Why use cloth shin pads for Muay Thai?
In order to keep the sport as safe as possible, some amateur organizations (like IFMA) require fighters to wear cloth shin pads instead of fighting with bare shins. This lessens the impact and chance of serious injury. Fairtex SPE1 and Nationman cloth shin pads are both excellent options for this purpose. This article takes a closer look and compares cloth elastic shin pads from both Fairtex and Nationman.
Similarities between Fairtex SPE1 and Nationman Shin Guards
Both Fairtex and Nationman designs use a sock-like sleeve that has two separate padding pieces built into it. One piece covers the front surface of the shin and one piece covers the top of the foot. The open toe sleeves also have an open heel, allowing you the best possible traction while training. Both brands use a free size, one size fits all design for their cloth shins. They will stretch with wear to fit a wide range of shin and ankle sizes. To secure the pad, they use the same 2.5 cm thick elastic band with velcro closure. This is an adjustable feature that can be tightened or loosened to fit your shin.
While there are a lot of similarities between the two styles, there are also differences that can make each brand’s version more suitable depending on your training needs.
Measurements for Amateur Muay Thai Shin Pads
Nationman cloth shin pads are slightly longer than Fairtex, measuring 49 cm tall. The pad for the shin measures 30 cm long and the padding for the forefoot measures 15cm. Both of these pads are 11cm wide.
Fairtex’s cloth shin pads measure 47.5cm long. The piece of padding that covers the shin’s sharp surface measures 27cm. Padding that covers the forefoot measures 15cm long. Both pads are 9cm wide.
Comparing the padding on the forefoot, both styles have a slight overhang compared to the sock portion worn at the bottom of the foot. The Nationman padding is only 2 cm longer than it’s sock. Meanwhile, the Fairtex forefoot padding overhangs its underfoot sock by 5cm. This provides protection further down the top of the foot, without compromising ankle mobility and your footing on the ring surface.
Nationman and Fairtex use the same type of fabric for their cloth shinpads as they do for their ankle guards. Fairtex specifies this to be a blend of 35% acrylic, 35% nylon, and 30% elastic materials. Nationman uses something very similar but with a heavier gauge knit. Fairtex uses a tighter knit, which helps prevent their shins from getting too stretched out with wear.
Finishing and branding on Muay Thai cloth shins
Both Fairtex and Nationman brand their cloth shins on the front of their equipment. Nationman uses their distinctive 3 line design along the length of the shin pad with their logo at the top. Fairtex simply uses their brand logo at the top, middle of the shin pad. Of note is Nationman’s superior printing. It’s very thick and solid so that it can withstand being directly on the striking surface of the pad.
The seams for both brands are finished the same way as their ankle guards. Nationman uses a thicker and softer thread than the Fairtex to cover the elastic band at the open toe edge of the sock. These stitches are farther apart which gives it a slightly scalloped knit look. Fairtex uses a finer thread so it just looks like a solid, smooth line to finish the open toe.
Although both brands use the same style and size of elastic band to secure the pad, their placement is slightly different. Nationman fixes these on the outside edge of the shinpads. An ideal placement that allows you to easily distinguish the right from left pad. Fairtex elastic bands are fixed at the same side of the shin pad for both pads in the pair. This means you can use them interchangeably for right and left. Or, if you prefer to keep the right and left pads distinctive, you will need to label them as such.
Comparing Padding for Amature Muay Thai Shins
Both Nationman and Fairtex cloth shin pads are approved for amateur competition by different governing bodies. Their padding is slightly different and so can serve different functions and goals. The Nationman padding is soft and squishy, like their elbow pads. This soft padding keeps the guards flimsy and flexible. Which in turn makes them ideal for conditioning shins while providing a layer of protection. Nationman shinpads have also been approved by IFMA.
The Fairtex SPE1 pads have more dense and durable padding. For a longer surface like shins, this will provide optimal protection, reducing the risk of injury to yourself and your opponent.
Both Fairtex and Nationman provide top contenders for cloth Muay Thai shin pads. Both are approved for amateur competition and can also be worn for training. As with all equipment, when considering which is ‘best’ it’s important to consider which style best fits your training needs. Which style do you use?
Looking for maximum protection for Muay Thai sparring? Rigid shin guards are the best option as they provide the most protection. Models like Fairtex SP5 and SP3 are very popular for this purpose. And while these styles do offer the best protection, they are not allowed for competition.