How's it going everyone, Julian Schuetze here on behalf of the Collective. Here today to go over Plasticsmith Armoury's Bazubands - arm protection that covers both your elbow and your forearm. I've been using these for almost a year now and so far I am beyond satisfied and highly recommend them.
You can check them out here:
(Keep in mind his prices are in Canadian, not USD)
TLDR: These are great and I adore them. They're super light, protective, not very bulky, and easy to take on/off and since they're custom sized, they'll fit you no matter your size. If you're looking for new armguards I would definitely recommend checking these out.
Trent is a Canadian maker and a 1-man operation. He is super responsive via emails, and was a pleasure to work with. He primarily caters his gear for SCA, so there's a couple things that I would recommend clarifying a few things with him about these if you want to use them for HEMA.
1) Make sure you specify that this is for HEMA and you intend to wear it over your jacket. Trent normally designs these for people who want to wear them underneath loose fitting gambesons, so it's good for him to know that this is not the case for you.
2) Specify where you'd like the secondary strap to go. He normally places it over the swell of the forearm, and I personally find this gives it a bit of a habit to slip if I'm not wearing gloves. You may want it to be a bit further back in the nook of the elbow to help lock it onto your arm a bit better.
Although I do experience this slipping issue with mine because of the current location of my strap, that's only if I don't wear gloves. If I wear gloves like my HF Armory Black Knights, then then cuff keeps them up where they should be. So it's not a problem during sparring. It would be nice for the strap to be a bit higher though so I just wouldn't have to think about it in the first place.
Trent reached out to me and said a viable solution to deal with this would be to attach the rerbrace portion to the jacket - either via velcro or another loop. This would stop it from slipping and would help keep it better secured to the jacket in the first place. He's going to look to add that as a built-in option later as well. This would very easily fix the problem and I'll be looking to do something like that myself.
3) When measuring the length, wear the gloves you intend to wear with these. If you make them too long and don't take your glove's cuffs into account, then there will be a compatibility issue. I made the mistake of measuring right to the end of my wrist with no gloves, and I had to cut off a pretty sizeable chunk for them to fit.
4) Do yourself a favour, and get the velcro strapping. It makes life so much easier. I've never had the velcro tear open or become undone during sparring, and it makes putting them on and off super easy.
Since (I'm assuming) you'd be ordering these under a HEMA context, I would shoot him an email first to let him know to make sure he knows ahead of time and you can work out details with him. I found Trent extremely easy to work with and was great to talk to.
Here was the original video I made for Instagram to showcase these (where I definitely lied about a video review coming soon 😅 I've been busy okay)
One of my favourite part about these is the rerbrace - the attachment near the back above the elbow. Because of the way it's designed, it does not impede mobility in the least, yet is still highly protective. It opens with the arm when you extend, and it closes when you bend the elbow. This ensures that your elbow is never exposed, and it doesn't feel like you're fighting the equipment (though I do keep the top Velcro piece very loose as to not bind on my biceps). You can see from the video above and below that I have full range of motion, and yet pretty much every part of the arm is covered.
Custom sizing is a very big deal for something like this. I have massive forearms and find that most other forearm protection is way too tight and constrictive (or doesn't fit at all). Having something that fit perfectly is worth the price tag alone, IMO. And if it doesn't fit perfectly, it's HDPE plastic so you can use a heat gun to help form it a bit better if something could be shaped to your arm a bit better.
I say they're not too bulky, because they're definitely much lower profile than something like the SPES Vectir. They're so much thinner that I find crossed arm positions are achievable, unlike those other thick monstrosities. They are thicker though than something like the forearm guards of Amber Damare (You can check those out here in case you haven't yet. I would highly recommend giving them a look). They definitely don't weigh much, and my arms don't fatigue nearly as much as when I used the Vectirs. (When I remember I'll go get the scale out and weigh them).
Their protection is very good. The HDPE is pretty shock absorbing, and I took some HARD shots and have been fine. The hardest shots I received (Which were very, very hard even by my standard to be honest) did still feel painful but I was uninjured. If you wear a light jacket, I might recommend fitting a bit of foam into the elbow cup portion just to add a bit of extra absorption to the impact before it reaches your arm. Most light fencing jackets don't really have padding to dampen impact so although the hard plastic spreads the force, it'll still go into your arm. A regular jacket will have some padding so it won't be as necessary, but for general comfort you may wish do so anyway (I haven't, however). They are able to take abuse well too and don't show too much wear. I've been using these very regularly since June of 2022 and am not concerned about their durability as of yet.
I'm not going to sugar coat it, these are expensive compared to other options out there. $150usd/$210cdn is not a small purchase. However I do find they're worth it. The custom sizing is a big deal, and I love the full range of motion in addition to how protective and non-bulky they are. It sorta feels like it's a case of being able to have my cake and eat it too. I also think with something like this it's important to remember that Trent is one guy, and each piece is made specifically for you: they're not massed produced. Other options out there I find are either too bulky, not as protective, or don't fit me right. So these are just right for me. When mine eventually break (as I expect all sports equipment to eventually fail) I would buy a second pair of these without hesitation.
Trent pointed out something I missed - if you're crafty and want to save some money, he sells a kit at a discounted rate - https://plasticsmitharmoury.com/products/bazuband-kit
This makes it significantly cheaper, so if you're looking to save a few bucks by assembling it yourself (though it looks like you'll need to grab the rivets yourself) then this is a great option.
I also have a pair of his leg guards, which I'm convinced is the best leg protection in all of HEMA (the version I got are different than what he has on his website). Keep an eye out for that when I get around to reviewing them.
Video TLDR Here - youtu.be/EY44Qz_1vVo
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