What kind of equipment should I buy?

    This FAQ does not endorse particular brands, but will point out some
    of the things to consider when purchasing equipment.

    CLOTHING: FIE 800N clothing is the most expensive available, and is
    required at the highest levels of competition.  It includes special
    fabrics (such as kevlar or ballistic nylon) around vital areas such
    as the chest, belly, and groin, and is highly resistant to punctures
    by broken blades.  Alternatively, you can purchase kevlar
    underclothes and wear regular cotton outerwear.  If not using 800N
    clothing, cotton or synthetic jackets should be utilised in
    conjunction with a plastron.  Most jackets are left- or
    right-handed.  Sabre fencers may wish to consider extra protective
    padding and elbow protectors.  Jock straps are helpful for men, and
    breast protectors are essential for women.  A glove for the fencing
    hand is essential; it should cover the sleeve cuff, and have an
    opening at the wrist for the body wire.  For the anal-retentive, FIE
    rules state that fencers must wear only white, and that skin must
    not show between the socks and pant legs.  For casual and beginner
    fencers, sweat pants or baseball knickers are reasonable
    alternatives to genuine fencing clothing.

    MASKS:  The best have FIE 800N bibs to protect the neck, but cost
    considerably more than the regular varieties.  For foil, masks should
    be well-insulated to prevent touches to the head from conducting to
    the lame' and registering as a touch.  Electric sabre masks must be
    conductive, on the other hand, to allow head touches.  Avoid old and
    rusty masks, and consider subjecting a used mask to a punch test
    before using/purchasing it.

    LAME'S:  Stainless steel is preferred, as they are much more corrosion
  resistant than older copper ones.  Your lame' should come to your hip
    bones, and be form-fitting but not tight.  Most lame's come in right
    and left-handed versions.  Regular rinsing or careful hand-washing of
    your lame' (especially immediately after a tournament or practice)
    improve its lifespan.  Avoid folding, crumpling, or abrading it.

    WEAPONS:  Maraging steel blades are now required at the highest levels
  of competition.  They are about twice the price of regular blades, but
    are supposed to be more durable, and break more cleanly.  There are a
    large number of variables to consider when shopping for blades,
    including stiffness, length, durability, flex point, weight, balance,
    and (of course) price.  Which qualities a fencer prefers is largely a
    matter of taste.  The length and thread of the tang may also be an
    issue.  A wide variety of grips are available to epee and foil
    but choice is also a matter of preference.  Guards come in various
    sizes and weights.  Some fencers will also have preferences between
    2-prong and bayonet body cords and connectors.

    SHOES:  Fencing shoes are ideal, but expensive.  Indoor court shoes,
    volleyball shoes, and even wrestling shoes are good alternatives.

Link to the next chapter: Where can I order or buy equipment??