Fairtex is one of the biggest brands in combat sports. Their SP5 Competition model has become the golden standard for Muay Thai style shin guards and is designed for amateur competition and heavy sparring. Let's first look at what Fairtex has to say about the SP5.
Fairtex SP5 Shin Guards Rating
The Revgear Superlite holds the promise in its name and offers great protection and are lightweight. These are perfect for MMA sparring because they have enough protection to let you kick with confidence while providing more mobility to work on the ground.
Fairtex SP5 Shin Guards
Now let’s see how they hold up to the promise.
Material And Quality
Fairtex is quickly becoming my favorite brand because their products are so on-point and consistent in quality. I've tried quite a few things from them and have yet to find a product without any quality issues.
The SP5 competition-style shin guards are another thing I will constantly use, even after reviewing them. The material is, unfortunately, not genuine leather, but synthetic leather Fairtex calls Synek leather.
But aside from that, the materials and craftsmanship are flawless, and these are undoubtedly high-quality shin pads. The synthetic leather feels nice and should hold up for a long time.
The stitching is done perfectly. There are no loose threads, nor are there stitches causing discomfort. The two Velcro straps are tightly held with double stitching on key places. The loophole for the strap is also reinforced with stitches, and it will not cause any problems durability-wise.
The inside lining is some kind of nylon that does not hold sweat, but it's rougher than what is typically used in boxing gloves to provide more friction. There are no stitches on the inside to rub against.
Design, Comfort, and Padding
Fairtex has taken the classic Thai-style shin guard design and perfected it. You have an elongated instep and a long shin piece below the knee. Still, somehow Fairtex managed to keep almost the same level of protection while making the SP5 lighter and less bulky than other Thai models.
It's also why we've chosen these as our best Muay Thai shin guards for big calves.
The padding is very dense and provides excellent protection all over. What I love is that unlike most models, which place a visibly separated additional layer of padding in the center, with the SP5, everything looks like one piece.
The padding in the middle is still slightly thicker than on the sides, but this is done subtly. The sides wrap around the sides of the calf more than many other shin guards protecting the dreaded calf kicks.
The elongated instep is another cool feature to help protect the fingers. The piece is elongated and done through a second piece of thinner padding that does not pressure the fingers unpleasantly.
A definite highlight is a stitching-free system between the instep and the shin. This is a problematic area; most shin guards and Fairtex have done a tremendous job of making something that does not rub on your ankle and is very flexible from the first day. The small gap due to the no-stitching system helps a lot with mobility.
Visually the SP5 model is also very slick. The classic logo sits proudly in the middle, while dozens of small Fairtex logos form a kind of barbed wire net on mirroring sides of the two shin guards. I love it. There are 5 colors to choose from.
Using the Fairtex SP5 Competition Shin Guards
The SP5 is the most comfortable shin guards model I have ever used. I was amazed at their level of movement for the length and width. All Thai-style guards are very protective, but most feel like you are wearing bricks on your legs, and there is none of that here.
The instep joint, especially, is as conformable as it can be. Even without a break-in period, there is no rubbing on the ankle nor pressure on the fingers from the stiff joint.
This would not mean as much if the protection level was low, but it's not. These are made for hard sparring and amateur competitions, allowing for full power kicks to protect both parties sufficiently. Even checked low kicks and elbow-blocked body kicks feel good.
I've sparred many rounds with these and rarely had to adjust them from moving. I have the L size at 6 feet in height, and they are just the perfect fit.
The instep is slightly widened, which helps when body kicks catch the elbow bone. I am sure the guys who designed these have had sore legs more than a few times and knew perfectly well what they were doing.
The elongated shin piece sits right below the knee and covers the thickest part of the shin, meaning you can check kicks without any worries.
Thai fighters may have steel legs, but this is a very nice feature for the rest of us mortals. Generally, all Muay Thai-style shin guards are longer for this reason, but it is done perfectly here.
And what may be the most impressive thing is how light the SP5 model is for the level of protection it provides. Most other shin guards with length and padding weigh twice as much. I am unsure if this is true or if I feel them this way, but in any case, the feeling is most important.
As good as these are for Muay Thai and kickboxing, they can still be used for MMA. Depending on your style, they can be perfect.
Hence why these are our #1 pick for the best MMA shin guards.
The ankle joint and perforated instep provide enough mobility to grapple. Still, they are not at the level of cloth shin guards or other MMA-specific models. So, if you are a heavy kicker in MMA, this model is great for you. If you lean more on the grappling side, I recommend going for something smaller.
The Fairtex SP5 shin guards go for around $100, an excellent price in my book. It would've been nice to have genuine leather.
Still, the price would have to bump up, and the Syntek leather should not significantly reduce the longevity because shin guards are used nowhere near as much as boxing gloves.
Beginners may want to pick up something cheaper for a first model. Still, for those looking for the ultimate Muay Thai and kickboxing shin guards, the SP5 model may be the answer.
The Fairtex SP5 is the perfect iteration of the classic Muay Thay style design for shin guards. The one-piece padding, elongated shin, and instep provide superior protection in all areas.
Couple that with the lightweight and flexible no-stitched ankle joint, and you get very comfortable shin guards that sacrifice neither protection nor mobility for the other.
Fairtex SP5 Shin Guards