The Superior Fencing HEMA bag is a well-designed piece of equipment. I have seen and handled several attempts at sword bags over the years, and I think this is the best thought-through design I have seen so far.
This review: motivation and transparency
Superior Fencing gave me one of these bags for reviewing in August 2018. I used it for testing and review, and have kept it as part of my regular fencing gear.
(Edit: this “motivation” section was added on the 9th of March 2019, as part of an effort to improve the transparency of the various reviews on this website.)
It is wide and deep at the base, and it tapers in all dimensions towards the top. At the base, it is big enough to take several swords (including complex hilts) and a mask with a padded overlay – it would be easy enough to use this bag to carry everything you need for regular training sessions.
Inside the bag, there are some straps running across the back, to help keep your swords in place so that they don’t move around during transit. The base of the bag seems sufficiently strong and well-stitched to handle the weight of swords; I have carried three steel feders and a synthetic sword in my bag so far, without any problems, but I’ll have to keep using the bag for a while before I can see how well the base and stitching holds up over time.
Dealing with longer swords
The top of the bag is open, so that there is no problem with a really long sword (such as a montante) sticking through. However, it is more than long enough for most longswords and feders – with my feders in the bag, I was still able to fold over a few inches at the top of the bag (preventing any rain for entering). When the top is folded over like this, it has a clip that you can use to secure it to any one of a serious of hoops. The clip is well-sized and not too small or fragile.
There are a pair of additional large external pockets. One of these pockets was sufficient in size to accommodate both of my Sparring Gloves (fully extended, without folding them down); the other is slightly smaller, but not by much. These make it easy to carry the additional bits and pieces you may need, be it protective gear, or a towel and change of clothes, or a sword care and maintenance kit.
Straps and fastening
Very importantly, the zip is well-sized and not too small or fragile.
The back straps for carrying the bag like a rucksack are surprisingly well-designed and comfortable. They are adjustable, they are well-padded and comfortable, and they look like they are reinforced with extra rows of stitching. There is an additional hand strap on the side of the bag to help with picking it up and moving it around. There is no over-the-shoulder strap.
Price and availability
Superior Fencing sells the HEMA bag for $35 USD, which is a phenomenally good price for a competent sword bag.
Having handled several different designs of sword bag over the years, this bag feels well-designed and well-manufactured. It is probably sufficient in size to carry your training swords as well as your training gear, although it may not be particularly comfortable if you load it up with all of your protection.
I will probably still continue to carry my protective gear in a separate bag from my swords, because I find that to be a more comfortable solution overall, but I may find myself carrying my mask and gloves in the bag along with my sword if I know that I’m going to be teaching a minimal gear kind of lesson.
I would be happy to recommend this bag for people looking for something designed to carry HEMA equipment to and from the club.
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 teach regularly at Liverpool HEMA, and help behind the scenes with running HEMA in Glasgow at the Vanguard Centre.