Top 10 Muay Thai Shin Guards
Muay Thai has always been synonymous with brutal training regimes. Aiming to produce tough-as-nails fighters, body conditioning in Muay Thai plays a central role in developing your ability to devastate your opponents. Taking up Muay Thai means that you’ll have to deal with a ton of hardship; and still show up for more. There is no reason why you shouldn’t do so safely though.
You may think that as a Muay Thai fighter worth his salt, you should be able to chop tree trunks with your shins. Unfortunately many fighters cling to the notion of hardening the body using outdated and often dangerous methods. The truth is, if you want to enjoy a life-long practice in Muay Thai, you’d better be sure that your body can carry you; starting with your legs.
Here’s a comprehensive guide to the Top 10 Muay Thai Shin Guards that will keep the purple “golf balls” on your shins to a minimum.
Top King is no “wet behind the ears” rookie to the Muay Thai gear market. The go-to option of many fighters, the Top Kings sacrifice good looks for cold, hard results. Not that they lack aesthetic appeal; it’s just that the Top Kings sticks with the traditional Muay Thai type of shin guards and pushes it to excellence. Their price is somewhat steep but on the other hand if they were cheaper, they would be too good to be true.
Bulk: The Top Kings provide a superb balance between size, weight and compact design. They are fairly narrow-built, without cutting corners in regards to protection level. They will keep your legs well-protected, while not looking like you’ve strapped tower-shields on your shins. The Top Kings allow you to comfortably kick your opponent to mush without exacting a heavy speed toll due to their weight.
Fit: Being on the traditional side, the Top Kings use the double hook and loop strap system, which is the standard. Although they cusp your legs pretty snuggly, you might need to adjust them occasionally during long-sparring sessions. Their only tiny drawback is that their metal loops are susceptible to rust, as they will be constantly exposed to sweat; nothing that can’t be fixed with a little aftercare.
Protection: The Top Kings start off a bit stiff, but this is only due to the uncompromising protection level they provide. They offer top notch all-around padding, with additional point-of-impact layering making them look and feel indestructible. Their lower leg protection is very decent; however, their ankle and foot padding is not as impenetrable as to allow you to kick elbows with impunity.
Another top brand in Muay Thai gear, Fairtex casts a long shadow. Protection is king for Fairtex and this becomes obvious the moment you strap these shin guards on. They comprise of two parts; the main shin protector part and the detachable foot guard which allows you to adjust it to your preferred height. This is kind of a big deal, especially if you are a beginner in Muay Thai. Fortunately the Fairtex shin guards are very forgiving.
Bulk: These shin guards follow the way of tradition in Muay Thai gear, which only spells good news for your legs. Solid, tough, and built with 360o protection in mind, the Fairtexes sport rounded sides which shield your legs better, while remaining comfortable and mobile. They are light enough to make you wonder how is it possible to cram this much padding in such a compact design.
Fit: The Fairtexes stand out thanks to two features: their detachable foot guard, and their shin protector’s 90o twisting capability. Adjusting the height of the foot guard allows for maximum comfort, while ensuring that your near misses bruise nothing but your ego. The twistable shin protector means you can customize your leg gear to your exact specifications, which makes sure your Fairtexes stay put during sparring.
Protection: “Rock solid” are the two words you’ll be thinking when you fire your first kicks with the Fairtexes on. These shin guards give you the impression you can kick through a cement column and only worry about the structural integrity of the building afterwards. Their protection level is phenomenal throughout their whole length, covering your leg from your knee to your toes.
The RDX shin guards are not strictly Muay Thai gear; they are designed for the versatility which appeals to MMA, Muay Thai and miscellaneous martial arts practitioners. If you are just starting out as a Muay Thai fighter, the RDXs are an easy choice. They combine comfort and high tech design with the solid protection you are certain to need. The RDXs are not the greatest, but they are great to begin with.
Bulk: RDXs are nothing if not light-weight and non-bulky, their dual padding notwithstanding. Since they are versatility-oriented they walk the fine line between MMA and Muay Thai masterfully. Thanks to their Shell-Shock gel technology and Supremo-Shock Foam padding, these shin guards can afford to offer solid protection in a neat and compact package.
Fit: The RDXs attempt – and succeed – to deliver on their promise of superior versatility. Since they can be used interchangeably in MMA and Muay Thai, a perfect fit is non-negotiable. Whether you plan to kick hard, or just soften your opponent before getting them in the clinch, the RDXs will stay on. Their combined hook and loop and velcro strap system performs impressively under pressure.
Protection: The padding on these shin guards makes up for great protection, with extra padding on the impact points. However, bear in mind that they are designed for more training environments than Muay Thai. Although the average practitioner is sure to be satisfied with the RDXs protection level, heavy kickers might find them a bit on the light side, especially at the foot guard area.
Hayabusa is well established in the fight gear market thanks to its modern design and the technology it integrates with its products. What the Tokushus lack in Muay Thai “purity” they make up for with their superb quality. The beauty of their design is beyond comparison, but these lookers are doers as well; ideal if you want a pair of shin guards that will allow you to cleave through your opponents in style.
Bulk: Being an MMA company, Hayabusa made these shin guards tuned for mobility above all. Light and compact, the Tokushus won’t stand in your way if you decide to wear your opponent down with a hailstorm of kicks. These shin guards work with you when it comes to speed, so the only thing to worry about is whether your opponent can take it.
Fit: If you have ever used Hayabusa gear before, you’ll feel right at home with the Tokushus’ snug fit. Thanks to their double strap system and their non-slip lining, they will stay put no matter how long or sweaty your sparring gets. Constantly adjusting your leg gear is more trouble than it’s worth for most fighters. There won’t be any of that with the Tokushus.
Protection: The Tokushus offer exceptional protection, which may initially surprise you, as they are an “MMA pretender”. They provide almost total shin protection and their foot guard section comes with more than enough ankle protection. If you don’t mind too much paying that extra buck for a set of shin guards that look, feel and perform exquisitely, you probably already own a pair of Tokushus.
Venum claims that their “Kontact” shin guards guarantee consistent performance whether you train in MMA, Muay Thai, or Kick Boxing; and technically that’s true. The Kontacts lean heavily towards comfort and minimal weight, favoring speed over protection. Being shin guard sleeves, it would be unrealistic to expect that you’ll reap all the benefits of standard shin guards. That said, they are probably the best value-for-money choice for light sparring.
Bulk: The best thing about these shin guards is the inexistent burden they put on your legs. With these on, you won’t have to compromise in the least when it comes to mobility and speed, but you may want to curb your enthusiasm when kicking hard or blocking. Kick full force with the Kontacts on, only if you are really into old-school conditioning.
Fit: The comfort level that Venum guarantees with the Kontacts is stellar. They will fit perfectly on your legs, like the reinforced socks that they are. Keeping them in place won’t be among your worries, even if you sweat profusely. On top of everything, the fact that you can chuck them in the washing machine to clean them, adds to the long-term comfort these shin guards provide.
Protection: You got the speed; now you must pay the price. Protection is not the Kontacts’ strong suit, especially compared to the traditional leather shin guards. If you are into light sparring, these shin guards will keep you safe and happy for a long time. Nevertheless, it’s best to pair them with leather shin guards, if and when you decide to go pro.
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There’s no school like old-school. And in Muay Thai gear, the Twins brand is as old-school as it gets. If you’ve ever trained in Thailand, you must have seen the Twins in most camps. The Twins earned their place of glory by doing what they do best: protect. If keeping your legs shielded by a wall of padding is your primary concern, and don’t mind a little bulk, these are the shin guards of your dreams.
Bulk: The Twins are all about that bass. They pack a ton of padding and it shows. Their wider frame may be off-putting to some, but if you don’t worry about their size, the Twins deliver the unsurpassed level of protection heavy kickers adore. On the upside, you can block anything short of a moving train with them, since they cover your shins completely; front and sides.
Fit: The first thing you notice when slipping the Twins on is how easy it is to put them on and off. The overall comfort the Twins offer is complemented by the fact that they don’t cover your toes which makes moving around easier. These shin guards take the tried-and-true route and they come with the standard double velcro strap system.
Protection: The Twins’ wide, heavier build stands in the way of your opponent’s kicks like a wall. Even if you don’t manage to block an incoming low kick with the reinforced front of your shin guard, the Twins’ superior side protection has you covered. Their only “Achilles’ Heel” is their ankle padding, which is a bit wanting. So technically the Twins have an “Achilles’ Ankle”.
Moving on in the “armor-tastic” territory of shin protectors, the Fairtex Competition model awaits. Smaller than their Twins counterpart, these shin guards offer good protection while keeping the whole package manageable. They are filled to the brim with high-density, shock-absorbing foam, which makes them a bit heavier. However, their elegant design distributes their weight evenly over a wider area making the Fairtexes very efficient indeed.
Bulk: These shin guards are neither small nor weightless. But in return for their bulkier build they over something well worth the hassle: maximum coverage. The Fairtexes extend from the top of your knees all the way down to your toes, making them the perfect option for beginners. Also the Fairtexes’ weight can be a hidden blessing, strengthening your leg muscles with every kick you launch.
Fit: “Excellence through simplicity” perfectly describes the Fairtexes. They follow a minimal, substance-over-style path to giving your great results, while still looking good. Their double hook and loop strap system leaves you wanting for nothing and combines quite nicely with their smooth curvature. If you want a pair of shin guards that looks like you could kick your way through the battle of Thermopylae, look no further.
Protection: The Fairtexes’ synthetic leather shell, along with their considerable padding, and their armor-like design provides total protection. Their bulk is exceptionally well distributed, since they cover your entire lower leg, even providing that extra inch of coverage to keep your foot intact in case you kick a rogue elbow. These shin guards will keep you safe until your become the kick surgeon you are meant to be.
Meister is a newcomer to the Muay Thai gear market, but it is here to stay. The Meisters are durable, light, comfortable, and they offer the level of protection that appeals to both Muay Thai and MMA enthusiasts. They incorporate the gel padding that is common for hybrid gear like this, but also pack the necessary high-density impact foam. Also they won’t get in the way of your speed-kicking thanks to their light weight construction.
Bulk: Since the Meisters hail from the world of MMA, it’s no surprise that they are compact and geared towards mobility. They are among the lightest shin guards you can get, without straying into shin guard sleeves territory. If you are a Muay Thai practitioner who favors speed over power and you like to pepper your opponent with lightning-fast kicks, the Meisters are definitely worth your attention.
Fit: The Meisters are made of real leather and the moment you put them on, you know a lot of thought has gone into their design. They come with the double hook and loop strap system, plus they sport a nifty rubber dot covered strap on the ball of your foot for superior traction. Also, their gel-enhanced design follows the contour of your legs, making it easy to forget you have shin guards on.
Protection: Unfortunately the Meisters suffer from the same downside all light-weight gear suffers. They are not really meant for hard kicking. These shin guards are best used in light sparring situations or by these fighters that want to condition their shins in relative safety. Their shin padding is within the safe zone though, even if you get a bit overexcited from time to time.
Hayabusa has accustomed its customers to high-tech, innovative gear and nowhere is this more evident than in the Mirai series. Their overall quality is exceptional and combines the best aspects of looks, feel and toughness. If you are willing to put down the extra money to get your hands on these shin guards, they are sure to escort you well into your veteran days as a Muay Thai fighter.
Bulk: These shin guards offer such high quality of protection is such a light, ergonomic design, that they are sure to turn the heads of even hard-core Muay Thai purists. Sure, Hayabusa is mostly known as an MMA brand, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by slipping the Mirais on. These are some end-game shin guards, offering top grade protection with almost nonexistent speed cost.
Fit: It is no idle boast that the Mirais may well be the most comfortable shin guards in the market. They provide superb fit without putting the slightest undue pressure on the leg. They feature Hayabusa’s patented Boa Closure System which can be adjusted to near perfection single-handedly. This kind of tech is normally used in snowboots, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see it on more fight gear in the future as it performs very well at keeping your shin guard glued to your leg.
Protection: After taking the Mirais for a sparring run, there is precious little more you could want from a pair of shin guards. Their ample padding and all around coverage shines in a Muay Thai training environment, where their innovative features work flawlessly together to provide their wearer with total protection. These shin guards are clearly built for stand-up intense striking, holding their ground even when used in a heavy sparring situation.
The Venum Elite shin guards are the entry model of the company’s heavy duty series. While their price is a bit steep, experience shows that investing in quality equipment is not only safer, but cheaper too in the long run. You could always pay a little cash as education fees, to learn not to buy cheap stuff, but the cost wouldn’t only be monetary. The protection, mobility and comfort level the Venum Elites offer is by no means common. It’s probably best to pay a little extra early on to keep your legs in their pristine kicking condition.
Bulk: The Venum Elites are true to their MMA heritage by keeping things nice and compact. They do offer full lower leg protection of course, but without burdening you with excess weight. You won’t feel restricted in your mobility in the least, when your strap these shin guards on, nor will your speed suffer. That said you should try them on before buying them, since their size can be a bit deceptive.
Fit: These shin guards look sleek and fit like masterwork armor. Their securing system follows the double velcro strap path, combined with the standard underfoot elastic band. Although less fancy than other, more high-tech brands, the Venum Elites prove very secure, time and time again, requiring little to no adjustment even during long sparring sessions.
Protection: There’s not much to say for the Venum Elites’ protection level other than that “elite” pretty much sums it up. These shin guards perform admirably under fire, keeping your legs protected while kicks rain down upon your shins. Their padding is plentiful, enabling the Venum Elites to stand next to dedicated Muay Thai brands as equals; if not by birth, definitely by merit. It would take an unstoppable force to feel anything on your shins while wearing these immovable objects.
Heres a good guide on how to select the right shin guards by Phoenix Combat Sports: