Fencing Masks / head protection:
-Good cheap mask, solid enough for our purposes, as we emphasise control. Do not worry about the 350N rating, that refers only to the bib, not the mesh. Many of us have been using these for years without problems.
-A tournament version of the standard Red Dragon mask. Unclear whether there is any additional protection except the increased N rating on the bib, but 3x the price, so your mileage may vary.
-A fabric-based overlay that pulls over most standard fencing masks. Provides some padding to the overall mask, and some plastic plates around the throat and the back of the head. Very good to have as elbow pushing plays often turn you around and you can get a point in the head without one.
-Similar to the above fabric-based overlay, but this one is made of leather. It's a bit more rigid and slimline overall, but less padded. Either should be fine, choose based on personal preference.
-These are both the same idea as the Red Dragon overlays, the big difference being that they provide some additional shoulder protection. Should fit most common masks.
-Similar to the Red Dragon Leather Mask Overlay. A bit more expensive, so only necessary if you particularly like SPES, or want the colour.
-Excellent bang for buck fencing jacket. It says it's only suitable for rapier and sabre, not longsword, but that applies to groups who like to go all out and use more protection instead of more control. The thin panel at the back helps regulate temperature, and it has a strap to cinch in the waist for a better fit, which also helps with different body types, and thus this should be unisex.
-Heavy version of the above, slightly more expensive. It is more padded, but do keep in mind that there is a flip-down collar that is designed to go over your fencing mask's bib. When this is all assembled it becomes quite hard to move your head from side to side and can interfere with back-weighted posta. It also gets quite hot because of it. Not having this collar flipped up exposes your neck. If you plan to spar with other clubs, you may appreciate the extra protection it offers.
-The standard jacket for many years, somewhat more expensive than the red dragon options. Quite bare bones but does the job.
-A lot more expensive but the additional plastic protection on the shoulders and arms can be useful. Might be a good idea if you need to avoid bruises on the arms, or if you want to compete in tournaments where the intensity is higher.
Almost all the other jackets should be suitable for our needs, though I have no experience of them. Be cautious of the SPES "JF” Fencing Jacket 350N as it might be too light, even if the price is tempting.
-Good jacket to help with abrazare (T-Shirts don't give the same options, and this more closely simulates clothing of the period, without having the full bulk of a fencing jacket.)
-Light padded gloves. They will not stop damage from heavy blows, but should reduce the damage of glancing hits and avoid cuts from light incidental hits / protect your hands from splinters when using pollaxes and spears. Many people choose to use them to teach them to protect their hands rather than relying on heavy gloves, but these are not suitable for sparring with other groups / in tournaments.
-A good compromise between protection and mobility. They should protect your hands in the places you are likely to get hit if you are conducting yourself intelligently with regards to protecting your hands. They are still quite bulky, though, and will make things like dagger plays harder to access. Other groups may not want to spar with you if you have these, but they should be protective enough. They are unlikely to be accepted in tournaments.
-Very protective, but very bulky and awful for dexterity. Also, as we tend to prefer shorter grips on our swords you may have trouble fitting both hands with these. Avoid unless you really want to prevent any damage or pain. Or if you wish to take part in tournaments, or do full on sparring with other groups.
For gloves, many opt for a hybrid approach: have some light padded leather gloves or similar for dagger, and something like the red dragons for sword sparring. It depends on how much you want to risk your fingers while you learn to keep your hands safe. Generally avoid the unpadded leather gloves as their protective quality is so low you might as well go bare-handed.
Misc Protective Gear:
Red Dragon Throat Protector
-Decent extra protection for the throat, especially useful if you have a more period-style gambeson / padded jack that doesn't cover your throat.
-Good addition to the gear to mitigate painful accidents.
Women may want to invest in a plastic chest protector additionally, though I can't speak to the quality of those on offer on the Knight Shop. If you want forearm and shin protection, try looking for surplus riot gear, as it will often be cheaper than the tailor made HEMA options on offer while still being just as protective / mobile.
The options from The Knight Shop are a bit limited so there are some additional options here
-Get some banister spindles and cut the rectangular parts off / sand the ends a bit and they work great. Any spindle with this sort of design will work.
-Either of the wooden rondel dagger options should be suitable. Don't bother with the cruciform one as it's not a good analogue for what we study
Cold Steel Rondel Training Dagger Rubber (gdfb.co.uk)
-These aren't great for 6th,7th, or 8th master plays due to their flexibility, but are much safer than wooden daggers, which are very stiff and can be unforgiving on arms
The swords available from The Knight Shop are not really suitable for us. Avoid the Red Dragon hand-and-a-half and bastard sword – they are far too overbuilt and blade-heavy to be safe / wieldy in one hand, and all of the other swords tend to either be sharp / pointy, or made for re-enactment – thus will be overbuilt.
The feders are also not suitable for what we do, as they are often too flexible, the schilt (the little flared bit next to the crossguard) interferes with plays, and the handling, especially when making contact with another sword, makes the system harder to access.
The one sword that could maybe work in a pinch is this one, but it's still quite heavy, especially for how short it is:
In recent years, VB swords have been highly rated for what we do, especially for the price. Any of these should be suitable:
Longsword for HEMA and reenactment trainings, XIV-XVth Century - VB Swordshop Ltd. (swordsviktor.com)
Synthetic / Wooden:
-Rawlings synthetics are good for just starting out or for practicing specific things where you don't want to use a steel (e.g. sword throwing) but you might just want to save your money for a steel as their use is very limited, and you'll want to quickly move onto a steel.
-If you want to train outside / in public places, these can be useful. Again, you may want to save your money and wait to get a steel.