8 Best MMA Shin Guards for 2020 

A good pair of shin guards can save you from severe body damage or, worse, broken bones.

However, you can’t just grab any shin guard you find at your local department store.

Certain qualities, such as impact & shock absorption, proper fit, and the type of material used, are crucial to how well your shin guards can protect your body.

After 6 hours of sparring, we’ve been able to test the best shin guards capable of providing improved defense for your body. These 8 best picks are top-notch shin guards we highly recommend you check out today.

8 Best MMA Shin Guards

Fairtex SP3 Pro Shin Guards: Best Overall

Key Features

  • Comes in pairs and various colors
  • No metal loops
  • Made of Fairtex Syntek leather (high impact foam core)

Performance

Fairtex has grown just as much as MMA has risen as a sport. Fairtex’s quality over the years has proven to be one of the best there is for MMA and Muay Thai.

What stands out with the Fairtex SP3 is its high-quality padding, which surrounds the instep and shin area and provides the protection you need when sparring.

What’s more, you can use the Fairtex SP3 on amateur competitions since it has no metal loops. With the Fairtex SP3, it has all the necessary features associated with MMA gear.

Design

Design-wise, the SP3 is somewhat lacking. We don’t mean in terms of protection, but rather, aesthetics and appeal.

Its basic design suggests that Fairtex was more concerned about how it would benefit the user regarding protection and performance rather than the design.

Nonetheless, the Syntek leather used paired with its double-layered high impact foam gives it enhanced shock and impact absorption you don’t find easily among other shin pads. So while they don’t look flashy, these MMA shin guards perform great.

Is Fairtex SP3 Pro for You?

The Fairtex SP3 may seem ordinary at a glance, but don’t be fooled. These shin guards provide protection and shock absorption like no other.

Thousands of users have complimented the SP3 for its performance for both sparring and competitive use. The best part is it’s highly affordable! Hands down, the Fairtex SP3 is a shin guard you can’t go wrong with.

Just a quick note, though. The SP3 has a few sizing issues you should be wary of. If you’re usually a medium (M) when you order a pair of shin guards, make sure to order a large (L) with the Fairtex SP3. The same goes if you’re a small (S) too.

Pros

  • Great price value
  • Highly affordable
  • Excellent shock and impact protection
  • Covers the entire shin and instep
  • Lightweight design
  • Trusted and reliable quality

Cons

  • Size is smaller than average sizing
  • Mobility is not the greatest for MMA

Venum Kontact Shin Guards: Best Value

Key Features

  • Neoprene fabric material
  • Velcro straps closure system
  • High-density foam
  • 3D embossed foot grip for enhanced traction
  • Mesh panels for improved comfort

Performance

While the Fairtex SP3 focuses on protection, the Venum Kontact is an MMA shin guard perfect for those looking at mobility as the highest priority.

The neoprene fabric material allows the shin guard to wrap around your shin and provide a snug fit comfortably.

As for the high-density foam, this provides adequate protection for your shin; however, since the Venum Kontact shin pads are slightly smaller, it’s not as protective as you might expect.

Needless to say, the Venum Kontact scores incredibly high in regards to maneuverability and comfort.

Design

The 3D embossed grip purposely improves foot grip, enhancing traction and velocity in any sparring session.

Incorporated with open areas and mesh panels, these are designed to provide the user with improved breathability and facilitate sweat escape.

This kind of ventilation can be incredibly useful, and it’s a vital feature of MMA shin guards you’ll need, especially if you regularly spar with colleagues or friends 3 to 4 times a week.

Is Venum Kontact for You?

Venum Kontact combines high-quality shin guards and an affordable price level, making it one of the most inexpensive MMA shin guards you can get today.

Despite its lower price tag, Venum doesn’t sacrifice the quality of the material, design, or protection their MMA gear provides.

If you’re looking for MMA shin guards with less restriction in your kicks, enhanced movement, and the best value for your money, the Venum Kontact will not disappoint.

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert at martial arts, the Venum Kontact should suit you.

Pros

  • High comfort, breathability, and maneuverability
  • Facilitates sweat escape
  • Great value for money
  • Highly affordable
  • Enhanced foot grip and mat traction
  • Provides excellent mobility

Cons

  • Small size offers less protection

Sanabul Essential Shin Guards: Best Budget Pick

Key Features

  • High-impact protection foam
  • Instep and padded shin protection
  • Wide range of sizes (XS to XL)
  • Hook and loop closure system

Performance

Sanabul is fairly new to the scene, but what we love most about the Sanabul Essential is its balance of comfort, flexibility, and protection.

Most MMA shin guards will have you choose between either comfort and protection or protection and maneuverability. With Sanabul, it’s a different story.

First, the shock-absorbing foam used provides protection starting from your knee cap all the way to your ankle and the instep of your foot.

Although this may sound bulky, Sanabul made sure to create a lightweight design allowing your ankle and feet to move freely.

Even professional MMA fighters, such as Sugar Sean O’Malley and Alan Jouban, can attest to the high-quality material and performance of Sanabul’s shin guards.

Design

Two of the most significant design aspects worth noting are the hook and loop closure system and elasticated foot strap.

These provide a means of protection and, most importantly, help secure your feet in place even after countless kicks.

The only drawback? Since the velcro straps are quite long, those with small calves may have to adjust this regularly as the shin guards may slip from time to time.

Is Sanabul Essential for You?

Sanabul takes pride in their commitment, passion, and quality they can provide for combat sports like MMA and Muay Thai.

For an incredibly low price, some might be skeptical about its quality and performance overall.

However, we made sure to include Sanabul Essential in this review because we wanted to clarify any doubts you may have about Sanabul and the shin guards they manufacture.

Sanabul Essential offers a great balance of movement, comfort, and protection.

Overall, we feel these MMA shin guards will suit beginners looking for high-quality MMA gear who don’t want to spend a lot on their first pair of shin guards.

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Lightweight frame
  • Provides great comfort and protection
  • Hook and loop closure system secures feet well
  • Great mobility
  • Good traction and foot grip

Cons: 

  • Velcro straps are quite long

Hayabusa T3 Striking Shin Guards

Key Features

  • Neoprene fabric material
  • Dual hook and loop straps
  • Inner silicon grip
  • Pre-curved material for easy contouring of the leg

Performance

The Hayabusa T3 screams premium from its design all the way to its performance, but first, let’s talk protection.

These chunky and rigid MMA shin guards are designed to provide maximum protection. In fact, wearing a Hayabusa T3 allows you to throw kicks countless times with ease and zero pain.

The rigid complex foam material allows you to “abuse” the T3. When we say “abuse,” we mean it’s specifically designed to take as many hits without the worry of any wear and tear.

Surprisingly, these MMA shin guards also have a lightweight frame. However, when you first start using the T3 shin guards, expect a short break-in period.

It may feel stiff the first couple of times, but once you’re through, you’ll feel the comfort and breathability of what a high-quality shin guard can provide.

Design

Thanks to its pre-curved material, the T3 shin guards provide exceptional coverage and cover a large surface area of your foot.

The dual straps and the inner silicon grip provide easy fastening and secure your foot in place. Finally, its open-back design minimizes sweat and keeps your feet cool throughout your sparring session.

Is Hayabusa T3 for You?

With excellent shock absorption protection and a contoured frame to cover your leg, shin, and knee, Hayabusa features a quality that will suit both beginners and experts.

The one drawback that may prevent users from using the T3 shin guards is the hefty price tag. Indeed, Hayabusa offers excellent quality and a well-renowned reputation in manufacturing MMA gear, hence the expensive price tag.

Should you choose the T3, know that you won’t be needing an extra pair of shin guards for quite a while. Then again, this depends on your budget and how much you’re willing to spend, especially if it’s your first time buying one.

Pros

  • Great impact & shock absorption
  • Highly durable
  • Covers a large surface area of your feet
  • Provides a secure fit
  • High-quality craftsmanship

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Might be bulky for some

Venum Elite Standup Shin Guards

Key Features

  • 100% Syntek leather
  • Velcro closure system
  • High-density foam padding
  • Embossed label

Performance

You might be wondering, “why Venum again?” The short answer: Exceptional performance. As for the long answer, we’ll get to that in a bit.

So how does the Elite Standup model compare to the Kontact model? Regarding price, the Elite Standup is a much more costly option, but for good reason.

The Elite MMA shin guards use 100% Skintek leather, offering the best durability and comfort in an MMA shin guard.

Coupled with its high-grade foam padding, one can expect improved shock & impact absorption. Even better, the foam padding extends to the shin bone and instep to provide a wider protected coverage area for your foot.

All in all, the Elite Standup model provides the superior performance that’s rare to find in most MMA shin guards.

Design

What’s worth mentioning are the 2 large velcro straps and elastic bands placed under the shin guard’s heel and foot, ensuring better foot security and a custom fit for nearly all sizes.

The anatomical look of the Venum Elite Standup is just as impressive. To the untrained eye, it may merely appear as aesthetics, but really, this provides enhanced mobility for the user as well.

Is Venum Elite for You?

Price aside, the Venum Elite Standup comes with great shock & impact absorption, excellent durability, and mobility & comfort any expert at martial arts, MMA, or Muay Thai would love to have.

If you’re looking for highly protective features, these pair of shin guards by Venum are worth the hefty price tag.

Pros: 

  • Secures your leg and foot in place well
  • Great aesthetic appeal
  • Enhanced mobility and comfort
  • Excellent impact & shock absorption properties
  • Comes in a wide array of color variations

Cons:

  • Hefty price tag

Meister MMA Elastic Shin Guards

Key Features

  • Elastic material
  • Meister MMA exclusive product

Performance

Not much can be said about the Meiser MMA Elastic shin guards. For something simple and practical, the Meister Elastic provides all the necessary features you would expect for protective MMA gear but doesn’t go any further than that.

The best quality we love about the Meister MMA Elastic is how easy it is to put on and take off. Its lightweight frame also adds to the comfort of wearing these shin guards in a sparring session.

However, the Meister MMA Elastic isn’t quite suited to heavy sparring. If you’re looking to do light training or want a casual training session, the Meister MMA Elastic provides adequate protection.

Design

This is where Meister outshines most shin guards. The fit is exceptional, and with the elastic material, one can expect a snug, comfortable fit.

It also comes with a top strap to ensure your foot stays in place without sliding off.

Is Meister MMA Elastic for You?

As mentioned earlier, the Meister MMA Elastic is a simple yet practical shin guard.

While it offers lesser protective features than most of the shin guards mentioned in this review, it’s an exceptional pick if you’re looking for shin guards that provide a comfortable fit.

More importantly, if you’re on a tight budget, the Meister MMA Elastic is one of the cheapest pair of shin guards you can find.

These shin guards should last you for a decent amount of time; however, as you start to progress into more advanced lessons and heavier sparring, you might want to consider other options.

Pros:

  • Simple, practical use
  • Budget-friendly
  • Excellent fit and comfort
  • Lightweight frame
  • Great for casual MMA sparring

Cons:

  • Not suited to heavy training
  • Protective features could be improved

Hayabusa Ikusa Shin Guards

Key Features

  • Premium quality
  • Ergonomic frame
  • Neoprene material

Performance

Without a doubt, Hayabusa offers quality you won’t regret investing your money on.

Considering their long-standing reputation of manufacturing MMA gear, the Hayabusa Ikusa is no exception to the excellent craftsmanship, and quality one can expect from Hayabusa’s products.

The Neoprene material provides both breathability and moisture-wicking properties for your leg. For its superb comfort, you won’t have to compromise protection and durability either.

The Hayabusa Ikusa is suitable for all combat training types and comes with a striking surface with high impact absorption.

Design

Its high-resiliency inner core, fullback frame, and secure closure system ensure zero shifting while ergonomically matching the contour of your leg of enhanced mobility.

We must say, it’s hard to find any Hayabusa products that fall short of expectation or perform poorly.

With a ton of positive reviews found online, the Hayabusa Ikusa is one of the best MMA shin guards that can easily fall off as a budget pick.

Still, Hayabusa is not without its flaws. Some users commented on how the Ikusa would slide off sometimes when sparring.

Is Hayabusa Ikusa for You?

At under $50, the Hayabusa Ikusa, with all its features and benefits, is a shin guard you can choose to wear daily or keep as a spare.

Did we also forget to mention how durable it is? Hayabusa shin guards have a reputation of providing not only high impact and shock absorption but also durable frames that make it longer-lasting than most.

We highly recommend the Hayabusa Ikusa if you cross between several combat disciplines, such as Muay Thai, MMA, or kickboxing.

That said, if you prefer to use these solely as MMA shin guards, these are a great choice nonetheless.

Pros:

  • Great impact and shock absorption
  • Premium, trusted quality
  • Great price value & affordable
  • Moisture-wicking properties
  • Ensures maximum breathability with zero shifting
  • Ergonomic, comfortable fit
  • Can be used for a variety of combat sports

Cons:

  • Tends to slide off

Top King Shin Guards

Key Features

  • Genuine leather material
  • Comes in 7 different color variations
  • Extra padding for knee cap and calves

Performance

Top King is a highly regarded brand dubbed as the best shin guards for Muay Thai and MMA. For those who implement Muay Thai disciplines into their MMA game, Top King shin guards are a fantastic option.

Top King is the only one on this list that uses genuine leather, seeing how most typically use neoprene or synthetic leather materials.

Is this a bad thing? Not at all. For a well-renowned brand, it’s hard to believe they’d use any quality that’s subpar or less than what’s expected.

Top King MMA shin guards also provide a wide coverage area for both your leg and foot.

Additionally, no area of your leg is exposed when wearing the Top King shin guards, ensuring top-notch protection as you throw kicks or take any hits from your opponent.

Despite its superior performance, Top King shin guards take a while to break in, and when we say “a while,” this could last for several weeks to a month at most.

Nevertheless, users who felt uncomfortable the first few weeks immediately loved the Top King shin guards after successfully breaking in.

Design

Top King features two straps that secure around your leg firmly and comfortably.

These straps also use a different material from most shin guards and is why Top King shin guards don’t have issues of sliding off from your leg.

Finally, these shin guards come with 7 different color variations, all of which look aesthetically pleasing.

Is Top King for You?

Top King shin guards aren’t as expensive as you would expect considering their long-standing reputation and renowned quality. Still, it may be too much for beginners to spend the first time around.

Be that as it may, if you want to get the most out of your money for high protective features and reliable quality, the Top King shin guards are a great choice that won’t exceed a $100 budget.

Pros:

  • Highly regarded quality among martial artists
  • Top-notch protective features
  • Secure, comfortable, & ergonomic fit
  • Durable
  • Great impact and shock absorption

Cons: 

  • Takes a long time to break in
  • Slightly expensive

Types of Shin Guards

Before we dive into how we evaluated the shin guards presented in this review, let’s go over the 3 different types of shin guards that make MMA shin guard types stand out.

MMA Shin Guards

MMA shin guards come with a shorter and slip-on frame that uses lightweight materials and typically feature an ankle clasp to protect your foot, leg, and instep.

When purchasing MMA shin guards, it’s best to choose a pair that provides a good balance of protection and mobility.

Good leg security is vital to a high-quality MMA shin guard since it can be a hassle and inconvenient to adjust your straps in any sparring or training session constantly.

Muay Thai Shin Guards

Muay Thai shin guards have a longer frame than MMA types. Muay Thai shin guards protect your leg from high-powered and heavy kicks, making these perfect against heavy sparring sessions.

However, this is not to say MMA types don’t come with the same protective features. Most MMA shin guards today are quite similar to Muay Thai types and can withstand heavy blows.

Grappling Shin Guards

Maneuverability and speed are two key features that make an excellent grappling shin guard.

For this reason, features that don’t restrict your movement while providing adequate protection is vital to its overall performance.

How We Chose the Best MMA Shin Guards

Choosing the best MMA shin guards depend on 5 aspects:

  • Shock Absorption
  • Size/Weight
  • Fit
  • Price
  • Brand

In this section, we’ll go over each aspect and take a deeper dive into how these affect your shin guards’ performance.

Shock Absorption

Shock and impact absorption is, by far, the most significant aspects we evaluated. Depending on how heavy your sparring session will be, it’s only natural that heavier sparring will require more protection.

For this reason, it’s crucial to be aware of the various foam materials used in the construction of shin guards.

Single Layer/Double Layer Coated Foam

Single-layer and double-layer foam are entry-level materials useful for beginners. Single-layer foam protects your leg against light blows and is best used for light sparring.

However, being an entry-level foam material, it’s not capable of withstanding heavier kicks or strikes.

Double-layer foam, though, is a better option for those with stronger striking power, making it more ideal for heavy-hitting beginners and those who want extra shock absorption just to be safe.

Synthetic Leather Foam

Synthetic leather is quite durable, has good shock absorption properties, and is easy to maintain. Synthetic leather is best for users who have been training for a few months and need stronger shin guards.

Thanks to the double or triple layer of foam wrapped around synthetic leather, one can expect enhanced shock and impact absorption for your leg.

Genuine Leather Foam

Genuine leather provides the best shock absorption and has the most durable covering material; however, it requires more maintenance and demands a higher price tag.

We recommend choosing genuine leather if you’re an advanced fighter and regularly spar with heavy hitters.

The durability and shock absorption you can get with genuine leather are unmatched compared to the other foam types we previously mentioned.

Covered Gel

Covered gel is less common among shin guards and provides great shock absorption. What makes covered gel stand out is its ability to retain its shape after extended abuse.

The only downside of covered gel is its durability. Not only is covered gel difficult to maintain but once it rips and tears, you’ll most likely have to find a complete replacement for your shin guards.

Size/Weight

The weight of your shin guard directly influences the mobility and agility of your strikes. Take note that speed influences the impact of each kick you throw at your opponent.

Although you have the advantage of a heavier mass to land a heavy blow, a higher speed provides a more powerful strike without restricting the movement of your leg.

A great pair of shin guards should be able to provide the protection needed while allowing you to move your leg freely and swiftly.

Fit

Fit refers to the closure system your shin guards provide. A good clasp will help secure the shin guards in your feet and fasten to your leg firmly.

If the fit is loose or easily slides off, your leg is more prone to injuries and can be more dangerous during competitions.

Two types of systems to take note of are cotton or neoprene sleeves and velcro closure systems. 

Cotton or neoprene is comfortable and flexible to use, without a doubt. However, these can slip easily compared to velcro closure systems.

Although it’s worth mentioning that not all shin guards that use cotton or neoprene are of bad quality. Some of these shin guards come with a top strap or, at times, dual straps to offer better security for your leg.

Velcro systems offer great durability, adjustment, and security. While velcro is a safer option to go for, be careful of any sharp edges or strips that may scratch your leg.

Price

One should always consider price no matter the product you buy.

It’s good to find a pair of shin guards that offer great price value and top-notch quality; however, this is not always the case.

Sometimes, the best MMA shin guards are also the most expensive. Then again, the best picks can vary per user and budget preferences.

What you should be cautious of when considering the price is not to go too cheap or too low that you compromise your shin guards’ quality.

Lower priced shin guards may save you $50 to $80, but if it puts your leg at risk and lowers the safety rating, it will only be a waste in the end.

Brand

To help you narrow down your decision when choosing among the best MMA shin guards, identifying reputable brands can be especially useful.

Some of these brands include:

Venum

Venum is a brand well-known for manufacturing one of the best & long-lasting products.

Both the Venum Kontact and Venum Elite Standup are excellent choices, although the Venum Kontact offers a more appealing and affordable price tag.

Through the years, Venum has become one of the leading manufacturers and innovators for all fighting gear.

Sale
Venum Elite Standup Shinguards, Matte/Black, Medium
718 Reviews
Venum Elite Standup Shinguards, Matte/Black, Medium
  • Premium skintex leather construction
  • High Density foam with additional padding for enhanced shock Absorption
  • Lightweight design providing unrestricted mobility and speed
  • Large Velcro straps for a no-slip fit
  • Handmade in Thailand

Hayabusa

Hayabusa is best known for its premium prices and excellent quality. Hayabusa is like the Dyson of home appliances.

Throughout time, Hayabusa continues to push the boundaries and limits of martial arts innovation, allowing them to create award-winning products with superb quality and durability.

Hayabusa T3 LX Italian Leather Striking Shinguards - Brown, Large
18 Reviews
Hayabusa T3 LX Italian Leather Striking Shinguards - Brown, Large
  • MATERIAL/DURABILITY: The rich aroma, smooth texture, and timeless look all evolve with use. The more you...
  • ULTIMATE FIT & COMFORT: Train with confidence knowing your shin guards won’t shift while you move. T3...
  • PROPER SUPPORT: T3 LX Shin Guards provide the ultimate shin support so you can get the most out of your...
  • CARE INSTRUCTIONS: Interior: use a water-dampened washcloth to wipe away oils and dirt, which can...
  • BEST FOR: Our T3 LX Shin Guards were designed to deliver the best performance while training and sparring...

Other reputable brands that manufacture some of the best MMA shin guards include Fairtex, Top King, and Sanabul. 

Check out more MMA shin guards on Amazon.com

Conclusion

Choosing the best pair of MMA shin guards depends mostly on how much protection you need. These go hand-in-hand with the fit, size, and brand you opt for.

We hope this review was able to help you choose the best MMA shin guards for you. Happy sparring!

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