Review of the Superior Fencing 800N HEMA trousers

The Superior Fencing HEMA trousers. Image from the Superior Fencing website.

The Superior Fencing 800N HEMA trousers[1] are a comfortable set of protections for your legs, groin and abdomen. They look good while being very functional.

Protection and mobility

They are cut quite high, and extend above the waist to cover the abdomen. There is no padding here, just the 800N penetration-proof material to protection against broken blades rather than impacts. This means that it is still easy to bend at the waist, hinge at the hips, or otherwise move around in them.

The legs go down to the knees, where they offer a little padding. There is a wide band of elastic just below the knees, to help keep the trousers in place at the top of the calves. Slightly above the knees, there are some loops, so that you may use the laces on the Superior Fencing knee protectors to attach them directly to the trousers – it is a great combination to have the 800N material, the trouser padding, the knee protector padding, and the rigid external knee protection over the knee joint.

The padding on the thighs and hips is provided by foam pads sewn into pockets. These are not modular, and are not removable, but they do provide quite reasonable protection against impacts. Since I play quite a lot of singlestick, leg padding definitely makes me happy!

The garment is cut quite intelligently around the groin. There is plenty of space for wearing a groin guard beneath the trousers, and it is very easy to go into a deep lunge without the trousers splitting or otherwise getting in the way of the motion. I can kneel down, I can wear them while sitting on a chair, and I can perform exercises such as squats while wearing them. They offer very little restriction to movement.

Sizing

The trousers are available in different sizes, from small to XX-large. I asked for a size medium after looking at the sizing chart, and I was delighted to find that the chart was truthful and believable, which isn’t something I can say about many sizing charts online.

In terms of weight, they weight around 900-1000 grams, which is more than a set of jogging trousers or three-quarter length shorts. This can only be expected! They do not feel unduly heavy, and they sit quite nicely on the hips once they are in place.

There are some additional straps at the waist to help with the fit. These are small and unobtrusive, but allow for a more comfortable fit if you need a slightly expansion or contraction in the material.

To help with keeping the trousers up, there is a Y-shaped set of braces:[2] a single strap going up the spine, branching into a pair of straps, one going over each shoulder, and down to the front of the trousers. These have a nice workman-like look and feel to them, and the adjustable lengths will cater for people of slightly different sizes. There are also adjustable straps at the sides of the garment, allowing the waist to be taken in or expanded a little, according to your shape.

Ease of fastening

If you haven’t worn fencing trousers before, then one thing you may need to contend with is that the zipper at the front opens differently from normal men’s trousers. Normally, we use the right hand to operate the zip, but these trousers require the left hand. The rationale is of course that if you stand right-side forward to your opponent while fencing, then there should be a flap of protective material covering the opening, meaning that the zip must operate from the left. This is a fairly standard design for fencing trousers, although it may take some getting used to at first!

Price and availability

Superior Fencing sells the 800N HEMA trousers for $80 USD, which makes it significantly cheaper than other brands of 800N padded fencing trousers. I think it is an excellent price for a very useful piece of equipment.

Conclusions

I have been using these trousers in a few sessions so far, and I do like them. The protection is good (both in terms of padding against impacts and Newton rating against penetration from broken blades), they are comfortable, and they have a very professional looking aesthetic. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.

Very important footnotes

[1] I refuse to call them “pants”, because those are what you wear UNDER your trousers.

[2] These are definitely not called “suspenders” in British English. If you talk about your “fencing pants/knickers with suspenders”, then most British people will look at you and giggle very immaturely. I certainly will, quite unashamedly.

Keith Farrell

Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers.

I have authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the award-winning AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and maintain a blog at www.keithfarrell.net where I post regularly.