Muay Thai – Top Shin Guards

The art of 8 limbs is definitely a rough undertaking. While primarily built around kicks, this weapon can do some serious damage if it lands. Imagine being struck by a baseball bat repeatedly to the arms, body, legs and potentially your head. Not exactly a good time. However, what is actually worse is how you defend against that kick. Checking. The fine art of blocking an opponents shin with…well…your shin. Initially this will be excruciating. Not only for you but more so your opponent. As painful as this can be it is the most effective way to stop a kick from striking vital points on your body like the ribs, liver or head. With that being said, it takes a great deal of reflexes to consistently check kicks. Some Nak Muay are incredibly fast at throwing their legs and build their game plans around simply kicking their opponents into submission. The only way to build those reflexes are to drill, drill and drill some more. Drilling checks, bare shin however will last about 10 seconds before your shins will be in agony and training will cease until they heal.  So in order to rep this essential skill you will need a good pair of shin guards. Before we get into our top picks, here are a few things you should take into account first. Shin gaurds are essential for any Nak Muay. If you haven’t already, have a look at our previous blog: “Taking up Muay Thai? Here’s what you’ll need.”


The first thing you will need to know is how to size your shin guards. Typically they are measured around the thickets part of your calf or by your weight class. However you will have to look at the individual companies sizing chart to determine what measurement equals what size.

Second, ensure they have an instep protector.  An instep protector is the portion of the guard that covers the top of your foot. The reason I recommend this is that as a new Nak Muay your accuracy/control will not be developed yet and kicking someone’s elbow accidentally, can cause injury, bruising and ultimately a cease to training. It will happen eventually, so you might as well be protected.

Finally, buy a pair with thicker padding. Do not buy competition style cloth shin guards. They do very little in the terms of protection, and are used in Amateur competitions because they are closest thing to not wearing shin guards at all. These will not be effective for training purposes or a high level of repetition.

Shin protection is key to being able to effectively train Muay Thai consistently. Kicks are always being thrown whether to the legs, body or head and you want to keep yourself and your training partner in good health in order to develop these essential skills.

Top Picks

Fairtex SP5 Competition Shin Gaurds


After what we just said, do not take the word “competition” to heart. These are not actual competition style shin guards as far as I have seen. Either way I have never had any issues wearing these in training and checking hard kicks. They are made of Syntek leather and have a double layered foam core for superior protection. With a sleek design these shin guards feature an “open” system which means no stitching between the shin and the instep to avoid discomfort. They are a snug fit and have extended sides for extra calf protection. Fairtex has been in the Muay Thai game for years, so it is expected that they would provide the highest level of protective equipment for Nak Muay. Either way these shin guards are perfect for training and should be considered as a contender when making your purchase.

Twins Special Leather Muay Thai Shin Guards


Twins is another reputable company for supplying Muay Thai gear. They have been around for decades and were providing Nak Muay with equipment within Thailand long before the company was actually named “Twins”. These Shin guards are made of genuine leather and are extremely tough. They provide probably the highest level of protection in a shin guard I have seen to date, However you will notice, they are somewhat bulky so please ensure that you select the right size if you decide to purchase these. All in all an excellent and extremely popular shin guard for new and seasoned Nak Muay, which are built to last.

Top King Muay Thai Shin Guards


Another top provider of Muay Thai equipment, Top King gear is not only tough and durable but stands apart in looks as well. The shin guards can probably be seen in almost any gym you visit being worn my someone. They have a very dense foam core providing ample protection as well as having excellent leg coverage.  Not only that, they are a very sleek fit and do not feel bulky whatsoever. As an added bonus Top King’s product line looks fantastic and have a flashier look to them for those that want to stand out a bit more in the gym. All in all if you have any doubts about shin guards, these will not disappoint you in any shape of form and are highly recommended.

In Closing

All of the above Shin guards of the highest quality and well known within the Muay Thai world. Whether training in your native country or in Thailand; the birth place of Muay Thai, you will witness either trainers or practitioners using these brands of shin guards. I must stress the importance of purchasing a good pair from a reputable company and protecting your shins. If you have questions about what to buy, price range etc. email us, or better yet ask some experienced Nak Muay at your gym what they’ve used or currently use. Ask for advice if you are unsure. There are loads of great products out there, however it is up to you as to what you decided to wear. Either way, make sure you check those kicks and kick back hard.

Scotty Mac

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Freedom Road Product Reviews is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


All reviews on this website are only opinions of and it’s owners. We have no direct association with any companies or products that are reviewed on this site. Any logos, brands or products are the sole property of their respective owners and any use or reference of said items on this site are for information purposes only.

Taking up Muay Thai? Here’s what you’ll need.

Starting anything new can always be nerve wracking. Doesn’t matter what it is. The feeling of stepping out of our bubble is uncomfortable to say the least, and everyone needs change in their lives. Change is a positive ideal that influences us to discover new interests, hobbies or in some cases careers and dreams. Muay Thai or any martial art for that matter is no different. For most, you will really have to dig deep towards taking that first step into the world of the art of 8 limbs. However, once you do take the plunge, I can guarantee you will be hooked, as it is unlike anything else. Never once since I started training 5 years ago have I had anyone tell me they regretted starting Muay Thai. If that trend continues, you wont either. Before getting into what you’ll need to get started, here are a few considerations to think about before making any purchases.


So you’ve decided to give Muay Thai a whirl. Good for you; really. You’ve entered into a beautifully violent world, steeped in centuries of tradition and culture. Now before really diving in head first, you have a few things to discuss with yourself.

First; What do you want out of it? Are you doing it for fitness? Do you want to really learn it? Are you just going to train recreationally? Do you want fight competitively? It is always good to set a goal for yourself at the start, and whatever your reasoning, know that people all over the world have the same reasoning as you. Muay Thai over the past years has gained a lot of popularity and whatever you’re justification is, you will love the sport none the less. Who knows, maybe you start recreationally then later want to start fighting. Some people say “no, never”. You would be surprised how many people shift their focus.

Secondly; Know your limitations. Do you have pre existing injuries or health issues? As great a workout as Muay Thai is, no one will ever tell you that it is easy on your body. If they do, they’re just training their mouth, not their body. Any serious Nak Muay (Muay Thai Practitioner) will tell you that your body is always in a fantastic state of pain. It’s always something; your foot, your hip, your back, your wrists; something is always sore. I’m not saying to not train if you have prior injuries. Not by any means. Just make sure you identify those injuries and work around them as best you can in order to maximize your training time and potential. Once the Muay Thai addiction kicks in, you will be sore, so no need to aggravate injuries when it can be avoided.

Third; don’t get discouraged. Once you start training, you will realize that everyone appears to be better then you. They are in better shape, have more experience, hit harder, move faster, have better technique and some are competitive fighters. That’s ok, its normal when starting anything new. Just remember “everyone starts somewhere”, just like you. At one point, they had to take those first steps into the gym as well. The key is that they stuck with it; just like you will. With perseverance you will get there.

Lastly; this mostly pertains to those that want to spar and potentially compete. Check your ego at the door! There is a difference between giving it your all in training and throwing 100% all the time or trying to “beat people up”. There are a few things that will happen if you decide to be “that guy”. First, you can hurt your training partner and then guess what? People won’t want to train with you which in turn will stop you from improving. You are on the same team, treat each other well. Second, you can hurt yourself. Don’t try to show off by throwing like a crazed lunatic. Chances are your technique is not great to start and you will just end up look like an idiot. Because your technique is not developed yet, you will end up kicking someone’s’ elbow or something equally as painful and then be out of training until the injury heals. Third; someone will smash your face. I’ve seen so many people go into sparring thinking they are going to intimidate people or bully them around. Wrong place for that. As tough as you think you are, there is always someone tougher. Beat up on someone who is not on your level or try to take out a person who has been around for a while and you will get lit up. I have seen tons of people never train again after getting smashed in sparring because they decided to be “that guy”. Remember, it’s not a fight, its training.

Let those points soak in, give them some thought and lets move on to what your going to need from basic to advanced. There will be more reviews coming in the future going into more detail on each of these categories, however for now this should serve as a quick and dirty reference guide to what you’ll require and our top picks.

Hand Wraps

So the first thing you will want to do is protect your hands. Wraps will compress the muscles and bones in your hands which help prevent wrist and knuckle injuries and allow you to hit with greater force for more repetitions. These are essential. You’re going be throwing a lot of punches so keep your hands in good shape. Learn how to wrap your hands correctly first as well. The quality won’t matter if this is not done correctly. There are many styles of wrapping hands so don’t be thrown off when everyone tells you “the best way” to do it.  There are tons of hand wraps out there however I would ensure you go with a quality pair from a trusted brand. I would also recommend that you purchase Mexican style hand wraps that are 180 inches and offer a higher degree of protection.

Fairtex Elastic Cotton Hand Wraps 


Just about anything you purchase from Fairtex will be top quality, and their wraps are no exception. I find these wraps to have the perfect balance of rigidity and flexibility. They have a good amount of stretch but will still conform to your hand and keep it a solid fist. I own at least 5 or 6 pairs of these wraps alone as they are my go to for hand wraps. One thing to note; if you decided to purchase the Thai flag patterned wraps, they are much more rigid then the standard solid coloured pairs. I personally prefer the flag style wraps because of this however opinions differ from person to person.


Every Nak Muay will need a quality pair of gloves. Again, I can’t stress enough the importance of protecting your hands. These are going to get beat up, they will need to be tough and durable.  Hard or fast punches, you will always be throwing your hands at some point in the session. Click here if you haven’t checked out our previous blog review on “What are the best gloves for Muay Thai” for a more detailed look at the top gloves on the market today. This is an important decision, as you will want these gloves to last you for a while and be able to take whatever punishment you dish out. Keep in mind that you will need different sizes for different drills. Most people start out with 16oz gloves, however in my opinion these are just too big for hitting pads or doing bag work. Get 16’s for sparring and 10oz gloves for pad work.

Fairtex BGV1 Universal Gloves


Fairtex again? Starting to see a pattern? Again this company shows its worth with the BGV1 Universal glove. I talked in detail in my previous blog however I must say that I have never had a complaint with these gloves. So far my pair has lasted just over 4 years of training 4-6 times a week, 2 trips to Thailand and are still going strong; just now starting to show some wear ( which I think adds character). An excellent glove that comes outfitted with the Fairtex patented 3 Layered Foam system, they offer excellent hand and knuckle protection and are a comfortable snug fit. Definitely worth having a look.

Shin Guards

Shin guards are the last basic piece of gear you will need to start training Muay Thai. Even if you are not ready to spar, you will still need these for drilling and techniques sessions.  Doing slow drills with bare shins will end up being painful and in my opinion does not allow for a lot of improvement in your reaction time because you will be more focused on not hurting yourself. Your shins will toughen over time, however no need to expose them to unnecessary punishment if you are just learning. Practice the techniques under a controlled environment until they are perfected. This is key to your development. You will need to know your size, which is determined by measuring around the widest part of your calf. All companies vary in their sizing charts so be sure to check that before purchasing.

Top King Pro Shin Guards


Top King shin guards are one of the more popular pairs out there today. On par with other highly regarded companies such as Fairtex and Twins. Made of premium leather not only are these shin guards tough, they look great. They come in a variety of patterns and colours for those who want to stand out a bit more or have a flashier style (the black and gold snakeskin are my favorite from their line). While comfortable, they offer a great deal of protection without being bulky and are perfect for checking kicks during drilling. A great choice for those new to Muay Thai.

Thai Pads

While not necessarily something you need to start with, if you feel you are going to take Muay Thai very seriously, I would recommend investing in a pair of Thai Pads. Most gyms’ curriculums will more then likely require you to hold pads for a team mate at one point or another. While pad holding is an important part of Muay Thai, many gyms do not clean their pads as often as you would think. As you can imagine this can lead to health issues. I personally have contracted STAF infections when I first started training as well as other skin rashes from a gyms dirty Thai Pads. This is the primary reason I invested in my own pads. On a more positive note, if you have your own pair and someone to train with, you can practice whenever you want.

Twins Special Muay Thai Pads 


I don’t think I have ever been in a Muay Thai gym whether in Canada or Thailand that did not have Twins thai pads being used by trainers or students. Twins has been around for a very long time producing top quality muay thai gear before the brand was even called Twins. Like a few other brands, they have lived on through the Golden Era of Muay Thai and are still supplying Nak Muay all over the world to this day. With comfortable velcro straps, and a tough leather shell, these pads will take all the damage you and your partner can dish out. They come in a large size as well for those who have a larger frame or heavier kicks which will make it easier on your forearms when the heat starts flying. Believe me it will. All in all, very good pads for those just starting out, not only are they tough but they are durable and will last you for years.


Now we are getting into the realm of sparring. Aimed at more advanced students or those that are wanting to compete, sparring is an essential tool that you will need to regularly conduct. Now while a lot of gyms and Nak Muay  spar without headgear (myself included) this comes with time. Typically you will start wearing this kind of protection to help prevent concussions and in a nutshell, get you comfortable with being punched in the head. The downside to headgear is that it is hot and I find it cuts off your peripheral vision. Either way it is recommended that when starting out, you wear the gear until you gain a little more experience. There are 3 styles; full face, cheek protection and open face. Fairtex, Twins, Venum, Hayabusa and others all make quality headgear in the various forms. It is totally up to you what style you pick however you will have to weigh your options. Protection or weight? The more padding it has, the more it will weigh. Do you want to take a higher volume of shots? Or would you rather be able to evade shots? Remember it’s always better to not get hit. Personally, if I had to choose it would be open face or cheek protection without a question. However, if you decide to go another route, ensure it has a vented or open top which allows for heat to escape at the very least.

Fairtex Competition Headgear


Besides Fairtex’s well known quality, this headgear is somewhat of a hybrid between open faced and having cheek protection, making it a very good choice. The cheek padding is very subtle so it will protect your cheek bones while not creeping further on to your face and obscuring your vision. It has a padded chin strap which while not fully attached like many check protected headgear it will provide some protection to your chin while being adjustable. Like the majority of Fairtex’s gear, it is made with their triple foam layered padding system to ensure a high level of shock protection. As per above, both the ears and head are ventilated. In the long run a very good choice for headgear for those just starting off in sparring and possible competition.

Mouth Guard

This one is pretty straightforward and is one of the most important. Get a good mouth guard. Whether you go with a boil and bite or a custom mouth guard, do not just buy some cheap 3 dollar piece of shit. Either style are fine. Custom mouth guards may cost a little more then the ladder and require an extra trip to a specialist to have them fitted. I have gone both routes and in my opinion I have had better success with boil and bite. That could be for numerous reasons however after trying a custom mouth guard I found that it was too large and hurt my gums. Even after several trips to have it shaved down in size I eventually returned to the boil and bite. That being said custom mouth guards are a tighter fit  and will offer a greater deal of protection. Shockdoctor or Venum or the top choices for mouth guards without going the custom route.

Venum Predator Mouth Guard


As mentioned above Venum produces great mouth guards and the Predator is probably their most popular. It is very comfortable with a “Next Fit” gel frame as well as a sleek shape and size. It has excellent shock protection and does not obstruct your breathing during training. Available in a variety of colours, this mouth guard is highly regarded, comes complete with a carrier and should absolutely be considered when shopping around. Remember, a mouth guard is an important purchase so do your research first.



I’ll keep this one short as it is quite straight forward. Get a good cup/groin protector. Do I really need to go into detail as to why this one is important? Just in case you have never been hit in the ol family jewels before, let me tell you, it is absolutely horrible. Now imagine the person kicking you is a trained fighter that can kick through baseball bats… Get the point? Don’t be dumb, get a cup or you will regret it. Don’t cheap out either! Now I can’t speak about female groin protectors because I know noting about them other then; do your research and purchase from a reputable company. For the lads, your best bet is a steel cup. There are good companies such as Shockdoctor that do make high quality bio flex cups, however I literally have seen these crack from the impact of a heavy knee or kick. Fairtex steel cups are where it’s at. Get one. End of story.

Other odds an ends

The above pretty much covers the essentials you will need to start off, from doing basic pad and bag work, to drilling and finally sparring. However there are other pieces of equipment that you may want to consider picking up that will aid you in your Muay Thai journey.

Ankle Guards


Ankle guards are a good investment as you will be moving around on your feet a lot, which will be taking a great deal of impact and punishment. Not only will they provide some extra support while bouncing around, I find they provide a little extra traction on the mats as well, to help prevent slipping. Now do not be confused. These are not a replacement for medical ankle supports and will not fix an ankle or foot injury. Personally I find Top King makes the best ankle guards. While having worn a few different brands, theirs seem to be the most supportive and keep their rigidity longer then the others.

Skipping Rope


Skipping ropes are part of training for essentially every combat sport today. This exercise has a wide range of benefits including increasing muscle tone, cardio, balance, coordination, improves heart rate and promotes weight loss. There are numerous styles you can look at as well. Some are heavier for greater muscles tone, standard ropes and others are thin or wire ropes for greater speed. Whether you hate skipping rope or not, no one can deny the health benefits of this activity, so keep that in mind when you are debating on buying.

Time To Start Training

The more you train the more different styles of pads, gloves and gear you will discover, as there are a ton of tools at your disposal out there. Again, starting Muay Thai can be a fairly intimidating thing for a lot of people. Being nervous is ok, but be confident in yourself and go in and have fun. Enjoy yourself. That’s what it’s all about. It will be challenging, it will be frustrating, there will good days and bad days, shitty sessions and great sessions. Either way I guarantee you will love Muay Thai as it really is a life changing endeavor.

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Freedom Road Product Reviews is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


All reviews on this website are only opinions of and it’s owners. We have no direct association with any companies or products that are reviewed on this site. Any logos, brands or products are the sole property of their respective owners and any use or reference of said items on this site are for information purposes only.

Build your bug out bag – Rural escape – Part 2 – The Main Compartment

I’m assuming by this point you have taken the time to research and decide on which pack suits you for a 72 hour BOB ( bug out bag ). If you have not, check out Part 1 of this blog: Build your bug out bag – Rural Escape – Part 1 – The bag.  Now that you physically have a pack that you like, the real difficulty will come with deciding what items and tools actually go into it. Now before you decide to try and jam your whole apartment into this bag, stop and think about what you’re doing. Remember, this bag is for you to live out of for 72 hours in case of a catastrophic event…meaning your wine and slippers DO NOT go with you. To pack in an efficient manner, it is best to designate each compartment of the bag for a specific task, rather then having your equipment all mixed together. For today we will focus on the main compartment and how to pack it. Being the largest portion of the bag, I would call this “Priority Packing“. Your sleeping gear, shelter, extra apparel, fire kit and rations go in here. Now you can pack your BOB however you see fit but there are some considerations you will have to take into account before we get into actual products.


First; when “Priority Packing” think about what you will need initially and what could stay in the pack if you had to stop and set up quickly. Think about packing from the bottom up, with what you will need immediately on top and readily accessible. Because of this, your sleeping gear will be on the bottom. You won’t be going to bed before either a fire or a shelter is built. On top of your sleeping bag will be your extra apparel. Now when I say this, I don’t mean your robe or favorite Armani shirt. Socks, underwear, thermal wear and at the very most, an extra pair of pants and a shirt. Next would be your food, consisting of Ready to Eat meals , protein bars etc. Now the last is an ongoing debate and could go either way. Fire before shelter? This will depend on your situation but in my opinion fire mostly comes first. The ability to cook food and keep warm is more important to me then comfort and getting out of the elements. The only time I could see this being reversed is in the case of heavy rain. In that situation I may opt to set up my shelter first, simply to keep the rest of my kit dry but also any semi dry wood in the area I can find until starting a fire is feasible. The fire kit will be covered in another part of this blog, but should be considered for the main compartment. However there are other spots on your pack to store the fire kit where it is readily accessible. That is up to you.

Second; everything weighs something. Don’t think that adding a whole bunch of little things to your pack won’t effect the overall weight in the long run.  I know it sounds silly but I’ve seen it time and time again. People load their bags up with very light weight items they don’t really need, thinking that because their mass is so little that it is insignificant. Wrong. Try again. Everything is significant. So really think about what you’re packing and ask yourself “Can I go without this?”.  You are taking ONLY what you need for 72 hours. Luxuries will only hinder you at this situation.

Third, everything takes up space. This ties into the second point in some ways. Always remember that compact is better. Not because it gives you the opportunity to pack more but it gives you the freedom to have your gear more accessible. This poses a lot of questions when packing, such as; Tarp or tent? How tight do they fold up? How much space do the tent pegs take up? Bungees for the tarp? Neither options are wrong, however this is something you will have to play around with on your own. There are other options as well to save on space, such as packing the majority of your extra clothes inside your sleeping bag. In saying that, it would be beneficial to store an emergency pair of underwear and socks that are accessible outside of the sleeping bag as well. Once compressed, these tips will save you space.

Fourth is water. Now this was mentioned previously in Part 1 of this blog but I decided to add it in again. If you read Part 1 you’ll know we discussed hydration bladders. If you bought a good pack it will have a dedicated compartment for this. You can consider this as a portion of the main bag, as water is 100% a priority and needs to be accessible all the time. This area is usually located in close proximity if not attached to the main compartment.

Lastly; keep everything dry! My suggestion would be to line the main part of your bag with a heavy duty garbage bag, and then dry bag everything. I know it may sound extreme, but everything in your BOB should be dry bagged and labeled. If you doubt me then ask yourself: “What good will getting water on my kit serve?”. Exactly, nothing. Water will only damage your gear. End of story.

Consider the above for a moment and we will go over what we think are the top items and essentials you need for the main compartment of your bug out bag.

Sleeping bags

One of the most important pieces of equipment you can have is a good sleeping bag. It will keep you warm when needed and allow you to have  comfortable rest while sleeping outdoors. If you are constantly moving and exerting yourself, proper rest is extremely important. You will want your sleeping bag to be compact but also have a decent range of temperature capabilities. Typically the colder you get, the larger the bag will be, which can pose a problem when selecting a sleeper as you may not be escaping to extreme cold or hot. I will usually air on the side of a little colder and then layer as needed. Fleece liners can also be added for extra warmth if need be. However, do not think a fleece liner is the be all end all. It will add a few degrees onto your temperature capability but does not replace a cold weather bag. An MSS (military sleep system) is not practical for a bug out bag. It’s simply too big and bulky. If you are one of those people that can pull off using a ruck sack as a BOB then you can probably handle an MSS. For those of you of an average fitness level, go for a smaller compact sleeping bag.

Snugpak Softie 3 Merlin


Snugpak makes a variety of good bags all with various temperature capabilities. The Softie 3 Merlin is a good quality bag that has a temperature rating of 5°C(41°F) to 0°C(32°F) making it effective in fair weather and for when it starts to get cold. As discussed, combined with a fleece liner for added warmth you can push it further. It comes with a compression sack and does shrink down to a size small enough to fit inside your BOB, rather then attaching it to the outside or bottom. All in all a very good bag from a reputable company.

Snugpak Basecamp OPS Sleeping bag


I would call this one step up from the Softie 3 Merlin. It has a temperature capability of -2°C(28°F) to -7°C(19°F), so it is a little warmer and if layered properly can be pushed to lower temperatures. Now even though the temperature difference is quite subtle the bag is significantly bigger then the Merlin. The compression sack can bring the size down quite a bit however you may want to think about attaching this to the outside of your pack in a dry  bag. Depending on your configuration, the size of your bag is and how well you’ve packed you can fit this inside your BOB. A great sleeping bag that will keep you warm in colder weather.

Woobies and Liners

As mentioned, you should have a woobie or liner to accompany your sleeping kit for extra warmth when it’s just a little colder then you anticipated. For those of you who don’t know what a woobie is, it is a blanket poncho liner that can form a waterproof sleeping bag. However, many outdoor enthusiasts use woobies as sleeping bag liners as well. The choice is yours’, there are a ton of quality liners and woobie’s out there, so have a look around and see what works for you.

Snugpak Fleece Sleeping bag liner


Since we covered two sleeping bags from Snugpak already, it is worth noting that the company does make a fleece liner for their sleeping bags. There are tons of liners out there but for ease of purchasing, if you go with Snugpak you can simply order their liner with the bag in one order, considering you should have one in your sleeping kit. It is made from polyester fleece and is a side zip opening liner. With this liner you will be able to extend your temperature range by a few degrees no problem. Now with any piece of equipment, please test the capabilities before actually having to use it in an emergency. There is no 100% right answer to how many degrees you can push with a liner.

Rothco G.I Style Poncho Liner


Rothco is another good company that has been around since 1953 and produces a wide range of quality tactical and survival equipment. They’re G.I Style Poncho liner is made of 100% Rip Stop Polyester it is a durable woobie that can supplement your sleeping kit nicely. It’s dimensions are 62″ x 82″, when stored in a compression sac this is easily packable in the main compartment of your BOB along with your other essentials. Rothco’s products are widely used by police and military personnel all over North America and definitely worth taking a look at.

Air mattress or sleeping pad

Which ever you decide to purchase, an air mattress or sleeping pad is essential. It will provide a little extra layer of insulation and keep you off the ground. Plus, if you have set up an improvised sleeping platform, your level of insulation will be even greater when applying the sleeping pad. For those of you wondering why, the answer is simple. The ground sucks in heat. Therefore if you lay on it, regardless of how many layers you have between you, to some degree it will still be stealing your precious warmth. So if you have the means and the time, construct a sleeping platform and keep yourself as far from the ground as possible.

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Mattress Regular


This sleeping pad is highly recommended and is used by military personnel all over the world.  It is an accordion style sleeping pad that can be folded up into a compact rectangle for easy transport. Another bonus to this style is that in a emergency it can be refolded and packed away extremely quickly as it involves no deflating or rolling. Depending on your BOB it may fit inside but will more then likely have to be attached to the outside. Having carted this around in the field, we can attest to the fact that while being as durable as they come, it weighs virtually nothing, so you only need to focus on the space it will take up. It is designed with Therm-a-Rest’s own “ThermaCapture” system which essentially reflects radiant heat back into your body. This sleeping pad in our opinion is the top choice on the market today.

ALPS Mountaineering Comfort Series Air Pad


The ALPS Mountaineering Comfort Series Air Pad is another excellent choice for a sleeping pad. It is a roll up style and is self inflating. Open it up, flatten it out, open the air valve, and wait for it to inflate. With a brushed suede top this pad is definitely comfortable. When rolled it is not overly large, however like many sleeping pads, it may need to be attached to the outside of your pack. My only complaint is that with self inflating systems is that they take more time to pack up as they must be deflated, rolled and placed in a carrier. That aside, there is nothing wrong with this style of pad, it just depends on your preference. ALPS Mountaineering is a trusted brand and produces all sorts of quality outdoor products.

Tarps and Tents

When bugging out, regardless of sleeping bags and liners you still need something to sleep in that will protect you from the elements. So you’ll need to decide between a tarp style shelter or a tent and there are many pro’s and cons to both. Personally, I prefer the tarp style shelters. It doesn’t have the comfort level of the tent and it may take a little longer to set up, but its versatile and can be set up in many different types of terrain and situations. Not only that, you can set up a fire right next to them to ensure you’re warm throughout the night. They are typically lightweight and can be set up with only bungee cords if need be. With compression sacks they can also be shrunk down to a very compact size for transport. My only real complaint is that unless you want to be sleeping on the ground, you should build a sleeping platform, which requires some practice and time. However that’s all part of the journey and experimenting with different set ups. Tents on the other hand are great as well. You are completely enclosed protecting you from the elements and providing you a higher level of comfort. They can be put up quickly without too much planning. They do have a “floor” to them which does help with insulation as well. The cons being that they can be bulky and require you to carry poles with you to set up, which have weight and take up space. As well you will have to decide on a level of protection from the elements, as not all tents are good in the winter etc. So choose wisely and keep in that mind our recommendations below.

Snugpak Pro Force


The Snugpak Pro Force all weather shelter is a great choice for those that choose the tarp route. It is a versatile shape that can be set up in a variety of ways and can be transported easily as it is light weight. A huge factor to this tarp is that it is 100% waterproof and can snap together to make a bivvi in tight situations. When unpacked it is 10 feet by 10 feet and can be compressed down to under 10 inches; possibly more. Again, Snugpak maintains its high level of quality with this versatile tarp.

Stansport #T-810 Reinforced Multi-Purpose Tarp


Hell, sometimes your basic generic tarp does the trick just fine. It’s a square, reinforced, waterproof, tough tarp. Need I say more? While you can’t be as creative with it as other higher end or tactical style tarps, they are cheap to purchase, tough and are used for a multitude of jobs. If you want to buy more then one, go for it. One for the floor, attach the other 2 together for more versatility, it’s up to you. Just remember that you will not have the same versatility, so you may be limited in the set up of your sleeping area.

ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent


For those of you that have decided to go with a tent for your shelter, this is one of the best on the market today. Again ALPS Mountaineering is a high quality producer of outdoor equipment and this tent does not disappoint. Due to the fact that it is a solo tent it will compress down to a very small size and is totally packable in your BOB. The poles and stakes used in its set up are made of aluminum, making them very light. It is well ventilated and can be outfitted with a rain protection cover, which is essential and is set up in a way that it covers you when you exit the tent. A great solo tent that will fit easily in your BOB.

Snugpak Stratosphere 1 Person Tent


If you are looking for a tent that is lower profile, the Snugpak Stratosphere 1 Person Tent may be what you’re looking for. Again, Snugpak is one of the leading brands in outdoor survival equipment and has a great product line to choose from as they are very tried and tested. A 2 pole style bivvi tent, both the poles and pegs are made of very light weight aluminum making them easy for transport and packing. This tent is 100% waterproof including the groundsheet and has an attached inner mosquito netting which is a huge selling point. Again it is low profile, so entering and exiting will be different then your standard style tent. Check the list of features on this shelter, however all in all, an excellent 1 person tent for someone that may not want to be seen by others.

The Remainder

Once you’ve selected your sleeping and shelter systems, the remaining items you select are pretty up in the air. You’ll need rations, spare clothes and a hydration pack. Some would argue a fire kit would go in the main compartment, however I recommend your fire kit have its own dedicated pouch for quick access. Now I won’t tell you what clothes to pack or what food to eat etc. but here are a few ideas on what else needs to go in your BOB.

Camblebak hydration bladder


While there are a ton of hydration bladders out there of high quality, Cambelbak has become somewhat of the gold standard and is widely used by military, law enforcement and outdoor enthusiasts. It was the original brand to produce a new hands free hydration system back in the 1980’s. They have a great and fairly extensive product line that includes gear other then bladders as well. The company has been making hydration equipment for a long time now and still maintains it’s high standard of quality. If you are in the market for a bladder I would highly recommend Camelbak. At least give them a browse before making your decision.

Rocky Gore-Tex Waterproof Socks


Get a pair of Gore-Tex socks! Everyone should carry a pair of these in their BOB. If you are out in a wet or damp environment these will keep your feet dry, which is extremely important. Now before thinking that you are just going to put these on and walk for kilometres through water, think again. These are to be worn in or around your camp if it is wet or at the most somewhere close by where you will be easily able to dry your feet. These are not for trekking a long distance. If you decide to walk far with bags on your feet, what will happen? Sure, they will stop water from getting in, but they will stop all moisture from getting out as well. Walking in these will 100% make your feet sweat, and when it can’t escape, the moisture will essentially rot your feet. This is called Trench foot and trust me, you don’t want it. So please keep that in mind when using Gore-Tex socks. Other then that for keeping your feet dry in camp, these are an absolute must have as they weigh essentially nothing and call be rolled up to a compact size.



MRE’s (Meals ready to eat) are your best bet for food while bugging out. They are lightweight and typically contain around 3600 calories per day. There are tons of brands and flavours out there so this is totally up to you and your preference. However I would recommend buying them in bulk as you will save money in the long run. You can just pack the amount you think you’ll require for 72 hours and use the rest when you go camping. A few companies I would recommend are Mountain House and Happy Yak. Another option is MRE Bars. They are more compact and calorically dense but they are not a meal you can heat up. However, they work great to supplement the meals you have already.

Final Words

There are a ton of configurations for the main compartment depending on the pack you have, and yes there is a lot of information here to take in. However, getting this right could potentially save your life in a crisis. Again, please play around with this stuff; test your configuration and kit and find out if it works for you. Nothing says having a bad day like having an emergency and realizing you overlooked some important aspects. These are just our take on the essentials for your main compartment so hopefully they can assist you in making your decision. If you find something that works better for you, please use it and feel free to let us know the results.

Until next time,

Scotty Mac,

Coming Soon: Build your bug out bag – Rural escape – Part 3 – The Secondary Compartment

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Home gym for the combat athlete. What do you need?

Nothing will ever replace physically going to the gym and training with your teammates, having your instructor push you, and supporting your team…and getting beat up by them. That’s just the way it is. However, there are times when making it to the gym doesn’t happen. Whether it be a blinding Canadian snow storm and the plows are busy getting stoned, or something as simple as you just had to work late (fuck that), that shouldn’t stop you from getting a workout in and pursuing your dream. Most serious combat athletes have some form of gym at their house, whether in their basement, garage, or wherever it fits. That being said, home gyms, especially for combat sports are not the cheapest and can take up a decent amount of space due to the movement required. Most people build up their gym over time, through trial and error and buying and reselling their equipment until they find the perfect combo for themselves. Maybe, just maybe this will save you some time. The following products are designed primarily around Muay Thai, MMA and boxing, however you can customize your dream home gym however you like, based on your chosen discipline.

Floor Mats


The first thing you will need is protective floor matting. If you are setting up your gym in your garage or anywhere that has a concrete floor, this is a no brainer. Nobody wants to be shadow boxing or training on this kind of surface in bare feet. Cuts and scrapes on the bottoms of your feet will slow your training and could lead to  infection if you’re not careful. Bottom line, don’t be an idiot, get protective mats for the floor. Even if you are setting up your gym in a carpeted basement, get matting. Not only will this protect the carpet in your house but having rug burn on your heel when turning over on a kick will not be pleasant. I would highly recommend interlocking floor mats. Generally these are all of good quality ( as far as I have seen ) and provide a good mix of support and sturdiness. You do not want to line your training area with mats that are too soft such as stretching or gymnastic mats. They will feel like you are standing on a pillow and their softness will hinder that explosive power you will need to harness for combat sports. Whichever brand you choose, this is your first purchase.

Heavy bag for boxers


If your discipline is boxing which requires only hands, you will need a bag that you can throw heat at which will stand up to your onslaught. Any combat athlete’s gym has a bag of some sort. Get used to doing bag work, or get out, plain and simple. There are numerous brands out there, that provide good quality bags such as Everlast and Ringside. There are some suggestions I have for buying a heavy bag. Firstly, don’t buy one of those stupid bop bags that come back at you after you hit them. They are useless and so are you if you get one. You are a combat athlete, not in a cardio boxing class. The heavy bag is for working your speed and power, if you want to work reflexes, buy a double ended bag. Get a ceiling or wall mounted heavy bag, so you have a sturdy base to throw your heaviest power shots. With regards to the weight of the bag, that is totally up to you. The bigger you are the heavier the bag you want. You typically don’t see heavyweights throwing bombs at an 80lb bag. If you know you have heavy hands, then opt for the bigger bag so you can work your combos more effectively.

Banana Bag for Muay Thai and MMA


For Muay Thai and MMA a Banana bag is key for your home gym. It allows for any strike you want to practice. Punches, low kicks, elbows, knees, this bag can do it all. The particular allure of this bag is the low kicks however, as they are an imperative strike for both Muay Thai and MMA and require both precision and timing to be effective. Both of which are achieved by repetition, which is where the banana bag comes into play. If I could recommend two particular brands, I would go with Venum and Fairtex. I have put in 100’s of rounds of work on Venum bags while training in Thailand and they absolutely stand up to the test. They take an uncountable number of shots year round from some of the best Nak Muays’ from all over the world. That is proof enough that they can take whatever beating you can dish out. When looking at Fairtex banana bags you can be sure that you’re getting the quality you can deserve. Serving Muay Thai practitioners with quality products since 1958, their brand is tried and tested. Having personally owned one of these bags, they are the perfect balance of rigidity. Not kicking a pillow but not kicking a cinder block either. When purchasing a banana bag just make sure you refill it from time to time and re-distribute its contents or you will find yourself kicking concrete after a while. I also would highly suggest a ceiling mount as opposed to wall mount. When using the latter, I find the spacing very restrictive for kicks when moving around the bag, especially if utilizing a stand up mount.

Free Weights


Any athlete whether combat or not knows ( or should know ) the importance of strength training. MMA, Muay Thai, Boxing, Wrestling or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners all supplement their training regime with various forms of strength training. In my opinion the best way to do this is with free weights. They provide a versatile array of exercises you can perform and can be placed in areas that may take up less space. Now I know what some of you ( the experts ) are thinking. “You need a lifting platform, a squat rack, battle ropes , an Olympic size pool”. Well I’ll stop you right there. You are a combat athlete and your primary concern is honing your craft, not being a power lifter, cross-fitter, bodybuilder etc. Another thing, all those big, fancy, half cage smith machine, whatever you call them, all take up space. A lot of it. If you have a huge house or have the means, sure, fill your space with whatever you want. However for the rest of us who may only have half a garage, basement or spare room and a small to modestly sized house to work with; keep it small and effective. With the exception of an incline bench, keep your free weights simple; Hexagon weights work fine. They’re heavy and metal, pick them up. I am personally not a fan of having a million and a half mini plates laying around my training space, not being able to find the locking mechanism or the correct weight I want. It’s maddening. Keep your free weights simple and as compact as possible.

Speed Bag


Whether you choose to practice Muay Thai, Boxing, MMA or essentially any martial art that involves striking, a speed bag is beneficial. Doing regular work on this piece of equipment will improve your muscular and cardiovascular endurance, timing, hand eye coordination, speed and strengthen your fast twitch muscles. When purchasing a speed bag I would look for a well known company that primarily specializes in boxing as you would be hard pressed to find a boxing gym without a speed bag ( and if you do , walk out and never return). Again, Everlast, RDX or Ringside are all reputable companies that have been supplying boxing equipment to practitioners for years. Just make sure whichever product you buy has a heavy duty, quality swivel so you won’t have to constantly replace it should it break from constant use. Once you get the hang of it, that rhythmic sound of the speed bag will become addicting and you’ll have motivational flashbacks of Rocky training montages every time you use it.

Grappling Dummy


For those of you that practice the submission arts, we have not forgot about you. A grappling dummy is a fantastic way to practice your trade when perhaps going to the gym and rolling with your usual training partners is not an option. Great for practicing triangles, armbars, the dreaded leg lock and a myriad of other submissions. These tools allow you to practice repetition as well, which is a huge bonus to purchasing one of these. Perhaps you want to JUST work arm bars for an hour.  Well, your usual human training partner may not particularly appreciate you slapping armbars on them for 60 minutes. This is where the grappling dummy comes into play with no risk of physically hurting your partner. Try to rip that arm off if you want. Make sure the dummy you choose is made of durable material as it will be taking a lot of punishment. There is no shortage of these on the market today, and numerous companies deliver a good product. The downside is that the price tag varies on these as well. So whichever model you want and how much you want to pay is entirely up to you. The Fairtex Maddox is a high quality dummy from a very reputable company. Revgear also makes a good grappling dummy which is sold at a mid range price. Before purchasing please take into account the size of the dummy you are buying. In the interest of realism you will want to purchase one that is as close to your weight class as possible. Don’t buy a kids size grappling dummy and think your tough when your throwing it around.

The final word


There are a ton of items to supplement your home combat gym that you can add over time. It all depends on the space you have and how much you are willing to spend. A lot of these items you may already own and take to your local gym when you train, so some of these may be no brainers. Skipping ropes, resistance bands and foam rollers (don’t forget recovery) are all good additions to any home gym. In reality you can put anything you want into YOUR gym. Like any venture trial and error will come into play. What kind of bags do you want? Are you more hand heavy or kick oriented? Are you a pure wrestler and don’t do any striking at all? Bottom line is that creating a home combat gym is a huge way to express yourself. You can put whatever you want in there, train how you want. It’s just you and yourself in there so forget limitations and just go train. The above is just my opinion on what should go into a basic home gym for the combat athlete. So if you were stuck or unsure about how to proceed, hopefully this will give you some ideas and get you started on your way.

Until next time,

Scotty Mac


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Build your bug out bag – Rural escape – Part 1 – The Bag.

Whether you live in the country or an urban environment, everyone should have a bug out bag (BOB). For those of you who don’t know, a BOB is a pre arranged pack of supplies usually designed for a person to live out of for up to 72 hours in case of an emergency.  These situations could range from evacuation, natural disaster, revolution, the zombie apocalypse (however unlikely) or really anything that would require you to leave your home or dwelling for an extended period of time under duress. The concept behind having a bag that will last you 72 hours, is that in most countries (yours’ could be different) government emergency services or disaster relief could take up to 72 hours to reach you and provide aid. Until that time, you can only rely on yourself. In part 1. of this multi- part blog we will be covering simply the bag itself for either occupying or escaping to a rural environment, features to look for and some of my picks for the top BOB’s on the market. In the coming parts we will get into medical items, tools, utilities, designated compartments and basically all the essentials you’ll require. However, before we do that, l need to inform you of some important factors regarding 72 hour packs.


Before building your BOB there are some realizations you need to come to before starting to make the appropriate purchases.

First; a bug out bag is not designed for you to live out of for an extended period of time. It is to keep you alive for 72 hours until disaster relief etc. comes to your aid or until you reach a pre planned semi or fully permanent structure stocked with supplies. Which leads into my second point.

Have a plan! If you think that you’re just going to grab your BOB and play it by ear you may be in for a short trip. Now that being said, there will never be a perfect scenario and things at some point will definitely not go as planned, so if this does happen, have a plan for not having a plan. If you don’t have a place to go, find somewhere to gather your thoughts and ask yourself: What areas are around me? How far are they? Can I walk to them if need be? If I get there will I be found? Can I hide there? How close is it to water? Would I be able to find food? How close is it people or a potential settlement? Catch my drift? Stop, think and figure out a route. A rough plan is better then no plan.

Third. What is your end state? Are you looking to be found? Or are you looking to disappear? Now remember that this blog is based around a rural environment and typically people would choose clothes and a pack of woodland colour or camouflage. But is that always correct? You need to weigh your risks depending on what situation you are in. For example; one would think that if you are looking to be rescued you would have brighter coloured clothing to be potentially seen by aircraft. However, is their civil unrest occurring in your area? So again ask yourself: Would you rather camouflage yourself to avoid being seen by others that may wish to do you harm? Or would you still use bright coloured bags and apparel with the hope of being rescued before someone of ill intent finds you? If help doesn’t come, are you prepared to defend yourself and your possessions? Obviously there are other ways to be seen in the bush besides just your clothes. Fire, tracks, lights etc. are huge factors as well. Just some food for thought to get your mind working. As an aside, in an urban setting your style of bug out bag and kit will differ, which will be covered in another upcoming blog.

Lastly; a BOB is not a rucksack. Depending on the situation you may be required to move quickly on foot and get out of dodge in a hurry and a rucksack is simply too heavy and bulky. I won’t say that you CAN’T use a rucksack as a BOB, however I don’t recommend it; and here’s why. As already mentioned, rucksacks are large and restrict your movement. They also give people the false idea that they can pack their whole house in them. Let me tell you, after over a decade in the military, I’ve worn a lot of rucks and walked many many kilometres. Nothing sucks more then getting halfway through a march and realizing you over packed. You develop lower back, hip and foot problems due to the weight and still have more distance to go to reach safety. Avoid it, trust me. Sure, there are some you out there that are 6’6 fitness freaks that can handle a ruck or heavier pack. That’s fine. Do what works for you; but for most people of average size and fitness, don’t use a rucksack. Best way to test this; grab a backpack you already have, put some weight in it and go walk some trails. That way at least you will get a rough idea of how far you can go with a certain amount of weight.


In this blog I won’t be touching on the individual companies as there are simply too many. Not only the bigger, more well known companies, but there are a ton of smaller independent companies that make excellent quality packs. Before providing you with my top BOB picks. Here are a few features you should look for when picking a good bag.


Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. This system located on the outside of the bag allows the user too add more pouches and compartments to the pack if they require more space for a specific tool. It allows for a higher level of accessibility and customization should the user need more room.

Hydration Bladder Compartment


Having a specialized compartment for a Hydration bladder is a good feature to keep in mind. When a bladder is full, it can take up space which my be required for other items. Also if you have other tools in your pack with sharp edges or points, it would be ill advised to put your bladder next to them for obvious reasons. If your bladder bursts, everything in your pack is soaked and more importantly; you’re down water and a carrying system. Need I say more? With a designated compartment it is away from your other equipment  and easily accessible if you need to refill.

Waist belt and hip padding


This one is somewhat of a double edged sword. I personally do not have the waist belt installed on my BOB however it does have the capability for it. Would I wear it if I was walking a long distance? Absolutely. I would always recommend buying a bag with waist belt capability, even if you choose to not utlize it. If you need to drop your pack in a jam; it’s another clip to undo in a world where seconds count. If you prefer the speed and won’t use the waist belt, take it out and store it. There is no point in having it attached but not done up, it will just get caught on foliage, branches etc. and become an annoyance. However if you plan on walking a long distance with a heavy bag; install it and wear it. It will provide support to your hips and lower back by taking a large amount of weight off of your shoulders, making it much easier to carry.

Wide Shoulder Straps

This one is pretty straight forward. If the shoulder straps are too thin and you’re carrying a lot of weight, they will dig in to your shoulders and become extremely uncomfortable. If you are walking a long distance, putting up with this will become very tiresome and hindering.

Now that you’ve had a chance to digest all of the above material and considerations regarding what to look for in a BOB, I will now give you my top picks on what are in my opinion, some of the best bug out bags for sale today.

Top Picks

Condor 3 Day Assault Pack


The Condor 3 day assault pack is currently the BOB that I am using and I must say I am impressed. Only recently deciding to set it up for rural escape, I have used this bag for the past 4 years. Whether taking it to the field, camping or just as an EDC (everyday carry),  it has stood up to many a beating. Other then normal wear and tear this pack still has no major damage to it whatsoever. It comes outfitted with Molle front and side pouches, a hydration bladder compartment, wide shoulder straps as well as a waist belt. Four checks in the box right there. It has main and secondary compartments, a front map pocket, two large side pouches and a bottom compartment which I use for first aid. Inside are internal pouches and dividers as well to organize your kit the way you want for better accessibility. While it is a 3 day bag, it does not feel overly large like others sometimes do. All in all an excellent pack for a 72 hour BOB.

5.11 Tactical Rush24 37L


Another great option for a BOB; over the past few years 5.11 Tactical has really stepped up their game. The Rush24 bag has three of the four essentials for me; The molle front and sides, hydration bladder compatibility and wide shoulder straps. It does not come with a waist belt. I have seen these bags rigged up with them however you may be restricted in which kind of belt you attach, as the specifications for both need to line up, so just keep that in mind. Now while this is designed as a 24 hour pack (which is why the waist belt probably isn’t included) it can easily be packed for 48 and pushed to 72 hours if your packing method is on point.  While the rush series does make a 72 hours version of this bag, I find it enormous. An excellent bag it still is, however at that size I believe it would encourage over packing which as discussed previously can lead to complications. On the other hand it does come with an attached waist belt, so its a decision you will have to weigh on your own. It has a long list of 5.11 specific features as well, and I must say the layout inside of the compartments is excellent. Using mesh pockets as well as sealable vinyl, you should have no problem organizing your kit. A great bag that is built to last. Have a look at both the 24 and the 72 and make your choice as to what size you want, both are good, it all depends on your preference and how efficient you are at packing.

Eberlestock G1 Little Brother Pack


Designed for military use, this bag is beast and is by far one of the best bug out bags out there. It hits three out of four of the essentials I look for; hydration bladder compartments, wide shoulder straps, and molle. It does have the capability for a waist belt however it is sold as an addition. This pack is loaded with molle on the inside and outside for extra pouches that can be organized however you want depending on your situation. The massive main compartment which can actually hold two bladders if you felt so inclined, is more then large enough to hold all the essentials you require. It is also worth mentioning that the Little Brother Pack is the main bag on Eberlestock’s Skycrane 2 load bearing system which is worth taking a look at if you are looking for something bigger and getting into the realm of rucksacks. As I say with all larger bags; Do not over pack! However if you are looking for a bit larger of a BOB that is tough, tried and tested by military forces and built to last, have a look at the G1 Little Brother.

Last words

Like I said previously, there are simply too many good companies and bags to list them all, these are just my personal picks for the best BOB’s. Having worn a lot of bags throughout my time in the military and travelled very long distances, over rough terrain I can tell you that spending the time to find a good bag is worth it. Just like boots that carry you from point A to point B, the bag is carrying all you need to survive; so getting a quality one counts. That being said, do your research and explore around. If you decide we have similar likes then cool, if not, that’s cool too. Best of luck on your adventure.

Until next time,

Scotty Mac

Coming soon: Part 2 – The main compartment – What to pack.

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I need some tough all purpose boots. Which ones?

So your going out in the woods and you’re going to be out there for a while. What do you wear on your feet? You’re not bringing your slippers or sandals for the beach; you need something tough, with support, that can get you from point A to point B.  The most important rule of entering into the wild, if you’re moving camps a lot is this; TAKE CARE OF YOUR FEET! If you don’t have your feet, let me tell you, you got jack shit. You won’t be traversing tough terrain if your getting all kinds of foot problems. If you need exit the area in a hurry; your done. Finished.  So getting a quality pair of boots is a key purchase you do not want to cheap out on.


Now we all know that you need different tools for different jobs and seasons. Winter is a whole different ball game of preparation, so lets assume for the moment that you’re dealing with a generally fair, spring to fall climate. However, all climates and temperatures have various factors you need to be aware of when selecting footwear. Tactical boots are a good bet. Having spent over a decade in the military, I’ve worn my fair share of boots and have had a myriad of foot issues. So I’ve had plenty of time for trial and error with regards to knowing what to look for and finding the best boots that work for me.

First thing I would avoid are boots with zippers. Those that know me are aware that I’m not a fan of mechanisms and boots are no exception. Zippers freeze, break and become caked in sand and muck. If you can’t enclose your feet, you are then exposing them to the elements, such as water, cold, dirt, debris, insects, you name it. Laces can quickly be replaced if need be; zippers cannot, and if you’re in an emergency situation, this is no good.

Secondly, make sure your size is correct. Try them on, walk around in them. If you buy them; wear them in your house for a week or two without taking them outside. That way if they become uncomfortable you can still return them. If after that time they are broken in and still feel comfortable, you’re probably in the clear. Remember, you will be wearing socks, as well as possibly a liner system, so plan for that. If your boots are too tight once you head into the wild you are going to experience a wide range of problems. From blisters, loss of circulation, stress on your tendons and joints, dead toenails, corns and many other nasty issues. Constantly dealing with this in a survival situation will be extremely hindering to your progress and painful to say the least. When checking the fit, make sure your toes do not touch the front. If your heel rubs against the back of the boot, try a new pair.

Thirdly, if you’re going to be travelling or staying in the wilderness for an extended period of time your feet are going to wet. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re just going to “keep them dry”. Not going to happen. The key word for this is GORE-TEX. Without getting too scientific here, think about it this way. It’s made of a porous material covered in holes which are microscopic. These are much smaller then a drop of water, stopping moisture from getting in. However, the holes are big enough for vapour to escape from the inside ,making it breathable. So in short, water can’t get in but it can escape. Now for the love of god, please don’t think that if you completely submerge your boot in water your feet won’t get wet. That’s not how it works. Don’t get your feet unnecessarily wet, keep them as dry as possible.

Now that you have taken all that in, let’s get into my top contenders for the best all purpose outdoor boot.

Rocky Boots

Originally founded in 1932 in Nelsonville, Ohio, what today is known as  Rocky Brand is one of the most trusted and tested companies around today. During World War 2 and the Korean war this company supplied soldiers with over a million pairs of footwear and is still used by many militaries today. In 2010 Rocky was awarded Footwear plus magazines’ Plus award for their excellent quality work boots. I have owned and worn many pairs of boots during my time in the military including Rocky for a large portion. I have beat the hell out of them in various climates and they are still going strong today. Any boot released from this company I would hold in high regard.

Rocky S2V Tactical Military Boot


Probably Rockys’ most popular boot and for good reason. This lightweight, rugged boot has a list of features on it like a sports car, and they all work.  Aside from the standard model there are many variations of the S2V that you can pick from depending on your style or what situation you entering. The standard boot comes outfitted with Rocky’s “S2V Sieve” which pushes water out and with the water resistant leather, makes it quite resistant. It does come in a Gore-Tex version as well. With Vibram soles as accompanied by their Air-Port Cushion footbed, these boots are COMFORTABLE. Even after moving over kilometres of rough terrain my feet were still in great shape. The list goes on, however the other styles include Jungle Boot, Steel toed, lightweight and waterproof. All of those are worth looking into and I have absolutely no doubt that you will find a pair that suits your needs. There are also numerous other boots in Rocky’s product line which you should explore as well.


Also founded in 1932 in Chippewa Falls Wisconsin, Danner was originally a boot marketed for loggers.  After moving to Portland in 1936 this company is still producing hiking, logging, military and law enforcement boots at the highest level of quality. In 1992 Danner received the American Podiatric Medical Associations  seal of acceptance for their own “Airthotic” inserts; a true testament to their brand. In 2010 during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, service men and women required a new service boot for the extreme climate, in which 2 new models of Danner boots were born. All in all Danner remains at the top of the food chain for producing rugged, durable all purpose boots.

Danner Acadia


I refer to these as the “Black Cadillac’s” of durable tactical boots. Used very frequently by military, law enforcement, firefighters etc. around North America, the Acadia serves in a variety of important rolls by those we trust. This boot comes in different variations to suit your needs, however an absolutely huge selling point with these comes in the form of a standard issue Gore-Tex liner. That combined with full grain leather, your mind should be at ease with regards to keeping your feet dry. The Vibram Kletterlift Outsole provides excellent traction and protection, as well these boots are a slim fit for extra ankle protection. This boot and brand are one the most reliable in existence today. I highly encourage you to explore the many products that Danner has to offer and make your own decision, however if you do choose to go with the Acadia, it will not disappoint.


Shifting gears away from the United States for a moment, brings us to Hanwag. Originating from Bavaria, with their original headquarters still in operation near Munich, Germany, the creator Hans Wagner started the company in 1921 . Different than the other companies we have explored so far, Hanwags’ were designed for Alpine Skiing and branched into other areas such as climbing and paragliding. In 2009 the company developed its own “IceGrip Sole” that boasts 7 times more traction on icey or slick surfaces. For over 90 years Hanwag has produced top quality boots for the classic outdoorsman. These boots are of such excellent design that many of their models actually remain unchanged from their creation decades prior.

Hanwag Alaska GTX


Developed in 1996 the design of this boot has not changed since its inception and is one of their top sellers. The Alaska GTX is made for long journeys carrying a heavy pack. First thing I must point out about this boot is that when actually wearing it, it feels like you are almost being pushed forward when you walk.  Which I found very strange, however with a little more research I discovered that the Vinbram Fuora sole was designed to prevent over pronation and supination, which I would assume was it doing its job. The Alaska GTX also has a Gore-Tex liner guaranteeing water protection and breathability as well as a number of other features including the “Air Pulse system” for a greater level of air circulation. I would describe this boot as nothing less than fantastic and designed to withstand some of the toughest terrain and obstacles on Earth.

Final Words

As like most things, there are numerous quality products or brands out there for you to discover. These are simply my top three picks for the best tough, outdoor, all terrain boot. Remember; avoid zippers, ensure your size is correct and the boots fits, keep your feet as dry as possible and of course take care of your feet! If you never experienced multiple blisters, blackened toe nails, joint problems or even the dreaded trench foot (look it up), save yourself the trouble; do your research and make a proper purchase. Before I sign off, I would feel guilty if I didn’t touch on trench foot briefly, since I have actually had it and thankfully caught it in the early stages. While travelling long distances you should always be monitoring your feet and changing your socks regularly however sometimes depending on the situation you may not get to perform this drill as often as you’d like. If this does happen to you and trench foot does begin; stop what you are doing, if it is raining get under cover, remove your boots and socks, allow your feet to dry for as long as necessary and apply foot powder should you have some (you should if you prepared well). Your feet should return to their normal colour and appearance, then ensure your feet are dry, change your socks and allow the moisture in your boots to evaporate as best as possible before continuing on. I can’t stress enough the importance of foot safety. Now that you’ve had time to process all that, do your research, maybe take my advice or make your own decision. It’s entirely up to you.

Stay free,

Scotty Mac,

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I need a survival knife. What should I buy?

Whether you are going camping, hiking, hiding from the zombie horde, bugging out of a shitty situation or escaping the apocalypse; you need a knife. A rugged, sharp, well made blade will serve you well in any sticky situation and is an essential tool for any survivalist or outdoorsman. Don’t believe me? Read a history book. Human beings have been using edged implements since the dawn of time; starting from sharpened rocks and advancing to medieval side arms. Face it, we have been using blades to survive and poke holes in our enemies long before you or I walked earth and will continue to do so long after we’re gone. Still don’t believe me? Good luck to you then.

Folder or Fixed Blade?

When purchasing your perfect survival knife your biggest decision will ultimately be between purchasing folder or a fixed blade. For those of you who don’t know, a folder is a knife in which the blade folds into the handle and opens with a manner of mechanisms including button, spring assisted and gravitational opening ( centrifugal force ). A fixed blade is a knife that is held within a sheath and does not require opening as it is a solid steel piece which is anchored to the handle. But how do you come to that conclusion? Let’s start by examining both styles and get you on your way to picking YOUR ultimate survival bug out knife. Later we will check some specific blades and see if they are to your liking.

The Folder

All tools have specific uses and the folder is no exception. While used by survivalists all over the globe, we tend to see the folding knife utilized more often by military and police for a diverse range of jobs. These professions are primarily rough in nature and require durable tools for their completion, proving that folders can be used for tough, dirty jobs or in the outdoors. Some of which are cutting rope, freeing someone from a seatbelt or self defence. While lightweight and compact, they can be stored easily and carried with no hindrance to movement and an almost non existent addition in weight to your overall load. It can be employed quickly if need be, depending on its position on your body with repetition and practice. For example, having it clipped on a vest would be much more accessible and rapidly deployable then in your pocket. Yes, I know before someone says it; some folders have pocket catches for quick opening. As I mentioned earlier, with practice, properly utilizing a folder can be effective, however under a stressful situation one of the first things to be affected in the human body are your fine motor skills. This type of blade requires it be reached on your person, the lock disabled, the thumb stud or button ( if your country, province or state laws allow for automatic knives) to be located, and the blade to be opened. If you are not on point with your training and your hands are trembling and sweaty, quickly utilizing this kind of knife in a pinch could prove difficult and leave you stumbling like a fool. My second pet peeve about folders is the simple fact that they have a mechanism of opening. Like any mechanism, these can break and once that happens your knife may become essentially useless or impractical for you to be carrying without risk of injury. Take a second to process those points; next we will taking a look at the fixed blade.

Fixed Blade

Used more by survivalists and outdoorsman then military and police ( although some do in fact employ them ), the fixed blade in my opinion is the ideal choice for a survival knife. A quality fixed blade can stand up to the toughest of outdoor jobs, such as hacking small branches or creating kindling for a fire by utilizing the pommel ( the round end of the handle ) as a hammer and of course defending yourself against a larger animal or attacker. They are typically worn in a sheath on a belt but can be attached to a molle plate carrier or vest if you happened to be wearing one. No mechanism of opening, just a solid piece of steel. If you are under duress and need to deploy it as quickly as possible; grasp the handle, remove it from the sheath and your ready to rock. Sound simple enough? It is. However there are still factors that need to be considered. They are significantly larger and less compact then a folding knife, meaning you may find it uncomfortable hanging from a belt ( assuming that is where you are wearing it )or it could get caught on branches and foliage while moving through the brush. The final observation you need to make if you are leaning towards the fixed blade is what kind of tang it has. Let me make this as clear as possible for all you ‘know it all’s’ “FULL TANG IS THE BEST” if you think I’m wrong, punch yourself in the face as hard as you can. That being said just because a knife does not have full tang does not make it a piece of garbage. All it means is that it simply will not be as durable as a full tang; there are still plenty of high quality companies that produce partial tang knives. So please weigh this; a tang can break, just as the mechanism of folder can, however I would be very flabbergasted if a full tang knife broke during use.

Now that we have discussed the pro’s and cons of folders and fixed blades,  their weight, deployment capability, durability and where you would in fact carry your blade, lets move on to a few brands and products that I feel would make good candidates for your survival knife.


What I would consider to the Mac Daddy of folding knives Benchmade was founded in 1979 originally under the name Bali-Song in California  and was primarily producing the more commonly known “butterfly knives” in which the companys’ first design won the Knife of the Year award in 1979 from Blade Magazine. Since then the company moved to Oregon where they continue to produce extremely high quality knives of various types.  They currently use 12 types of high quality steel on their products including Damasteel which is of the highest quality. The company also has an excellent lifetime warranty program called “Life Sharp” in which your knife will have all the worn pieces replaced and blade re sharpened for you at no cost. Benchmade also has an unrivaled amount of customization options for their knives if you have a particular style you want to follow.

Benchmade Bug Out 535


The Benchmade Bug Out 535 is an excellent choice when it comes to potential survival knives. Made from CPM-S30V steel it offers high corrosion resistance which is beneficial if being used in a rugged outdoor setting. It has a drop point style blade and as with all Benchmade knives it’s sharpness is of the highest quality. The locking mechanism is referred to as the AXIS lock and is a product you will only find on bench made products. In the interest being as simple as possible, this lock in my opinion is the easiest to use. It can be operated with one hand and is also completely ambidextrous. All in all an excellent choice for a survival/outdoor knife, or just an every day carry.

Benchmade Griptillian 550-1


Any knife advocate will agree that the Benchmade Griptillian is the crown jewel of the company. The base model itself has been quite possibly their most popular product for years. The 550-1 Griptillian has been upgraded with the G10 handle scales made of resin soaked fibre glass layers for improved grip. The blade is made of CPM-20CV steel which offers superior edge retention as well corrosion resistance. The sheepsfoot style blade is designed for cutting and slicing and is even more durable with the addition of the serrated edge. Rest assured, this knife is a tried and tested excellent survival knife and will not leave the user disappointed.


Founded in 1984 in Boden Sweden, Fallkniven has been producing several lines of the highest quality survival knives on the planet today. Primarily regarded for designing and supplying outdoor and military knives, the Fallkniven F1 has been the official survival knife of the Swedish Air Force since 1995 and in 2000 the United Stated Naval Air Warfare Center tested and approved the F1 and model S1 for use by air crews of the U.S Marine Corp as well as the U.S Navy.

Fallkniven A1


The Fallkniven A1 is what I would consider the gold standard of fixed blade survival knives. In fact, the blade is forged of VG10 steel in which the “G” stands for “gold” meaning “gold standard”. An extremely tough metal with excellent edge retention and rust resistance; it is made for rough outdoor work. The convex grind ( a gently rounded bevel ) provides a stronger edge while not taking away from the blades cutting power. The knife has a full protruding tang which makes for a useful hammer and can be utilized without cracking the Kraton handle. Always be careful when using the pommel as a hammer as become overzealous in your action can damage the bottom side of the handle or potentially yourself. If you are leaning towards a fixed blade, this knife should definitely be considered as a top contender.

Fallkniven F1


We could not in good conscience discuss Fallkniven without reviewing the blade that started it all; the F1. As mentioned above this knife is still the official blade of Swedish air force pilots; it is perfect for any outdoor or survival situation. While smaller then the A1 it is still forged with the convex grind and can be customized with different types of steel ( 3G, COS or VG10 ) depending on your preference and price range.  The handle is made of Thermonrun which is subtly harder version of Kraton and provides excellent grip, even when wet. Again like it’s counterpart the A1, it made with a protruding full tang which provides the ability to use the knife as a hammer if need be. This is a sure choice for the serious survivalist and is as versatile as they come.

Honourable Mentions

Above are four very viable options for your perfect survival knife from the two companies I personally would purchase from. I highly encourage you to explore more products within those brands as both forge high quality folders and fixed blades. However that being said, I do believe there are other knives out there that require recognition and are of great quality.

TOPS Tom Brown Tracker


The Tom Brown Tracker knife is one of the best survival knives on the market today and was featured in the Hollywood movie “The Hunted”. Made of 1095 High Carbon steel, it has good edge retention and is easy to sharpen. The design is mostly for hacking purposes and with the full tang handle you can ensure it’s durability. It does have a saw back blade which can be useful for creating notches etc. however please do not consider saw back blades a substitute for an actual saw. They absolutely are not; don’t think you’re going to cut down a small trees with your saw back blade. On that note, give this knife some thought, it is worth a look as it is a heavy, rugged, full tang, well designed blade.

KA-BAR USMC Fighting Knife


KA-BAR, originally called Union Cutlery Co. dates back to 1923 in New York and is steeped in history. The company received a hand written letter that same year from a fur trapper who claimed to kill a bear with a knife after his rifle failed to fire. The phrase “kill a bear” was only partly legible resembling “Ka bar” which is where the name of the company originated. The KA-BAR USMC Fighting knife has been in service for 70+ years and has been tried and tested in numerous conflicts and wars throughout that time. The blade is made of 1095 Cro-Van steel which is basically Ka-Bars’ own version of 1095 steel. It is slightly stronger then regular 1095 and can carry an extremely sharp edge. Although using a strong steel, it is forged with a rat tail tang which is very narrow inside the handle. Simply put, it will take normal abuse however it will not stand up to the same punishment as a full tang blade, so be cognisant of that. On the end of course is the hammer pommel which is always a useful tool to have while in the bush. This knife has passed the test of time and has aided service men and women around the world for decades, and should be considered by anyone looking for a top notch survival knife.

Closing Remarks

Choosing a quality knife is one of the most important things you can do when deciding your kit and load out before heading into the wild. It will serve you a long time if you treat it well and practice how to use it. Remember, all these blades require maintenance and upkeep. Just because you have rugged, durable knife doesn’t mean it will never break or rust. They need to be oiled, re-sharpened, cleaned etc. Don’t forget. Whether you choose a folder or a fixed blade, remember it is up to YOU. A lot of the “know it all’s” will tell you your choices are wrong simply because it’s not their choice, or it did not work for them. Do what works for you. If you’re happy with the weight and where its carried and how it’s employed that’s all that counts. There are plenty of other brands as well that supply very high quality knives; these are simply my choices. Hopefully these reviews provided you with some aid on making your decision, and like always figure out what works for YOU.

Until next time,

Scotty Mac

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All reviews on this website are only opinions of and it’s owners. We have no direct association with any companies or products that are reviewed on this site. Any logos, brands or products are the sole property of their respective owners and any use or reference of said items on this site are for information purposes only.

What are the best gloves for Muay Thai?

For my first review I decided to write on something related to one of if not the most influential activities in my life. Muay Thai. For anyone just starting out, the art of 8 limbs can be a daunting endeavor and plays a pivotal role in other combat sports like MMA. A brutal striking style developed centuries ago in Thailand which utilizes, kicks, punches, knees and elbows, rest assured whether you train recreationally or are a dedicated Nak Muay ( Muay Thai Practitioner ) you are bound to get some bumps, bruises and cuts.

Just because you have begun a rough undertaking doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for those bruises, sore muscles, aching joints and exhausted body. First rule of Muay Thai and any combat sport for that matter is:


Believe me, I have ran through hundreds maybe even thousands of dollars in gear and when it comes to protecting your hands ( which you need for everything in life ) so spend the extra cash. You will be thankful in the long run. Don’t waste your money, get the best from the start so you can train hard and keep your body in the best condition possible while doing it.


There are some factors to take into account before buying gloves. One being know your hand size. Trying to jam your hand into a glove you just purchased online only to realize it’s uncomfortable and doesn’t fit will be very frustrating. Also remember you will be wearing wraps as well which will affect the sizing. Use your weight class for a reference. If you are a heavyweight at 6’5, 260lbs I would be shocked if you wore small gloves; get a large to extra large, maybe bigger if you’re a true monster. Do you have pre-existing hand injuries? My hands are a mess in general, however I find that my wrists seem to have issues more often, so I always opt for a glove with more support in that area. What style do you like the most? Hell, whoever tells you style isn’t important is full of shit. Of course functionality and protection come first, but your style is a direct projection of your inner self. Of who you want to be. If showing that, makes you happy, you will in turn train at your optimum. This directly relates to the freedom of expression that runs so closely with martial arts.

No matter what equipment you have purchased, the first and most basic gear you will need is gloves. You will be throwing a lot of punches. Here are my top picks for the best gloves for muay thai, all from tried and trusted brands that have been in the business for many years.


My personal favorite. Fairtex brand gloves are as tough and durable as they come. Started in 1958 in Bangkok this brand has endured the test of time and as a result of their quality has become one of the leading brands in all striking based combat sports. Not only has the company expanded to having numerous gyms around the world as well as a long list of notable fighters under their sponsorship, Fairtex won the award for best MMA gloves in 2008 at the World MMA awards, and are also the official glove of Glory Kickboxing, arguably the most prestigious kickboxing organization in the world today.

FAIRTEX BGV1 Universal Glove


In my opinion this is the best glove on the market today. The original glove of Fairtex and it is still going strong. Durable and reliable, this glove will endure whatever punishment you can dish out. Outfitted with premium leather and Fairtexs’ three layered foam system, the BGV1 glove will ensure the shock from your punches is well distributed while providing top notch knuckle protection.It also has a very streamlined look and size to it. While offering great protection it is not bulky whatsoever. This glove is perfect for those with heavy hands and those that like to throw big bombs. It should also be noted that this glove has a fairly rigid wrist strap which will help avoid accidental wrist injuries. While it typically comes in standard colours, Fairtex has now released some special edition gloves for those of you that prefer a little more flash in your gear. There is also a breathable option that comes with a specially ventilated palm and thumb to help reduce moisture.

FAIRTEX TG03 Open Thumb Bag Glove


Another essential in my opinion for any serious Nak Muay. When you really want to work on that greasy speed and hear a really nice crack on the thai pads, these gloves do the trick. With its pre-curved leather shell and uni-layered  high density latex foam core in such a small glove, you can be sure that your hands will still be well protected if you want to pick up the pace and throw some smoke. The TG03 is also designed for clinch work and grappling as it allows for a greater level of control when trying to perfect your techniques. If you have ever clinched with 16oz gloves on you will know how unpractical it is. There is also an enclosed thumb version of these as well if you prefer. Either way you go, these gloves are essential to any Nak Muays’ arsenal.


While becoming incorporated in 1992 for the purpose of exporting their products, this company has been producing top quality gear within Thailand for competition for decades. Twins has very quickly became one of the leading manufacturers of Muay Thai and combat sports equipment in the world while sporting a huge product line. To further their reputation the company was honored with an award from AIBA Technical University in Berlin for their excellent quality while conducting an inspection of amateur combat sports protective equipment.

TWINS BGVL3 Boxing gloves


The BVGL3 is the standard boxing glove put out by twins and it’s quality is of very high standard. These gloves are put together with premium leather for durability and have a very classic look and feel to them. While I prefer the knuckle padding style of Fairtex, Twins has no lack of protection. Striking with hard power shots in these gloves will never be an issue. Aside from that, the wrist velcro closure on these gloves is unparalleled, guaranteed to support your wrist through those grueling sessions. This timeless glove also comes in a wide variety of colours to match whatever your style and is guaranteed to last you for years.

TWINS BGLL1 Lace closure


If you have the means, or your partner knows how to lace up gloves properly, these gloves are unreal. For starters, the laces on these are tough! You can pull these as tight as possible with no worry of them breaking. This will keep your gloves snug while training hard with no need to re-tie them. The remainder of the glove remains essentially the same is the BVGL3, so the standard of protection is still excellent. I will personally say that while training with the BGLL1 I have never heard such a crack on the thai pads and felt the impact more then while wearing these. All the while protecting my hands with no problems or soreness whatsoever.


Top King is another company that has proven to manufacture some of the best Muay Thai equipment around. Not only that, they have a lot of designs on their gear that look amazing. With Top King you will get a good mix of protection and flare. However, some believe that these gloves are a little too padded, giving somewhat of a spongy feel to them, which I am inclined to agree with. Not that the extra protection is a bad thing but some people prefer a more rigid feel to their gloves. It could be considered a plus if you favour heavy bag work or have prior hand injuries.

Top King Air Boxing Gloves


The Air gloves are the go to for anyone that favours Top King. Lightweight and durable, they offer good hand protection and comfort. They can however be a tight fit, so be wary of the sizes before buying. The Air series does come equipped with Top Kings’ “Clima Cool” system which is a breathable mesh on the palm of the glove. This feature can be very favorable, as it keeps your hands cool and allows moisture to escape. This could very well be essential if you are training in a hot environment or climate such as Thailand. All in all they are a sleek, breathable, well protected glove, that is often utilized by many Muay Thai practitioners.

The Bottom Line

In the long run, how you feel will determine the gloves that you purchase. A good pair of gloves will go a long way and will be your first purchase on your journey to becoming a Nak Muay. The above are my personal favorite choices for gloves, maybe you agree, and then again, maybe you don’t. That’s part of your experience to figure out and there a plenty of reputable companies out there. I do hope however that this gave you some insight on some tested brands and products to aid you on your path. Don’t forget, PROTECT YOUR HANDS! You need them for everything! If you have any questions on the products reviewed, drop me a line and I would be happy to help.

Keep on keepin on,

Scotty Mac

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All reviews on this website are only opinions of and it’s owners. We have no direct association with any companies or products that are reviewed on this site. Any logos, brands or products are the sole property of their respective owners and any use or reference of said items on this site are for information purposes only.

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