Best Shin Guards Reviewed
The main purpose of shin guards for MMA or Muay Thai training is to keep your shins healthy while being able to sustain the maximum level of training over the longest period of time.
When you’re looking for a new pair of MMA or Muay Thai shin guards, there are some obvious things that you will want to consider. Things like durability, comfort, and design versus the price. Those qualities are covered below along with some personal experiences with the products to inform on how the gear actually performs when you get them out of the packaging and into the gym.
My name is Joe Miller, I’m a pro fighter who has fought for over 10 years in the southeastern United States and in northern Thailand. I’ve been training for nearly 15 years and in that time, I’ve purchased countless pairs of shin guards. In the guide below, I’ll cover the staple concerns most people have about buying the best shin guards and then move to the questions I always wish I could have answered when buying a pair of my own.
Questions like how long a pair typically lasts under heavy usage by experienced fighters, sizing variables for large, medium, and small calves, propensity for Velcro burn, and how well they do indirect impact on shins, knees, and elbows.
Editor’s Picks & Things to Consider When Buying Shin Guards
If you’re new to the gym and aren’t really sure if you’ll stick to grappling, striking, or MMA, I would suggest getting a pair of the best shin guards that can easily do both. The Combat Sports Gel Shocks listed below is a good example. Those are heavy in padding on the shin but also housed on your leg with a neoprene sleeve that makes it more convenient to grappling.
If you aren’t new to the gym, you will want to consider what your personal fighting style is and what you intend on working on in the future. If you’re a heavy kicker that predominantly likes to defend takedowns and stay standing, like me, I would suggest either one of the Fairtex or the Top King shin guards below. If that’s accurate, but you want to condition your shins anyway and you really need to focus on submission defense, takedown defense, or scrambling back to your feet, the RDX Gel neoprenes would be the right choice.
The same can be said for grapplers who rely on boxing and takedowns on their feet and want shin guards that can partially protect in the event of blocking kicks but will stay on their legs through grappling exchanges. Ultimately, you will want to take a step back and analyze your day-to-day training in order to make the purchase that best suits you individually.
TOP 5 Best Shin Guards For MMA And Muay Thai Training
1. Fairtex SP7 Shin Guards
Fairtex finds their origin in Thailand which makes it no wonder that they specialize in shin guards that are great for strikers. The SP7 is great for heavy kickers who want to teach themselves to kick with the correct part of their shin, the hard way. You can remove the instep on these to provide yourself with unforgivable circumstances when accidentally kicking with the foot rather than the shin. They offer an extra layer of padding on the front side of the shin which helps a lot when dealing with training partners that are good at checking leg kicks.
Fairtex is one of the most durable brands out there, you can be sure these will last at least a year of rigorous training excluding extraneous circumstances. While they are bulky and better suited for striking rather than grappling, their brand offers decades of trial and error and durability that is unmatched by other brands. This material seems to be a little less likely to grow mold in my experience but they all do eventually over time.
- Removable instep allows for easy storage and training variability
- Extremely durable
- An extra layer of padding for advanced protection
- Lightweight despite the protection offered
- Velcro burn is dependent on how you strap them on your leg.
- Bulky, poorly suited for grappling.
2. Fairtex SP5 Shing Guards
One of the best brands out there for MMA training gear, Fairtex has been a staple of striking communities for years. The SP5 comes in various colors and styles and offers some of the most protection available for heavy kickers. They have a comfortable fit and let your legs breathe with two large straps that secure them to your leg. The top of the pad curves upward which protects the more vulnerable lower area of your knee and the instep has an elastic strap that’s comfortable around the foot.
I would personally recommend these shin pads for fighters who are dominant in their striking skills and rely heavily on kicking and checking. They aren’t terribly suited for grappling but they have a lot of edges that can catch when wrestling and rolling. Some of the most durable shin pads I’ve ever used personally.
The material on the outside of the shin pad can get moldy if left in your gym bag, I recommend a light cleaning after every use and for them to be left out to dry once you get home.
- Thick padding for good shin protection
- Ergonomic design which is flexible and easy to clean
- Durable and reliable.
- Defined edges which are problematic for grappling
- Bulky require space in your gym bag
- Velcro burn is dependent on how you strap them on your leg
3. Top King Empower Shin Guards
These are some of the most stylish shin guards available to consumers. They come in several color and style varieties that are unique to the brand. The shin pads themselves reach up to protect the vulnerable area of the knee and offer a thick pad that runs down the length of the shin into the instep.
There is a gap between the shin and the instep that makes your ankle vulnerable to elbows and knees but that’s really the only flaw that sticks out to me. They have no metal rings or clasps and the Velcro on the straps will only leave a burn on your partners if you secure them improperly.
These are among the most durable shin guards you can find and have regularly lasted my training partners over a year of rigorous training. They are also a bit less bulky while still perfectly suited for heavy kickers. Grappling with these shin guards is still a little less desirable than the following shin guards in this guide, but can be done to much greater effect than the previous. Interestingly enough, I have never seen these shin guards mold, either. However, I wouldn’t bank on that in the long run.
- Stylish, with several colors and design options
- Durable and mold resistant
- Secure straps and no metal clasps
- Several sizes available
- Padding gap between shin and instep
4. Combat Sports Grappling Shin Guards
According to the name, these are grappling shin pads but I would say from personal experience that these can really be used whether you are primarily a striker or a grappler because of the protection that they offer. These are some of the only shin pads on the market that do such a good job in protecting the area of the lower shin, ankle, and upper foot that is prone to be damaged from kicking elbows and knees.
There are four smaller pads on the instep that make a more gradual transition from the shin pad to the instep which allows for that protection. The sleeve construction has a mesh window in the back that allows for ventilation as well which is much needed for these types of shin pads.
They are a bit bulkier than most grappling shin pads and can catch a bit when wrestling and setting up submissions. Watch out for the high hook and loop enclosure which can cause some Velcro burn on your partners when attempting triangle chokes or on your own hamstring as they sit high on the leg. These are probably best for the moderate to heavy kicker that’s not afraid to get dirty on the ground.
- Instep padding protects the area where the lower shin meets the foot better than most other brands
- A mesh window is included that helps to wick sweat in the full neoprene sleeve
- More defined edges and thick padding can catch while grappling and defending takedowns
- Hook and loop closure at the top of the neoprene sleeve that holds the guard in place can chafe on your hamstring or on the inside of your knee
5. RDX Gel Neoprene Shin Instep Guards
These shin pads have a tight fit and a good look when they come fresh out of the package. I originally bought these for my girlfriend when she was training for her amateur MMA debut knowing that she wrestled in high school and would need a pair of shin pads that wouldn’t catch while grappling. They did not disappoint in that regard.
These are probably best for the fighter who is on a budget, doesn’t kick much in their striking game plan, and favors grappling as their primary method of fighting. Or, say you’re like me and want to condition your shins. They have a moderate to low amount of protection which allows fighters like myself to feel that shin impact more closely related to fighting without shin guards on at all. That isn’t to say they offer no protection, just slightly less than their competitors which makes these specialized for particular fighters.
Another notable detail is that they are very low profile and can be crammed violently into a full gym bag pretty easily without damaging them. These are the most convenient and least irritating shin guards for grappling on this list.
- No Velcro
- Lightweight with smooth edges that won’t catch when grappling
- Good for fighters who wish to condition their shins the hard way
- Price is extremely affordable
- Thin padding
- Neoprene sleeves might stretch over time leaving them loose
- Doesn’t handle direct contact with elbows and knees very well
- Tight fit for those with larger calves
What are the best kickboxing or Muay Thai shin guards?
Our Top 3 favorites: Fairtex SP7, Fairtex SP5, Top King Empower
What are the best MMA shin guards?
Out of all the shin guards we’ve reviewed, Combat Sports shin guards are the most well-rounded for MMA training. From personal experience, I would say that these can really be used whether you are primarily a striker or a grappler because of the protection that they offer.
What are the best shin guards for beginners?
getting a pair of shin guards that can easily do both. The Combat Sports Gel Shocks listed above is a good example.
What are the best shin guards for grappling?
For grappling you want to use shin guards that have a tight fit, and don’t become loose or get stuck while grappling. If you are not planning to do any kicking, the best option is to get sleeve construction shin guards such as RDX Gel Neoprene. I also wear them when I want to condition your shins.