If you play a sport with lots of physical contact, the odds are that you need a pair of shin guards. While soccer is one of the most obvious examples, sports like hockey and MMA also utilize shin guards to keep athletes safe and prevent injuries. Shins are one of the most sensitive and easily damaged parts of the body and, while you might be able to get away without them if you play informally, we highly recommend purchasing shin guards no matter what level you play at. If you’re gearing up for soccer season, be sure to check out our list of the best soccer cleats.
We reviewed dozens of shin guards to identify the best of the best. We sorted through dozens of products and rated them based on comfort, protection, flexibility, durability, and staying power. In the end, we narrowed our search down to the top 5 best shin guards available.
The Vizari Malage Shin Guard easily took our top place as the best shin guard on the market. Made with a lightweight PP shell for protection with a comfortable foam backing, this shin guard provides both comfort and protection.
In This Article
- The 5 Top-Rated Shin Guards for 2018
- Who Should Buy Shin Guards
- Important Features to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Other Shin Guards We Reviewed
The 5 Top-Rated Shin Guards for 2018
|Best Overall Pick||Vizari Malaga Shin Guard||4.4|
|Runner Up Pick||ProForce Shin Guards||4.7|
|Best Budget Pick||Near Post Shin Guards||4.6|
|Best Youth Shin Guard||Elemart Youth Soccer Shin Guards||4.1|
|Best Soccer Shin Guard||Franklin Sports Superlight Soccer Shin Guards||4.0|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Our Top Pick: Vizari Malaga Shin Guard
The Vizari Malaga Shin Guard features a two-layer construction. On the outside sits a lightweight but extremely hard PP shell. This shell protects your shin from brunt damage caused by another players foot or stick. On the inside is a moderate amount of foam padding, which both helps absorb blows and makes the shin guard comfortable to wear. No one wants to run around with a hard piece of PP shell strapped to their leg, so the foam really does help make this shin guard comfortable for long hours of practice.
This shin guard comes in sizes to fit the smallest children up to moderately sized adults. Some customers were confused about the sizing system, so we will give a quick explanation. The small sizes are youth sizes, while the medium and large sizes are adult sizes. There is no overt labeling of youth vs. adult, but generally speaking, a child should not get anything larger than a small while an adult should start with the medium as the smallest size.
The shin guard is also available in a number of colors. The most popular appears to be black, but pink, blue, and green are also available. What particular color you decide to get depends a lot on your taste, though you might also want to keep in mind your team colors when making a final decision regarding color. It is also important to point out that not all colors come in every size, so be sure the color you want comes in your size before you set your heart on it.
Vizari Malaga Shin Guard Key Features:
- Lightweight PP shell
- Foam padding for comfort
- A wide array of sizes available
- Various colors available
Our Runner Up: ProForce Shin Guards
Featuring a wide range of protection, these unique shin guards easily stand above most other competitors
Featuring a unique cloth design, the ProForce Shin Guards offer more protection than your average shin guard. Unlike most shin guards that rely on straps or other mechanisms to stay in place, these shin guards feature a full-length sleeve. This makes them incredibly easy to slip on and off while also ensuring that they don’t accidentally slip out of place or need constant readjusting. No more straps to adjust or constantly slid back into place. Plus, the cloth sleeve is completely machine washable, which makes cleaning your gear very easy and elongates the lifespan of the shin guards.
The unique design of this shin guard also provides better all-around protection than other brands. The pad covers the whole ankle and shin area, providing protection everywhere that you need it. The sleeves also help prevent shin splits and pull more blood into your calves, maximizing performance and preventing injury. Customers loved that these shin guards provided far more protection than most. We recommend this shin guard particularly to adults, who generally need more coverage than young children.
Proforce Shin Guards Key Features:
- Protects whole ankle and shin area
- Machine Washable
- Unique sleeve design
Best Budget Pick: Near Post Shin Guards
Designed for the hard blows players commonly receive while playing in adult leagues, the Near Post Shin Guards are a great choice for any adult player or wants to ensure that have maximum protection even if they are budget-conscious. While being far cheaper when compared to our other brands, these shin guards provide the protection necessary for sports that contain a lot of physical contact. Many customers reported that the shin guards felt quite stable and tough, which made them feel safe while they are playing.
On top of a high level of protection, these shin guards are also machine washable. Multiple washes should not degrade the material or fit of the guards, and they have been shown to stand up to tough weather conditions and play. They are also backed with EVA foam to keep the guards from sliding around and make them comfortable to wear. The padding also helps absorb the force of blows.
Furthermore, these shin guards were also designed with uniforms in mind. Some shin guards disrupt the uniform colors or look unsightly. However, these are a very neutral black, which fits with almost every color design and scheme. Plus, they disappear very easily under most socks, which can prevent their color from showing at all.
Near Post Shin Guards Key Features:
- Provides plenty of protection
- Machine washable
- EVA foam backing
- Sleek look
Best Youth Shin Guards: Elemart Youth Soccer Shin Guards
With a thick EVA lining and ergonomic design, these are a great option for younger players
While there are lots of shin guards on the market that are made to fit both youth players and adults, for particularly smaller children it is almost always a better option to purchase a shin guard specifically designed for their age. In these cases, the Elemart Youth Soccer Shin Guards are a great option. They are designed specifically for children between 5-12 and come in unisex colors to appeal to both boys and girls. They are slightly taller than most shin guards, which allows them to cover more area and prevent more injuries. Many customers recommended them for toddlers as well, stating that they are so easy to get on and off that their small children could put them on themselves.
A thick, EVA lining prevents the guards from irritating your child’s sensitive skin and makes them more comfortable to wear. We all know that it can sometimes be difficult to convince your child to wear protective gear without an argument, so a comfortable lining is especially important. An ergonomic design provides a perfect fit and causes the guard to sit close to the leg, preventing the shin guard for sliding and ensuring that nothing gets in between it and the leg.
Elemart Youth Soccer Shin Guards Key Features:
- Thick EVA lining
- Ergonomic design
- Soft and comfortable
Best Soccer Shin Guards: Franklin Sports Superlight Soccer Shin Guards
These extremely lightweight shin guards will provide you with the protection you need while playing soccer
If you play in a soccer league, the odds are that there are specific requirements that your shin guards must meet. Not just any shin guards will do. Most leagues, even those catering towards younger players, will require that you or your child wear a shin guard that is specifically designed for soccer. This is where the Franklin Sports Superlight Soccer Shin Guards come into play. As the name suggests, these shin guards are designed to be very lightweight. For youth players, this is extremely useful, though adult players will probably appreciate this feature as well.
While these shin guards were designed to work for all ages, only three sizes are available. This makes getting a perfect fit somewhat difficult as there is not a huge range of sizes to choose from. However, these shin guards do feature double adjustable self-stick straps that are easily adjustable to customize your fit. The shin guards themselves have a two-layer design. The top layer is a high-density, abrasion-resistant shield that both prevents injuries from blunt force and stands up to falls. An inner, high-density foam layer adds comfort and absorbs the shock from blunt force blows.
These shin guards only come in white and black, but the design should fit most tastes, and the neutrality of the colors should flow nicely no matter what your uniform looks like. If you’re looking for a specifically colored shin guard though, you are going to have to look elsewhere.
Franklin Sports Superlight Soccer Shin Guards Key Features:
- High-density shield
- Double adjustable straps
- High-density foam
Who Should Buy Shin Guards
Shin guards are necessary for a number of sports that involve a lot of physical contact. Even in sports that don’t necessarily allow physical confrontation, such as soccer, shin guards help protect you from the unintended blows that are just part of the game. Soccer is probably the sport that is most well-known for using shin guards, but a variety of other sports do as well, such as MMA, hockey, and even football. No matter the age group, any league for one of these sports will likely require you to purchase a pair of shin guards to play. This is for a good reason. Shins are one of the most commonly injured areas, especially in sports where kicking is involved, but are also one of the easiest to break. After all, there is not usually much padding between the bone in your shin and the outside world. One good kick could easily put you out of play for the rest of the season or even send you to the emergency room.
Because of this, we recommend that anyone who plays these sports, whether they are in a league or not, purchase and regularly wear shin guards. Even if you are just playing in your backyard, shin guards are extremely important and can greatly reduce the risk of a fracture from an unintended but well-placed kick. Just like you should wear a helmet when riding a bike, you should most definitely wear shin guards while playing contact sports.
Important Features to Consider
Shin guards should do several things well. Here are some things to consider when selecting shin guards for you or a child:
- Protection. A shin guards most important feature is its ability to protect your shin. Therefore, it should be pretty good at it. Look for shin guards that feature high-quality protection material and multiple layers. While a hard-outer surface is necessary, so is an inner foam layer. Without one or the other, the protection offer will be lacking and incomplete. Of course, the more layers a shin guard has, the more protection it offers. However, more layers are not necessarily always better, especially if it causes bulkiness and restricts your movement. If something seems off or you are questioning whether or not a product has too few or too many reviews, we recommend checking the customer reviews or just sticking with one of our top picks.
- Comfort. You will commonly have to wear shin guards for hours at a time. Even when you’re just practicing, it is necessary to wear shin guards not just because it protects your shins from accidental damage but also because it gets you used to having them on. The added weight of shin guards can affect your kick and mobility more than you might think, which is why you should always practice with them on as well. All of these long hours wearing shin guards means that they simply must be comfortable. A foam layer can help this, but you also want to consider how well the shin guards fit and whether or not there is a soft lining.
- Non-Slip. If a shin guard does not fit properly or is made of a low-quality material, it is not unusual for them to slip around while you are playing. At the very least, this means that you will have to stop and readjust them, which can get very tedious after a while. However, in the worst-case scenario, a shin guard that has slipped can leave you open for a serious injury. If the shin guard is no longer covering the areas it needs to, one hard kick can cause you to fracture or otherwise injure yourself.
- Durability. Your shin guard is going to take some kicks, so it should be able to withstand them without breaking or warping. A shin guard that breaks upon impact is not going to be able to protect you for very long and will require constant changing. If it does break, a shin guard can also injure in material pierces your leg. For these reasons, we recommend only purchasing shin guards that are high-quality.
- Machine washable. Shin guards can get stinky very fast. After all, they are very close to our leg and tend to pick up a lot of sweat. It is important, then, that they are machine washable or you will get tired of the smell very quickly. No one wants to scrub shin guards, so just ensure that whatever pair you buy can be thrown in the washer.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of shin guards?
Shin guards are designed to protect a player’s shin from injury. Shins do not naturally have much protection. They are not covered by a reasonable amount of fat or muscle and are therefore easily injured by blunt force. One kick can easily fracture your shin if you aren’t wearing shin guards. Furthermore, shin guards can also help you avoid abrasive injuries, which can be caused by falling and put you out of the game for weeks. While it might seem like a good idea to save the twenty extra dollars and buy a smaller, cheaper shin guard, it is always a better idea to avoid a possible hospital bill by purchasing high-quality shin guards that are going to provide maximum protection.
How do I know what size shin guard to wear?
Your shin guard size is based on your height. You want to ensure that the shin guard fits your whole shin and as much of your ankle as possible. Different brands of shin guards cover different areas, but in general, the shin guard should cover enough to make you feel comfortable while playing. To ensure that you get the correct size, we recommend checking the particular shin guard’s sizing chart.
Where should soccer shin guards fit?
Generally, a soccer shin guard should start as just a couple inches below the knee to just above the bend in your ankle. If it restricts your movement, it is not the right size. However, it should cover as much of your shin and ankle as possible without being restrictive.
Do shin guards go over or under your sock?
If you purchase slip-in shin guards, they go underneath your sock. These are the most popular shin guard and are probably what you are most used to seeing other players wear. Putting them under your sock help, all your teammates look the same and also prevents the shin guards from moving unnecessarily while you play. Some shin guards, however, come with their own sleeves, which can be worn under or above your sock depending on the particular design. There are also shin guard socks, which are basically socks that come with built-in shin guards for convenience.
Other Shin Guards We Reviewed
We also looked at 20 other shin guards. Even though these didn’t make out top 5 best shin guards list, they’re still better than most, and each is still a great option. All the information you’ll need for comparison is included with each listing.
Part of Adidas’ Ghost Guard collection, these shin guards are designed to fit younger athletes while still providing maximum comfort and protection.
- Highly protective hard-shell front
- Adjustable hook-and-loop strap
- EVA backing for comfort
Cost: $5 – $51
These shin guards also come with two compression calf sleeves to prevent shin splits and increase muscle endurance while playing. The shin guard provides a hard shell to protect your shin, while the compression sleeves help you work at maximum efficiency.
- Various youth sizes
- Comes with two compression sleeves
- 100% money back guarantee
Featuring a low profile and lightweight design without compromising on protection, these shin guards are a great option for young players.
- Lightweight and slim
- Non-slid sleeve
- Machine washable
Cost: $25 – $45
Featuring a zipper closure and hard polypropylene shell, this shin guard is an all-around good choice for any younger soccer players in need of some protection.
- EVA foam backing
- Exterior grooves for additional flexibility
- Zipper closure
Cost: $10 – $62
This isn’t your average shin guard. This leg guard is designed to protect all the places your child’s shin guard doesn’t, providing extra protection and keeping your existing shin guard firmly in place.
- Premium lower leg protection
- Designed for optimal movement
- Designed to fit most shin pads
Cost: $30 – $40
Made with three different shields expertly fitted together, these shin guards feature a high amount of flexibility and protection. Snug compression sleeves keep them firmly in place with also minimizing sports injuries.
- Made of 3 shields fitted together
- Snug fit
- Soft and durable EVA backing
This sleeve-style guard is soft, flexible, and non-slip. If you’re tired of constantly readjusting your shin guard, then this is the pair you need to get.
- Machine washable
Cost: $40 – $87
Featuring a low-profile construction and a dense foam for impact diffusion, if you want high-quality shin guards and aren’t concerned with a high price, these are a great option.
- Low-profile construction
- Anatomically designed cushioning
- Waffle designed EVA cushioning
Cost: $12 – $101
With an Anatomically correct, pull-on design that fits con contours of your shin, these shin guards are a great choice for the adult soccer player who values comfort and fit.
- Zipper closure
- Pull-on design
- Molded EVA foam
Cost: $15 – $59
These shin guards offer flexible protection and charged cushioning for comfort. They are even sold with form-fitting calf sleeves to keep them in place and prevent shin splits.
- Comes with calf sleeves
- 100% polyester
Cost: $10 – $51
No one likes smelly shin guards. Luckily, these shin guards are completely machine washable after removing the foam padding from the specially designed pockets. Simply take out the padding and throw them in the washer.
- Compression design
- Completely washable
- Stays in place
Cost: $11 – $15
With an extremely lightweight design, these padded guards are designed to retain your leg shape with repeated use, which leads to maximum comfort and protection.
- Full elastic
- Slides on easily
- Padding retains leg shape
Cost: $15 – $18
Customers love the dual-padded design of these shin guards. Made with shell-shock gel and shock foam, these shin guards provide an added layer of protection without being bulky or restricting movement.
- Molded design
- Shell-shock gel
- Lightweight with nylon based outer cover
These are the premium shin guards for MMA. Made with one-piece of high-impact foam, these are specially designed to protect your shins during sparring.
- Articulated in-step padding
- Neoprene non-slip design
Featuring a unique design for unrestricted movement, these shin guards are extremely lightweight and feature a flexible mesh for ventilation and supreme comfort.
- Neoprene construction
- Lightweight design
- High-density foam
These shin guards are famous for their close fit and anatomical design. They sit extremely close to your leg, which can improve your mobility and offer supreme protection.
- Two strap system
- Hydrophobic mesh liner
- Vent Armor foam
Featuring easily adjustable straps to help you find a perfect fit without buying multiple sizes, this shin guard is particularly useful for new players who might not know exactly what size they are.
- Adjustable straps
- Knee is removable
- Ankle guard
These shin guards feature a removable liner and a thick plastic shell. Despite the plastic construction, this shin guard works quite well for hockey players.
- Maximum protection
- Removeable liner
- Thick Plastic Shell
Cost: $26 – $42
With a lightweight hard shell and a waffle foam backing, these shin guards provide a decent amount of protection and comfort, making them a solid choice for all hockey players.
- Air-Flo design
- Waffle foam backing
Cost: $19 – $40
Customers loved how easy these shin guards were to get on and off. However, some did state that a cover or long pair of socks is required to keep them in place. If you decide to go with this option, we recommend getting a cover as well.
- Comes in 2 sizes
- Easy to get on and off
- Cover is required for comfortable wear
Cost: $45 – $55