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Kit review: Titan Exchange HEMA mask - Updated #3

"The forces generated by larger swords and the contact nature of the sport demand more than a fencing mask with HEMA written on. The Titan mask uses stainless steel mesh that is 20% stronger than a traditional FIE mask, the bib is bigger and uses the contour plus strap to keep your mask locked onto your head."

Recently I upgraded my old style Leon Paul mask for the new "Titan Range HEMA X-change mask", which I'll assume will just be called the Leon Paul "HEMA Mask" from now on.

I've updated this review following having the mask for six months.

Ordering

I ordered this from the main Leon Paul site (rather than the Leon Paul Australia site, which doesn't seem to work for me). It was a breeze to order thanks to a well thought out online ordering system. Postage wasn't expensive and it arrived in New Zealand from the UK is less than a week. There were email updates as the order was processed and the courier tracking system worked nicely.

Pros


Many pros for this mask:
    Firstly it's significantly stronger than my old Leon Paul mask. If I take my old mask in my hands and press on the sides I can easily flex the mesh on the sides. If I take the new HEMA mask it's practically impossible. I think this speaks to a much stronger mesh. This is notable in free-play, often I find myself taking reasonable hits on the mask but not really feeling them and having to confirm with my opponent.

    It's notable after 6 months of having the mask and sparring in it reasonably often, sometimes against quite heavy weapons such as pole arms, that the mesh is still in near perfect condition. There is one slight depression to the front-right, but otherwise it's doing very well.

    The mesh extends much further around the sides and chin replacing the somewhat dubious protection of bib with that a solid mesh. This is definitely another plus in terms of head protection. 

    The bib is definitely more firm and substantial. Having taken a number of thrusts to the throat on it, it's definitely a huge improvement. I must admit that since I've used this mask I can't remember having an "uncomfortable" moment when on the receiving end of a thrust.

    Take out these inserts
    I ordered the extra high impact padding which is pretty smartly arranged and probably the biggest plus for me of the mask. It's definitely more substantial at all the normal points at the chin, forehead, side of the throat and across the top of the head. This all velcros in and can be quickly rearranged. Not only does it come with beefier padding it also comes with extra inserts that allow customise your padding arrangements. You can remove the extra padding to give you more ventilation and visibility when drilling in low impact situations but then add it back in when you are sparring for extra padding. The fact that it can be moved around also lets you arrange it to where you want, filling in gaps or double padding as required. If you're feeling squeezed in one arrangement, simply rearrange it to suit you. Pretty cool.

    Full padding
    Light padding











    Finally, it is something of a joy to be able to take everything out of this mask and run it through the washing machine. All the inserts and the bib come out and can be chucked in the wash.

    Cons

    So, there's a little cord that ties around your neck which has been touted as an extra to stop your mask being pulled off, perhaps in grappling situations. This is pretty unlikely as it has the Leon Paul velcro back of head system so there's no real danger of the mask coming off. What I discovered was that with the stiff bib and extra mesh, if you put the bib on over a padded jacket the general firmness of the bib now pushes the mask up off your face if you look up and down. You can mitigate this if have the cord on, holding it firmly to your neck or by putting the much smaller bib under your jacket. This does make it a bitch to pop your mask up and down and it's especially a pain if you're fully kitted up with your gloves on. However, you get used to it.

    This brings us to the cost, it's a very expensive mask. I could almost buy four cheap masks for this price. However, for the sake of something I'll use every single time I train I'm happy to pay extra for small but significant increases in quality and convenience. I've certainly bought cheap gear before and I'm glad that I'm moving beyond that. 

    Conclusion

    If you've got the money it's definitely worth it. Seems to offer an overall increase in terms protection without any significant negatives. I'm a fan.

    Comments

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