Reviews, discussion, questions and suggestions about HEMA equipment.
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Pringle
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Starter Kits

Post by Pringle » Sun Sep 01, 2019 10:55 am

There are a number of different starter kits available for HEMA, none of them quite cover everything but they're a cost effective starting point...

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If you are confident that HEMA is a thing you want to do and just want to make sure you have everything you need...

Knight Shop Kit 1 + Any Superior Fencing Kit will cover you for 99% of what you need.

If you're planning to eventually do full steel tournament fencing then you'll want to pick a SupFen kit that is 800N rated and consider upgrading your mask to Level 2; getting some heavy gloves; getting chest protection.

This is probably the most cost effective way to get everything but it is still a lot of money to spend at once so it is absolutely not expected.
Ben

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Re: Starter Kits

Post by Pringle » Sun Sep 01, 2019 10:56 am

The Knight Shop (https://www.theknightshop.com/buy-hema- ... er-kits-uk)

They offer both longsword and arming sword starter sets (depending on if you're currently doing Fiore or I.33) in four different levels...
  • Level 1 gives you a mask, gloves and a sword (longsword or arming sword) - this, plus a borrowed school vest (or ideally a jacket) gives you everything you need to start basic controlled sparring.
  • Level 2 adds groin and a throat protection into the mix and saves about £6 on buying them separately.
  • Level 3 adds shin and knee protection (and as it stands I think the Red Dragon shin/knee guards are my favourite).
  • Level 4 adds a bag to carry all your stuff - it looks like a guitar bag but is long enough to fit a longsword in.
I'd be inclined to go for either Level 1 (if you're just starting out but want the joy of not wearing a sweaty communal mask :lol:) or Level 4 if you're aiming to be cost effective and get a lot of bang for your buck.

I started with the Level 4 starter kit - since then I've bought a lot more equipment but the shin guards and the throat protection are still what I use for sparring - they're better than others that I've bought; the gloves remain my go-to gloves for everything but full steel longsword sparring; I gave my sword bag to another Academy member because I didn't need it and really the only reason my mask has become redundant is because I bought the level 2 version of the same mask - many people stick with the level 1 version indefinitely and it doesn't hurt to have a backup.
Ben

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Re: Starter Kits

Post by Pringle » Sun Sep 01, 2019 11:05 am

Faits d'Armes (https://www.faitsdarmes.com/en/72-sets)

They offer two basic starter kits which are essentially the equivalent of the Knight Shop level 1 kits - Mask, Gloves and a synthetic Longsword or Arming Sword. However, they are slightly more expensive (particularly if you factor in shipping), will take a bit longer to arrive and the gloves are inferior - probably fine for synthetic sparring but from what I can see I wouldn't want to use them for even light steel sparring.

It's probably not a bad starter set but basically the Knight Shop Level 1 is cheaper and better.

Don't take this as a slight against Faits d'Armes, some of the other stuff they sell is excellent (polearms 8-)).
Ben

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Re: Starter Kits

Post by Pringle » Sun Sep 01, 2019 11:48 am

Superior Fencing (http://www.supfen.com/products/c1120-HEMA-GEAR/)

They offer a range of different starter kits in different styles and their kits cover things differently from the Knight Shop kits. I've ended up with both a Knight Shop Starter kit and a SupFen starter kit with only a little bit of overlap.
  • SF Full HEMA Kit 1 includes a fencing jacket; fencing pants/shorts; a mask overlay/back of head protector (but not a mask!); forearm/elbow protection; throat protection; knee/shin protection; groin protection; socks (?) and a bag.
  • SF Full HEMA Kit 2 is identical to Kit 1 but with a different jacket - it's the same rating but is a different style and the integrated skirt could offer some upper leg protection (though with the pants/shorts it's probably redundant).
  • SF Full HEMA Kit 3 is also the same (and has both jacket options) but the jacket and the pants are both upgraded to 800N versions and the mask overlay is a leather version (which is apparently better but I'm not sure how/why).
  • SF HEMA Starter Kit 4 so this is the same as Kit 1 but also includes heavy gloves (suitable for steel longsword sparring - you basically save about £30 on buying the gloves separately).
  • SF HEMA Starter Kit 5 seems to be a varient of Kit 3 (different jacket options).
  • SF HEMA Starter Kit 6 is Kit 1 with a woman's jacket (though I'm pretty sure the others are unisex) and a pair of light gloves (the description says a groin protector but the picture doesn't show it so I'm not sure on this).
That's about as clear as mud so in summary...
  • Kit 1 and Kit 2 are the 350N kit with different jacket options.
  • Kit 3 and kit 5 are the 800N kit with different jacket options.
  • Kit 4 = Kit 1 plus Heavy Gloves
  • Kit 6 = Kit 1 with a woman's jacket(?) plus Light Gloves (and maybe minus groin protection).
I ended up getting a Kit 4... The jacket takes a while to break in but is excellent (I've actually upgraded mine since but Melissa uses her SupFen jacket) and everything else is pretty great. I have a personal preference for the Knight Shop throat protector and shin/knee guards but the SupFen ones are by no means bad.

The bag that comes with all of these kits is excellent - I'm now regularly using it to carry 3 steel swords, plus synthetics plus a rondel, knee guards, etc. It holds up extremely well and when it does eventually break I will be ordering another one and another one and another one.
Ben

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Re: Starter Kits

Post by Pringle » Sun Sep 01, 2019 11:50 am

So, you'll note that none of the SupFen kits include masks or weapons (and most of them don't include gloves)... Guess what, a level 1 Knight Shop kit consists of a mask, gloves and a weapon!

That means a Level 1 Knight Shop kit plus any of the SupFen kits will give you everything on the equipment buying order guide other than the chest protector (which is semi-optional unless you're going to tournaments).
Ben

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