Buying Armor I: Make a plan

Never rush this step

Purchasing armor for this sport is, sadly, a complicated process.
Before making any major purchases, you will want to check out:
1. The safety and fit.
2. If what you buy works for the league(s) you plan to fight in.
3. The source you are buying from.
4. The price.

Step 0: To buy or not?

Once you have your training equipment, my advice is to buy nothing for 4-6 months. In that time, ask to borrow other helmets for training, find out how much other guys spend on various armor, read your league's rules for gear, and set money aside ($150-$200 is a good number to start).

Step 1: Set Realistic Goals and Expectations

This guide is for someone new to the process of buying armor for this sport. Here are some key things to keep in mind:
1. $1700-$2500 is the realistic minimum for a safe and competitive kit. There is no shame in taking time to save up. There is also no shame in buying a kit at this price point. People routinely win medals equipped with armor available at this price point.

2. Your first kit should be "Boring". You should start with something commonly used in the sport, probably something typically used by clubmates. (The same way a first baseball mitt is not going to be made of crocodile hide). Colors and fabric patterns are great to add flair, but for the functionality, you want something reliable and routinely used.

3. Expect hiccups, shop defensively. Even the best armorers with the best reputation made mistakes. Shipping delays can impact resellers and armorers. Do your research, ask questions, keep in communication with anyone you buy from

Step 2: Set a plan

Before you buy anything, you should have the following planned and documented (I recommend a spreadsheet)

  1. What the finished product will look like.

  2. Who you are buying from.

  3. The cost (and when you pay for what)

  4. When you expect to receive it.

    You can adjust this plan as time goes on (you see a great deal on something), but coming in with a plan will help prevent frustration

Other considerations:

  • A document with your body measurements is a very valuable reference to have.

  • Buy your padded layer FIRST. Once you have it, you will be able to take accurate measurements for what will go on top (these should be added to the measurement document)

  • Do your best to stick to a monthly budget. When you make that budget, also include how much you might want to be able to go above it for a good opportunity (IE: Yearly budget is $1200, monthly is typically putting $100 away. Special circumstance: $300 can be an "advance' for a special circumstance.)

  • Talk to your teammates throughout this process.

Next up: Picking a kit

Once you understand how to plan for these purchases, the next step is ...MORE PLANNING!