of my pet peeves with pads, is when there are Velcro straps on cloth-type material and it catches and frays. If nothing else, it just looks bad after a while. The material on the Shadow AGs has a smooth, leather-like finish that will keep this from happening. In general, it just looks like it was made with higher quality material.
Ringing in at $99, they are a unique price in comparison to other arm guards on the market – here’s why. Looking at other top of the line arm guards around the lacrosse world, they fall in a weird spot, which I think really works out for STX. Warrior’s Rabil AGs are $110 but don’t have as much coverage as the Shadow AGs. The Brine King IV AGs are also $100 but might not be as durable. The Reebok 10k AGs are $80 and are known to slip quite a bit. This is about the same as you look through the other ToL pads on the market. Like I just mentioned, I feel this puts the Shadow AGs in a very good position. They are teetering at $100 but are as good an arm guard you can get from STX, and arguably on the market.
Overall Score: 8.2/10
I’m excited to see how the Shadow line of gear does this year. I think they could really take off and become VERY popular among both college and high school players. If you are looking for a more protective arm guard with great coverage and are willing to invest a few extra dollars into some better padding, then I would definitely recommend checking these out. They have also released the Shadow line in gloves, shoulder pads, elbow sleeves (interesting), and arm pads if you are into matching. Check them all out at STX.com.