Muay Thai sparring is typically performed with the proper protective gear to prevent unnecessary injuries. Other than a pair of sparring gloves, the list of protective gear includes mouth guard, groin guards and sometimes, head gear for extra protection. The most important of all, is a proper pair of shin guards. The very best Muay Thai shin guards, if possible.
What are the best Muay Thai shin guards?
TL;DR The Best Muay Thai shin guards should provide proper shin protection, while remaining light and mobile to facilitate complete movement during sparring. Picking the right fit and size is key, so the shin guards remain as secured as possible during intense sparring.
Look out for multilayered padding for the best impact absorption. From my experience, survey and research, Top King shin guards are the best Muay Thai shin guards followed closely by Fairtex, Yokkao and Twins Special.
In a hurry? Take a quick look at my top 5 picks straight away (scroll down to read the detailed reviews to find which suits you the most):
Brief History of Shin Guards
The history of shin protectors dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times when heavy bronze shin guards were worn by warriors in battle as part of overall armour.
Fast forward to modern times and shin guards -or sometimes referred to as shin pads- are worn for protection in many contact sports from baseball, football to ice hockey and of course, martial arts.
Sparring is done almost exclusively with shin protectors in the majority of modern-day fight gyms and dojos. This is because our shins are one of the most sensitive bones in our bodies.
The first time you experience a knee or shin bone clash against your own shin, you will truly appreciate the importance of wearing shin guards especially during Muay Thai sparring.
But whether you are a professional fighter or martial arts enthusiast, the physical pain of getting injured is as bad as the agony of being out of action due to injury. For your sake and everyone else’s, shin guards are typically a mandate in Muay Thai sparring practice.
How to Choose Muay Thai Shin Guards
Before we dive straight into the actual recommendations, it is helpful to know some of the various characteristics and differences, in order to choose the best Muay Thai shin guards for your sparring. There is no perfect shin guards but only one that meets your needs. Often times, it is a design of balance and compromise.
Protection and Mobility
Technically speaking, the wider the shin guards, the more protective they are since they cover a larger area of your legs. The compromise is that they are bulkier and will slow down your movements to a certain degree.
Inversely, the narrower the shin guards, the lighter they are and so your movements will be faster. The downside is that you are more likely to get bruises on the uncovered area of your legs.
In terms of protection, this also extends towards your sparring partners. A thicker shin pad feels less excruciating on the ribs of your sparring partner than a thin one. This concept works the same way as using heavier gloves for sparring: the thinner the padding, the more impactful your shins will feel to the opponent.
Sizing and Fit
Shin guards typically come in general sizing of small/medium/large/X-large. So, the taller you are, or the bigger your calves are, the bigger size you will need.
If your shin guards are too big, they will shift a lot during sparring and you will need to readjust them constantly. If they are too small, they might not offer enough protection; fit too tightly; and can be uncomfortable to wear.
The fit of shin guards also varies from brand to brand. For the same size, Brand X might fit wider than Brand Y. At the same time. If you want shin guards that fit you exactly the way you want, it is imperative that you try on a few brands to find one that you like.
Muay Thai Shin Guards Vs MMA Grappling Shin Guards
MMA shin guards (right) are designed with grappling in mind so they are usually less bulky compared to Muay Thai shin guards (left).
MMA guards usually come in socks-like sleeves to keep the guards in place during intensive scrambling and rolling on the floor. Muay Thai guards held with straps are not practical under such conditions.
Consequently, due to this compromise for mobility, MMA guards do not protect as much as Muay Thai guards. There is a lot more focus on striking especially with legs in Muay Thai and you need adequate protection when you block and check your sparring partner’s kicks.
Real Leather Vs Synthetic Leather
As with boxing gloves, genuine leather is still the most popular choice when it comes to buying shin guards. In most cases, they last longer than other materials such as synthetics.
However, high quality synthetic leather can sometimes match up to the durability of real leather. You may also get more options with synthetics in terms of flashier designs and range of colors. If you are a vegan, synthetic leather shin guards is also the only way to go.
Tips on choosing Muay Thai Shin Guards
Now, if you intend to get your shin guards from online shops, don’t go scurrying off to purchase them just yet. You should ideally know the model and size before hitting that “buy” button. Here are a few tips for choosing the right model and size:
Tip 1 – Your fight gym is the best and first place you should turn to. Ask your instructors or gym mates if you can try out their shin guards to check the fitting.
There will be a myriad of brands, models and sizes being worn at your gym so you can try them all out. It’s also a good way to make more friends at the gym and remember to ask for some sparring tips while at it.
Tip 2 – If your gym is of a decent quality, it is likely that they 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.
Tip 3 – There’s a good chance that you can find at least one fight store in your town or city. If you don’t feel shy about it, you should head down to check the selection and try them on for size before committing to a purchase online.
Due to rental and other operating costs of a brick-and-mortar retail store, the prices will usually be higher than online retail price tags. However, if you are able to maintain a good relationship with your local fight store, you may be able to get some good deals or discounts.
Nothing beats feeling/trying out the gears in real life and rubbing shoulders with fellow fight enthusiasts.
Now that you have some clues on choosing shin guards, bear in mind that your ultimate choice depends on what you are looking for. Ask yourself if you are looking for best overall protection, lightweight (for mobility), attractive aesthetic design, or a price tag that fits your budget.
Here are my picks for the best Muay Thai Shin Guards in the market to help you further narrow down your options:
Top King Shin Guards
Top King’s premium leather shin guards are constant chart toppers in Muay Thai gear reviews. With good leg coverage that reaches around the shins completely, and a high density foam padding, these shin guards will give you ample protection for your sparring needs.
For a secure and stable fit, the shin guards feature a hook and loop strap system that holds them comfortably in place.
The sleek silhouette of Top King shin guards is another of the reasons for their popularity with the Muay Thai crowd. They fit better, look better, and feel less bulky -and hence more mobile- compared to other brands.
The compromise made with such a design is that the sides of the lower legs may not be as well protected as a result.
The dual tone tribal accents on the empower series provide a reinforced padding for added protection while adding a nice aesthetic touch. The regular superstar series are just as highly recommended.
There ain’t no perfect shin guards but Top King shin guards are as good as they get.
|– “If you’re looking for shin guards, just buy these.”
– “Excellent product. I would recommend without hesitation.“
|Read my “Top King Shin Guards Review” to find out what other users and reviewers have to say about Top King Shin Guards.|
Yokkao Matrix Shin Guards
- Constructed with triple layers of high-impact foam. Martial arts shinguards for Youth and Adults
- High-Quality 100% Premium cowhide leather muay thai shin guards - Completely Handmade in Thailand
- Stress-resistant closure straps. Lightweight, perfect mma shin guards gear
Featuring a slim design, with secured hook and loop strap system, premium quality leather, and triple-layer high-impact foam padding, the Matrix collection is an excellent offering from Thailand-based Yokkao.
While these look hella basic, there is a number of subtle touches that make this one of my top choices on the list.
There’s the non-slip interior that minimizes your shin guards from shifting during sparring. The velcro straps are really comfortable and secured, without any of the pinching that comes with buckle straps.
Foot covers complete the whole package and the shin guards extend to the knees for an essential protection.
What I also like about these is that they are light enough without compromising protection. With classic solid-colored designs and all-round great quality, you really can’t go wrong with Yokkao shin guards.
|– “Protect my shins and feet really good. Stay in place at all times and aren’t as heavy as I thought.”
– “Best shin guards. No slip whatsoever.“
Fairtex Shin Guards SP7
- 1. Constructed of Syntek Leather.
- 2. Detachable shin protector and foot protector to adjust to fit user the most and for various purposes of use.
- 3. Shin protector can be twisted 90 degree from foot protector to follow your movement for maximum comfort and natural feeling
As far as leg protection goes in sparring, this is the creme de la creme. These are favored by the Thai trainers over at my gym for the ultimate protection to keep them safe in their treacherous line of work.
The SP7 covers as much of your lower legs as is possible without restricting your Muay Thai kicks. Your feet, shin, and ankles (nearly up to the knees) are all padded up for maximum protection and safest sparring experience.
When you have these on, it makes it feel like wearing armour.
These are very comfortable in all ways and the detachable shin and foot design allows for the most natural range of leg movements. The super thick padding are excellent and will withstand even the hardest of kicks.
As synthetic gear, these hold up against to any other genuine leather shin guards in the market and lives up to the reputation of the brand name. Admittedly, they are bulkier than other options but are surprisingly lighter than you would expect.
For best overall protection, these are my top choice.
|– “They are innovative and yet actually work as advertised. True to western size”
– “I highly recommend these to anyone looking for superior comfort, protection“
Fairtex Neoprene Shin Guards SP6
The SP6 was designed for MMA and grappling, but can also be used for Muay Thai sparring. There are some distinct pros and cons for this style of shin protectors.
These guards differs from the usual Muay Thai guards basically in the way they are worn. They are worn over your calves like sleeves instead of the usual hook and loop velcro straps. Such a design makes them less likely to shift during sparring and is a much appreciated advantage.
The biggest gripe for these is that the sizing runs a little small so this also makes them a little harder to put on or take off compared to the usual velcro straps. The snug fit borders on being a little tight so it is recommended to get 1 to 2 sizes up.
The other major disadvantage is that the padding just adequately covers the shins, leaving a sizeable area of the inner and outer sides of the calves and the ankles unprotected.
On that note, having less protection isn’t always a bad thing and it helps to condition the shins, if you look at it more positively.
For great mobility and stability, however, these are second to none.
|– “I like it because when your sparring they don’t fall off and they don’t start moving side to side.”
– “Great padding for sparring but they run VERY small. “
Twins Special Classic Shin Guards SGL-2
- Twins Shin Guards, Twins, Shin, Guards,
- Shin, Guard, Muay Thai, Kickboxing,
- MMA mixed martial arts, UFC, thai boxing, made in
I feel inclined to add these Twins classics to the list as they were my very first experience with shin guards and sparring.
These were my gym’s training shin guards for the trainers and were free to use for sparring by anyone. While I went away with bad thigh bruises from some unforgiving low kicks at my first spar, my shins were left intact from the session, thanks to these SGL-2s.
The thing I love most about Twins shin guards compared to Top King and Fairtex is that they are lighter but yet provides adequate protection.
As with all Twins gear, these cowhide leather shin guards are of high quality and are extremely durable. The fact that they are still used and abused after so many years at my gym, is a true testament to their durability.
Aesthetics-wise, the standard SGL-2s are really plain and simple but they do come with more fancy designs under a different model code (FSG).
The SGL-2 has been around for a while so the looks and ergonomics seem dated compared to more modern designs. But these are old skool workhorse gear that will serve their very purpose of protecting your shins -and your partners- during sparring.
No fancy patterns or cutting-edge technology. Just a good old pair of thick cushions for protecting your shins. As they say, ain’t nothing like the old skool.
|– “I have used these for Muay Thai and kickboxing for almost four years and they are awesome”
– “They fit really well and stay put while sparring.“
Twins Special Shin Guards SGL-10
- Designed to protect and enhance your lower legs and kicks,Have a double Velcro strap closure for a secure and comfortable fit
- Full leather construction heavy duty foam padding with double velcro closrue at the back and step-in footprotection with elastic strap under the feet
- Made of 100 % Genuine Leather
The SGL-10 is Twins’ upgrade from the old SGL-2 and SGL-3 models. Featuring a raised layer of padding, this is a worthy entry to rival any other on this list here.
In terms of general design, these look very similar to the Yokkao Matrix shin guards recommended above. These are also made from real leather like all good fight gear should be. As for the fitting, they fit a little narrower and smaller than the SGL-2 above and the SGL-3. Something to take note of.
Having tried and tested these shin guards, I would rate these highly, especially if you can get them at good price. I do prefer the SGL-2 in terms of fitting (personal preference) but in terms of stability and protection, SGL-10 is the brand’s best offering at the moment.
Looks-wise, nothing to shout about but these come in a few different colors (including a loud neon green) and fancy designs that you can find on Amazon.
|– “I ordered medium, but It was smaller than the other Twins shin guards medium.”
Hayabusa T3 Striking Shin Guards
In terms of overall protection, these Hayabusas are right up there with the very best. The Hayabusa T3 is the latest upgrade from the Tokushu Regenesis model that was also recommended on previous edition of this guide.
With the update, the T3 shin guards offer a number of nifty features. These shin guards are lighter than before, and offer the best balance between protection and mobility. The straps are wide and comfortable and there is a non-slip inner lining for added security against shifting during intensive spars.
The best part is the inclusion of an anti-microbial technology for the lining that helps extends the life of the shin guards, keeping them clean and smelling fresh.
The foam padding is thick on both the shin and the foot padding (that covers all the way over the toes) and you will feel indestructible during your bouts with your sparring partners.
Like most Hayabusa gear, these boast an engineered (synthetic) leather proven by their tests to outlast regular leather. Prices do run slightly higher than the other choices here but well worth it for the excellence in overall design.
|– “Excellent fit, lighter than their size would suggest and very excellent protection. They stay in place and fit as advertised.”
– “They’re comfortable, durable, and they don’t slide when defending against kicks.“
Venum Elite Shin Guards
- Premium Skintex leather construction
- High Density foam with additional padding for enhanced shock Absorption
- Lightweight design providing unrestricted mobility and speed
If loud colors are your thing, then Venum is our top recommendation. Venum are best known for their eye-catching aesthetics, but they make pretty darn good fight gear too.
The Elite model is a step-up from the entry level Challenger shin guards. Like the popular Venum Elite boxing gloves, these shin guards are proudly made in Thailand for the best assured quality, using a high grade synthetic “skintex” leather.
The lightweight design provides unrestricted mobility while the dense dual layer foam padding offers protection against the hardest knocks. There is also padding on the foot for a more well-rounded protection.
To round it up, the extra wide double velcro straps provide a good enough secure fit.
They are priced on the higher side but you will get good lasting quality gear for what you pay. The Elites come in neons, all-black and a standard design.
As an added advantage, match these with your Elite gloves and your sparring partners may just get blinded by the flashy neons and won’t see your strikes coming.
|– “These shin guards are amazing!! So lightweight and very comfortable.”
– “Great protection, definite high quality, pricey but you get what you pay for.“
|Read my “Venum Shin Guards Review” to find out what other users and reviewers have to say about Venum Elite Shin Guards.|
RDX MMA Shin Guards
- RDX Shin insteps are manufactured with lightweight Maya Hide Leather and Nylon inner fabric for integrated durability and crack resistance. Perfectly assists you in Muay Thai, Kick boxing, MMA, BJJ,...
- CE Certified, SATRA and SMMAF Approved Shin guards are infused with shock dispersion sheet for eventual impact resistance. Shell shock gel protection further augments in real tough training sessions.
- EVA-Lution foam coupled with Infused Shock dispersion sheet deliver prime level of cushioning. This allows the guards to distribute the heavy pressure out and around the surface area.
If you are looking for a low cost solution for your light sparring needs, then these affordable RDX shin guards may be what you are looking for.
With dual padded shock-absorbent gel and foam, you can rest assured that your shins are properly protected during sparring. These pads are made with neoprene material, making them very lightweight .
An outstanding feature of these RDXs is the use of moisture wicking lining to keep the wearer dry and lessen the possibility of the guards slipping due to sweat.
The calf straps seem to run a little short so if you have muscular calves, these might not wrap completely or securely. The instep guards, however, run a tad long and there have been reviews of minor toe/feet discomfort.
Overall, these shin guards offers decent protection and are a cost-effective solution. For casual sparring and light usage (or perhaps shin conditioning purpose), the RDX gets the job done.
|– “Pretty good for the money”
– ” Too thin for heavy sparring and checking. Good for light kicks and checks“
Sanabul Essentials Hybrid Kickboxing MMA Shin Guards
- Kickboxing or mm a Shin Guards choose when we have designed our Shin Guards to be as comfortable as mm a Shin Guards with the protection of traditional kickboxing or may Thai Shin Guards
- Enhanced protection. Sanabul one piece high-impact protection foam was specially developed to protect your shins during sparring. Articulated In-Step padding ergonomically contours to your foot
- No need to keep adjusting Shin Guards during training. Neoprene slip on design with top leg fastener and proprietary Mid leg fastener ensures a comfortable fit and minimizes Shin guard movement
I will come right out and say that I do not own a pair of these nor have I tried them on before. The reason I have picked these for the list is that they are really cheap and seem to have gotten a lot of positive reviews from actual users.
This is another option for the budget-conscious. Sananbul Essentials is one of a number of MMA brands offering good-quality, affordable martial arts training gear and equipment.
The Hybrids combine the secured comfort of mma guards with the protection offered by Muay Thai/Kickboxing shin pads. Very light and mobile, but yet offer amazing shin protection.
The Neoprene slip-on, combines with a mid-calve fastener to secure the shin guards in place during intensive sparring without the need for constant readjusting. Foam padding is adequate but definitely not comparable to the big boys – you get what you pay for.
Like the RDX above, these are ideal for light sparring or shin conditioning.
Sananul Essentials Hybrid shin guards are available in size XS, suitable for kids weighing less 110lbs and measuring between 4′ 4″ to 5′ 1″.
|– “ The perfect combination of comfort, fit, function, and durability. We love them, and can’t recommend them enough.”
– ” Very snug and secure. Because of the leg “sleeve” they don’t slide around to the back like some other designs. Just a bit difficult to get on and off.“
If your shin guards tend to shift easily during training, it can be quite an annoyance. Here are some of the most common causes:
#1 Wrong sizing. This is most probable if your shin guards are a size too big. You may try to secure them more tightly but this can get uncomfortable. You are better off to get one size down.
#2 Wrong sides. Some shin guards have designated left/right sides so if you got them on wrongly, they may have a tendency to shift. Check before you put them on.
#3 Poor fastening design. You would think it’s just a matter of velcros but some brands do it better than the others. You can consider getting yours replaced with a better model.
Sparring is fun and is where you learn the most in terms of improving your game. You now have the chance to put all the techniques into practice. However, you should only spar with the proper protective gear to prevent unnecessary injuries.
The right shin guards will go a long way in enhancing your performance and enjoyment while minimizing sparring injuries. And this goes for experienced fighters and total noobs alike. Train hard, train safe.