Are you wondering what the best MMA shin guards are?
In this article, we’ll dive into the 3 absolute best MMA shin guards on the market in 2023 and beyond, explaining what makes them better than other shin guards and listing any cons.
Best MMA Shin Guards
While there are hundreds of shin guards for MMA and combat sports on the market, we’ve done the research and present here the 3 best MMA shin guards to save you the trouble of reading through dozens of product descriptions.
1. Best MMA Shin Guard Overall and for MMA Sparring (Striking and Movement)
Fairtex SP5 Muay Thai Shin Guards
>Lightweight and complete freedom of movement when sparring
>Curved ergonomic design and pointed top protect the sides of the legs and knee (unique, unrivaled protection)
>Zero shifting due to the curved form-fitting design and sturdy straps
- Articulated Instep Padding: Fairtex kickboxing shin guards…
- Elastic Straps & Velcro Closures: The Fairtex Martial arts shin guard…
- Improve speed & agility – Fairtex SP5 shin pads are designed to…
Handmade in Thailand and first made available in November 2018, the Fairtex SP5 is a high-quality MMA shin guard useful for many scenarios, especially sparring where striking, blocking, and movement are the main focus.
Making these the best MMA shin guards for MMA sparring is their exceptional protection without restricting movement. They don’t shift around and this allows you to focus on sparring.
The padding isn’t too thin or overly thick, meaning you can move around freely, fire kicks, and check leg kicks with ease and complete protection.
The outer shell padding is made from Fairtex’s signature Syntek leather, known for its durability, premium feel, and protection that matches genuine leather without bumping the price.
Inside they have a double layer of high-impact foam for excellent impact absorption. It’s thick enough to provide optimal protection without affecting movements and range of motion, and it’s also very comfortable on the skin.
Unlike many shin guards on the market, the SP5s are perfect for practicing calf kicks (one of the most effective kicks in MMA and Muay Thai) as their curved ergonomic design covers the sides of the lower leg.
They’re also designed to protect the knee by extending higher, whereas the majority of shin guards lead to nasty shin clashes as they have a squared-off design.
They’re also breathable compared to other shin guards on the market, and they don’t have any metal components or sharp edges – making them legal and perfect for use in amateur MMA competition.
Another unique feature of the SP5s is the nonstitch open system between the instep and the shin. This design offers flexibility, enhanced mobility, and less rubbing against the ankle (a common issue with other shin guards).
Also, the SP5 features an elongated instep with a second piece of thinner padding for better protection of the foot compared to other shin guards.
The Fairtex SP5s are very secure and don’t shift around when kicking, blocking, or moving around due to having 2 well-sized velcro straps positioned slightly above and below the calf, and 1 smaller strap securing the back of the foot.
The straps are very sturdy and never rip, even if opponents catch leg kicks and you pull your leg out. Also great is how they’re easy to put on, take off, and clean due to their flexibility and curved ergonomic design.
Fairtex SP5 Shin Guards come in 5 colors: black, blue, red, white, and yellow. They have plenty of sizes, ranging from x-small, small, medium, large, and x-large – accommodating all types of customers.
The one commonly reported con is how the ankle strap can rub the skin and cause blisters until they’re broken in. This is easily fixed with an ankle wrap, paper tape, or spats.
Overall, with a 30-day warranty, exceptional design, protection, durability, and completely unrestricted movement while sparring, the Fairtex SP5 Shin Guards are one of the best MMA shin guards on the market.
This is backed up by its 4.8-star rating on Amazon from over 1,500 reviews, 87% of which are 5-star – among the highest of any MMA shin guard. Perhaps their best compliment is how many UFC fighters wear these and swear by them.
2. Best MMA Shin Guard for Protection, Versatility, and Durability
Venum Elite Standup Shinguards
>Premium protection due to their elevated foam padding along the shinbone and instep of the foot
>Highly durable as they’re crafted with high-quality Skintex leather – many customers have had them last for 3+ years
>Thick/wide velcro straps and the form-fitting design ensure zero shifting
- Microfiber covering (made in Japan),
- Multi-density foam with reinforcement on the ridge of the tibia and…
- Two wide hook-and-loop fasteners
Venum is the UFC’s official apparel and outfitting partner, and the Venum Elite Standup Shinguards are a testament to why. They’ve been Venum’s top-of-the-line MMA shin guards since hitting the market in January 2018.
Handmade in Thailand, the Venum Elites are crafted with high-quality Skintex leather, ensuring durability, quality, and a premium feel many competitors don’t achieve because they don’t use real leather.
They feature high-density foam padding and have elevated padding along the shinbone and instep (top of the foot) for noticeably improved shock absorption where it’s needed most in MMA.
The two velcro straps are thicker and wider than the majority of shin guards on the market, helping them to stay in place during hard sparring sessions where leg grabs are included.
Their zero shifting is also the result of the elastic bands securing the foot and ankle, how strong the velcro is, and their form-fitting design.
Combined with their standout protection, the Venum Elites are very lightweight and provide unrestricted mobility, making them versatile and excellent for all types of MMA training/sparring (not as lightweight as the SP5s).
Lastly, they’re one of the most aesthetically pleasing MMA shin guards on the market. They come in medium, large, and x-large sizes, plus 15 different colors/color combinations, from khaki camo to dark camo and gold.
It’s worth checking every color and design as some can be discounted up to 25%. The lowest price we saw was $84, making these a bargain.
Conversely, the most commonly reported issue is the top strap digging into the back of the knee. However, this is only a problem if the incorrect size is worn.
Overall, the Venum Elites are one of the best MMA shin guards on the market because they’re made from genuine leather, they’re non-shifting, lightweight, durable, and have reinforced protection where it’s needed most.
This is supported by its rating of 4.8 stars from 2,298 reviews, 87% of which are 5-star. Also, although they’re the highest-priced shin guard on this list, their durability reduces their cost per year as they outlast the others.
3. Best MMA Shin Guard for Shin Conditioning, Grappling, and Beginners (Budget-Friendly)
Venum Kontact Shin Guards
>Great for light MMA sparring where grappling, striking, and lots of footwork are incorporated as they’re lightweight and don’t restrict movement
>Brilliant for shin conditioning as they allow the shins to feel some impact while offering good protection (not for use in hard sparring)
>Slip-on design makes them ideal for quick training sessions and longer sessions where breaks are expected
- High quality cotton
- Strategical reinforcement insuring more protection
- Velcro closure for a customized no-slip fit
First made available in April 2013, the Venum Kontact Shin Guards have stood the test of time, owing to their quality and usefulness.
They’re the best MMA shin guards for shin conditioning, beginners looking to improve their technique, MMA sessions/light sparring which mix striking, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu, and those on a budget.
This is because they’re thin and lightweight, making them perfect for mixing all styles together as they don’t hinder movement or get in the way, whether it be striking or grappling.
It also means they’re comfortable during long gym sessions, and their slip-on style and velcro closure at the top keep them firmly in place.
Made from premium cotton, the Venum Kontacts provide adequate protection for all MMA training except full-on sparring where heavy leg kicks are thrown.
They’re excellent MMA shin guards for shin conditioning as the protection is enough to feel the necessary impact while avoiding injury.
This works especially well for beginners trying to improve their kicking technique without the risk of injury or having to break the bank.
They work well for light sparring, various drills, and shin-to-shin conditioning with a trusted partner, as well as on pads and Muay Thai banana bags.
They’re also extremely easy to slip on and slip off. This makes them ideal for quick training sessions, as well as long MMA sessions where breaks are expected and fighters don’t want to spend time strapping on traditional shin guards.
Another benefit is how the cotton material absorbs sweat – something your gym partners will be thankful for.
This does mean they need to be more frequently washed than nonslip-on shin guards, but they’re machine washable so it isn’t a problem.
The main con with the Venum Kontacts is the lack of padding between the lower shin and foot. However, this is why they’re not suitable for heavy sparring.
Overall, for the price of $28.75, these are the best MMA shin guards in terms of bang for buck value and are ideal for those on a budget and/or not interested in heavy sparring.
They’re also the best MMA shin guards for shin conditioning, beginners looking to perfect their kicking techniques with added protection, and those looking to mix striking, grappling, and lots of movement in light sparring sessions.
With over 6,000 4.5 ratings, 73% of which are 5-star, the Venum Kontact Shin Guards are an excellent option – even if you keep them in your gym bag as a backup option to a more protective set on this list.
Conclusion and Other Options
The Fairtex SP5 Shin Guards, Venum Elite Standup Shinguards, and Venum Kontact Shin Guards are the best MMA shin guards on the market overall and for the purpose they serve (movement, protection, and shin conditioning).
There are other great options but they don’t match the quality, comfort, fit, protection, breathability, value, and overall package the above three offer.
If you’re looking for more options for comparison, here are some of the next-best MMA shin guards on the market.
Best MMA Shin Guard on a Budget: RDX Shin Guards
- UPGRADED IMPACT DISPERSION With the revolutionary shin guards by…
- PADDING FOR SHIN CONDITIONING By combining EVA-Lution foam,…
- STURDY MATERIALS FOR QUALITY Rigors of training demand that the…
The RDX shin guards are excellent in terms of value for money. They’re comfortable, lightweight, and highly durable – lasting many years. They offer mid-level protection between the Venum Kontacts and the Fairtex SP5s.
Best MMA Shin Guard Overall: Hayabusa T3 Striking Shinguards
- PROTECTION, COMFORT, DURABILITY & STYLE! Professional shin guards…
- MULTI LAYERED PADDING ABSORBS IMPACT ENERGY: Knee to foot multi…
- KEEPING YOUR COMFORT IN MIND: Lightweight open back design and…
The Hayabusa T3 Striking Shinguards are the major standout option to rival the Fairtex SP5s and the Venum Elite Standup shinguards for the best MMA shin guard overall.
They have multi-layered foam for brilliant shock absorption, a silicone grip on the inside for zero shifting, and feature vented neoprene to ensure increased breathability.
However, the other 2 options are better because they’re premium shin guards and offer much better value for money.
The Hayabusa’s are $150, while the Venum’s are around $100 (size/design dependent) and the Fairtex SP5s are only $85!