Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Breakdown of my SCA armoured combat kit

I recently received and email from an individual who had saw my gear, and asked a series of questions about doing something similar. I decided to use his questions as the basis of a blog post.

I am new to SCA and would like a combat kit with a look similar to yours - conical and mail.
  1. What are you wearing under the mail?
  2. Right now, I wear a combination of plastic armour and sports gear. The body... kidneys, ribs, and spine... are covered by a set of plastic plates padded with foam. They are narrow plates hinged with webbing for flexibility. They are actually going to be replaced... they don't need to be as narrow as they are, and I think wider plates will actually function better.What are you wearing for your elbows?
    Arms are covered by a leather vambrace attached to elbow cops (actually lacrosse elbows, though they are also being replaced) and lacrosse pads on the biceps.
  3. Knees?
    Knees are protected with aluminum cops from Bokolo, mounted on mizuno wraparound knee pads. I don't wear much other leg armour... I have my football girdle with pads over the hips and tailbone, and thin padding in the leg pockets. I am thinking of upgrading here, but haven't decided with what.
    Mizuno VS-1 Kneepads
  4. Shoulders?
    Chest, shoulders, and upper back are covered by lacrosse shoulder pads. This gives me padding, as well as hard points on the shoulders.
  5. Neck?
    I have my aventail for neck protection, and wear nothing else.
  6. How is the attached aventail working for you?
    It is working well... I have taken hits to the aventail, but never had one hit my neck or throat. I am thinking of going back to wearing a gorget though, for the simple reason of setting an example for new people. I don't want someone following my example but not having as protective an aventail to get hurt.
Can you offer any advice on how to put together a kit like yours?

  • Take it one step at a time. 
  • Concentrate on getting each piece right, and make it fit. Either make it, or have it made for you. If it's made to fit, you can wear it under the tunic and maille, and have the end result look like that's all you're wearing. 
  • Linen. I can not stress this enough. I used to wear Underarmor... I switched to linen undertunics. I have not looked back. I wear linen tunics, and linen pants. They are worth the money. Linen is not terribly expensive to buy, and if you cannot sew or barter with someone for sewing, http://www.linengarb.com/ is an excellent source of inexpensive linen clothing.
  • Shop around... but ask around. You will occasionally find an amazing deal that is too good to be true. It often is. I have seen many people burned by shady vendors. Most are good, and bad ones will take advantage of that.
  • Wear your gear. Don't wear it just for tournaments, or when you want to look good... practice how you play, and be used to the armour. Maille will change how you move... if I leave mine off, I am off balance, and it just feels wrong.
What has worked?
  • Maille. Seriously. When I started out, I was repeatedly told that what I was wearing was just an encumbrance, and was useless for our game. Maille may not be the best solution to protect you from crushing blows on its own, but it does take a good deal of power out of a shot.
  • Medieval solutions. I have reinvented the wheel a ridiculous number of times.
  • Maintenance. Take care of your gear, and it will take care of you. Stuff will wear. Learn how to fix it.
What hasn't?
  • Sloth. Get off your ass and practice, and you won't be blaming the gear for fatiguing you.
  • Hockey gloves. Yes, they're legal. No, they're not smart. Yes, you may end up getting a finger popped like a hot dog in a microwave.
  • Half assed shortcuts. Yes, duct tape will hold that part on, but there comes a point at which you need to just bite the bullet and rivet a damn strap on the thing.
As always, feel free to comment, and to post your own questions.