When it comes to training in combat sports, picking the right protective gear for you is essential. While you can go cheap on things such as shorts, shirts, and gym socks.. your shin guards most definitely shouldn’t be an item you are stingy about!
I’ve been around muay thai gyms for 6 years and the amount of people that come in wearing rubbish shin guards is amazing. Not only does it put the person wearing them in danger, it also puts their partner in danger too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard one of my teammates howling because their shin guard moved on impact leading to shin on shin impact.
In this article, I have carefully selected the absolute best muay thai shin guards options for you to select from. Whether you’re looking for something light with great mobility or super thick and protective, I have you covered. Although I mentioned previously not to count your pennies with shin guards I’ve brought a wide range of options to the list at varying price points.
Table of Contents
- Top Picks
- Who Should Get This?
- Factors to Consider Before Buying Muay Thai and MMA Shin Guards
- Which are The Best Muay Thai Shin Guards (and MMA)
- #1 Fairtex Competition Shin Guards – Best Overall
- #2 Venum Elite Shin Guards – Top MMA Choice
- #3 Sanabul Funk Strike Shin Guards – Fashion Conscious Choice
- #4 Yokkao Matrix Shin Guards – Top Muay Thai Choice
- #5 Hayabusa T3 – Ultra Protection Choice
- #6 RDX Shin Guards – Gym Warrior Choice
- #7 Sanabul Essentials – Budget Option
- #8 Venum Elite Shin Guards (Kids) – Future Champion Choice
- Final Thoughts
|Best For||Best Overall||MMA Training||Muay Thai Training|
|Product’s Name||Fairtex Competition||Venum Elite||Yokkao Matrix|
|More Information||Latest Price||Latest Price||Latest Price|
Who Should Get This?
Everyone that trains Muay thai or MMA needs shin guards to train in. Very rarely will you find people sparring without them and sparring plays an essential role in applying what you are learning in technique portions of a class.
Just getting anything to protect your shins is a dangerous way to look at protecting a very sensitive part of your body, there is nothing worse than having super sore legs because your shin guards are providing little protection from the shots you’ve been blocking.
Many gyms let you borrow their shinguards if you don’t have any, but don’t rely on that. Firstly, it isn’t all that hygienic and secondly there are only so many sets they will have to lend out, don’t be that guy who always borrows unless you’re super broke!
Factors to Consider Before Buying Muay Thai and MMA Shin Guards
Shin Guard Type
There are a few things to take into consideration when selecting the right shin guard type for you. Firstly, the sock type is an absolute no-no. I’ve lost count of the number of people that have complained in class when they check a kick with the sock shin guards and think they’ve broken their leg. They haven’t, but due to the lack of protection, it feels like it.
Don’t be cheap. So many times people buy the super cheap sock-style shin guards with little padding because they’re “just starting out”. Start on the right foot by purchasing some decent strong outer layer shin guards.
Next, we have the different needs that different combat sports require of the athlete. For example, MMA fighters require protection but also more mobility than Muay Thai fighters, this is because they’re having to deal with takedowns too. Therefore, MMA shin guards are often a bit more streamlined in design and also have the non-slip sock style on the interior as wrestling can easily dislodge a shin guard.
Shin Guard Size
Sizing can be a real issue when it comes to shin guards. The main thing to remember is each brand is different, so find the size guide for the particular shin guards you want before making the purchase. Ideally, you want the top of the shin guard to stop roughly 2 inches before your knee and for there to be no painful constriction of your calf or ankle at any point during training.
Unfortunately, you’ll only get a real sense of what a shin guard will be like over time through prolonged use, however, the article should help you significantly when it comes to picking the right option for you.
Shin Guard Fit
You want to have confidence in your protective gear, especially in your shin guards. They should fit snug and there should be little movement when in combat (either in sparring or a fight).
Loose-fitting shin guards are a danger both to yourself and your training partner, it can lead to the direct shin-on-shin impact that will put you both out of training for a bit if you’ve never experienced that sort of force before. Your shin guard should feel as natural as possible, you’ll be using them for the next 1-2 years hopefully, pick wisely.
Which are The Best Muay Thai Shin Guards (and MMA)
#1 Fairtex Competition Shin Guards – Best Overall
Fairtex are the leading muay thai equipment producer in the world. Decade after decade they have provided muay thai fighters with unquestionably some of the best gear to ever hit the market. Well known for their attention to detail and overall build quality, you know that when you buy Fairtex it will last.
- High-quality synthetic leather (comparable to real leather)
- Excellent protection used by muay thai trainers all over Thailand
- Separate instep and shin pieces to allow for optimal protection
- Many colors to choose from
- Amazingly well-fitting
- Wide range of sizes
- Can move around a bit during hard sparring
The Fairtex Competition shin guards deliver in every aspect when it comes to what to expect from premium tier shin guards. Not only does it provide excellent protection, but it also allows for excellent mobility due to the carefully selected materials used. These shin guards are a great option for those of you that will be training regularly, sparring hard, and thinking of competing.
#2 Venum Elite Shin Guards – Top MMA Choice
As the official sponsor of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), you can be sure that Venum’s equipment is tried and tested by the best in MMA. Due to the demands of MMA, a more streamlined yet still well-protected set of shin guards are required to keep you safe. The Venum Elite does just that, it really does till all the boxes when it comes to selecting shin guards that are able to withstand the punishment that MMA training/competing brings.
- Awesome designs
- Streamlined, lightweight build
- Excellent instep protection
- Excellent mobility
- Velcro loop and lock system
- Full shin protection
- Some people find the ankle strap cuts off circulation
For a lightweight, MMA-ready shin guard set, you can’t really go wrong with the Venum Elite. From the ground up they’ve been designed to be both functionally sound and eye-catching, they’ve definitely hit the mark with this product. I have heard talks about them being slightly uncomfortable for certain leg types, therefore I suggest if you have a wider calf go for a different choice.
#3 Sanabul Funk Strike Shin Guards – Fashion Conscious Choice
Suprise Suprise, Sanbul found their way onto another one of my top review lists. They’re definitely making waves in the combat sports equipment world and for good reason. Not only do they provide high-quality gear at a variety of price points, but they also bring to market some really eye-catching gear. The Sanabul Funk Strike Shin Guards will not only protect your shins, but they’ll also get you a fair amount of compliments too!
- Synthetic leather
- Tie dye designs
- Full foot and shin protection
- Fairly priced
- Super comfortable
- Decent protection
- Lacking durability after extended heavy use
Being backed by former UFC champions Michael Bisping and TJ Dillashaw has required Sanabul to ensure whatever products they come out with are legit. These shin guards are going to stand up to the test of time if you’re sparring like a beast every session, however for the casual fighter that wants something eye-catching, you’ll be more than happy with this purchase.
#4 Yokkao Matrix Shin Guards – Top Muay Thai Choice
Yokkao isn’t new to the game of muay thai protective gear, in fact, they’ve been in competition with Fairtex for quite some time. Similar to Fairtex they’ve been continually improving their shin guards over the years. The Yokkao Matrix Shin Guards are considered by some muay thai fighters to be the creme de la creme of muay thai shin guards available on the market. They are most certainly in the elite tier of guards available, that much I can say for certain.
- Real leather
- Nonslip interior
- Super protection
- Incredible durability
- Impressive mobility
- Full shin and foot protection
- Instep can sometimes cause you to trip
Yokkao doesn’t cut corners, never has, and likely never will. Unlike many of their competitors, they’ve stuck with the natural leather option and it definitely allows for the durability of the shin guards to receive the A+ rating. Of course, for those of you who are against the purchasing of animal products, this isn’t the one for you. However, for those of you that are looking for some of the best protection on the market that will last for a long time, this has to be up there in terms of your options.
#5 Hayabusa T3 – Ultra Protection Choice
Over the years Hayabusa has done an excellent job of inserting themselves into the conversation of the best muay thai gear suppliers on the planet. Their knowledge of fighter’s needs is second to none, allowing them to develop products that hit the mark more often than not. The Hayabusa T3 shin guards are perfect for those of you who simply want the most amount of protection above anything else.
- Triple-layered padding
- Full shin and foot protection
- Clean, classy design
- Additional protection for the knee
- Surprisingly light for the additional protection
- Highly durable
- Sizing can be a problem
Your body starting from the knee downwards will thank you for buying the Hayabusa T3 shin guards, especially after a heavy sparring session. It is hard to compete with the level of protection these shin guards offer, however, for me the padding is more than I believe the vast majority of people are looking for. The reality is, however much extra protection is added, it will have an impact on mobility and that can be dangerous (especially in mid-high level sparring and fights).
#6 RDX Shin Guards – Gym Warrior Choice
Make no mistake about it, RDX is a serious player in the combat sports equipment market. They not only provide quality on a consistent basis, but they also create products that look cool and classy. These shin guards are no exception. However, for some these simply won’t be an option as animal hide has been used for outer protection.
- Real leather
- Triple-layered protection
- Impressive mobility
- Clean design
- Highly durable
- Excellent fit
- Can cause chaffing for wider calves
These are high up there for me in terms of quality shin guards. Although my first choice will always be Fairtex, if I was desperate for some new ones and needed them ASAP, I would happily pick up a pair of RDX shin guards without thinking twice. While RDX isn’t an option for everyone due to their stance on using animal products in their gear, for those who don’t mind these are an awesome choice at a decent price.
#7 Sanabul Essentials – Budget Option
Sanabul once again, this time for those of you who are finding the higher price tags of the premium shin guards a bit difficult to stomach. No problem, Sanabul has you covered. Although they are far from the best shin guards on the market, they do still provide protection and also boast the added benefit of being non-slip.
- Many colors to select from
- Decent protection for the price
- Non-slip technology
- Excellent for both muay thai and MMA
- Comes in multiple sizes
- Questionable durability
If you’re looking for an entry-level shin guard choice, this could just be the perfect fit for you. Thankfully the cost of these isn’t extortionate, so you shouldn’t feel like you’ll need to sell an arm and a leg to buy them! However, with that comes a drop in durability, so be aware that you will likely need to replace these sooner than someone that shells out a bit more for the premium tier guards mentioned in this article.
#8 Venum Elite Shin Guards (Kids) – Future Champion Choice
We can’t be leaving out the kids from this comprehensive shin guards review article! Venum has done an outstanding job with these shin guards to ensure they both provide protection and look awesome. You know what kids are like, they’ll do it and then think later. That’s precisely why you need them to be as padded as possible when training to ensure they don’t do any harm to themselves or other people! These shin guards will give you the peace of mind that their limbs aren’t going to take any unnecessary knocks.
- Excellent protection
- Lightweight design
- Highly durable
- Cool colors
- Secure loop and lock system
- Sizing can be an issue
Whether your kid is doing muay thai or MMA, these will be an excellent choice for them. Providing both protection and lightness for mobility it really is the cream of the crop for youth fighters. There are so many designs to choose from, I’m sure your child will be able to find the one that really makes them beam every time they see them before going to training.
Keeping your shins, feet, and legs as a whole protected is essential. It isn’t “hard” or “cool” to train to the point where your legs are so banged up that you can’t walk around properly. Train smart and you will be rewarded with gains in the gym.
For those on a budget, the Sanabul Essentials are definitely the ones to go for, simple and effective with decent protection. If you’re serious about Muay Thai and want to invest in some quality gear, then the Fairtex Competition or Yokkao Matrix are excellent options that will last the test of time. Finally, if MMA is your sport, then I would with the Venum Elite.
It has been an absolute pleasure creating this article. I hope that it supports you adequately on your journey to selecting the best muay thai shin guards (or MMA) for you.
Please be sure to share with your friends, family, and teammates if you feel it will help them!
Why do you need Shin Guards for Muay Thai and MMA?
Keeping your shins protected is essential to ensure that you are able to train properly and live a normal life. There is nothing worse than having shin pains that are so bad that you can barely get to sleep at night, trust me, I’ve been there.
Whether you’re doing MMA or Muay Thai, there is likely to be shin contact at some point, therefore protect yourself and your partner by wearing protection. Additionally, strikes to the legs, body, and head are significantly lessened with shin guards allowing you to land but doing less damage to your training partner.
Does it matter which shin guard I wear on either side?
This depends on the shinguards you’re wearing. For any of the quality pairs I have shared with you in the post, yes it does matter. It should be to see which shin guard is for which leg as the in-step will be slightly off center on both signifying which leg it would be most appropriate for. If you do not wear it on the correct side, it will not sit flush on your leg and therefore not be as comfortable as it could be.
Do Muay Thai and MMA fighters wear shin guards?
Yes, they definitely do. You’ll see in training videos that all professional fighters use shin guards as part of their training and in the early days in competition too (not for Thai fighters in Thailand).
Safety is essential when it comes to sports, especially sports that can cause serious injuries such as Muay Thai and MMA. No matter if you’re a beginner just starting or an elite fighter who has trained for 20+ years, you’ll do well to invest in a solid pair of shin guards that can keep you safe.
How do I maintain my shin guards properly?
Standard hygiene protocols should be in place when it comes to looking after your shin guards. Don’t leave them in smelly gym bags, cold wash them, and ideally do not share them unless absolutely necessary.