I have tried many different Muay Thai shin guards over the past few years. Some of them were decent but many pads I have used were less than satisfying. I would like to share my knowledge with you and point out what you should look for when buying a pair of a good Muay Thai shin pads.
What to look for when buying a Muay Thai shin guards?
my first advice is: don't buy a cotton Muay Thai shin pads. The biggest advantage is their low weight and a low price but they don't offer a high level of protection. On top of that cotton pads will not serve you for too long cause they're not durable enough for heavy sparring sessions.
If you really want to buy a budget Muay Thai shin pads then buy a vinyl pads. They are more sturdy and offer a better shin protection. Unfortunately, they are also heavier which will affect your movement during a sparring. The worst thing about vinyl pads is that that type of shin guards tend to crack when used for intense sparring sessions. And once they do you will have to replace them cause they may cause nasty cuts for your sparring partners. You may want to buy them for a starter but I would advise you to replace it later on with a decent pair of a leather shin guards.
Leather shin guards are of a premium quality. They offer a great protection and are very durable. These are the most expensive ones, but it will pay off in the long run.
the price you can spend as little as $15/£10 or even as much as $200/£140 for a pair of a professional Muay Thai shin guards. I would not recommend to buy the cheapest gear: I used and tested some of them in my previous gym and a quality of materials is less than satisfying.
again, same as with Thai pads and Muay Thai gloves you have to pay attention to the quality of the stitching and preferably choose a triple stitched leather shin guards - they will last longer than a regular pair. This piece of a gear takes a heavy punishment during sparring sessions and it should be built to last.
the right size. This is very important: proper shin guards must protect the top of the feet (take a look at the picture at the bottom). Since not every single kick lands directly where you intended and on many occasions, it may be checked with your opponent's shin or a knee, you will need to protect your feet and toes from injury. Pads should fit perfectly and must be tight cause there is nothing more distracting than trying to adjust them in the middle of a sparring session. Pads must be big enough to cover your shins - knees should be left unprotected - but not too big cause this will affect your speed and agility in the ring (see the picture below)