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Tips for Choosing the Right Fencing Bag

Tips for choosing the right fencing bag

What’s the thing that is always full, a bit mysterious and goes with a fencer everywhere? It’s the fencing bag! Choosing the right fencing bag can be a bit of a challenge, as there are tons of options out there – some of which you might be more familiar with than others. Fencers use their bags constastly, so getting the a bag that will work will make things a LOT easier.

You’ll be able to find the perfect bag for you with these quick and easy tips for choosing the right fencing bag, with pros and cons to help you sort through the options that are available.

1.   Hard-shell golf case

You might not have given much thought to using a golf case for a fencing bag, but this just might be the perfect option for you if you’re looking for the perfect case!

Pros :

Durable and sometimes inexpensive, these bags offer tons of room. The wheels are replaceable and it’s a great type of bag for traveling on airplanes. The weapons stay safe thanks to the hard shell, and padded foam is great for weapons without a PVC shell and for the mask. Rolling a bag like this during big competitions on the big venue is better than killing your shoulder!

Cons:

These bags are heavy!! I once tried to move one and my beautiful designer ring was bent! This kind of bag will also not fit into a regular car, and they can be hard to handle in the daily caring to and from the club – they take up a lot of space in the changing rooms or on the shelves. This kind of bag probably isn’t great for daily practice simply because it’s so heavy and the compartments are all together.

The bottom line:

The real deal on  this bag is that it’s cheap and good for traveling, even if it’s not perfect for daily practice. SKB makes really nice hard shell bags with strong handles.

2. Line bags

Another option is to purchase a line bag. These are more the standard in fencing, and there are a lots of options available to fit anyone’s budget and needs. Google “fencing bag” and you’ll find tons – but which one is best for you? Keep in mind that these come in small and medium sizes, which you’ll find under several names like “standard” and “advanced,” etc. depending on the brand. They have strap that allows you to carry them over your shoulder and can be shaped in a variety of ways.

Let’s break down line bags.

Pros:

Small line bags are quite often the perfect bags for beginner fencers. With one compartment, line bags are good enough to carry one or two weapons to practice.  In the early stages of training you don’t need a huge bag that will fit all three weapons doubled and a couple of masks to carry. It’s important to recognize that kids may change their mind and quit – and it’s less painful should they do so if it’s not the most expensive equipment.

Cons:

These bags are very basic. The one compartment is pretty limiting, and if your child has had this one for a while then it’s probably time to upgrade as they’re likely getting more and more equipment. They can also get heavy, especially for smaller kids, as they rely on pure muscle power to carry all of the equipment.

The bottom line:

For beginner fencers this is often the absolute perfect way to get in and get started.  Try the basic “Absolute Fencing Gear” bag, which will probably be good enough.  All you need to do is to choose your favorite color.

3. Rolling line bags (wheels)

Advanced fencers may well want to consider a rolling bag with wheels on the bottom.

Pros:

These bags are usually come with two compartments – good to separate things, organize blades and sweaty socks. There are often lots of pockets on these kinds of bags, so your child will be able to get a lot of stuff in there and organize it well. The wheels are of course great for carrying tons of heavy stuff around without killing the shoulder.  Compared to golf bags, things fit better in soft ones like these.

Cons:

More pockets are definitely better, but more pockets and compartments equal more money. However if fencing is what your child dream and live, that means you will travel more, and your life will be easier with better bag. Wheels help carry heavy stuff, but for small children they are difficult to handle and carry over steps in the club.

The bottom line:

Wheeled bags are definitely a great way to go for the serious fencer. They offer tons of versatility, ease of use and organization.

Important considerations for fencing bag

A fencing bag for local training, with wheels or without, that is of  a medium size with two compartments is good enough. However for airplanes you will want to consider a hard golf case so that there is no need for PVC cases in addition to the weight. It’s ok to have one bag for home and one for travel!

Shape

Fencing bags come in a wide variety of shapes. The pear-shaped (“Guitar shaped”) fencing bags  are something that we’ve been found to be good for beginners, but they cannot fit tons of  equipment. Sometimes the mask, chest protector and a couple of weapons will make it full and  less comfortable to carry.

The more straight, rectangular shape is more ergonomic for usage, especially for advanced / competitive fencers. It seems a bit counterintuitive because wouldn’t the curved shape be better? However we’ve just not found that to be the case in real life – the more square shape is actually much more comfortable!

Details

When choosing a bag, it’s important to consider the details like side pouches and end pockets – great for cords, mask cords, gloves and else  – snacks, staff, clean extra t-shirts. They add to the cost, but they also very much add to the comfort and can be well worth it. Look around for the bag that fits what you’re needing, because keep in mind that this bag will be used quite a lot!

Final thoughts and tips for families

For families with one fencer, big rolling bags such as Uhlmann or Leon Paul, would be a great choice. However, avoid rolling bags with wheels that stick out, because the wheels can be easily broken during transportation by airplane companies. Such bags are big enough and comfortable enough to carry as much gear as one fencer might need.

For families with 2 fencers or even more, I would recommend hard case big golf bag. That’s actually what we use! In such a bag I can put as many as 12 weapons and even two masks and there was still room for couple more. In addition to this bag I take with me the small foldable bag to carry the uniforms at the venue.

I found this solution working the best for my family – overall it reduces the number of bags needed specifically for fencing, which translates in less money to check in your baggage and overall better travel experience.

Be open and flexible when choosing a fencing bag! Look around and ask other families in your club about what works for them and where they got things etc. so that you can get what you really need and you’ll know where to find it in your area. You’ll also be able to see that bag in real life, and if you’re shopping for a new bag then you can really get a lot out of putting your hands on one in a shop or at a vendor rather than just looking at a picture online.

 

Photo: everychina.com

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    The Leon Paul Team Bag is also a good bag too.

  2. L Mao

    I want to warn people about the Leon Paul Team bag. We bought one for our son at the March 2016 NAC. It was not cheap (over $200). Several components on the bag started to fail in the months since, starting with the zippers that attach the strip bag to the main compartment. One side is slowly ripping off the bag. It is difficult to fix, short of taking the bag apart, because the fabric is ripping where it meets the seam. The stitches which hold the netting inside the compartments are also pretty much ripped through.

    By far the biggest failure is at the straps in the middle of the bag which you use to pick it up. I don’t know whether we got ones from a defective batch or something. But these straps are extremely weak and can be torn by hand. I am talking about the black woven straps you see on practically all soft luggage and backpacks. I can tear through it with my bare hands. This is clearly a failure of either engineering or fabrication.

    I regret buying this bag. It has not lasted as long as the basic Linea line bag we bought for our son when he first started fencing — that thing was good for 3 years. Even the basic AF bag we bought in a pinch after the Linea bag suffered a catastrophic failure at an away competition outlasted the LP bag — another 3 years. At a little over a year, the LP bag is done. I am borrowing a Linea bag for summer nationals because what good is a bag with no working straps?!

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