Buying Armor II: Picking a kit

Understand your Goals:

Before you can make a good decision on what to buy you need to understand three aspects of your goals:
1. Which league(s) do you intend to fight in? A kit that might work for domestic ACS events might have issues if you want to go to Battle Of the Nations (an HMB event).
2. Your budget. How much are you looking to spend on this sport per year? For some $2500 on gear and and travel for the first year might be pushing it, for others it might be temporary step as they wait for a $15,000 plate kit.
3. What practical armor options are most important to you. IE Easier vision vs more face protection.

What goes into choosing armor

  1. Safety. Armor is literally what lets us survive this sport. At it's core, you are reasonably safe when: Your body is covered with well fitting armor made of proper material, in any position that you reasonable move in . A bad strap or fit can make gear from the best vendors unsafe. Every kit will tend to have some gaps, but a safe kit keeps those to a minimum.

  2. Legality: You want to make sure your kit fits the rules where you want to fight. Why does this come after safety? Because the rules for kits are *not* best practices. Practically, if you have safe kit, you will be able to fight at any domestic event.

  3. Comfort: One of the biggest difference between new fighters and experienced fighters is the way they move. Experienced fighters moveas if the armor was not there. Part of this is skill, the other part is that their armor is comfortable for them. It lets them move and see the way they want.

  4. Aesthetic: Style. This is last for a reason, it really is the least important factor. Looking cool is great, but should happen within the parameters of safety, legality, and comfort. There is a lot of room for flare within that.

Historical Requirements: The Facts

  1. If your safe/legal kit is not historical, you CAN fight at US events: At this time, authenticity requirements apply for major overseas events. Typically, the league with the strictest requirements is HMB (which also runs most of the major international events). HMB events in the US do NOT have those same requirements.

  2. It is worth planning a kit that meets HMB auth requirements from the beginning: The easiest time to make sure your kit fits is before you buy it. Getting this right in the beginning means you are set for any event on earth, armor wise.

  3. It is not as complicated as it seems: Buying a kit that all works together historically "off-the-rack" is not as complicated or expensive as it seems. Your teammates and the community are here to help.

League rules I: Technical Specs

Here are the armor rules for: HMB, ACS, IMCF (International format), and ACW.

For the most part, the technical requirements are pretty similar. There are some key differences on a few small things (adding non-historical eyebars to helmets, for example).

League Rules II: Authenticity

Every league asks that all armor and weapons come from the same time/place. For major international events, a group from the tournament will check each fighters armor to make sure it matches their requirements.
HMB has as an Authenticity Committee for this. The Committee has a facebook page where they issue policy documents and updates

What is "Sport Optimization" ?

A good kit will fit well, move well, and not pose a hindrance for fighting.
Sport Optimized gear is equipment that some people feel provides more advantage/less hindrance for this sport. For example:
1. helmets with bar visors (see the fighter in the center of the photo), which provide more vision and easier breathing vs a full face visor.
2. Titanium armor, which can offer similar protection to steel at a lighter weight.

Do you need a "sport optimized" kit to be competitive?

Nope. World class fighters will routinely win top with full face visors or steel body armor.
The best sport optimization is good training.
Breathing and awareness in a visor is harder in the beginning, but with training, one will eventually not even notice.
A lighter kit can help one move faster and fight longer, but training can let one do that in any kit.

Now that we know the market, the process, and the rules, it is time for the fun part: purchasing!