I have been using the Superior Fencing leather mask overlay pro for a while for both drilling and sparring. I like it a lot, and it has already protected my head from a few quite heavy hits.
This review: motivation and transparency
Superior Fencing gave me one of these overlays for reviewing in August 2018. I wore 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.)
The pro leather overlay from Superior Fencing is well-padded on the top and sides of the head, which I believe is a very important feature of overlays, as this helps to reduce the force of impacts to the head during training.
The in-built back of head protection is also well padded, and contains strips of what feels like hard plastic, so that there is both rigid and padded protection for the back of your head and neck. Having received some unfortunately hard blows to this place during sparring and competitions, I know just how important it is to have good quality padding with rigid plates in this location!
Sizing, bulk, and mobility
The leather overlay is very similar in shape and function to the SPES and PBT leather overlays. One main difference, however, is that the Superior Fencing overlay comes in different sizes, so that it should fit your mask better if you can match up the sizes correctly.
I asked for a large overlay, since I use a large Leon Paul X-Change coaching mask, and that seemed like it would make sense; the overlay is perhaps a fraction too large for the large Leon Paul mask, but there’s always difference between the shapes and sizes of different brands of fencing mask, so I’m not too surprised.
At the sides of the overlay, near the ears, there are some perforations in the padding. These assist with hearing through the mask and padding, which is useful for instructors, for students, and for competitors. They also assist with airflow, and to be perfectly honest, anything at all that improves airflow while wearing full sparring gear is to be cherished.
Although well-padded, the overlay is not particularly bulky, and doesn’t get in the way when performing techniques or during sparring.
Ease of fastening
The elastic strap that goes under the chin does a good job of keeping the overlay attached to my mask, so any slight discrepancy in size is not really noticeable when I’m wearing the mask.
It is really easy to put the overlay onto the mask or to remove it. There is a Velcro strap across the back of head flap, so that it can be held in place and to secure the whole overlay onto the mask.
Price and availability
Superior Fencing sells the leather mask overlay pro for $50 USD, which is a very fair price for additional protection for your head and neck.
I like the overlay a lot. My previous overlay was getting somewhat beaten and battered, and it was time for an upgrade – I’m very happy with the Superior Fencing overlay and it hasn’t left my mask since I put it on for the first test. I’d recommend it heartily to anyone interested in improving their head protection.
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.