Top King TKSGSS Super Star Muay Thai Shin Guards Review
Top King Boxing has grown to be the one of the top brands of Muay Thai equipment. They’re a Thailand based company, but have found recognition globally. Typically their products tend to be more protective than their competition’s.
About the shin guards
When you ask Muay Thai fighters which brand produce the best shin guards, you’ll be surprised how many times Top King’s shin guards are rumoured to be number one. As a result I decided it was about time I got my hands on a pair, to see for myself what all the fuss is about.
These are the ‘Super Max’ shin guards, one of Top King’s slightly flashier looking models, however build-wise should be the same as both the ‘Pro’ line, and the ‘Snake’ line, so the points mentioned here should mostly apply to Top King’s other shin guards too.
The shin guards come in S, M, L and XL, and you can use this handy guide to work out roughly how each size will fit.
Obviously, as they’re made by a Thai brand, these are striking shinguards, optimised for protection and padding compared to an MMA style grappling shin guard.
The Super Star shin guards come in four colours; white, gold, red or blue, all decorated with a pattern of small, silver stars running down at a slightly slanted angle, with the main colour fading to black at the bottom. Personally I picked up a pair of these in white, because I love the fact they look great when paired with either black or white gloves, and won’t clash with other colours at all. I also preferred the way the ‘Top King’ logo stands out on the white versions, mainly due to the logo being black rather than white as on the other colour options.
While I think these look great, there are definitely other options. As mentioned earlier, both the ‘Pro’ and ‘Snake’ ranges are based on the same model, which opens up a variety of solid colours or coloured snakeskin visuals, depending on what you fancy.
The outer material on these shin guards is leather, and feels fairly smooth and durable, similar to the leather used by a lot of the other major Muay Thai brands. There shouldn’t be any problem keeping these going for a number of years without any issues. On the inside the lining is pretty comfortable. It’s not the softest lining I’ve seen, but instead has a good grip to it which prevents them from slipping around too much or rubbing. The inner lining is so well attached that it almost feels like a part of the padding, rather than just stuck on, with no loose parts anywhere. That’s usually a good sign that they’ll hold up well.
The shin guard is held in place by two velcro straps, which pass through metal loops and double back on themselves to provide a tight fit, as well as two elasticated strips – one on the back of the ankle and one under the foot. These elasticated straps are often one of the first parts of a shin guard to wear down, but these actually feel quite stiff to start off with. We’d have to revisit the review later to determine whether they can stand the test of time, but seem to be holding up pretty well so far.
These shin guards are very well put together – the padding has a large raised section over the shin, which adds not only protection, but also visual appeal.
On the inside, they seem really well shaped, probably fitting my legs better than any other shin guards. While you obviously don’t want these too loose, I’ve found I don’t need to pull the straps super tight to get a good fit – they just seem to be shaped really well. I’m going to have to admit that of all the shin guards I’ve used so far, these have to win the award for my favourite inner shaping.
The straps on these shin guards are about an inch and a half thick, and I’ve found the Velcro holds firmly enough that you don’t have to worry. The straps go through a loop and secure back on to themselves. Instead of the loop being exposed, which can get caught or hit, it’s encased in leather, which presumably improves the durability slightly too by keeping it protected from sweat or other moisture. I find this type of strap is also great for getting the shin guards on nice and tight, which helps to prevent any slipping or unwanted movement. While many shin guards end up having a lot of wasted velcro where the step is too long, these fit me almost perfectly.
The stitching is very neatly done, there is no sign of any loose ones whatsoever, and the seams are positioned so that they’re as hidden as possible. The piping around the outside of the shin guards is also very tidy, and overall they seem very well put together.
First thing’s first, I can definitely tell why so many people love the top king shin guards. The protection is brilliant and the fit is just as good. When putting them on I find I have to un-loop the straps to get my feet through, but that’s not a huge issue at all and only takes a couple extra seconds. Once they’re on, they don’t really tend to move about much at all, and when they do move it’s often only by a little bit. I found the straps were a little stiff when I first got these, and sometimes rubbed or pinched when they were on too tight, but after a few sessions they broke in a bit more and I can’t say I’ve had that complaint since.
Another part which needed a little wearing in was the in-step area. This section has a strip of padding behind a neoprene cover, which helps to protect the instep when kicking, although there’s also a section of the shin guard’s outer trim which sits just below that against the foot. I found that for roughly the first 5 sessions that it would rub when bending the foot and became a little uncomfortable for long periods of time, but has now softened up a little and isn’t noticeable at all. It didn’t really last long enough to become a negative point, however I thought it best to mention anyway in case anybody is put off after a couple of sessions.
While these are clearly optimised for protection, I must admit I found them to be a little bulky, although that might be partly because I’d previously been using my Hayabusa Ikusa Charged grappling style shin guards as my go-to. While they are a little thick, they’re also fairly tall and slim, which makes them definitely not as over-kill as the Apaks Warriors Iron shin guards we’ve reviewed, and the Top Kings feel a lot lighter in comparison. Without weighing and comparing I can’t say for certain how they match up to other shin guards, but they don’t feel heavy in the slightest.
Obviously it’s worth reminding that when the protection is so good that you can’t feel a thing, you still need to be aware of how hard you’re hitting your sparring partner. It’s can be a little too easy to forget how hard you’re smashing those kicks in.
Top King gear isn’t always the easiest brand to get hold of in the west, and here in the UK the Super Star shin guards will tend to set you back by around £80, although if you prefer the solid visuals of the Pro range, they’re a little better value at about £70. This is a little more expensive than a lot of the offerings from other Thai brands – for example, Danger Equipment’s Super Max Shin Guards are the closest in terms of build that we’ve seen, retailing at £60. That said, there’s still a slight noticeable increase in quality, so if you’re looking to invest in a solid pair of shin guards, they’d be a great choice.
Looking to buy these?
+ Great fit
+ Great protection
+ Good variety of visuals
– Not suitable for training with grappling
– A little bulky