The Best Soccer Shin Guards (part 1): Top Tier

Love em or hate em, but you have to wear them. In this 2 part series, we will highlight the best shin guards currently available. We split it up into

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Love em or hate em, but you have to wear them. In this 2 part series, we will highlight the best shin guards currently available. We split it up into two tiers to cater to different budgets and product needs.

The top tier will include the absolute best shin guards on the market, which are for those people who really need supreme protection, or for those people who want to invest in the best quality shin guards that they will be able to keep reusing for years to come. The second tier will be for those players who require a quality shin guard to protect them without getting in the way of their game, but who don’t want to shell out for the fanciest guards on the market.

So, without further ado, here are the absolute best shin guards on the market, ranked according to protection offered, wearability, and comfort.

All prices are according to what’s listed on Amazon.com, the least expensive place to find soccer gear, in our experience. Otherwise, the price is taken from the respective website. You can click on any product name or picture to go to Amazon.com (or other product website) to view or purchase the shin guards you want.

 

Top Tier


1. Diadora Gamma Carbinio

Protection Score: 5/5
Wearability/Comfort Score: 4/5
Price: $155

These shin guards are hands down the best on the market in terms of the protection they offer. They are made of 7 layers of Kevlar, fiberglass, and carbon fibre and wrap almost the whole way around the lower part of the leg. They are super strong, and will prevent injury from even the toughest of tackles. Diadora made these for Francesco Totti to protect his newly healed leg prior to the 2006 World Cup, and they allowed him to return to play earlier than a broken leg injury would have normally allowed.

At the same time they are lightweight, thin, and flexible. Coolmax fabric sits against the skin and is supposed to wick away moisture to keep you cool and dry. However, they can absorb some water in relation to other top end shin guards on the market. They also have a very thin profile, so they slip right under your sock. They are very durable (last for years), and don’t slip around even without sock tape. If you can afford it, they are well worth the investment.

2. C6 Agility Shin Guards Generation 3
Protection score: 4.5/5
Wearability/Comfort Score: 4.5/5
Price: $150

These shin guards are 100% handmade out of the strongest carbon fibre out there. They are super strong and incredibly light weight. C6 Agility is a brand that was developed by an aerospace engineer who broke his leg playing soccer, who decided that he was going to design the best shin guards on the market to help stop others from suffering the same way he did. Therefore, they are incredibly strong, and, similar to the Carbinio’s, they are fully capable of stopping your leg from breaking. The only reason I ranked these at 4.5 for protection is that they don’t wrap all the way around the lower leg like the Carbinio’s.

These guards feature a PORON with Microban foam backing which absorbs up to 90% of kicking force and resists odors. They also feature an additional DuraWick foam layer for added durability and sweat wicking. However, the total thickness of this shin pad, including everything, rings in at only 3mm (1/8″)! Therefore they slip in well right under your socks, but you will probably want to tape them to ensure they don’t move around. These shin guards come in 2 types, one that offers a bit more coverage, and one with less coverage but also less weight so you can chose if you want to prioritize speed or protection (Max or Speed are the names of the 2 types). There is also the additional comfort element added to these guards of being anatomically suited to the left and right leg. You can’t go wrong with this choice.

3. SAK Project Elite Shin Guards
Protection Score: 4.5/5
Wearability/Comfort Score: 5/5
Price: $150 – 250
The SAK Project is a Portuguese company that totally customizes their shin pads to you. Not only do they use your measurements to create the perfect guard for your legs, you can also submit photos of yourself or your team logo to get a personalized design on the hard surface. The look and feel is totally customized to your specifications.

Since these guards are custom fit to your shins, they are going to protect you very well. The main protective features on these guards are a special foam that absorbs impact very well, plus a hard layer on the outside. The company says that these are made of “military grade materials”, so you can interpret that however you want. The SAK special foam also wicks moisture away, and grips your shin exceptionally well (due to the custom fit). They are very very thin, very lightweight, and quite flexible. Overall, these guards provide very good protection, so you will not get injured from any kicks you may receive. Note, these are not the biggest guards in the world, and there could be a bit more covered on your leg. Still, a great choice if your main priority is comfort. You can not get a custom guard anywhere else for this price.

4. Nike Mercurial Blade Hinge


Protection Score: 4/5
Wearability/Comfort Score: 4/5
Price: $100

The Nike Mercurial Blade incorporates carbon fiber, so you know that the protection it offers is top notch. However, it is only a small portion of carbon fiber, so it is really made mostly from plastic. It has a customizable fit due to the hinge down the centre of the pad, and a Poron foam backing to absorb and disperse impact. The foam is not very breathable, but the foam has laser etchings so that the moisture is wicked away from your skin. These pads are super lightweight and thin, and because of the hinge they wrap very nicely around the shape of your leg. This pad is quite minimalistic, but at the same time offers good protection (not too much coverage).


These Top Tier guards are absolutely the best out there. Unfortunately, they also have a hefty price tag. If you’re in the market for a new pair of shin guards, but don’t want to break the bank, you can check out part 2  of our series where we will bring you the best shin pads at a lower price points.

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