Hello fellow breakers and safety conscious derby fans!
A while ago I reviewed Armour Flex’s ankle guards, which you can read all about here: https://www.treblemaker909.com/2015/08/13/guest-post-review-armourflex/
In that review I said I was very keen to try the shin guards, and I recently purchased a pair. I was keen to try them out, but was also excited to discover the upgraded socks that I know the AF team had been working on, following lots of great and useful feedback from people like me who’d tried the originals.So, let’s start with the socks. They’re black now not white, and the foothole is much smaller and the stirrup much thicker- hallelujah! The sock now fits much better, doesn’t slip once I put my other socks on, and sits around the ankle nicely – meaning my ankle guards don’t come into contact with my skin like before. So far so good. Getting the sock to go over my derby calves was the biggest challenge I faced – I’m not a very big girl (5 ft 1ish, size 10) so would be concerned how larger people would manage with them. They’re not very stretchy, but are designed to be compression socks – and my previous ones became stretchier over time, so I’m guessing these too would give a little with regular use. That said, I think variable sizes with varying stretch would be good!
Once I’d finished wrestling with the socks (a mini workout in itself!), I attached the guards. I was so happy that my ankle guards fitted onto the sock securely and comfortably – no more rubbing onto my skin thanks to the improved sock. Unlike before, when I used to wear the guards over the top of full socks to minimise rub, I knew I’d be able to wear these as intended (attached to AF sock, with ‘normal’ long sock over the top).
The shin guard came with the option to trim the sides down if and where necessary. I decided not to, because I assumed having the guards go around the sides of my shins might offer some more protection. Also, the guards were very ‘flat’ – they would fit to the curve of my shin for only a few seconds before unhooking from the sock and slipping or falling off. I didn’t really have a problem with this; I figure with more use the guards will better ‘mould’ to my body, and as long as they didn’t slip under the top sock during play, I didn’t think it would be a big deal – and it wasn’t.
The ankle guard and shin guard fitted together perfectly, and I was able to move around just as easily as when not wearing them. They were comfortable, although a bit bulky – but that was more of a mental thing (think when you upgrade your knee pads after wearing thin/cheap ones!) – once I got going they were fine, and I genuinely forgot they were there. As a shorter skater, I noticed my knee pads (TSG Force III) didn’t quite fit above them perfectly, but again, once I got going they were fine.
I first wore the Armour Flex guards throughout a really challenging scrim – I was playing for Team Bifurious against my new league, Riot City Ravens. It was a very hot Friday night, and I do think that I sweated a bit/lot more due to the guards, however I was glad I was wearing them. I took a couple of wheels to the shin and fell quite a lot, but didn’t feel a thing on contact and they stayed put all night. I’ve worn them a few times since (repping my Team Metal Legs vest because appropriate! Thanks Morganator for taking a pic of me in my TML & AF gear), and again haven’t had any complaints.
As I said in my previous review, we should probably consider doing what we can to prevent injury to ourselves before we break, rather than after, and I think these guards are a great way of doing that! They are SO strong and flexible; you won’t know you’re wearing them after a while, and when you do take a hit to the shin or the ankle, you won’t end up doing this:
My only negative criticisms of these guards are around the tightness of the socks (I really think AF should develop a range of sizes and alternatives), and the fact you can’t buy the socks on their own. If you could, I’d wear these guards to every session and not just save them for scrims and games.
I’d thoroughly recommend these guards though; as well as doing exactly what they say they do, they have given me more confidence on my skates, especially during tough contact.
Armour Flex currently have a sale on, so there’s no better time to buy! https://armourflexsport.com/
If there’s anything you’d like to ask, please post in the comments and I’ll respond!