10/29/13 Note: Our two old club gambesons are still being repaired. We have 2 more gambesons on order.
Schwert am Schwert has some loaner gear for you to get started quickly in European swordsmanship training. However, we strongly encourage you to get your own equipment piece by piece as you are able, so that you can train more often and effectively!
Below are the equipment lists for participating in open drills and fencing at Schwert am Schwert, followed by direct links to the gear that we recommend. New members should start with uniform right away, then build up equipment from the drill list in months 1-3, and finally equipment from the fencing list when you're tired of jockeying for use of the shared, sweaty club gambeson jackets.
- School shirt. $25. Wicking sport style for comfort. Plus with stylish school logo!
- Black pants. $5-20+. Stretch and sweat wicking are good attributes. Example. If you wear long pants, tuck them up into your knee protection for ease of movement; also good to prevent chafing from leg/knee pads.
- Shoes per your training preference. $20-100+. Club members have had luck with indoor soccer shoes (for good turning, stops, and starts), low-profile minimalist shoes (e.g. Vibram FiveFingers, or $20 Feiyue kung fu shoes), and just plain running shoes.
Equipment for drills: (estimated beginner prices)
- Nylon waster / practice longsword ($125)
- Fencing mask or approved customized helmets ($109)
- Padded and/or rigid gloves ($50)
- Rigid groin protection for men ($10)
- Rigid breast protection for women ($30)
- Rigid and/or padded elbow/knee protection ($20)
Equipment for open fencing: (estimated beginner prices)
- Padded "coach's" jacket or gambeson ($100)
- Rigid and/or padded throat protection ($68)
- Steel sword or feder
- Chest protector for men
- Groin protection for women (STRONGLY recommended)
- Rigid and/or padded forearm/shin protection
Where to Buy:
The following equipment links are intended to get you started quickly. We focus on safety, good value for money, and fit. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU TALK TO YOUR COACH about selection, sizing, and any additional questions BEFORE making your purchases. Our club primarily buys training equipment from Purpleheart Armory, run by one of our longtime members in the Woodlands. Talk to us to get our club discount!
HEMA is still a young activity, and new equipment becomes invented / available every few months. Please check with us for upcoming equipment that may be of interest to you.
Once you know what you are looking for, you can also greatly benefit from shopping used sports equipment stores, eBay, thrift stores, etc. You can often buy high quality lacrosse gloves this way, at 50-80% discount!
- Purpleheart Type III longsword (also available in feder style)
- Purpleheart Type III arming sword
- Buckler shield. Synthetic. Suitable for use against synthetic / nylon training swords.
- Ensifer feder (steel training longsword)
- Hanwei practical arming sword. Solid, functional training sword. As a bonus, comes with a scabbard for wearing around at ren faires!
- More shields and bucklers. Plus steel bosses suitable for use in making your own shield with .25" plywood, a steaming/curving jig, and lots of epoxy / resin. Talk to us about historical design and strapping arrangements.
- Absolute Force fencing mask (w/ back of head protector)
- That Guy's perforated steel mask. Awesome product. Available with suspension strapping. Currently not available for order due to his queue and health.
- PBT gorget
- That Guy's gorget
- Stay tuned as of October 2013 -- two of our club members are working on a new gorget pattern to be made in leather and high impact ABS plastic versions.
Padded Jackets and Gambesons
- SPES jacket, Axel Pettersson model. A solid jacket in use by many international HEMA tournament fencers. Highly recommended. Women's jacket available through Purpleheart Armory -- talk to your instructor.
- SPES jacket, AP PRO. Offers more protection against hard strikes plus broken steel blades. Slightly more cumbersome due to extra protective layers.
- SPES jacket, Fechtschule Gdansk model. This version has a slightly longer waist, to cover the hips.
- SPES hip/thigh protector. Effectively acts as a fauld to protect your hips and upper thighs.
- Therion Arms arming jack. $135. Affordable jacket with points for attaching additional armor pieces (see our club members for details).
- Therion Arms arming jack. $100.
HEMA specific gloves/gauntlets are a perennial difficulty. New models are in design and testing all the time right now, but few strike the correct balance of protection, mobility, and cost. Do NOT make the mistake some of our members have made in the past -- buying a cheap alternative that ended up disintegrating in a few months, or else resulted in relatively avoidable hand/finger injury. TALK TO MEMBERS about what works for them.
- (best protective option) Ensifer sparring glove - $250. By far the ONLY HEMA glove so far that our club can recommend in good conscience (do NOT buy the shoddy lookalike Absolute Force glove). This flexible mitten gauntlet is safe to use with nylon or steel training weapons, and is in regular use by competitive international tournament fencers. Regularly available through Purpleheart Armory locally, but not listed on website. Please talk to your instructor about sizing and purchase.
- (beginner's option) Lacrosse GOALIE gloves - Example here. None are perfect. The model pictured here features a non-rigid plastic thumb protector, durable yet safe. Regular lacrosse gloves do not offer good thumb protection, and many goalie gloves use rigid plastic that breaks easily. Your best options are 1) buy goalie gloves through Sword to Sword, or 2) go on eBay or lacrosse stores online for clearance sales. Our club routinely shops for new/used lacrosse gloves that are good deals -- $60 or less, often valued at $150+ retail, and with the best desired thumb protection styles. Talk to your instructor -- everyone wants to buy their own gear, until they find out what a pain it is to shop for the correct styles of gloves!
Groin and Breast Protection
Men's groin protection is readily available at any local sporting goods store. We recommend wearing compression shorts with your protective athletic cup. Versions with silicone sides are more comfortable.
- Chest protectors. Blue Gauntlet is an affordable and quality supplier for fencing equipment. We recommended their coach's saber mask up until HEMA masks became available.
- Women's groin protection. Women aren't built like men, but no one enjoys getting hit in the groin.
Joint, Shin, & Forearm Protection
Knee, elbow, and shin protection is readily available locally by shopping in the rollerblading, hockey, lacrosse, baseball, and soccer departments of your local sporting goods store. Some specialty WMA/HEMA gear is also available.
- Padded cuisses with knee cops. Good light protection for the thighs. The knee cop is not sufficient on its own for open fencing (wear knee pads under the cuisses).
- Baseball catcher's legs. Example here. The brand is not important. These can be found at sporting goods stores and on eBay for $60-80 usually. Models vary in proteciton! The best ones cover the ankles as well as side of the feet, but aren't always available.
- Soccer shin guards. $10-20. Wear with knee pads. For those who prefer more mobility, or are on a beginner's budget.
- Elbow/knee guards. We recommend Knee Pro pads for their deep coverage on the sides of the joints. Buy two pairs -- one to wear on elbows over your jacket (not needed for Axel Pettersson Pro jacket), and one for your actual knees. Skate pads will fit decently, for $5-10 from thrift stores or $20 from sporting goods stores. Only buy KNEE pads -- elbow pads will not fit over your jacket.
- SPES forearm/elbow protectors. A forearm only version is also available for $44. Some beginners may find these beneficial, but most of our veteran fencers prefer mobility, and defend their arms through guards and voiding (moving out of the way).
There are other options for most of the gear listed here but members are encouraged to speak with your local instructor about specific items.
Equipment manufacturers and vendors interested in Schwert am Schwert recommending or prototype testing your equipment are encouraged to contact us.