The history of shin protectors goes all the way back to ancient Greek and Roman times.
In those ancient times, warriors would wear heavy bronze shin guards in battle as a part of their armour.
These days, in modern times, shin guards, also commonly referred to as shin pads, are worn for protection in most contact sports from football to ice hockey and, of course, in martial arts!
Shin protectors are worn constantly for sparring exercises in modern day dojos and fight gyms.
If you didn’t know, shins are one of the most sensitive bones in our bodies and can be one of the nastiest injuries if broken.
Once you have experienced a knee or shin bone clash against your own shin, you will truly understand the importance of wearing shin guards especially during something as intense as Muay Thai sparring.
If you are a professional fighter or martial arts enthusiast, who has experienced the physical pain of getting injured, you will know it is as bad as the agony of being out of action due to injury.
For your own body’s sake and everyone else’s, shin guards are a must for any muay thai action.
So, take a look at our buyer guide and list of the best shin guard below, to help you find exactly what you’re looking for!
The Best Muay Thai Shin Guards On The Market
OUR TOP PICK
Top King has premium leather shin guards that are constant chart toppers in Muay Thai gear reviews, they’re a respected brand with the martial arts community.
They have excellent leg coverage that reaches around the shins completely, and a high density foam padding, both of these things mean that the shin guards will give you ample protection when sparring with your partner.
For an extra secure and stable fit, the shin guards have a clever hook and loop strap on the back of the pad to hold them comfortably in place.
With a super sleek silhouette, Top King shin guards are incredibly popular with the Muay Thai crowd for a whole host of reasons.
They fit better, look better, and feel less bulky than many of the other brands on the market.
They have made a compromise with the design as a less bulky design may improve mobility but means that the sides of the lower legs may not be as well protected as a result.
There are dual tone tribal accents available on the pads, these also serve to provide a reinforced padding for added protection while adding a nice aesthetic touch.
The regular superstar series are just as aesthetically pleasing and come highly recommended.
With a light and slim design, these guards have secured hook and loop strap system, premium quality leather, and triple-layer high-impact foam padding.
These guards are made in Thailand, the very home of Muay Thai.
While these definitely have a more basic look, without the colour and flashy design, they would suit someone who wants guards that are a bit more plain or simple looking.
There’s a helpful,non-slip interior that minimises your shin guards from shifting or slipping around during sparring, this in turn minimises the risk of injury.
The velcro straps are really comfortable and secure and don’t cause any of the pinching that comes with the more conventional buckle straps.
Foot covers complete the whole package and the shin guards extend to the knees for ultimate protection against leg kicking and blocking during sparring.
As far as leg protection goes in Muay Thai, you cannot get much better than Fairtex’s shin guards.
These guards are renowned and a favourite in any Thai trainers gym as they offer the ultimate protection and keep Muay Thai fighters safe in their intense and often dangerous line of work.
The SP7’s cover as much of your lower legs as is possible without restricting your movement, allowing you to still perform those fast and agile Muay Thai kicks.
Your feet, shin, and ankles are all padded, practically up to the thigh, for maximum protection and a better and much safer sparring experience.
When you have these on, it often looks like some form of heavy duty armour, as they are so heavily padded.
Despite being made of a synthetic material, these hold up against any other genuine leather shin guards on the market currently.
They live up to the reputation of the brand name and though they are bulkier than other options, they are also surprisingly light and much more comfortable than you would expect.
These SP6’s were specifically designed for MMA and grappling, but despite this, they can also be used and work extremely well for Muay Thai sparring.
There are some distinct pros and cons for this style of shin guard.
For example, these guards differ from the standard Muay Thai guards basically in the way they are worn on the leg.
You would wear them over your calves like sleeves instead of the usual hook and loop velcro straps.
Having this design makes them less likely to shift and move around during sparring and therefore, gives you an advantage.
One of the biggest problems with these shin protectors is that the sizing runs a little small, this makes them harder to put on or take off compared to the usual velcro straps of the more standard guards.
The snug fit borders on being a little tight so it is always a good idea to size up in this particular model.
The other major disadvantage is that the padding just about adequately covers the shins, leaving quite a large area of the inner and outer sides of the calves and the ankles unprotected.
The thing that really makes these shin guards stand out, especially when compared to other brands like Top King and Fairtex is that they are lighter but still provide adequate protection.
As with all Twins gear, these cowhide leather shin guards are of a very high quality and are extremely durable.
In terms of aesthetics, the standard SGL-2s are really plain and simple but they do come with more fancy designs under a different model code.
The SGL-2 has been around for a number of years and looks more ergonomic but also dated compared to more modern guards.
However these are old school design shin pads are a great bit of gear that will serve their very purpose of protecting your shins -and your partners- during sparring.
There are no fancy patterns or cutting-edge technology in these unfortunately. They are just a good old pair of thick cushions for protecting your shins.
In terms of your overall shin protection, these Hayabusas are right up there with the very best around in terms of striking guards.
The Hayabusa T3 is the latest model and a complete upgrade from the Tokushu Regenesis model that is also highly recommended in the Muay Thai community.
With the update, the T3 shin guards offer a number of handy and quite fancy features.
These shin guards are even lighter than the previous design and offer the best balance between protection and mobility.
The straps are both wide and very comfortable.
They have also introduced a non-slip inner lining for added security against irregular movement during intensive spars at the gym.
Ultimately, the best part is that they have finally included an anti-microbial technology into the lining of the pad that really helps to extend the life of the shin guards, keeping them clean and smelling fresh always.
The foam padding is nice and thick on both the shin and the foot padding which will help you feel indestructible during rounds with your sparring partner.
Like most of the Hayabusa gear on the market, these boast a synthetic leather that has been proven, time and time again, to outlast regular leather.
Prices do run slightly higher than the other choices here but well worth it for the excellence in overall design.
If what you want from your shin guards is loud and flashy, then Venum is our top recommendation.
Venum are best known for their eye-catching aesthetics, but the good news is that they make excellent fight gear too.
The new and improved Elite model is a big step-up from the entry level Challenger shin guards that were previously available.
Like the popular Venum Elite boxing gloves, these shin guards are proudly made in Thailand and therefore are made authentically and with the best possible quality.
This impressively lightweight design provides unrestricted mobility while the dual layer foam padding in the guards offer protection against the most ferocious of kicks.
There is also padding on the foot for a more well-rounded protection.
They are a much higher priced guard but you will get good lasting quality gear for what you pay.
The Elites come in neons, all-black and a standard design, so can be suited to your own tastes.
Requirements For A Good Shin Protector
The absolute best Muay Thai shin guards should provide you with proper shin protection, while still being light and mobile to allow you to complete movement during sparring.
Picking the right fit and size is really the key to a comfortable shin guard and will ensure that the shin guards remain as secured as possible during intense rounds of sparring.
So, look out for multilayered padding in your shin guards as this offers the best impact absorption.
Protection And Padding
As a general rule, the wider the shin guards, the more protective they are as they will cover a larger area of your legs.
The only compromise with this is that they are bulkier and will slow down your movements to a certain degree.
But, if we’re putting safety first, a bigger shin pad is always better.
On the other hand the narrower the shin guards, the lighter they are and will give you much more flexibility meaning your movements will be faster.
The downside to this is that you are more likely to get bruises on the uncovered area of your legs.
The same rules will apply to your sparring partner, a thicker shin pad feels less excruciating on the ribs of your sparring partner than a thin one as the padding dulls your kick.
This will work the same way as using heavier gloves for sparring: the thinner the padding, the more impactful your shins will feel to the opponent and thus, the more it will hurt.
The Fit And Size
Shin guards come in a pretty standard sizing of small/medium/large/X-large.
Thus the taller you are, or the bigger your calves are and the bigger the size you will require.
If you feel your shin guards are too big, you will be able to tell because they will tend to shift a lot during sparring and you will need to readjust them constantly.
If they are too small, they might not offer enough protection, they’ll fit too tightly and can become very uncomfortable to wear.
The fit and feel of a shin guard will also vary from brand to brand. For the same size, one brand might feel bigger or more comfortable than another.
At the same time. If you want shin guards that fit you exactly the way you want, to your specifications, it is imperative that you try on a few different brands to find one that you like the most.
Muay Thai Shin Guards Or MMA Grappling Shin Guards?
MMA shin guards are specifically designed with grappling and intense mat work in mind so they are usually less bulky compared to Muay Thai shin guards, which also tend to have more padding.
MMA guards tend to come in socks sleeves to keep the guards secured and in place during intensive scrambling and rolling on the floor when against an opponent.
Muay Thai guards held with straps are not practical for this type of combat or activity.
By compromising padding for mobility, MMA guards do not protect as much as Muay Thai guards do.
There is a lot more focus on striking especially with legs in Muay Thai and you will definitely need adequate protection when you block and check your sparring partner’s kicks.
Real VS Synthetic Leather
As is the case with boxing gloves, genuine or real leather is still the most popular choice when it comes to shin guards.
In most cases, they last much longer than their synthetic counterparts.
However, really high quality synthetic leather can sometimes match the durability of real leather and there tends to be more options with synthetics in terms of flashier designs and a much wider range of colours.
If you are a vegan, synthetic leather shin guards are the only real option out there for you.
Choosing The Best Shin Guards
If you are planning on buying your shin guards from online shops, there are a few things to note before you click that checkout button.
You should ideally know the model and size before you make any purchases. Here are a few tips for choosing the right model and size:
The best people to ask about the best brands of shin guards are at the fight gym you already train at.
Ask your instructors or gym mates if you can try out their shin guards to check the fitting, ask them for their opinions, which ones do they prefer and why?
There will be a whole plethora of brands, models and sizes being worn at your gym so, if you ask nicely, you could potentially try them all out.
This is also an excellent way to make more friends at the gym and remember to ask for some sparring tips while talking to your gym mates about their gear.
If your gym is of a decent quality, often they will even carry their own line of fight gear or even a few of the more popular brands.
The best thing about buying from your gym is that you get to try them on first and you will often get a discount as a member.
Prices, however, are usually higher than what you can source online for the same items.
Unless you really live out in the sticks, you can usually find a MMA and Muay Thai supply store in your town or city.
Don’t feel shy about going down there and checking the selection! Make sure you try them on for size before committing to a purchase online too.
Due to rental and other operating costs of an actual physical retail store, the prices will usually be higher than any online retailer.
However, if you are able to maintain a good relationship with your local fight store, you may be able, through that relationship, get some good deals or discounts on Muay Thai gear.