Protective Equipment


General Guidelines

As an independent club, we are allowed to set our own rules regarding equipment. However, we tend to follow the rules of organizations such as the SCA and Adrian Empire. This way equipment you buy for our classes are compatible with their tournaments and events.


Any new fencing mask should be usable. We use Blue Gauntlet for our loaner gear because they are inexpensive and reasonably durable.

Absolute Force masks tend to last longer under intense sparring, but you do pay more.


Fencing masks don’t protect the throat from the type of swords we use, so additional rigid protection is required. This usually takes the form of a metal-backed leather collar known as a gorget (pronounced gore-jet in English, but the French gore-shea is more common.)


A gorget is required whenever wearing a fencing mask.


That Guys Gorget is our club favorite. It is very comfortable and fits any size.


Winter Tree Crafts offers two versions. The cheaper version is for Rapier only. When using cutting swords, pick the brigandine style as it has better collarbone protection.


Purpleheart as a very inexpensive version, but we haven’t reviewed it yet.


The Zen Warrior Rapier Gorget is legal, but most people find it to be uncomfortable.


The following gorgets are not acceptable. They do not protect the back of the neck and is illegal in SCA and Adrian Empire Tournaments.

  • PBT Gorget

  • Destroyer Modz Roughneck Gorget

  • Neyman Gorget

  • Lynx Neck Protector


Absolute Force HEMA Neck Protector can be used as an optional liner. It is not sufficient on its own.


Fencing Jacket

For drilling, a fencing jacket is optional but recommended.


For sparring with steel swords, a puncture resistant jacket is required. A minimum rating of 350N is preferable, but many perfectly suitable jackets are not rated. Rapier tends to use a lightly padded jacket, longsword a heavily padded jacket.


For sparring with synthetic swords, a fencing jacket is optional but recommended. Most find that a lightly padded jacket is sufficient.


If you wish to compete in a SCA/Adrian Empire tournament, a historic jacket is required.


Fencing undergarments are an interesting option, as they may be worn under most historic costumes allowing for more variety. Note that the “Spectra” line has no padding and should only be used for rapier.


If you wish to compete in a HEMA tournament, a modern looking jacket is preferred but not required.


A legal alternative is chainmail from Darkwood Armory. Other chainmail vendors may be approved on a case by case basis, if they are specifically designed for protection and not merely costuming.


Elbows and Knees


For cutting swords (sidesword, longsword), elbow protection is required. This may be a separate part or incorporated into the jacket.


Additional forearm protection is highly recommended for sidesword. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for longsword either.


Knee protection is required for sidesword. Longswords don’t typically hit the knees, but we still recommend it.


When looking for knee and elbow pads, prefer models that protect the sides of the joints. Avoid this style, as it only protects the top of the joint.


Rapier Gloves


For rapier, any glove with a long cuff is sufficient. These tend to be made of leather.


All options from Purpleheart with independent fingers are suitable for rapier.


All options from Darkwood, other than steel, are suitable for rapier.


All of the Zen Warrior gloves, possibly excepting the armored and hardshell versions, are acceptable.

Synthetic Sidesword/Longsword Gloves

Red Dragons are the club standard synthetic swords. They offer a good compromise between protection and flexibility, especially when practicing more complex handwork or grappling. Essentially, they are an upgraded version of lacrosse gloves.


Some choose lightly padded gloves, but they offer minimal protection. We especially do not recommend them for sparring.


Heavy welding gloves count as “lightly padded”. Again, we recommend replacing them with lacrosse gloves or better.

Steel Longsword Gloves

Steel cutting swords require an extra degree of protection, especially when used for longsword.


SPES Heavy Gloves is a typical example of a “mitten” gauntlet.


Koning Gloves are the high tech alternative. They offer protection comparable to a mitten gauntlet, but with independent fingers.


Steel Sidesword Gloves


Steel sidesword is an exercise in compromise. The hilt doesn’t allow for a mitten gauntlet, but doesn’t fully enclose the hand like the rapier or basket hilt.


Red Dragons are a popular option here if your hilt permits it.


The Rapier and Singlestick gloves offer some padding while still fitting in most hilts.


Zen Warrior sells a comparable glove called Armored Glove Pair ZKG


The Zen Hardshell Combat Glove hasn’t been reviewed yet.


Fingertip Protectors


Fingertip protectors are optional, but recommended for cutting swords. They are provided free by the club, as they do break or are lost over time.


Chest Protectors


Chest protectors are optional and used mostly for drilling steel rapier when you’ll be hit in the same spot relatedly.

For men they are provided by the club. Due to the variety of chest sizes, women purchasing a chest protector will receive a discount on their membership dues as compensation.


Zen Warrior offers breast protectors as bra inserts or a full chest plate.

Blue Gauntlet offers a variety of styles.