In a hurry? Click here to jump straight to our top picks.
If you’re getting into kickboxing or MMA and are about to start sparring or even doing some heavy bag work, it’s time to start thinking about shins.
Shin guards are one of the important pieces of protective gear once you start doing contact training. Even pro fighters will tell you how painful it is to kick someone shin-to-shin, even with guards on!
And again, we say this all the time but we’ll say it again: Good training is always about looking after not only yourself, but your partners as well. A good pair of shin guards protects you from injury, but also prevents your partners from smashing a foot against your shins or knees.
In this guide we’re going to tell you everything you need to know, so you can get the best MMA shin guards for you and continue to get the most out of your training.
What To Look For In Good MMA Shin Guards
We quite like these S3 shin guards by RDX!
The Right Fit
The most important thing with a good pair of shin guards is the fit.
Most shin guards are pre-curved and also come with multiple straps to secure them to your leg.
However it’s important that you also choose the right size. Most shin guards come in various sizes, usually from S to XL. Make sure you use the size guides provided in the reviews below to get the right size for you.
Soft vs Hard
Shin guards come in many different styles and materials. Some are leather, some are synthetic or plastic and some are simply foam padded cotton.
The type of shin guard you will need will depend on your skill level. Soft shin guards made primarily of foam padded cotton – also sometimes called sparring socks – are much softer and will not absorb all the contact. These are designed more for experienced fighters.
For more complete protection of your legs, you will want solid surface shin guards, which are more common and recommended for beginners.
Some shin guards cover only the shin, some cover the shin and the foot, and some extend right up to the thigh.
What you need will depend on what kind of training you do.
If you only need some protection for bag sessions and don’t want to upset your technique too much, you could go for a very simple shin-only shin guard. If you’re doing heavy MMA sparring and are down on the mats a lot, or doing full contact 8-weapon sparring, you may want a guard that extends all the way above the knee.
Read on as we’ll give you some options of all the various styles and which are best suited to your needs and skill level.
Our List: The best MMA Shin Guards UK
We’ve done the legwork for you and reviewed the top MMA shin guards available to UK buyers. .
Here are our final picks:
RDX T1 Instep MMA Shin Guards
A very sturdy shin guard from RDX.
These are made with Maya hide leather to ensure your shins are well protected and that it won’t fall apart after long seasons of training. RDX has also padded these with their renowned Shell-Shock gel which absorbs impact better than simple foam padding and will ensure your legs are well protected even in the toughest sparring sessions.
They’re also made with RDX’s QD-1 lining designed specifically for wicking sweat to ensure your shin guards don’t become water logged and keeps them free from unpleasant odors (as long as you clean them well!)
Also offers great protection over the top of the foot and secures easily with their EZ loop straps to prevent slippage and ensure you have a comfortable training session.
Made in multiple sizes too to ensure a perfect fit. See size guide here.
All around a solid shin guard from RDX that does everything right. We like them a lot!
- Manufactured with lightweight Maya Hide Leather and Nylon inner fabric for integrated durability.
- Approved by SMMAF (Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation)
- Shell-Shock gel delivers eventual impact resistance.
- Supremo Shock foam delivers prime level of cushioning, reducing the chance of injuries.
- QD-1 lining with sweat wicking abilities.
- Quick-EZ hook & loop closure.
- Sizing guide available.
AQF High Density MMA Shin Guards
These AQF Shin Guards are great value. Made from hard synthetic leather to ensure max protection, with a non-abrasive inner lining for comfort.
The padding itself is an EVA-guard sheet with 20mm of thickness that absorbs impact and spreads it evenly across the pad.
Very lightweight and flexible with extra wide strapping to reduce slippage.
Also comes in four different sizes to ensure maximum comfort. Slightly cheaper than the RDX T1 too which makes it a good choice for lower budgets.
- High density foam padded shin guards.
- Top quality synthetic Leather for durability.
- 20mm high density impact absorbing padding.
- Extra wide dual hook and loop closure system .
- Light weight design to provide mobility.
- Non-abrasive inner lining for comfort, moulds perfectly to your shin.
- Four different sizes with sizing guide available.
Venum Kontact MMA Shin Guards
These shin guards by Venum are a softer cotton shin guard which offers less protection but more dexterity and freedom.
While some shin guards have solid leather surfaces, these are cotton surfaced guards filled with padding to absorb impact but not negate it completely. If you kick shin-to-shin with your sparring partner, you will definitely feel it.
However, they are much lighter and less bulky to wear, and are excellent for light sparring or even doing bag work if you have soft shins.
They also fit more securely, with a full closure system that is similar to a pair of long socks. The added bonus is they’re machine washable meaning you can just throw them right into the laundry after training.
Keep in mind these are best suited for someone who is comfortable feeling some knocks on the shin such as someone training for a fight, or someone only doing light drilling or sparring.
If you are new to sparring and buying your first pair of shin guards we would recommend something with a more solid surface like the Venum Challengers below.
- 100% high grade cotton.
- Velcro closure for a personalized adjustment.
- Perfect maintenance ensured by stretch yokes.
- Machine washable.
- One size fits all.
Alpha Force MMA Shin Guards
These Alpha Force MMA Shin Guards are an excellent pair of shins that do everything right and are a little more affordable than some of the name brands.
They have a hard surface to ensure you get max protection from shin bumps and bruises, with high density foam on the inside to increase the cushioning. It also gives complete coverage on the lower leg including the top of the foot which is essential in a pair of sparring shin guards.
Lightweight and pre-curved to ensure a comfortable fit. The design is unisex and comes in four sizes so suitable for everyone. Good choice for those who need a solid pair of shins but are on a tighter budget.
- Pre-curved designed to fit the natural curve of your shin.
- Advanced lightweight design.
- Elite high-density impact protection foam padding.
- Alpha Force stretchable-X material makes them easy to clean and maintain.
Venum Challenger MMA Shin Guards
Venum always makes great products and these high-end shins are no exception. Surfaced with Skintex leather and padded with high density foam, and as always the workmanship from Venum is excellent.
You may find they also fit more snug than other brands as Venum has a tendency to make gear that fits just that little bit cleaner than other brands.
The other thing Venum is known for is always having sleek designs – they’ve lived up to that repuation here as well with four different colours which are also available in four different sizes.
Sizing guide available too to ensure you get a perfect fit.
Valour Strike Lightweight Sparring Socks
These shin guards from Valour Strike are another soft surface model. The elastic cross weave design means they slip on like a sock and are fixed with 15mm thick foam panels on the shins and feet.
Once again soft shin guards like these will definitely allow you to feel some impact on your shins during contact; they are designed to condition your legs rather than protect you completely. Therefore it’s not a good idea to use these for hard sparring sessions, unless of course you are training for a full contact fight or are comfortable feeling shin-to-shin contact.
The advantage is they are very lightweight and allow great freedom of movement and mobility. They are also made entirely of soft-materials so are safe to machine wash and easy to dry.
- Just 130g (per pad).
- Designed for maximum speed and flexibility.
- 15mm compressed foam padding.
- Super close to fight conditions with added pad safety to reduce the risk of injury.
- Elasticated sock-like design.
- Adjustable upper strap so you can finalise your fitting.
RDX S3 MMA Shin Guards
The only knee-high shin guard on this list, not only does this give greater protection to you but your sparring partners as well. Those who spar will know what it feels like to throw a kick and catch a stray foot or shin on someone’s knee cap – not fun!!!
This design also protects the knees from mat burn, especially during wrestling/takedowns and gives an extra level of safety when throwing knees in sparring.
Also very comfortable to wear – sock like design gives great stability and easy loops around the upper knee to allow you to secure even tighter. The hosiery material wicks sweat and ensures you stay dry and comfortable.
Excellent all-round shin guard for MMA and kickboxing sparring, we like these a lot!
- EVA padding backed by Supremo-Shock foam in the knee.
- Shock-absorbency in the knee cap when defending, eating, or throwing a shot.
- Shock dissipating EVA padding slab shields the shins.
- Sock like design.
- Hosiery wicks skin, offers compressional feel, and is designed as a slip.
- Quick-Ez hook & loop easily straps on.
- Sizing guide available.
Leone 1947 Comfort Shin Guards
These Leone 1947 shin guards are a bit different, mostly because Leone is primarily a boxing brand. Still they make great gear and we’re happy to include these on our list.
Firstly the workmanship is always top quality, we think the design is pretty slick as well. The thing we like most is the price. It might not be the cheapest shin guard on the entire market, but it’s not far away.
These are also a soft surface shin guard with a sock-design, so probably not good for hard sparring or for beginners, but good for those looking to condition their shins but stay protected at the same time. Just an added bit of cool factor to have Leone shins on, too!
- Italian design.
- 70 year heritage.
- Soft surface with sock design for a comfortable fit.
- Certified by the World Boxing Council and World Fighters Council.
RDX T2 MMA Shin Instep Guards
The RDX T2 model has everything we look for in a quality shin guard. Made from real cowhide leather which means maximum durability and impact absorption. It’s padded underneath with a triple layer of gel-integrated foam, that disperses blows so you feel as little as possible – exactly what we want!
Also fitted with RDX’s classic Quick EZ straps to secure the guard around the shin and foot to prevent slippage.
A little more expensive than other shins but worth the extra investment. This is the only genuine cowhide leather product on this list, meaning with proper care it should last for many seasons without any denting or deforming.
As long as you get the size right, you couldn’t ask for anything more. Awesome product!
RDX HY MMA Shin Guards
This is a minimalist shin guard by RDX that is designed to be as lightweight and non-intrusive as possible. It’s sturdy and durable, but also soft and flexible to ensure your movement isn’t hampered and you can still strike with complete freedom.
The high density padding protects your shin, but your feet are completely uncovered – this gives you less protection of course, but also gives you the highest level of freedom of movement and lightness.
These are best suited for more experienced fighters, and we think they’re particularly good for bag work when you’re doing technique sessions. The padding doesn’t hamper your kicks but it does save you from those bruised shins after many rounds on the heavy bag.
Some tips for using your shin guards
Buy the right type
Once you’re more experienced and are comfortable taking some knocks you can graduate to the soft cotton surface shin guards like the Venum Kontacts.
For MMA sparring, especially if you’re on the ground a lot or drilling takedowns often, you could think about getting the RDX S3 Shin Guards for better knee protection and more freedom of movement.
Remember, nobody cares how cool your shin guards look or whether you’re a beginner or a pro. In the gym all people care about is that you’re taking care of yourself, your partners, and you’re working hard! Get the right shin guards for you and your training will be much better for it.
Always clean your shin guards after every session. It’s a bad habit for many people to just leave gear sitting in their training bag after getting home from some long sessions. We get it, you’re knackered, but take a few minutes to wipe down your gear!
Some of the soft shin guards on this list can be thrown straight into the washing machine, but for the others, give them a quick wipe down with alcohol wipes and then leave them out to dry. In the sun is perfect, otherwise the hot water cupboard is the next best thing.
Buy the right size
Nothing is worse than trying to train and having to stop every 5 minutes to adjust your shins.
Almost all the shin guards on this list come in multiple sizes and have size guides. Not only is getting the right size important for comfort, loose shin guards can also be dangerous for you and your training partner.
Get a shin guard that fits tightly, doesn’t slip, and keeps your legs protected.
Summary: Our top picks!
These are our top picks for the best MMA shin guards:
For MMA sparring we really like what RDX has done with the S3. Getting beat up knees on the mats is pretty common in MMA sparring and the fact they’ve made them so lightweight as well is ideal. For any serious MMA fighter those are a great piece of gear to add to the collection.
Overall though, our pick for best MMA shin guards is the RDX T2. Genuine leather is always a winner as it cleans easy, is super durable and offer excellent padding and protection. They’re also made to RDX’s usual high standards and the fit, style and workmanship is top notch. Pricier than some of the others on the list but there’s no substitute for quality.
Whether beginner or expert, there are shin guards here that should suit everyone at every level. Train hard!
Last update on 2020-10-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API