Russell Athletic Launches New CarbonTek With OS Technology, State-of-the-Art Shoulder Pad System
Russell Athletic introduced “CarbonTek with OS Technology™”, the brand’s first ever, football shoulder pad system that changes the game. The Sports Techie community was able to speak with Russell Athletics’ VP of Design & Development, Sarah Gholston, about their revolutionary football product made for professional players and Division I teams and athletes. The CarbonTek differs from other vendors protection because it provides football players with the latest evolution in protective gear, a fast-growing niche market. The new shoulder pad system has been tested on-field by elite athletes and undergone scientific and field evaluations by leading experts to demonstrate superior impact management, fit and performance.
CarbonTek with OS Technology
The news today out of Bowling Green, Kentucky, that Russell Brands, LLC introduced “CarbonTek with OS Technology™” (patent pending), the first ever Russell Athletic® football shoulder pad system, is sports tech history. The CarbonTek shoulder pad system demonstrated a significant reduction in transmitted force in comparative testing with competitive products.
CarbonTek with OS Technology features superior protection with revolutionary design and fit. The CarbonTek sports technology was imagined, designed and engineered by Russell Athletic in conjunction with some of the best minds in protection tech, including collegiate and professional football equipment managers and training staffs as well as aerospace and automotive engineers, representing the latest in groundbreaking innovation from Russell Athletic.
“As a long time head football coach, I have seen football shoulder pads transform over the years. I am a big believer in staying ahead of the curve and doing anything I can to make sure my players have the best shoulder pads possible. Russell Athletic has been a great partner in helping take care of my players and going the extra mile to make sure everyone is comfortable with their protective shoulder pad. Russell’s new OS Technology used in the new CarbonTek shoulder pads and other products takes football science to a whole new level. It gives me the confidence to look a recruit in the eye and tell him that I am doing everything I can keep him safe.”
Head Football Coach
University of Cincinnati
In addition, Russell Athletic ambassador, New Orleans Saints running back and former Alabama football 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram has been and will continue to wear the pad throughout the 2014 NFL Season.
“Russell Athletic has a long tradition of manufacturing sporting goods that push the category forward, and we are very excited about the CarbonTek shoulder pad system,” said Robby Davis, Russell Athletic Sr. Vice President General Manager. “This is an important category for us and our industry. We believe there has been a particular void in innovation in the shoulder pad space. That’s where CarbonTek comes in—we can utilize Russell Athletic’s roots in football and dedication to quality and innovation to create what we believe is a product with superior impact management, a lower profile and a better fit for players.”
At the core of the CarbonTek with OS Technology shoulder pad system are two revolutionary materials combining for a unique protective advantage: an automotive grade foam vest and a 100% carbon fiber exoskeleton. This unique design combines to offer the athlete the following product attributes:
OS Technology Compression Vest
- Fabric and design hold padding close to the body for maximum protection
- X-ray images are visible while wearing the padding system
- Can be used without exoskeleton for non-contact days
- Odor management technology
- Machine Washable
Carbon Fiber Exoskeleton
- 100% Aerospace grade carbon fiber resulting in 10% reduction in weight vs. competitors
- Better impact management than traditional plastic
- Exoskeleton molded to fit an athlete’s body
- Military-grade buckle system for secure fit that reduces bulk
Sports Science Testing
Russell Athletic enlisted the help of industry experts to test the CarbonTek with OS Technology including sports equipment specialists and elite football players. Sports equipment scientist, Dr. Richard Brandt, conducted a series of laboratory tests on impact forces and energy dispersion and in the process developed a new, innovative shoulder pad study (patent pending).
In lab testing conducted by, Dr. Brandt, the CarbonTek outperformed other shoulder pads tested in all assessed aspects of impact dispersion, with the most notable finding being a more than 63% reduction in the average force felt through the CarbonTek shoulder pad system in a 600 pound impact test.
“We subjected the CarbonTek shoulder pad and the best alternative pads to controlled rigorous impact tests in order to determine which pad was most effective in reducing the large impact forces experienced by football players,” Dr. Brandt, founder of Sports Science Inc. said. “To simulate the collisions experienced by these players, we impacted a pad-protected human torso model, appropriately modified and instrumented, with solid loads chosen to reproduce the large forces encountered in player collisions. In these tests, CarbonTek outperformed the other shoulder pads tested in all assessed aspects of impact dispersion, with the most notable finding being a more than 63% reduction in the average force felt through the CarbonTek shoulder pad system in a 600 pound impact test.”
You can find more information about CarbonTek with OS Technology™ atwww.carbontekshoulderpads.com.
About RUSSELL BRANDS, LLC For more than 100 years, Russell Brands, LLC, has supplied America’s athletes and teams with the latest innovations to help them perform at their best and is a leading supplier of apparel and team uniforms at the high school, college and professional levels. Russell’s collegiate licensed products and athletic wear are broadly distributed and marketed through department stores, sports specialty stores, retail chains and college bookstores. For more information, please visit www.RussellAthletic.com, facebook.com/russellathletic, Twitter.com/RussellAthletic.
DISCLAIMER: Russell Athletic commissioned Sports Science, Inc., to develop and conduct impact testing on various shoulder pad models including the CarbonTek Shoulder Pad. While the testing indicated that the CarbonTek Shoulder Pad offered improved impact management compared to the other shoulder pad models tested, no claim is made by Russell Athletic that the CarbonTek Shoulder Pad will reduce football injuries. No shoulder pad can eliminate the risk of serious injury while participating in football. The testing measured various impact force dispersion rates based on varying levels of consistent force applied to each pad. The level of force applied was determined to be typical of the range of impact players may experience while playing a live football game, with impact force dispersion measured at an average of six-hundred pounds (600 lbs.).
Sports Techie, I like that Russell Athletics went at this with a new approach to designing, testing and manufacturing OS Technology. The testing methods have never been used before and the resulting Big Data is unique to the OS Technology because if was conducted by 3rd party, Independent testers who used their own methods. Over 85 pads have been tested resulting in validating data and positive human feedback.
Gholston told me that comments from 11 Auburn University athletes that wore OS Technology in the 2013 BCS National Championship football game verified to Russell Athletics that lab results was the same as field data. The results indicated a greater dispersion of force throughout the pad. Users said “Hot Spot” areas are no longer a high speed impact concern and recovery from hits is a serious competitive advantage because of the sound engineering and awesome fit.
The CarbonTek with OS Technology combines materials with Russell Athletic’s knowledge of athletic performance management products to create a dynamic new shoulder pad system that represents the latest in groundbreaking innovation from Russell Athletic.
New materials were used to create the exoskeleton and vest. The dual-density, two-sided foam covers the skin side and is slightly softer than the exterior layer. Foam is used both on the inside and outside and comes in a new shape much like an oblate spheroid, or OS. With the influence of Tier I automobile suppliers, heavy emphasis was placed on designing more surface area improving collision and impact protection. The 360 degree protection, performance and comfort are a trend setter.
The carbon fiber shell was also morphed from automobile, in addition to aeronautical company suppliers, resulting in lighter overall weight by 10 percent over standard pads. It is heat resistant for those of you who play in high temperature climates or players that have bodies that burn hot like I do. The antimicrobial material in the vest and foam will stop those obnoxious smells pads can create when perspiration and dirt is present. Moisture management is another feature that is a real football difference-maker. Remove it, machine wash it and let it hang dry. This is one of several hygiene features equipment managers are raving about. The hardware replacement kit takes a screw driver to change out the military grade technical gear, side buckling system and straps. They do not use metal buckles.
A feature that caught my eye is the ability for OS Technology to be X-Ray friendly. If a player sustains a major injury, it not necessary to cut the shoulder pads off. The materials allow the x-ray’s to penetrate the shell providing hospital doctors and team trainers a look at the damage without destroying the product and putting the player at discomfort when removing the pads as is current standard procedure.
Player positions such as QB/WR/DB have an epaulet, the OL/DL and the multipurpose CarbonTek Shoulder Pad Exoskeleton covers all the other positions. Fitting is based on chest size. I asked whether body type is a sizing factor. Sarah said, “Sizes range from small to XXXL. The length of the exoskeleton can be customized to match a longer torso.” Customizing is handled directly through their web site.
The retail cost is $500. A low-end shoulder pad is at least $200 while most run in the $300-$500 range for customized pads. The OS Technology superior foam performance, stronger shell and the molded arch shape is a Sports Techie winner because it is designed for speed, has a compression vest system while offering players better extension, allowing for athletes to wrap up opponents when making correct form tackles. I asked what the product warranty was and Gholston replied, “There is no warranty but is not made to be a one-year product.”
Next up are more accessories, a football girdle and shirts in the near future. The proprietary system can be tweaked for other contact sports such as lacrosse, hockey and rugby.
Orders are pouring in, says Gholston, who is also in charge of Merchandising. Look for NCAA teams or players in the PAC-12, ACC and SEC, as well as the Big-10 and Big-12, to be outfitted in OS Technology this season. Pro NFL players are making online purchases. I played collegiate lacrosse and freshman high school football and wish OS Technology was around back then but it is now so buy it today, your body and brain will be happy you did so.
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One response to “Russell Athletic Launches New CarbonTek With OS Technology, State-of-the-Art Shoulder Pad System”
Kudo’s to Sarah and the rest of the Russell Athletic product development team. Serious innovation has been lacking in the team sports industry for many years. I hope that other companies will take this new product introduction as inspiration to put higher funding in product research and development. Companies like Russell Athletic, Zenith and Evoshield are positioning themselves for the future. Other companies need to get on the band wagon. I hope that in the future we can see new innovative products from companies like; Wilson SG, Rawlings SG, Easton, Louisville and Mizuno. These are great brands but their product lines have shown very little innovation over the years.