Before anyone yells at me for buying from Revival after the whole Brian Price fiasco, the Revival company has been bought out by an SCA fellow called Scott Adkins who is well respected in the SCA community. The company no longer has anything to do with Brian Price or Chivalry Bookshelf. Some more information about the issue can be found in this thread over on the HEMA Alliance forum: http://hemaalliance.com/discussion/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=1728
So, I saw this item on the Revival website, and it is advertised as being throat protection designed for HEMA / WMA / historical fencing. It is selling for $16.95, so about £11 plus shipping. One of my friends was returning from the States anyway, so it was nice and cheap for me to get it back here - I spent a total of £13.60 on this item.
The most immediate thing that I noticed is that my gorget is all black, it doesn't look like the image above. The shape is correct but there is no red and no Revival logo. There are no colour options on the website, so I don't know what is going on. The simple fact that the advertised image shows one thing and the actual product looks different does not make for an auspicious start. However, since Adkins has only recently taken over the business and is trying to get it back on its feet, and is trying to repair its somewhat shattered reputation, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I would much rather give an objective review of the item than to start with a negative bias simply because it doesn't have red on it. I really don't mind, because I don't like red anyway!
The second thing I noticed is that the neck padding is very good. It is thick and I have no doubt that it will help to protect my throat against blunt impacts. The padding across the bib is also pretty good. It doesn't quite contour to my collar bone, but it will provide some welcome additional padding across parts of the collar bone, parts of the ribcage and part of the sternum. I'm quite happy with the level of padding on the item, especially for something that cost me £13.60!
The third thing I noticed is actually a major problem. In the image above, there is a red line between the throat part and the bib part. That is just two layers of thin synthetic fabric. There is no padding in there, nor any thrust-resistant or puncture-resistant material. If a thrust comes at me and hits my chest, then slides up my chest towards my neck, it is going to go into that area of material and there will be no protection at all against the thrust. In fact, with the angle of the bib and with the throat part sitting above this gap in protection, a thrust slipping up my chest will be guided directly into this area, which is not good.
I tried the throat protected last night during sparring. I tried to wear it in conjunction with my mask and with my Akademia Broni "Kurtka Standard F3" jacket. Although the Revival website says that this gorget should be able to fit under most gambesons or fencing jackets, it was unable to fit under my jacket. This could just be that my jacket is relatively small and tight around the throat, so the description might not be wrong; it does not claim that the item fits under *every* jacket, just most. The bib part fits under my jacket nicely, but the padding is so thick that I could not close the reinforced throat of my jacket. I was hoping that the jacket's reinforced throat would cover the problem area of the gorget as noted in the above paragraph, and that the padded throat of the gorget would provided further protection since the jacket's collar only extends up by an inch. Unfortunately this is not the case, and I cannot wear this gorget under my current jacket.
I also tried wearing the gorget over my jacket but under my mask. This was even more disastrous; while I could close my jacket's collar, the bib of the gorget pushed up and away from my chest, so any thrust hitting my torso could glance up and under the gorget with more ease than it could glance up and under my mask's bib by itself. The angle of the gorget's bib would guide such a thrust up into my throat without it being checked and stopped by the collar of the jacket. I genuinely feel that wearing one of these gorgets on top of the jacket would be a health and safety hazard; if it is to be worn, it *must* be underneath the clothing on the torso.
I ended up doing my sparring practice without the gorget. I couldn't make it fit under my jacket, I was not willing to risk wearing it over my jacket, so I discarded it for the evening.
Next time I do some lighter contact sparring, where I'm not wearing my jacket, I will try tucking the gorget under my t-shirt. I suspect it will perform quite well in that capacity, as an additional layer of defence for the throat and further padding for the collar bone and chest when a jacket is not being worn. Once I try it in that capacity at the next practice like that, I will post a further review on the item.
For £13.60 I don't begrudge the purchase, especially as I expect it to perform quite well when I am not wearing the jacket. For wearing a jacket with a tight neck however, this is not a suitable companion piece of equipment.