What makes HEMA gear special/different to Olympic fencing year?

IN both cases the gear is stab proof to 350n minimum.  A thrust will still hurt, possibly a lot, but it won’t puncture the fabric and penetrate you.

HEMA gear is designed to take heavier blows than you would have for olympic fencing.  So the jackets and trousers are padded.  Then over that we wear hard shell protection on lower arms, shins, knees and elbows as well as a hood overlay to protect the back of head..  

The gloves are also specially designed to protect the hands from hard hits but still make it possible to hold the sword(s)

When should i buy gear?

As soon as you know you want to keep doing this and you have the money to do it!  Its always better in your own gear.  Buying gear can be expensive but each piece will last many many years.

Start at the top and work your way down:

  1. Mask and Gorget
  2. Overlay to protect back of head
  3. Jacket and elbows
  4. Forearms and Gloves
  5. Legs, knees and shins.
Where do I buy gear?  

List of the usual suspects

What gear do i need for sparring in <discipline of choice>?

For foams – masks and gloves.

For metal:

Always mask, gorget, and, jacket.  Trousers and back of head are strongly recommended. 

Then it’s a question of what kind of sword is involved and what kind of sparring are you doing:

  • For rapier thrust only – the minimum is enough and sensible gloves.
  • For rapier cut&thrust – the basics and then: knee, elbow, forearm and lower legs,
  • If your rapier has light protection on the hand or you are going to be grabbing your opponents sword then you will need a heavier glove with protection.
  • For sidesword, sabre, sword and buckeler – the basics and then: knee, elbow, forearm and lower legs, and heavy gloves such as red dragon are mandatory,
  • For longsword – the basics and then: knee, elbow, forearm and lower legs as well as heavy gloves such as SPES lobsters, or sparring gloves,
What other stuff would you recommend i buy?
  • Chest protector – some use, some don’t.  Your choice.
  • Fabric deoderiser to spray inside gear with – it gets stinky and you will not be washing your gear weekly. – recommend spray for getting rid of smell of dog or cat pee.
  • Long socks – knee high either sports socks or fashion socks.  
  • Very big rucksack – the gear is big and bulky.  You want one big bag to put all your stuff in and then carry your swords separately.
What are changing/storage facilities like for gear?

Very limited.  There are changing rooms in both but there is no place to store gear or to shower.