Historical arms and armor, as well as modern replicas and HEMA training gear (including new books and DVDS), are reviewed and discussed herein.
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I have been testing the Black Armoury HEMA jacket for a few weeks now, and I think it is an excellent jacket, worth recommending. It has been tested in friendly sparring, private tuition, and competitions, and I have been using it for both longsword and broadsword.
The most important element of the jacket is the collar. The jacket is designed so that the mask bib goes beneath the collar, which then folds up over the bib, and fastens in place to provide padding for the throat and to keep the bib in place without letting it ride up and expose the throat. There is plenty of space to wear a gorget underneath the collar, although the collar itself is well padded, and I feel quite happy wearing this jacket without a gorget for friendly sparring. During all my testing, my mask bib never rose up, and no openings were created; with other jackets I have worn, with the mask bib on top of the jacket, the situation of the bib lifting and exposing my throat was an unfortunately common occurrence. From the point of view of safety of the throat and neck, the Black Armoury jacket is the safest jacket I have found so far.
The next most important element of the jacket is the fit and cut, and the resulting mobility. It is quite possible to lift my arms above my head, into the overhead Vom Tag or the right Ochs position for longsword, or into an open ward or a hanging guard position for broadsword. In such motions, the jacket doesn't really lift, and remains well-fitted to the torso without exposing the abdomen. This level of mobility is achieved by using the tailoring design choices from the Charles de Blois gambeson, which lends the jacket a somewhat medieval aesthetic. While that's not my favourite look, the design does result in excellent mobility, so that's a trade-off that seems very reasonable.
The padding on the arms is excellent and is broadly comparable to the SPES Axel Pettersson jacket, and is thicker than the padded on the PBT HEMA jacket. However, the padding on the torso is somewhat thinner than on the SPES AP jacket. This makes it a lighter garment that does not retain heat as much (which I definitely appreciated while fencing in the heat of Australia!), but it also provides less protection for the body (which I definitely noticed when people landed hits on me in Australia). For this reason, I'm not sure I would want to use the jacket in a higher intensity situation where people would be inclined to land heavy hits on my ribs, at least not without wearing some additional protection for the torso. However, if it is viewed and treated as a lighter jacket, then the padding is quite reasonable, and of course it is always possible to add a plastic chest protector for additional protection.
In summary, I'm very happy with this jacket, and will continue to use it in my fencing. I suspect it will be a regular travelling companion when I go to warmer countries for events!
The most wonderful thing about this jacket is the collar area. This is fantastic and I cannot praise the design enough. If you value your throat, this jacket has a solution that you should consider very seriously.
If you are in the UK, and would like to buy one of these jackets, the Academy of Historical Arts is stocking them, and the jackets are available to purchase through the online shop: http://www.academyofhistoricalarts.co.uk/shop/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=35
Wih'glah wrote:I am probably going to buy one of these - but the sizing worries me.
What size are you and what size did you get?
I am wearing the size 0, which is roughly analogous to the small SPES jacket.