Guide to Fencing Jackets

Fencing jackets are a key part of any fencer’s gear, and help give the fencer their iconic all-white look. Our guide below takes you through the basics of fencing jackets, the different types, and the different options available to you.

Fencing Jacket Overview

A fencing jacket is a protective piece of outer clothing worn by all fencers. It protects the upper body including the torso, arms and crotch area. Most modern fencing jackets are made of materials that are durable, stretch and allow the skin to breathe while fencing.

A fencing jacket is put on after socks, breeches, chest protector and plastrons, but before any lame you may need to wear. 

They normally have a loop to connect the crotch protecting part of the jacket to the back of the jacket. You step into this as you put the jacket on, before fastening the zip on your jacket.

If you are fencing electric (or wired), you will need to hold the body wire in your hand as you put on the jacket, ensuring that the part that connects to the sword comes out at the cuff of your sword arm sleeve.

Types of Fencing Jackets

There are many types of fencing jackets, with differences in fastening, durability, style and padding.

FIE Jackets (800N)

FIE jackets are those which meet the higher safety and testing standard approved by the FIE (Fédération Internationale d'Escrime), the governing body of fencing.

As they meet this higher standard, these jackets will usually be more expensive, be made of higher quality materials and last longer than other jackets. These jackets are a wise choice for the committed and competitive fencer. 

Many competitions, especially at elite level, will require fencers to use FIE clothing and equipment.

Non-FIE Jackets (350N)

Non-FIE jackets are those which meet a general safety requirement (holding a CEN mark or equivalent). These meet the requirements of being safe and suitable for fencing in, but they do not meet the higher standard set by the FIE. 

Non-FIE jackets are still perfectly suitable for many fencers, and are an excellent option for those starting out in the sport, or compete infrequently.

Different Jacket Sides

Fencing jackets can fasten on three sides: left, right or back. 

Left-sided fastening means the jacket is for right-handed fencers, and right-sided fastening is for left-handed fencers.

Back Zip vs Front Zip

Back-fastening jackets are usually club jackets and are a cheaper alternative for many clubs. The main disadvantage with a back-fastening jacket is that it is much harder to zip up yourself, especially with all of your other fencing gear on.

If you are buying your own jacket, we definitely recommend a front-zipped jacket due to how much easier it is to fasten.

Padded Coaching Jackets

Coaches and instructors can also buy their own kind of fencing jacket. These jackets are typically black to distinguish the coach from the other fencers in the room.

Additionally, these jackets offer additional padded protection. This helps coaches stay protected while receiving repeat hits in their frequent role as a target for their students.

Customisable Fencing Jackets

It is possible to customise a fencing jacket through the addition of patches. Some fencers like to add a patch of their club, country or of competitions they have won. 

In most cases it is fine to add a patch of whatever you choose. However, at World Cup level and above, your patches will need to adhere to FIE requirements. 

How Much Do Fencing Jackets Cost?

Fencing jackets can cost anywhere between £50 and £250. The cost factors include:

  • Child or adult jacket
  • FIE or non-FIE level
  • Materials used
  • Weight
  • Manufacturer

Choosing the Right Fencing Jacket

Whatever jacket you choose, it’s important to select one that is right for your budget and needs, while also being comfortable to fence in. There is no sense in buying a FIE-level jacket if you go to your club once a week, or have recently started in the sport. Conversely, it makes little sense to buy a 350N jacket if you are training and competing frequently. 

If you’re not sure how a jacket may fit you, it may be worth visiting a fencing shop in person, or trying on a club jacket of a particular size to get a feel for how a jacket may fit. 

If you're looking for more fencing advice, take a look at our top tips for new fencers.

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