I have tried many different Muay Thai shin guards over the past few years. Some of them were great or decent but many of them were less than satisfying.
I would like to share my knowledge with you and point out what should you look for when buying a pair of 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, buy vinyl pads instead. They are more sturdy and offer better shin protection. Unfortunately, they are also heavier which will affect your movement during sparring.
The worst thing about vinyl pads is that that type of shin guards tend to crack when used regularly for intense sparring sessions. And once they do you will have to replace them cause they may cause nasty cuts to your sparring partner.
You may want to buy them for a starter kit but I would advise you to replace it ASAP with a pair of good leather shin guards.
Leather shin guards are the best quality pads you can get. They offer great protection and are very durable. These are the most expensive ones but it is worth investing in quality gear that will last for a long time.
The price you can spend as little as $15/£10 or as much as $200/£140 on a pair of professional Muay Thai shin guards I would not recommend buying the cheapest gear. I used and tested some of them in the past and the quality of raw materials used in them is less than satisfying.
Same as with Thai pads and Muay Thai gloves you will have to pay attention to the quality of the stitching. Choose a triple-stitched leather shin guards: they will last for longer than other pads. Shin protectors take 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.
Not every single kick lands directly where you intended it to land. Your kick may also be checked with your opponent's shin or his knee. That's why it is so important that you protect your feet and your toes from an injury.
Muay Thai shin pads have to fit perfectly on your leg. There is nothing more annoying and distracting than trying to adjust them in the middle of a sparring session.
Pads must be big enough to cover up your shins - knees should be left unprotected - but not too big to impair your speed and agility in the ring (take a look at the picture at the bottom of this page).