Best MMA Shin Guards (2022)

April 19, 2022

Combat sports demand a lot from the body, and scrapes and bruises are an innate part of practice. Thankfully, nowadays, we can use a lot of equipment that makes our life as martial artists easier and safer.

A mandatory piece of gear in every gym bag is MMA shin guards. There are many different models on the market. Still, they all need to provide sufficient protection and the least amount of restriction of movement possible.

While going for the more expensive pair of any piece of MMA gear is always a safe bet, things are not so simple. I will help you differentiate between the different models of MMA shin guards and how to choose the best pair for you. Your legs will thank us afterward.

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Best MMA Shin Guards

Best MMA Shin Guards With Most Protection

Best MMA Sparring Shin Guards

Model

Price

Don't let the name of this model fool you. These are amazing shin guards for MMA. Fairtex is one of the premier Muay Thai gear manufacturers, and these shin guards are offered as a model for the art of 8 limbs. But the features make them perfect for MMA as well.

Usually, Muay Thai shin guards offer the most protection. They are thicker because of the heavy kick style of Thai boxing. Fairtex uses the shape of traditional Thai shin guards that go all the way to the knee (for better checking of both low and mid-kicks).

But they also shed a bit of the bulk, which provides better mobility, much needed in MMA. Another key design feature you might miss is the sides of the shin guards. They envelop the entirety of the calf, which helps immensely in protecting against the dreaded calf kicks, so popular in MMA these days.

The third specific characteristic that differentiates this model from the rest on the list is the extended instep, designed to protect the fingers, usually left open by most shin guard models. Some users don’t like this feature, though, as they feel it impedes their movement.

All Fairtex products are handmade in Thailand. They have rightfully earned the reputation for producing stellar equipment, and their shin guards make no difference. Given all the great features, outstanding durability, and overall quality, you can understand why we have chosen this model as our number 1.

Pros

  • High quality materials
  • Handmade in Thailand
  • Thai style shape, but with less bulk
  • Good variety in colors and sizes

Cons

  • On the expensive side
  • Too bulky for some, especially the extended instep

Fairtex Competition Shin Guards

Best MMA Shin Guards With Most Protection

Hayabusa T3 Striking Shin Guards

Hayabusa products are of the highest quality and design, and their prices reflect this. Their top shin guard model offers unrivaled protection. They are always looking to push the boundaries of gear design. The T3 shin guards do just that with their side extension, which protects the side of the knee, which is a common target of low kicks.

The multi-layered padding on these Hayabusa shin guards absorbs impact while remaining relatively lightweight for their overall size. If you have the money, Hayabusa gear will not let you down.

Pros

  • Amazing protection
  • Side extension protecting the side of the knee
  • Open back design with two secure straps
  • Great quality and durability

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • Very bulky, not suitable for grappling at all

Hayabusa T3 Striking Shin Guards

Best MMA Sparring Shin Guards

Venum Elite Shin Guards

It's no coincidence that Venum has become the official apparel of the UFC. They make top-notch gear, combining good quality, competitive prices, and killer designs. Their Elite series is aimed at people who demand a lot out of their training gear and put it through its paces.

Venum Elite shin guards are lightweight but provide excellent protection for the entire shin and instep. The straps are also very well done, and don't let the guard move around at all. Venum hasn't spared any high-quality materials for this model, so you can expect to use them for years.

Pros

  • Killer design
  • Great multi-layered protection
  • Ergonomic fit
  • Handmade in Thailand
  • Very durable

Cons

  • On the expensive side
  • Some users have complained about unpleasant rubbing

Venum Elite Shin Guards

Best Budget MMA Shin Guards

Sanabul Essential Hybrid Shin Guards

Sanabul created quite a stir in the market by charging meager prices for products that should cost much more. They have onboard some serious fighters who test and advise their products. The results are remarkable, especially given the price tags.

If you are looking for dependable shin guards without breaking the bank, the Sanabul essential model is your best choice. A hybrid design between Muay Thai-style guards and MMA shin guards, the Sanabuls have a hook and loop strap and a slip-on sleeve - providing excellent fixation.

They also have extra padding in just the right places, so protection is not something you will sacrifice with this model.

Pros

  • Amazing value for money
  • A snug and comfortable fit
  • Good variety of sizes and colors
  • Good levels of protection

Cons

  • Not as durable as more expensive models
  • Some people say that they are too snug for big calves
  • Less than perfect stitching

Sanabul Essential Hybrid Shin Guards

Best Venum MMA Shin Guards

Venum Challenger Shin Guards

We've already included the elite Venum model, but their Challenger model is so popular that it deserves a spot here. A bit thinner than the Elite model, the Challenger is preferred by some MMA fighters because the less weight and bulk make it better for all-around MMA sparring.

These lack some of the refinement of the Elite and Predator models but still offer a great compromise between all the aspects of great shin guards. 

Pros

  • Very competitive price for the quality
  • Remarkable durability
  • Good variety of sizes and colors

Cons

  • Velcro straps can be better
  • Too light for heavier fighters

Venum Challenger Shin Guards

Best Top King MMA Shin Guards

Top King Pro Leather Shin Guards

Top King is a premier Thai brand that is not so well known in the west. But they are masters at creating top-quality Muay Thai gear, so if you are on the lookout for Thai-style shin guards, you should consider these.

Traditional design features raised shin and foot ridges for maximum protection. And even though the price is not low, when you consider that Top King produces these in full leather, they are quite a bargain.

Pros

  • Real leather
  • Amazing protection
  • Classic Thai design
  • Made in Thailand

Cons

  • Too bulky for MMA

Top King Pro Leather Shin Guards

Best RDX MMA Shin Guards

RDX Maya Hide Leather Shin Guards

RDX is a mid-tier manufacturer in the UK that offers exciting products at reasonable prices. Their premium Maya hide leather model comes with certification from SATRA and SMMAF, so you have a guarantee that you are buying competition-worthy gear.

RDX likes to use fancy terms for its technologies and products. Still, even if you don't care what their marketing abbreviations mean (like QD-1 sweat-wicking lining and EVA-Lution foam), I can say that the RDX model provides adequate protection, comfort, and durability at a reasonable price.

Pros

  • Maya hide leather
  • Extra-long instep for protection of the fingers
  • 5 layers of protection
  • Swedish MMA federation certification

Cons

  • Too long for shorter-legged fighters
  • Quality is not on par with more expensive models

RDX Maya Hide Leather Shin Guards

Best Cloth Shin Guards

Meister MMA Cloth Shin Guards

Cloth shin guards will likely never be used for striking sparring, but they have their uses. Many amateur Muay Thai and amateur MMA competitions use cloth shin guards. They have significantly less protection than solid ones, but they are so light that they almost don't get in the way of striking or grappling.

Meister has created an outstanding cloth shin guard. They are slip-on, but with the addition of a strap on top, they become as secure as any. The most vital points of all cloth shin guards are agility and mobility, and Meister's design covers them perfectly.

Pros

  • Very cheap
  • Extremely good fit due to top strap
  • Cool design

Cons

  • Not a lot of protection
  • Run a bit small

Meister MMA Cloth Shin Guards

How To Choose The Best MMA Shin Guards For You

Size & Fit

When choosing shin guards, you have to make certain compromises. The bulkier the model is, the more protection it provides. But this is a direct correlation with the mobility it takes away.

So you need to make the choice which is more important to you. And some gyms may require specific models of shin guards, just like they demand 16-ounce gloves for sparring, so in these cases, the choices narrow quite a bit.

As for the size, every brand has its size chart that usually includes the length of the shin or instep or height and weight of the practitioner. Read carefully and take measurements to make sure you pick the correct size. Ill-fitting shin guards may cause you more problems than they protect your feet.

Type

Even without explanation, you will quickly distinguish a few different types of shin guards. Each of them was designed with a specific purpose in mind which you should also consider before buying.

MMA Shin Guards

MMA shin guards are generally shorter and less bulky than Muay Thai protectors. The top end is level, and the protective shell has a medium thickness. This is all done to find the perfect balance between mobility and protection.

The inclusion of takedowns and grappling means the bigger Muay Thai style shin guards often get in the way. Some models of MMA shin guards feature a fabric backside that is slipped on. This helps with stability as the regular Velcro straps may get untangled in grappling.

Muay Thai Shin Guards

Muay Thai is centered around devastating kicks, so it's only natural that Thai-style shin guards offer the most leg protection. The shin part usually has double or triple layers of protective material, and the top end is elongated to reach the knee. Muay Thai shin guards are preferred by most MMA fighters for their purely striking sparring sessions. 

Grappling shin guards

As the name indicates, grappling shin guards are not intended to handle powerful kicks but instead offer some protection for MMA sessions focused on grappling.

They usually feature a full-sleeve or slip-on design that prevents the shin guards from twisting and loosening. Some people even prefer neoprene shin guards because they are incredibly lightweight and cheap.

The focus with grappling shin guards is always agility and mobility over protection. This makes the transition from striking to grappling training very easy.

Material

Generally, the two materials used for shin guards are natural and synthetic leather. Genuine leather is the most durable but also the most expensive. There are excellent synthetic materials that are almost on par with the real thing in terms of durability while offering some nice features like anti-odor technologies.

Shin guards with sleeve backs can be very comfortable initially. Still, the material will wear out much quicker. Once it loses its elasticity, the whole pair pretty much becomes useless.

Price

Protective gear does what it says—it protects you and your partners. One sound advice you can follow is not to go for the cheapest gear. Often, the more you spend, the better quality you receive.

Fortunately, there are plenty of budget-friendly options that offer adequate protection and comfort. In these cases, something twice as expensive is not twice as good. If you have the money, always go for the higher-priced option. Still, luckily, you can buy great equipment for a reasonable amount of cash.

Frequently Asked MMA Shin Guard Questions

MMA Shin Guards

Do MMA Fighters Wear Shin Guards?

Sparring in MMA is always done with shin guards, so yes, MMA fighters wear shin guards in training. In professional competitions, only MMA gloves are used. Still, amateur MMA rulesets also require competitors to use shin guards, usually approved and provided by the governing body sanctioning the competition.

How High Should Shin Guards Go?

The height of the shin guards depends on the model. Muay Thai-style shin guards are longer and cover the entire shin up to the knee, while MMA models have a level top and cover about 3/4ths of the shin.

Summary

When it's time to pull the trigger and buy a pair of MMA shin guards, any of our top recommendations will be an excellent choice. Our top choice is the Fairtex competition model, but the Venum Elite and Hayabusa T3 are equally good. The choice comes down to personal preferences of the level of protection, overall bulk, and of course, price.

Best MMA Shin Guards - Fairtex Competition Shin Guards

About the author 

Plamen Kostov

Plamen has been training for the last 14 years in karate and kickboxing, before settling in for MMA for the last 5 years. He has a few amateur kickboxing fights and currently trains with and helps a stable of professional and amateur MMA fighters.


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