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Shinguards - What Pair is Worth Paying $25 For? - Soccer Cleats 101
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Sunday , June 16 2024

Shinguards – What Pair is Worth Paying $25 For?

Soccer Shinguards Tested

The one area of gear we have never really covered is the ever necessary and hopefully trusty shinguards. Pair don’t change too much from season to season and there is never an exciting new release that needs to be promoted, but that doesn’t mean we can’t offer some stealthy advice on which pairs need to be considered when the time to splash out on a fresh pair comes about.

Having had the opportunity to test many different styles and pairs from various price points, there is one specific piece of advice I can share – higher price doesn’t represent improved performance. Where you notice huge differences in the performance of a $30 boot compared to a $120 pair, you won’t have the same experience with shinguards. For many players, the $25 mark is the way to go and being realistic, it is the area where you should be looking with the knowledge that your shins will be well protected for a reasonable price.

With that in mind, I have focused this post on the more readily available “standard” issue guards available on the market that meet NOCSAE standards* to highlight and compare. Even though they are not created using super lightweight carbon fiber, they are incredibly well tested and trusted by the industry. Each pair tested is a size Large, I have added the recommended height for each pair – bear this in mind when selecting a pair for yourself.

*NOCSAE = National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment 

Adidas Shinguards

adidas F50 Pro Lite

Price: $19.99

If you are in the mood to look like Messi, this is the way to go, although they are not the guards he actually wears. They have a very lightweight feel, are flexible and as you would expect, provide good protection. The back features a memory foam type feel that offers the softest feel against the leg of the 4 guards we tested. My only issue with these is the Nylon stitching that runs around the outside of the guard. It is an unusual addition that adds an unwanted textured feel to the outside. Performance wise, it doesn’t cause any negatives but in a world where the majority of guards are seemingly one-piece, it makes them seem like an older generation.

NOCSAE Stardard: 5’10” to 6’1″ as a size large
SC101 Rating: 3/5 – Nice feel, good protection, not a fan of the design + stitching.

Puma Shinguards

Puma evoSPEED 1.2 Slip

Price: $22.49

Puma’s offering is a bullish guard that offers a definite high level of protection thanks to a thick layer of EVA. Of all the guards, front the front they have the most visually stealthy appearance, but turn them sideways and you will immediately notice how thick they are. As per the image above, when you slip them into the sleeve, they sit pretty far from your leg. If you value protection and need something that sits wider across your shin compliments of a “wing” style design, they are a definite winner. But definitely note the fact they have a protruding look underneath your socks as a result.

NOCSAE Stardard: Up to 5’9″ as a size large.
SC101 Rating: 3/5 – High level protection, but that results in a thick guard.

Nike Shinguards

Nike Mercurial Lite USA

Price: $24.99

In terms of actual fit, these are hands down the best of the 4 we tested, as seen above. With the sleeve in place, they fit extremely well across your leg. Nike does a great job with the Mercurial lite series, in creating a comfortable fitting guard with solid protection. The foam backing is not very soft, but it does have some give on your leg to soak in impact. Added to all that, you have to love the great visual designs that Nike place on the entire Mercurial Lite series, they are definitely the most attractive guards out there even if not many people outside the locker-room will ever see them! The only thing that could improve these would be a slightly more grainy feel to the underside, which would make them sit in place on your leg. They almost feel a little too smooth.

NOCSAE Stardard: 5’7″ to 5’11” as a size large
SC101 Rating: 4/5 – A lot of positives with this one, definitely the best of the 4 we tested.

Warrior Shinguards

Warrior Superheat Chrome

Price: $24.99

Warrior actually made a very wise move with these guards by modelling the design off the Nike Mercurial Lite, or so it seems. The shape of both designs is slightly different, but the materials used in the face and backing seems like it is very, very similar. So, performance wise you can expect pretty much the same type of experience. Where these fall short is in the sleeve included, it is not as effective as the Nike sleeve and leaves the guard falling down your leg.

NOCSAE Stardard: 5’3″ to 5’11″” as a size large
SC101 Rating: 3.5/5 – Overall solid performance, sleeve leaves a negative taste.

Final Summary

Out of the four guards, the Mercurial Lite is the pair most worth their weight in gold. Each pair has its own positives and for many players it will come down to personal preference and expectations. Given the fact guards sit under your socks and nobody really sees them, it is more about finding a comfortable pair that suits the shape of your shins and keeps them well intact if you are smashed with a mistimed tackle!

Have you worn one of these pairs or do you have another pair you would like to recommend? Share your thoughts in the comment section below to help other players make their decision.

Find a full, extensive wide ranging list of soccer shinguards at WeGotSoccer.

Soccer Shinguard Review

About Bryan Byrne

The mastermind behind the revolution that is SoccerCleats101. Bryan started this website back in 2008 and has been testing boots on a daily basis ever since. Check out our About Page for more details on Bryan and the website.

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  1. Bryan I’m looking to become buy a good pair and I just don’t think the lite’s are good enough. I have been looking at the light speed or the diadora stile, but I don’t seem to find any reviews on them. Do you have any recommendations on mid range guards or thoughts on the diadora?

  2. I'd like to see a review of the C6 Carbon Fiber shin guards. I've seen over the top review recommendations and would like to know what you think!

  3. Personally, I wouldn't wear any of these. Maybe my shins are just overly sweaty, but none of the reviewed guards have ventilation. I'll just stick with my $10 Nike J Guards.

  4. I have to say, J Guards are my absolute favorite. And cheap too. They're fairly lightweight, protect well, and when paired with the nike lock sleeves, they stay in place superbly–which has been a problem when I used other shinguards. I've always found the f50 shinguards to be a bit too clunky.

  5. what about ankle guards, very important ,no?

  6. Personally I have had all of these shin guards. Out of the bunch I have kept only the Mercurial Lite’s. They are a solid guard. However I have been wearing the Brine King G3 guard and it is absolutely the best guard I have ever used. It combines the protection of the evoSPEED guard but has the lightweight nature and low profile of the Nike J Guard. The biggest negative to the guard is the sleeve that comes with it. The quality of materials is fantastic but if you have any muscle definition in your calves the sleeves won’t fit. Other wise I love the Brine King G3

  7. They are cool, i get the little kids shinguards and cut out all the ankle protection and straps.They cover the area that hurts the most and they feel like im not wearing anything.Its not the safest I must admit but I love to feel as comfortable as I can

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