As per the table above, this list gives an idea of what to buy during roughly your first two years. Kit can be very expensive, which is why we recommend you buy pieces over a period of time. You may want to request sword fund money from loved ones for festivities and birthdays. A phrase to bear in mind when buying gear is “buy cheap, buy twice”. It is better to get the right product for the task, at the time when you need it.

The list is not exhaustive, the order is only a suggestion, and new products are coming out on the market all the time. We will do our best to update this list with anything suitable that has been tried and tested and that we recommend. Ask your instructor if you have any questions.

In addition there are bargains to be had on eBay and a couple of Facebook groups if you’re happy to buy second hand.





The first thing you will need when you start is gloves, to protect your hands and also to prevent any corrosion to steel swords caused by sweat. Initially these can be of the very affordable kind such as gardening gloves. You don’t want something too bulky or it will make holding and feeling the sword difficult.

However, proper leather gloves for fencing with a flared cuff will last well, they will also prevent sword tips from sliding up sleeves.

What to consider: Coverage, protection, durability, mobility.





A nylon waster is an affordable alternative to a steel sword, so is ideal when you start to learn the cuts and guards as it offers a similar weight and balance and means you can practice in your own time. We recommend the Blackfencer sidesword as it has a stiff blade and a sidesword hilt.

Another option is the Red Dragon arming sword waster, although this has a floppier blade and doesn’t afford the hand protection of a sidesword hilt.

NB: nylon swords are more affordable than steel swords, not safer. Please use them with as much care and respect as you would for a steel sword.

What to consider: weight, balance, protection, suitability, durability.




The Knightshop make some excellent and affordable bucklers in a variety of gauges and sizes. We recommend a lighter gauge and 12 inch diameter. Smaller will not cover as much, larger will add weight.

You can also buy leather or wooden bucklers, or have a go at making your own if you wish. Check with your instructor before training.

NB: there are some very extravagant ‘Talhoffer’ style bucklers on the market. Although impressive, these can be very heavy, are not from the period or region that we study, and the curved barbs can present a serious risk if the buckler is used without necessary caution.

What to consider: weight, coverage, protection, suitability, durability.




At the time of writing, we have a number of Red Dragon throat protectors available for a reduced price from the school. Throat protection is essential when working with a partner, and for all other non solo activities.

The steel gorget from Winter Tree Crafts is very popular, if you want something more solid. It is also a lot less bulky under a jacket.

PBT produce a very protective gorget that also includes collarbone protection. Consider the amount by which  these increase your neck circumference when purchasing a jacket. At the time of writing they do not appear to have any on their website so we have included a link to Corsairs Wares, a UK based reseller.

What to consider: protection, coverage, mobility, fit, suitability.




You only have one head, so we advise that mask purchasing should not be a cost saving exercise. Once you start to exchange and drill with partners you will want to get a mask of your own. Get a good fit and one that will withstand tournament pressure if you are considering taking part in competition at any point.

NB: the Newton rating of a fencing mask relates to the bib, not the mesh. Although higher rated Newton masks will usually have a higher grade mesh. Do not choose anything less than 1600N. We recommend Leon Paul masks, their Contour Coaching Mask is perfect – note that as of Aug 2018 they are being discontinued so buy while you can. If you want something more durable they do now have Titan X-Change HEMA mask. This is tougher but not quite as easy to move in.

What to consider: fit, Newton rating, protection, mobility, suitability, durability.




Chest protectors are designed for comfort rather than to protect from broken blades (in sports fencing they wear stab proof plastrons for such a thing), however a heavier blade will certainly cause more discomfort, especially in the thrust. We recommend chest protectors for everyone. Female ones tend to be more bulky so a male one is advised where possible. For more comfort you can line them with foam.

What to consider: fit, protection, mobility.




Jackets range from very thin and flexible to very protective and bulky. We advise something towards the lighter end of the scale as you will not get as hot, it allows better movement and they are easier to wash. The thicker gambeson style jackets are designed with Longsword and military sabre in mind, and meant for absorbing heavier hits. Ultimately it is up to you which kind you go for, it just has to be black.

PBT Coaching Jackets The benefit of buying from PBT is that we have a 10% discount with them, also they have a shop in Aldershot so you can actually try some of this stuff on if they have it in stock. As mentioned above, the thicker jackets may offer more protection but they can reduce movement so choose wisely. Many a person has started with a heavy jacket and ended up later buying a lighter, more fitted one.

NOTE we do not recommend their masks, even their HEMA masks, as they have a tendency to be too soft which can lead to injury.

Gajardoni Training Jacket – man

Gajardoni Training Jacket – woman

Gajardoni are very well tailored and specifically made for HEMA, they have good cooling ability as well.

SPES Officers Jacket

This is a newer jacket that several school members have purchased recently. It is very light and thin, and where you can purchase direct from the manufacturer we do have a discount with the Knightshop as well. Contact your senior instructor before purchasing so they can confirm your membership.

Neyman Jackets

Neyman make lots of different and daring styles, and they make to order so you can get exactly the size you need. Several sots members are very happy with their purchases from here.

What to consider: fit, protection, mobility, laundering, heat.


LOWER LEGS (optional)


These leg protectors from the Knight Shop are a single piece that covers both the knee and the shin with a hinge to allow movement. However if you are below a certain height they can be too big. There is a hack (literally) where you can cut the lower part off to fit onto your shin with a hacksaw. Some people find these too restrictive. Alternatively hockey shin guards and skater kneepads do the job just as well.

What to consider: fit, protection, mobility.




This padded skirt from SPES covers thighs, hipbones, lower abdomen and offers a certain amount of groin protection.

Alternatively SPES, Leon Paul, Absolute Force and other manufacturers make fencing breeches with padding on the upper legs.

What to consider: fit, protection, mobility, laundering, heat.


GROIN (reccomended)


We recommend groin protection for everyone, Shock Doctor are among the most comfortable brands.

What to consider: fit, protection, mobility, comfort.


ARMS (optional)


Not so much a problem in rapier, and they can hinder your movement if too bulky, but if you find yourself getting a lot of cuts to the forearms in sidesword you may want to invest in some protection.

Another very affordable option is to use children’s shin guards as forearm protectors.

What to consider: fit, protection, mobility, comfort, weight.


MASK OVERLAY (optional)


This is more a requirement for tournament. The back of a fencing mask is very unprotected so you should take care not to present the back of your head to your training partner in everyday practice, as well as avoid striking them in this vulnerable area. However to be doubly safe you can wear an overlay. These do limit hearing and increase heat.

What to consider: fit, protection, mobility, comfort, weight, heat.




There is nothing quite like having your own steel sword. Choose carefully, try what everyone else has in class, and make sure you select the right weapon for you. All swords must be tipped, so buy some tips or archery blunts too.

What to consider: weight, balance, blade, hilt size, reach, your height, protection, suitability, durability, practicality.




When you begin to train and spar at greater intensity, and with steel swords, you will need to consider upgrading your gloves to something more protective. The Knight Shop stocks Red Dragon gloves which offer the best protection to price ratio. They can be a little bulky for sidesword depending on your hand size and hilt. However, until the perfect glove comes on the market they are probably the best option available.

Red Dragon Gloves

Probably the best value for protection you can get, unfortunately RDs don’t fit everyone, especially those with smaller hands.

Sparring Gloves

Sparring Gloves are one of the longest established glove makers in HEMA, their mitten style gloves are probably the best protection you can get, but not practical for sidesword or rapier. Their five-fingers gloves are good protection for sidesword, but you do need to ensure a proper fit.

Inigo Montoya Gloves

Made by Neyman, these can also be custom made. They provide good protection and several school members are happy with them. They also have new (currently untested by TSotS) Armadillo Gloves coming out soon, which seem to have good articulation but are considerably more expensive.

What to consider: Coverage, protection, durability, mobility, size.

DAGGER (optional)


You may not start studying dagger as a companion weapon until you start to learn rapier, however, after buckler it is a common accompaniment to sidesword. We recommend Danelli, Castille and Darkwood.

What to consider: weight, balance, blade, hilt size, protection, suitability, durability.


RAPIER (optional)


The study of the rapier is what the School was founded upon. Choose wisely, take your time and try as many different rapiers as you can to better inform your choice. Unlike many other swords a rapier is very personal and suited to its owner.

What to consider: weight, balance, blade, hilt size, your height, reach, protection, suitability, durability, practicality.