Whether you are a new nak-muay just starting Muay Thai or an experienced competitor in the art of eight limbs, a good pair of shin pads is an absolute must. In fact, if you plan to participate or compete in any full-contact striking sports where kicks are legal, you need a pair of the best Muay Thai shin pads in your gym bag. This includes MMA training in addition to traditional Muay Thai or kickboxing.
The following is our breakdown on the top Muay Thai shin pads of 2021. We will start by going over the considerations you should think about when picking your perfect pair of Muay Thai shin pads.
After you understand how to make the decision, we will guide you through our top 11 choices for the best Muay Thai shin pads for MMA and Muay Thai training. We include shin pads in multiple price ranges and construction styles so you can be sure to pick the right pair of Muay Thai pads for your combat sports needs.
Consideration #1 – Intended use
Your primary intended use for the Muay Thai shin pads should guide your buying decision when it comes to Muay Thai pads.
Are you buying your first pair of Muay Thai shin pads after getting fed up with the stinky loaner shin pads at the gym?
Are you purchasing shin pads for competition?
Do you plan to grapple in the shin pads such as during live MMA sparring?
These are questions you should answer before trying to pick your Muay Thai shin pads. Once you’ve identified your intended use for your shin pads, you can decide on the specifics using the next considerations to guide your Muay Thai shin pad purchase.
Consideration #2 – Protection Level
Now that you’ve identified your main use for the shin pads, your next consideration is the level of protection you are looking for in your Muay Thai shin guards.
For newer Muay Thai trainees, consider buying a pair of shin pads with thicker padding. This will allow your shins to remain protected as they adapt and get conditioned to the impact of Muay Thai kicking. While you may be eager to get your shins hard enough to kick a bamboo tree in half, understand that it will take time for the bone and tissue to adapt, and this is best done slowly and steadily to avoid major shin injuries that can keep you from training for weeks.
If you are more experienced or preparing for competition, look at shin pads with less padding. This will reduce the overall weight, improving the speed of your kicks. The reduced padding will mean your kicks will have a greater impact and do more damage as well. Be aware that having less padding means you will take more impact as well, so make sure you’ve spent some time kicking the bag and pads so that your shins are adequately conditioned.
The location of the padding should be considered as well. It’s common to take impact to the joint area where your foot attaches to your leg, particularly when newer to kicking when your accuracy is still developing. Adequate padding in the lower shin area can prevent some of the pain associated with impact to this area, however bear in mind that in the long run, you need to learn to kick accurately enough to minimize the number of impacts to this area.
If you are training Muay Thai for MMA, the padding considerations are similar. Newer MMA fighters should consider more padding for the reasons mentioned above. Thicker padding may impede live grappling, however you can always separate your grappling-focused MMA sparring from your stand-up MMA training.
Consideration #3 – Shin Guard Fastener Style
Muay Thai shin guards have two main options for fastener styles: velcro loop straps and sleeve style shin pads.
Velcro loop strap shin pads fit over the front of your shin and typically have padding on the top of your foot as well. These shin pads are generally open on the back with two velcro straps that loop through the back of the shin pads to keep the guard secure to your leg. Most traditional Muay Thai style pads use the velcro loop fastener system.
The velcro straps allow a very tight and snug fit in your shin pads while allowing you to remove them fairly easily. For this reason, loop velcro straps are incredibly popular among hobbyists and competitive Muay Thai fighters alike.
The biggest disadvantage of loop straps is the risk of the velcro strap peeling open during your rounds, which can scratch you or your opponent on the rough velcro and lead to the shin pads coming loose. Wrapping a strip of athletic tape around the secured strap can minimize the risk of the velcro peeling open.
It’s worth mentioning that some shin pads may have a metal loop for the velcro to feed through, which may not be allowed in competition for safety reasons. Always check the rules of the promotion when picking the best Muay Thai shin pads for competition.
Sleeve shin-pads slide over your leg like a giant sock or stocking and may or may not have additional straps to further secure the shin pads. The primary advantage of sleeve shin pads is that they don’t have the large velcro straps to get in the way during training. This may be beneficial if the velcro straps of loop-style fasteners tend to bother you.
Shin pads designed for MMA use often use the sleeve design to minimize the profile of the shin guards compared to traditional velcro loop straps. This allows for smoother grappling transitions when sparring with fewer interruptions due to adjustment needs
On the flip-side, sleeve shin-pads must be very well sized to your leg or you run the risk of the shin pads rotating and shifting during live sparring or competition, which is a pain and may require you or the referee to stop the action to re-adjust the pad.
Some promotions may require sleeve shin pads. Again, always check with the promotion before buying Muay Thai shin pads for competition.
For overall training and purchasing of your Muay Thai shin pads, comfort will dictate which shin pad fastener style is best for you. If possible, try both styles of shin pads to see which one you prefer.
Consideration #4 – Shin Pad Construction Material
The construction material is another consideration when it comes to buying Muay Thai shin pads. The primary construction materials are polyurethane, synthetic leather, and genuine leather.
Polyurethane is the cheapest construction material. Its generally easy to clean, but its not breathable or as malleable as synthetic and genuine leather, and will typically break down at a faster rate than more premium material. That being said, polyurethane shin guards are more than adequate when buying an affordable pair of the best Muay Thai shin pads.
Synthetic leather is a serious step up in quality from polyurethane and feels much more like real leather while remaining easy to care for and maintain. Maya-Hide is one of the most common premium synthetic leather materials, and many high-quality Muay Thai shin pads are made from Maya-Hide. Synthetic leather offers the flexibility and durability of real leather with less input required for care and often a cheaper price. It is less breathable than genuine leather and true die-hard leather fans will notice that it is, indeed, synthetic. Nevertheless, most people will be unable to tell the difference between Maya-Hide and real leather, and either material is a big step up from polyurethane.
Genuine leather is the classic material for making fight gear, and offers supple durability, breathability, and feel when compared to synthetic material. Many old-school masters swear by genuine leather for their Muay Thai shin pads, and they certainly have good reason given the amazing feel of leather gear. This premium material does come at a higher cost, however. Most genuine leather gear will be priced slightly higher than comparable synthetic shin-pads. Additionally, genuine leather requires more attention to cleaning and must be conditioned with leather conditioner or another oil-based product in order to stay supple and avoid drying out and cracking. After all, it is real animal skin.
Consideration #5 – Quality and Price
Last but not least on our list of considerations before buying the best pair of Muay Thai shin pads is the overall quality of the shin pads and the amount you want to spend. Most of the styles of shin pads discussed above have budget and premium options.
Lower-priced shin pads are a great option for your first pair of Muay Thai shin pads. They will always be a step up from loaner-gear and will allow you to get a feel for the type of Muay Thai shin guard you prefer without dropping a huge chunk of change so early into your Muay Thai journey.
Once you have committed to Muay Thai training and put some hours in, you will have a better idea of your optimal shin pad style and should seriously consider upgrading to a premium shin pad design that will last through years of hard training.
The following is our list of the Best 11 Muay Thai shin pads of 2021. We’ve organized them to start with the budget options for your first pair of Muay Thai pads and placed the premium choices for the top Muay Thai shin guards towards the bottom of the list.
Our 11 Favorite Muay Thai Shin Paids
If you need high value on a tight budget, the Meister MMA Elastic Cloth Shin & Instep Padded Shin Guards are well suited for your first pair of Muay Thai shin pads.
The Meister MMA Elastic Cloth Shin & Instep Padded Shin Guards feature a full-sleeve design perfect for both MMA and Muay Thai training. An additional hook and loop strap keeps these guards securely fastened during drilling and sparring, including transitioning from striking to grappling during MMA rounds.
Great for beginning MMA and Muay Thai
Will require an upgrade down the line
Not suitable for competition
While Elite Sports started out largely as an apparel company for combat sports, they have quickly made a name for themselves in the fight gear world as well. The Elite Sports Muay Thai Instep Guard Shin Guards deliver superb value to newer trainees looking for their first pair of Muay Thai shin pads.
These pads are pre-curved for a natural fit out-of-the-box. The secure closure system with a stretchable strap keeps these shin guards comfortably in place so you can focus during your rounds.
The full instep-guard offers enhanced protection in the foot and ankle area to allow you to train injury free as you improve the accuracy of your kicking and checking.
High-density gel foam
Stretchable velcro strap
Great for beginners
Not as secure as traditional Muay Thai loop-straps
Not suitable for long-term serious Muay Thai training
If you enjoy the name and quality reputation of Elite Sports gear, The Elite Sports Muay Thai MMA Kickboxing Shin Guards offer a superb entry-level pair of Muay Thai shin pads that are a great pick for your first pair of Muay Thai shin pads. The biggest difference between the previous Elite listing is that these shin pads have a slightly reduced sleeve profile, giving them a sleeker fit.
Featuring a pre-curved comfortable and adjustable fitment, these pads align with the natural shape of your shins while remaining fully secured and comfortable during even the toughest sparring rounds. The lightweight design ensures you will retain the speed and mobility you’ve worked so hard to build.
Whether you need the best Muay Thai shin pads for MMA or are simply looking for great affordable Muay Thai shin pads for training, you won’t go wrong with the Elite Sports Muay Thai MMA Kickboxing shin Guards
Great for new students
Not ideal for experienced students
Not great for competition
Our first entry for mid-tier Muay Thai shin pads are the Vali Fise slip-on shin guards. For fighters looking for an alternative to the big name brands like Sanabul and Elite Sports, Vali Fise offers a great set of shin guards suitable for both Muay Thai and MMA.
The full slip-on shinguards use the sleeve system to keep them snug on your shins with an elastic velcro strap on the top for extra security. The elastic fabric offers superior durability and endurance while repelling moisture and avoiding bacterial buildup.
The sleeve design on the Vali Fise slip-on shin guards make them perfect for MMA training in addition to Muay Thai. If you plan to cross train and are looking for your first pair of Muay Thai shin guards, these are a great pick.
Full slip-on for MMA training
Lack of loop-straps not ideal for pure Muay Thai stylists
The Sanabul Essential Hybrid MMA Shin Guards are a great mid-tier option for Muay Thai shin guards. They offer enough padding to protect shins from serious impact but are not as heavily padded as some bulkier options.
These shin pads are great for training Muay Thai but the hybrid design allows them to be readily used for MMA training as well. The high impact protection foam absorbs the biggest hits, allowing you to train longer and kick harder.
These shin pads are ‘hybrid’ because they combine a sleeve fit on the upper calf with a velcro loop strap for extra security, making these shin pads a great choice for cross-training in different striking arts. The synthetic leather will ensure comfort and breathability without the added hassle of leather care.
Good for MMA and Muay Thai
Lack the feel of traditional Muay Thai shin pads
Not great for competition
The Sanabul brand is known for reliability and premium combat gear designs. If you want to stick with the Sanabul reputation but need a more traditional Muay Thai style shin pads, the Sanabul Essential Muay Thai Shin Guards are a great choice for the best Muay Thai shin guards of 2021.
These shin pads feature the velcro loop strap system favored by Muay Thai traditionalists and offering a secure fit with easy removal. They are designed for fighters who may cross train MMA but prefer the traditional feel of loop-strap security. The synthetic leather will stay supple without the added hassle of leather conditioning.
Traditional Muay Thai design
Less foot protection than Muay Thai only brands
If you want the look and feel of real genuine leather, consider looking at the Meister EDGE Leather Instep Shin Guards. These eronomically designed gel-enhanced shin guards will follow the natural contour of your legs. 100% Cowhide leather covers the high-density impact foam to make for a very breathable shin guard.
The Meister EDGE Leather Instep Shin Guards remain secure through three foot straps in addition to a hybrid-sleeve design with open rear-portions to allow more breathability and airflow on the rear-calf area.
For training Muay Thai and MMA with the traditional leather feel, these leather Muay Thai shin pads will not let you down.
Affordable for real leather
Great pick for MMA and Muay Thai sparring
Strap system not optimized for competition
When it comes to premium fight gear for all combat sports, RDX is one of the leading brands known for consistently high-quality gear. The RDX Shin Guards for Muay Thai & MMA Fighting are a great option for serious MMA and Muay Thai students who are looking for a great pair of shin pads for training or compeition.
The lightweight nylon construction and Maya-Hide leather produce the perfect combination of durability and mobility that will retain its original shape even after sustained training periods.
The shell-shock cushion gel will keep your shins safe during hard sparring and competition. The sweat wicking lining ensures minimal moisture and bacteria buildup to improve the ease of care and extend the lifespan of these shin guards.
The patented Quick-EZ Hook and Loop closure keeps these pads firmly in place during both sparring and competition, and make the RDX Shin Guards for Muay Thai & MMA Fighting an excellent choice for competitive nak-mauy.
Durable and lightweight
As we mentioned before, Sanabul is a leading manufacturer of apparel and gear for many different combat sports. The Sanabul Battle Forged Muay Thai Kickboxing Shin Guards are a great premium option for traditional Muay Thai style shin guard.
Sanabul’s “battle forged” line of products rely on a simple design to increase durability. The SBL engineered leather provides a great feel in the Sanabul Battle Forged Muay Thai Kickboxing Shin Guards and is nearly indistinguishable from real leather products. Impact protection three-layer foam ensures adequate protection during fierce competition and hard training.
Athletes who plan to compete in Muay Thai cannot go wrong with the Sanabul Battle Forged Muay Thai Kickboxing Shin Guards.
Less ideal for MMA
RDX has struck gold again in the premium Muay Thai shin pad market with the RDX Shin Guards for MMA Fighting & Kickboxing Training.
These shin guards are purpose built for high-level combat sports training. They use ConvEX skin combat leather over a nylon and plastic filling for superior agility and durability. The Shell-Shock gel that RDX has become known for disperses impact incredibly effectively to keep you safe and prolong your ability to train. Sweat-wicking lining suctions sweat away from your shins for a fresh, dry, and comfortable experience during training.
A hook-and-loop fastening system makes the RDX Shin Guards for MMA Fighting & Kickboxing Training a top choice for athletes looking for a traditional Muay Thai style shin guard with the newer material technology from RDX.
ConvEX synthetic leather
Superior shock absorption
Will require a break-in period out-of-the-box
Fairtex is a Thailand-based company that specializes in premium gear for Muay Thai training and is the on the cutting edge of premium Muay Thai gear. For seriously dedicated Muay Thai students looking for the very best Muay Thai shin pads on the market, the Fairtex Neoprene Muay Thai Shin Guards are by far the top of the list.
The Fairtex neoprene shin guards feature reinforced padding at the shin that protects against injury without impeding kicking or grappling movements. These shin guards are lightweight and durable yet provide complete protection for the instep and shin. They are perfect for both competition and sparring.
The Fairtex shin guards are handmade in Thailand and feature the traditional Muay Thai style double-loop velcro closure system to ensure they remain in place during both sparring and competition.
The Fairtex Neoprene shin guards are by far the top of the list when it comes to premium fight gear for serious Muay Thai and MMA students.
Top brand name in Muay Thai gear
Highest quality shinpads on our list
Perfect for training and competition in Muay Thai and MMA
Order a pair of the best Muay Thai shin guards in 2021 today!
At this point you should have a good understanding of the considerations for picking shin guards. Whether you are new to Muay Thai and MMA or have experience in training or competition, we cannot understate the importance of quality training gear. Shin pads are designed to keep you safe during training to allow more time spent training and less time nursing bruised shins back to health.
Additionally, most beginner-level striking competitions and fights require shin pads, so make sure you are prepared if competing is in your goal list.
Even seasoned professionals use shin-pads in training. Don’t delay any further, order your pair of the best Muay Thai pads in 2021 today!