Wondering what gear to acquire? Here are some recommendations. To keep things simple, we’ve listed only one or two options in each category – but there are many other good options out there, if you look around a bit.

We don’t recommend buying all this gear right away! It’s best to try out historical fencing first, to be certain you like it.

We’ve listed these items roughly in the order you should acquire them.

For your first class

No need to bring gear! Just arrive wearing whatever you’d normally wear when exercising. We have some loaner swords which can help get you started.

MASK and ‘light’ GLOVES

Once you know you’re coming back to a second class, you should buy a mask and gloves. Having a mask and gloves allows you to perform a much wider range of exercises safely, and thus *drastically* increases the amount of fun you can have with swords.

Here’s a mask which is affordable, easily available, and suits all our specs: https://www.woodenswords.com/Absolute…/af.mask.basic.htm

Since the mask doesn’t protect the back of the head, you’ll want to add a back of the head protector such as this one: https://www.woodenswords.com/Absolute_Force…/af.cover.htm

Here’s a fairly affordable pair of gloves that work well for light training: https://www.woodenswords.com/Glov…/glove.rapier.rexine.htm

Groin Protection

The next thing to acquire is an athletic cup. If you have external genitals, an athletic cup is an absolute must for any serious sword training! And honestly, many people with less pointy private bits also find them good to have. So if that sounds like you, buy a standard athletic cup from any sports store (or online) and wear it! They are cheap, and very, very much worth it, even for light training. For heavy training they are an absolute must.

training swords

At some stage you’ll want to get your own sword so you can keep training at home (and also because swords are more or less the point of what we do…)

The cheapest sword option – still worthwhile because it will allow you to practice techniques at home – is a broom handle. Anything that gets you practicing at home is great!

A small step up from that is a wooden sword such as this one: https://www.woodenswords.com/School…/ls.h.school.htm We use these for basic technique practice in the club, largely because they are cheap, relatively unlikely to poke someone’s eye out, and were probably used historically. Wooden swords like this are not useful for sparring, since they don’t flex in the thrust, but buying your own offers you a relatively inexpensive way to do essential solo practice at home.

For a starting steel sword, at a low price point, we recommend these VB standard tournament feders: https://www.woodenswords.com/Steel…/vb.ls.standard.htm That’s a very low price for a good sword which can be used for solo training, sparring, and competition. It’s also usually available to ship immediately.

Note that there are many other beautiful training swords of this kind (“feders”) out there, and so it’s worth looking around to see what’s available; many of them are more highly developed than this example (though almost all are more expensive, and may involve some wait time).

But if you don’t mind paying a little more, and/or waiting a little while for production & shipping, are some further options:

The SIGI standard feder is really lovely, and very reasonably priced. https://sigiforge.com/products/sigi-feder/ Highly recommended!

The US-based company Krieger also makes some very nice feders, of a couple of different kinds. The manufacturer is here: https://www.kriegerarmory.com/shop?Sword+Type=Federschwerts One of the prominent US suppliers is here: https://hemasupplies.com/product-category/steel-hema-swords/krieger-historical/krieger-feder/

A third good option: Kvetun Armory makes a very nice training sword they call the FFG federschwert. https://kvetun-armoury.com/longsword/ffg-federschwert-1.html

Lastly, the Regenyei standard feder was once the industry standard in the US, and it remains popular today. The manufacturer is here: https://regenyei.com/product/standard-feder and the US supplier is here: https://hemasupplies.com/product/standard-feder/

Whatever you do, please don’t buy a cheap sword from a random online seller! Check in with us first. There are many, many ‘swords’ out there which look okay at first glance (and even claim to be sparring-safe), but are totally unsafe for sparring. A sword which looks good could be unsafe for any number of reasons: some do not flex enough in the thrust, which puts your training partners at risk; some have weak tangs, leading to a high chance of breakage; some are made of low-grade steel which chips, flakes, or bends, leading to sharp metal shards on the floor, among other things. We want none of this! So please check in with us before buying a sword that is not on this list.

‘Heavy’ Gloves

The ‘light’ gloves we recommended above are enough to get you started, but if you want to graduate to more vigorous drilling, sparring, and free play, then you’ll definitely need to get a set of ‘heavy’ gloves, too. Protect those fingers!

The glove many of us use is the confusingly-named ‘Sparring Glove,’ produced by a Polish company also called ‘Sparring Glove.’ This does not help with disambiguation. Their website is here https://sparringglove.com/en/?v=d8e3950b4591 You can get them from the US supplier here: https://hemasupplies.com/product-category/gloves/

Note that the Polish ‘Sparring Glove’ comes in three versions: a fully-encased ‘mitten’ version, a ‘hoof’ version with a split between the third and fourth fingers, and a five-fingered version. WE RECOMMEND THE MITTEN VERSION. Definitely avoid the five-fingered version, as the resin that is meant to protect the fingers is liable to crack.

The Polish ‘Sparring Glove’ also comes in different cuff versions: a standard cuff which covers the wrist, a long cuff which extends up the forearm, and an ‘hourglass cuff’ which tries to add wrist mobility by mimicking the shape of certain historical gauntlets. This is a mater of personal preference; you could choose any of them. If in doubt, just get the standard cuff.

Another common option are the ‘Spes Heavy Gloves,’ available here: https://www.woodenswords.com/SPES_Heavy_Gloves_Full_Hard_Thumb_p/spes-gloves.full.htm Many people feel they are slightly less mobile than the Polish ‘Sparring Glove’, but offer slightly more protection.

PLEASE NOTE: If you’re intending to drill, spar, or play in a vigorous fashion, please DON’T BE TEMPTED TO BUY CHEAPER GLOVES which are not on this list! Yes, there are cheaper gloves out there, but none of them, to our knowledge, offer enough protection for what we do. Longswords hit hands hard, and your fingers are important!


The next step is an appropriately padded and stab-resistant HEMA fencing jacket.

The Polish-made SPES AP jacket is the industry standard. You can get it from a US supplier here: https://www.woodenswords.com/SPES_AP_Jacket_350N_p/spes-jacket.htm

SPES have just launched an upgraded version of their standard AP jacket called the AP Plus, so you might want to consider that instead of the standard AP: http://histfenc.com/productcart/ap-plus-hema-jacket-350n

There are many other jackets available, from many different manufacturers – but some offer too little protection for what we do, so it’s wise to check in with us in class before buying one.


Additional protection for the throat is really important (and required in many competitions). After all, your throat is both very important and very delicate, so it’s well-worth protecting it. The ‘blade catcher’ at the top of good throat protection also helps to prevent blades from sliding up to hit the face, so that’s good another reason to be serious about this.

The best available option for neck protection right now, by far, is the excellent Vytis gorget which is available here in both ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ versions. Highly recommended!

Further Protective Gear

There are also other forms of protective gear which are important for vigorous sparring and drilling, and free play.

Depending on the level of intensity you’re using when sparring, you might want to add:

  • leg protection, including thigh padding, rigid kneepads, and rigid shin guards.
  • rigid elbow guards
  • additional rigid forearm protection