Best Chest Protectors for Fencing Reviewed & Rated
We all know how dangerous it is to fight in a competitive sport—especially one where both sides are equipped with razor-sharp swords. Whether your style of play is with an epee, sabre, or foil, I think we can all agree that the primary aspect is always safety. One wrong move and you could end up with life-threatening injuries, which is why fencing safety equipment has become more and more mandatory in this traditional sport. The FIE has recently announced the compulsory use of fencing chest protectors, which are now mandatory for women and highly recommended for men in any competitive play. Along with fencing chest protectors, there is much more material that needs covering—such as fencing masks, wrist guards, vests, etc. Luckily, we’re here to guide you along the way. Whether you’re a beginner of the sport or are a seasoned veteran, we’ll ensure that you won’t get lost along the way on your thrilling journey.
- Mizuno Samurai
- AirMesh Material
- Anatomical Fit
- Fencing Equipment Gear
- Elastic Straps
- Very Durable
- Balaur Fencing Guard
- Breathable Holes
- Adjustable Elastic
In 2017, the FIE and USA Fencing Congress rolled out a new rule that changed the game in foil fencing. The agreed-upon law was that foil chest protectors now required a foam exterior, primarily composed of EVA. This was yet another buildup on the previous change in the past decade that made chest protectors mandatory for women and optional for men. Since then, it has become evident that the entire market has changed for the good—companies started innovating and creating better, more composed material that will not only ensure safety but also be light, breathable, and soft, aspects which are important in the fluid and fast-paced art of swordsmanship. Although these rules don’t affect other types of fencing, chest protectors are still prominent in foil and epee because of the danger found in a contact sport where fighters are equipped with weapons. This may all seem overwhelming, but fear not! We’re here to guide you through the vast market of compatible and proven fencing chest protectors for the 2018-19 year!
10 Best Chest Protectors
1. Mizuno Samurai
Being made out of EVA AirMesh, this chest protector will not only perform fantastically, it will be lightweight and, most importantly, breathable, so it can be maneuvered by almost anyone. Not only that, but it’s also comfortable!
Some chest protectors can restrict your movement in your arms and shoulders, impacting your performance negatively. The Mizuno Samurai is designed to be anatomically compatible to fit anyone and has extra space in the shoulders so your movement won’t ever be restricted.
Cost and Value
The Mizuno Samurai is definitely one of the more costly brands on the market, but that’s because it offers so much more. The superior level of material and comfort of design sets this completely apart from other simple chest protectors. This is for anyone looking for a bit of extra in their protector.
Lightweight and Breathable
2. Fencing Equipment Gear
The convenient straps at the back not only provide added comfort but can be a great way for anyone to adjust their chest protectors to be tighter, looser, higher, lower, etc. The completely adjustable design is what makes this product so convenient for any user.
Although the chest protector is made of plastic, it isn’t going to wear down or snap, like some protectors out there. The material used will last throughout heavy training and contact, which is especially important for anyone starting out who doesn’t want to invest too much into many sets of materials.
Cost and Value
Overall, this is a phenomenal piece of training equipment for veterans or youth beginners. Unfortunately, the material doesn’t comply with the new standard, meaning it can’t be used in competition. The price, however, is fine for anyone looking for a consistent and reliable protector for casual use.
Not FIE Regulated
3. Balaur Fencing Guard
The Guard is designed with completely breathable holes that allow for ventilation while keeping a rigid form to prevent injury. Even though this isn’t made from a mesh-like material, it is still as breathable as any mesh-made chest protector.
Again, Balaur prioritizes fit above all else, as having a chest protector that doesn’t fit can cause bad form and, even worse, injury. This is why they have incorporated an adjustable design that will allow proper fit for anyone.
Cost and Value
This fencing chest protector provides the breathability and level of protection to be completely worth its affordable price. The anatomical design is also made to conform and fit almost any size which means you can buy once and not ever worry about returning. For such a well-made chest protector, the low price is a bargain for sure!
Can Be Heavy
4. TUOY Youth Padded
The material used is a polyester/spandex material that is moisture wicking, meaning the fabric works hard to move the moisture such as sweat to the outside of the shirt, allowing it to dry faster. Moisture-wicking designs are imperative in sports like fencing, where sweating is inevitable.
The extra padding provided adds the comfort your child needs to not only be safely protected but enjoy the lightweight feeling of fencing. The padding also supports vital areas such as the ribs, shoulders, and chest, preventing them from injury and encouraging good form.
Cost and Value
This compression shirt costs a bit more than most chest protectors, but why won’t it? The product is made to be superior to other protectors, from the soft material to the anatomical design. Above this, your child can wear this for almost any contact sport, including fencing. The price is fantastic for the amount that you get back.
Extra Padding Support
Moisture Wicking Design
Less Protection Area
5. RDX Chest Guard
The foam is not only EVA-made (meaning competition-regulated) but also filled with shock-absorbent compressed foam to offer an overkill of protection. The Maya Hide Leather neck can also stand to protect from any sort of neck injuries acquired through contact.
Attention to detail in the RDX Chest Guard is shown through the Nylon stitching and piping for a phenomenal durability and almost invincible defense. The unbreakable composition is meant to last a long time—perhaps even a lifetime.
Cost and Value
For what you get out of the RDX Chest Guard, it is no wonder that the price is slightly more expensive than the traditional chest protector. If you’re willing to pay more, you’ll get an unmatched protection and durability in your chest guard, making you unstoppable.
Supremo Shock Foam
6. AF Absolute
With the new regulations coming into play midway through 2018, it may be difficult for fencers to adapt and change their equipment in time. Luckily, AF ensures that all their products are regulated for the current year and can quickly ship items safely and quickly.
Durable Yet Soft
Like all protective gear, you never want your fencing protectors to feel like they’ll hold you down. The AF Absolute is guaranteed to provide a professional level of mobility and comfort. The one-piece protector can fend off the strength behind attacks while the soft EVA padding underneath allows for comfort.
Cost and Value
This simple, yet professional chest protector won’t cost you a fortune and should be everyone’s choice when it comes to affordable tournament-regulated protective equipment. Unlike fencing swords or masks, the chest protector doesn’t have to be too flashy, and should genuinely do its job properly which is to protect your chest area.
Four Sizes Available
7. LEONARK Plastren
Let’s just say this: you never want to have a chest protector that’s uncomfortable. Like any other form of clothing, you want your protector to fit just right and have soft fabric that won’t cause any red marks. Nylon fabric satisfies this criterion by being both lightweight and comfortable to use.
The elastic design is meant to adjust the protector to perfectly fit your body and remain consistent throughout the movement. A protector that’s too tight will hurt, while one that’s too loose will surely drive you mad. Having adjustability in the design is essential for a great fencing chest protector.
Cost and Value
Although this brand provides a lot, LEONARK is known for their fair and modest prices. The Plastron won’t become a burden to you—both in terms of money and in competitive fencing. The features such as soft and durable fabric and the elastic design really go a long way to show that LEONARK cares about their consumers.
Quality Outer Plastic
8. Physical Chess Protector
Like we’ve said countless times, adjustability is just an important aspect when it comes to protective equipment. A wrong size could completely compromise the purpose of the protector, so adjustability is always an important aspect. The elastic straps also provide comfort.
The material used for this protector won’t chip down easily. It’ll easily last you a number of battles before you start noticing any wear or damage, making this protector optimal for anyone looking to start in fencing and competitions.
Cost and Value
Although this can be said to be on the cheaper end of the spectrum, we believe that there are better options out there for this range of price. The Physical Chess protector is a fantastic chest protector, but it lacks what many similarly priced products provide.
Used for All Fencing
Comfortable Elastic Straps
9. RF PBT Balaton
Balaton is an embossed silk material that not only feels magnificent but performs with freedom. The FIE standardized Balaton is the perfect material for this underplastron which is double layered.
Even though there’s only one strap, it’s still adjustable! The lower elastic strap has a buckle and the upper strap is equipped with a Velcro, so you can optimize the fit of this underarm chest protector.
Cost and Value
Yes, the price does seem intimidating, but that’s the reality when RF designed a contrasting protector that performs better than standard chest protectors. They know that there’s tons of controversy over chest protector rules, and the public’s uncertainty for them, so they made a compatible underarm protector that’s far easier to equip and performs superior, allowing more freedom and flex.
FIE Balaton Material
10. Blade Protector
Just by the look of it, you can be assured that this chest protector will withstand even the harshest of hits. The hard plastic is practically invincible, and will undoubtedly last you a long while before you need another.
With the quality of withstanding material, Blade reassures that you will have the maximum protection available from such a simple protector. This is a protector that will perform phenomenally to ensure your safety is a priority.
Cost and Value
For a simple protector that lacks innovation or design, the cheap price is reasonable as it justifies the candor of this durable chest protector. It’s nothing flashy, just clear, ultimate protection.
There you have it! As the fencing community continues to grow throughout the world, more and more safety regulations will surely be put in place to ensure that the sport remains fun while also being safe, especially in competitions. The new laws and mandatory use of chest protectors is just another step in the right direction for the FIE, making a better sport for further generations. Even if you know what fencing chest protectors are available on the market, what you don’t know is what criteria you must consider when choosing the best protector for you. Thankfully, we’ll help you grasp a firm understanding on the type of aspects you should be looking for in a fencing chest protector.
Criteria for Evaluating the Best Chest Protectors
Shape and Size
There are two main measurements to concern yourself with: width and cup sizing. If you’re a male, then you probably don’t need to concern yourself with the latter. Protectors for women, however, are designed to fit for specific cup size.
As you may have seen, traditional fencing chest protectors can come in all shapes and sizes. Normally, you have a flat shape for men and a more rounded shape for women. Like all other forms of clothing, chest protectors come in sizing—meaning cups. For rounded chest protectors directed at women, a general cup sizing should be used to find out the perfect size for you. A good comparison would be to sports bras, as you never want to wear anything that doesn’t fit you. Not only can a non-fitting chest protector restrict your movement, but it could also seriously injure you. Be sure that your fencing chest protector is the most adequate fit before moving on to other elements.
In addition, many fencing chest protectors come with an adjustable option. They’re equipped with straps, often made of nylon or other soft fabric, that allows you to easily adjust the width of the protector. This determines how tight or loose it is around your chest. Having a properly fitted width can greatly help support your chest, back, and shoulders while also being more comfortable. You never want to use an ill-fitted protector, as it can compromise its very purpose if it continues to fall off or leave marks. We highly recommend finding chest protectors that are equipped with adjustable straps to improve both comfort and fit.
With the new rule in place, chest protectors will now have to be covered with a soft EVA mesh or foam to simulate the feel of skin upon foil impact. Because of this, breathability has become a vital issue and is an aspect of chest protectors you should prioritize. Not only is EVA foam harder to wash than plastic, but it can also be even less breathable, despite it seems the other way around.
EVA is breathable when it comes to other types of fabric but the truth is that the more padding you have, the easier it is for sweat to build up, which leads to bacteria and other things. In fact, it may not be apparent but chest acne is a big problem in youth fencers because of their lack of breathability in both their protectors and their jackets.
In addition, it is very uncomfortable to wear padding or protectors that aren’t breathable. You may notice this in your fencing shoes or clothes, as you can sometimes feel trapped if the fabric isn’t breathable.
To prevent the problems of sweat buildup and a lack of breathability, try to find chest protectors that advertise moisture-wicking, which is the act of fabric pushing moisture above and outside of it in order to dry faster. Having moisture-wicking in an EVA padded protector means that the sweat and moisture will not only quickly escape the fabric, but is meant to dry rapidly as to not saturate the fabric.
Remember that most moisture-wicking fabrics are synthetic, meaning they are polyester or nylon, which can be found on numerous protectors or straps. These types of material are fantastic because they are both lightweight and provide breathability in addition to relieving moisture.
For plastic protectors, many will come equipped with breathable “holes” or ventilation that allows air to circulate through. Good airflow not only dries out dampness but can relieve heat and allow moisture vapor to travel outside the protector. Keep breathability in mind the next time you shop, not just for protectors, but for any type of clothing.
Why is number 800 so relevant in fencing? You see it on all sorts of equipment. “800” most likely means that the clothing or equipment will withstand a level of 800 Newtons, a spec required for all FIE equipment. Protective plastrons must provide enough padding or cover to withstand the strength of 800 Newtons, while also being light enough to keep you on your toes and moving quickly. Here, we talk about weight, and why it is so crucial in this art of swordsmanship.
For all types of equipment, including a mask, blade, jacket, etc., weight is the number one priority when it comes to criteria. This is because fencing is a mixture of both agility and balance. Whether you’re lunging, guarding, or parrying, you need to maintain proper balance throughout the move to position yourself properly for the next. With heavier jackets or protectors, this feat becomes almost impossible. It’s like trying to fence with a weight vest—your movement becomes sluggish. Lightweight chest protectors can’t be recommended enough for the very reason of maneuverability and agility.
Types of Chest Protectors
With the history of fencing, there’s one thing that has never ceased: innovation. Players want to find the best and newest ways to outperform their opponents, and fencing chest protectors are no exception. You’ve seen the standard one-piece protector, but how about the rest? There are various types of protection to be considered when looking for a chest protector, and each has their advantages and weaknesses.
- The Standard One-Piece – This is agreed as the best choice. The one-piece chest protector covers the most amount of area (importantly, the stigma and sternum) while being lightweight and less restricting out of many options. The advantage of having two straps also comes into place as many one-piece protectors can be adjusted or size easily.
- The Two-Piece – A slightly rarer sight, but one nonetheless. You may see some fighters use double two-piece protectors that are equipped on each side of their chest into the pockets of their jacket. Not only does this usually fit poorly, and can be an annoyance, it leaves the central chest area wide open, giving less protection. You could argue, however, that you wouldn’t need to worry about adjustability since the two-piece will always be placed.
- Underarm Plastron – This is slightly different than a chest protector, but achieves a safe result. Plastrons are far more popular than traditional chest protectors in male fencing. They are a type of sleeve worn under the jacket while fencing that adds a line of defense between you and the blade. Plastrons are often required to be worn during competitions, but can only provide a limited amount of protection—sometimes none at all. It’s always best to take precautions and go with proper chest protection under the plastron.
- Compression Shirts – Less protection, but far more freedom of movement. This is what compression shirts are known for, as more and more have started wearing them under their jackets. Although you risk damaging the material in your shirt, you may soon find that compression shirts allow far greater ranges of motion and are extremely lightweight.
FIE Rule Change
Starting this 2018 calender year, fencing chest protectors have been made “compulsory for women and optional for men”, meaning that they’re required for women in all FIE competitions around the world. Also, fencing chest protectors will now have to be made of EVA Mesh in order to be compatible with FIE rules. Not only does this help advance the movement of safety in foil fencing—making it more appealing for beginners—it also reinvents the accuracy in foil touches being counted for.
Now, you might be asking, how will this help the sport? Obviously, more regulations mean less fun, right? Well, not exactly. It’s been well established in the past decade that women’s chest protectors should be mandatory to ensure the accuracy and safety of matches. This is because of how points in fencing work. Touch needs to register for a minimum amount of time in order to be counted for as a point. In previous years, some touches wouldn’t register because of the chest area. On harder plastic protectors, the tip of the foil would bounce right off, even after a clean hit. This has encouraged the FIE to require all protectors to be made of mesh, so hits can’t be bounced and all points will register accurately.
Now, even though a chest protector is only optional for men, it’s important to note that these rules apply to both genders and male chest protectors would also need a layer of EVA padding.
So, what can you do with a hard plastic chest protector? Although they aren’t allowed anymore in FIE competitions, these traditional plastic protectors are still perfect for training and practice, as they allow for even more protection without needing excessive washing like EVA ones. Also, you can always give it to anyone who foes epee or sabre fencing, as these rules by the FIE don’t apply, and plastic chest protectors are still very welcome in those areas of fencing. The game of fencing is always growing and changing, and so is the equipment on the market. Always make sure you’re on top of the latest ruling made by the FIE so your equipment stays compatible and up-to-date.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are chest protectors meant for?
A: Among the obvious reasons, like protecting the vital areas of your chest from bruises, chest protectors also carry the responsibility of improving the accuracy of points through simulating a registered hit.
Q: What size protector should I get?
A: If you’re a male, almost any size is fine as long as it can be properly adjusted using straps. For females, most chest protectors will refer to rot cup size when determining their sizing.
Q: What are the new rules regarding chest protectors?
A: The newly-regulated rules from the FIE not only require chest protectors to be compulsory among women but state that all chest protectors must have soft padding such as EVA foam or mesh to better simulate a registered hit.
Q: What are the most trustworthy suppliers of chest protectors?
A: Although there’s always room for a new competition in the market, the general best suppliers that have been around the longest are always LEONARK, Absolute Fencing, Blade, and Fencing Equipment Gear. These suppliers are all well known and trustworthy for their reliable equipment.
Q: What types of chest protectors are there on the market?
A: If one design doesn’t quite fit your flow, you could always go with: the one-piece, the two-piece, the underarm plastron, or a compression shirt. Anything that keeps your chest protected will do wonders for you, and the variety of options allow for as much freedom as the protectors provide.