Buying Equipment

if you have just joined our competitive program and are looking to buy equipment, please see this guide that was put together by one of our parents, and provides cheap options for younger fencers who are just buying their first set of equipment, or read the information below.

On this page, we identify the different pieces of equipment that you need to buy, and the priority in which you might want to purchase them (priority 1 = purchase this very soon; priority 2 = purchase this when you join our competitive programs; priority 3 = this can wait until you start going to competitions).

We have included links and suggestions to products that either the coaches, or our fencers have found to be satisfactory. Where different options are provided, there may be significant price differences between them, or different fencers may simply have reported different preferences.

Please note that we make no guarantees regarding either the vendors, or the equipment here. This page is simply a series of suggestions based on positive experiences that our coaches and fencers have had in the past with both the equipment and the vendors. There are many other options for equipment (many of which will be much cheaper than the options listed here) which you can find by browsing the internet or talking to other fencers / parents. just for transparency, we have no financial ties to any vendor listed on this page, and receive no incentives for pointing you to any particular vendor or piece of equipment - the information presented here is purely based on previous experiences of our fencers and coaches.

You will see the label 'FIE' a lot on this page. 'FIE' equipment theoretically offers the highest level of protection as it has been tested to much higher standards than non-FIE equipment (an FIE mask is tested to withstand forces in excess of 1600N, whereas a regular mask may only have been tested to withstand 350N, if at all - some of the cheapest equipment has very little testing done on it). Of course, FIE equipment tends to be significantly more expensive. Whether it is worth the extra expense is a personal choice, though in some situations, the coaches will strongly recommend the use of FIE equipment. If in doubt, please talk to one of the coaches.

starter kits:

many vendors have ‘starter kits’. for competitive fencers, some people have had good success with the absolute fencing deluxe 13-piece competition set and the leon paul deluxe foil kit but we generally find that buying things separately works best in the longer run.

Glove (Priority 1):

For hygiene reasons, we recommend that fencers purchase their own gloves as early as possible in their fencing careers. We find that gloves will typically last between 12 and 18 months.

We have found that many of our foil and epeé fencers like the Leon Paul Advanced gryptonite Glove, or the absolute fencing master series Glove. Many of our sabre fencers will use their foil glove and add a manchette to it for sabre. Other sabre fencers prefer the Leon Paul exoskin Sabre Glove and will use separate gloves for foil and sabre.

Notebook (Priority 1):

We strongly recommend all fencers bring a notebook to practice in which they can write down what they learn. This helps greatly with allowing lessons to sink in, and facilitates the retention of knowledge between practices. Keeping a training journal is a requirement for fencers in our competitive programs, and we have found that fencers in our intro and recreational classes who keep regular notes tend to progress at a faster rate than those who do not.  Coaches can help to show you how to make best use of a training journal - you only have to ask!

Mask (priority 1):

The mask is the piece of equipment that fits between your eyes and your opponent's blade. There are many cheap options, but we strongly recommend investing in a good quality mask. Growth spurts not withstanding, most masks will last at least 18 months, and good qualify masks can last considerably longer (we have fencers who are using masks that are over 10 years old). We suggest that the mask is an early purchase since many fencers find that they are much more comfortable in their own mask, rather than a shared one.

Our coaches and fencers seem to like the Leon Paul FIE Foil X-Change Mask, for foil fencers (with a classic bib and either ‘standard’ or ‘ice’ padding), and the Leon Paul FIE Sabre X-Change Mask for sabre fencers. The AF FIE mask is a slightly cheaper option for foil fencers, as is the Leon Paul horizon Mask (though these will not work for Canadian national level competitions - they're fine for most local Just For Fun events though). The leon paul traditional FIE mask is a cheaper option for sabre fencers. We strongly recommend purchasing an 'FIE' masks once you have decided that fencing is a good fit, though there are cheaper options available.

all fencers will require a mask cord, available from leon paul or absolute.

Sous-plastrons (Priority 1):

Sous-plastrons (also known as underarm protectors) sit under the jacket and offer an extra layer of protection to fencers. Many people seem to like the Leon Paul economy FIE plastron, the AF FIE ultra underarm protector or  the af 350N comfort underarm protector is a much cheaper option. many people have found that purchasing an FIe sous-plastron helps minimise bruising.

Chest Protector (Priority 1):

Plastic chest protectors are mandatory for both girls and boys. For competitions, boys are required to wear the chest protector against the skin (girls may wear them under the sous-plastron). We have found that fencers like the af chest protectors, or the Leon Paul Chest Protectors (they are very similar). Chest protectors typically have a long lifespan (people tend to outgrow them before they wear out).

Jacket (Priority 2):

Fencers spend a lot of time in their jackets, so it's important to buy something that feels comfortable. Our younger fencers seem to like the Leon Paul Phoenix Range or the Absolute Fencing FIE Signature Series. Our older fencers tend to like either the Leon Paul phoenix Range, the Absolute Fencing FIE Signature Series or the Leon Paul apex FIE Range. Smaller adults might like the Negrini fie equipment. Like sous-plastrons, jackets tend to be outgrown before they wear out.

Shoes (Priority 2):

Having proper footwear for fencing is key. There are a few special fencing shoes out there, such as the nike air zoom fencing shoes and hi-tec razor shoes which you can buy from leon paul and absolute and these work very well for some fencers, but most of our fencers seem to like using a good indoor soccer shoe, or yonex badminton shoes which can be considerably cheaper. Generally it's good to look for something that is fairly low-profile. Coaches or fencers may have suggestions if you talk to them. Expect fencing shoes to last around 6 months - you may get more wear out of them, but fencing is typically very hard on shoes. Often our fencers will use their shoes for 6 months, and then cycle them into 'daily use' shoes for another 6 - 8 months before they fall apart entirely!

First Aid Kit (Priority 2):

It is a good idea to bring a small first aid kit containing plasters and some antiseptic wipes to practice since bumps and scrapes can occur during practices. Safety pins are also useful things to have on hand for a multitude of reasons! The club does have a well stocked first aid kit, and we have ice packs on hand, but if there are any special medications or precautions that you need, it's a good idea to be prepared. Also, please make sure that all fencers know to let a coach know if they are in need of first aid - whilst we try to keep a close eye on everybody, it's always a good idea to let us know!

Bodywires (Priority 2):

Bodywires are essential for electric fencing. The only wires that are compatible with our club equipment are the Leon Paul Bayonet wires. Bodywires may need repair, but typically last for several years. Initially, you should purchase two body wires. Eventually, travelling fencers may want four or five.

Weapons (Priority 2):

We have put together some suggestions for weapons here. Please be aware that weapons can have very short life spans, and this is normal for our sport (the average life expentancy is around 12 - 24 months for an FIE blade, and 3 - 6 months for a non-FIE blade, but we’ve had blades break or kink after a couple of months). Initially, fencers require one - two weapons. Eventually, fencers who attend competitions will want at least three. Once you have purchased enough weapons, you may be able to recycle some parts when things break. However, please also be aware that as fencers grow within the sport, the blade configurations they need may well change. when purchasing weapons, please make sure you choose ‘bayonet sockets’ as your option, and talk to your coach about whether you should be buying ‘french’ or ‘pistol’ grips.

We strongly recommend against weapons being used for practice at home.

Lamé Jackets (Priority 2):

Lamé jackets are the metal jackets which fit over the regular fencing uniform and connect people to the electric scoring systems. They are required for all fencers in our competitive programs, and are required for all competitions. Lamé jackets tend to have fairly short life spans (around 12 months) so we recommend staying away from the most expensive options. However, beware of very cheap jackets as the metal fibres tend to be made of soft copper which often has a very short lifespan. Many of our fencers seem to like the AF Signature Series ii or the Leon Paul standard weight lamés (stay away from the lightweight jackets as they don't tend to last as long). note that Lamé jackets are generally not washable

Bags (Priority 2):

Now that you've bought all this equipment, you need somewhere to put it! There are a wide number of options for bags, which vary in price dramatically. We have had very good success with the Leon Paul bags and some people have also had good success with the Absolute fencing bags. Some people use golf bags or lacrosse with varying degrees of success. It is possible to get bags without wheels, but they can be very hard on the back. We have had bags last from as short as 3 months to 6+ years depending on the amount of usage, the care taken with the bags, and the amount of travel involved (flying is very hard on bags).

Toolkit (Priority 2):

It's a good idea to start to piece together a basic toolkit which will allow you to start to do your own basic repairs. A good guide to what you might want is available here. A needle and thread are also very useful things to have on hand for quick fixes (as is a bottle of nail polish). Instructions on how to make basic repairs (including excellent guides to how much of the equipment works) are available here. Armoury can be very fiddly, so it's a good idea to to make friends with one of the more experienced fencers or parents who might be able to help you out.

Fencing Socks (Priority 3):

Fencing socks are longer than regular socks, and often have extra padding along the shin. They are required when fencing breeches are worn. Many of our fencers seem to like the AF breathable fencing socks. Leon Paul Advanced Fencing Socks are another popular choice. Any other long white sock that covers the entire lower leg will be fine. Some people like to wear coloured socks, but at higher levels of comeptition, they must be white. Some fencers like to wear shin pads under their socks, which is perfectly acceptable.

Breeches (Priority 3):

Breeches, also known as 'fencing pants' or 'knickers' replace track pants for competition and practice as they offer a little more protection for the legs. They are not required in the club, but they are required for many of the competitions. Youth fencers may like the Leon Paul Phoenix Range or the Absolute Fencing FIE Signature Series. Older fencers may like either the Leon Paul Phoenix Range, the AF FIE Signature Series or the Leon Paul apex FIe Range. Like jackets, breeches tend to be outgrown before they wear out.