Legend I Guards
In a world of plastic/synthetic soccer gear here emerges the first equipment piece with the environment in mind to catch our eye. Bamboo is extremely sustainable (the fastest growing plant on earth!), a very strong material (often used for hardwood floors), and ridiculously lightweight for its strength. In the soccer shinguard market, this is a match made in heaven. In soccer, we see guards that break apart easily however though these guards only weigh 1.5 oz, they have the tensile strength of steel. As players grow older, there is the desire for no guards at all, or ones that are as small/light as possible and these are small yet strong.
The Bamboo Legend I is sustainable both environmentally and in its material use as well – covering only the most vulnerable 7 inches of the shin to fracture, with a teardrop design that allows it to fit the leg of most. These guards are really small which suggests a product for upper level players, who are not as worried about the tiny knocks on the rest of the leg but want to protect from long term injury.
The craftsmanship is fantastically simple, a very compact design. Holding a pair of these bamboo/woodlike guards in the hand for the first time is really something of a novelty. The scent of the wood burned logo has a uniqueness that makes you sense the guards motives. The patented teardrop shape narrows toward the ankle and knee, allowing the guard to cover the tibia but retain as low profile as possible. 5 bamboo layers molded into an insanely strong but lightweight form (they have a strength test that sees them withstand a sledgehammer). Thick foam layer on the interior of the guards should provide enough comfort, and its antimicrobial – shouldn’t get as stinky as your typical guards. And so on with the testing.
A one size fits all shin guard was something a bit new to me and so I was eager to try these out. The initial test was a bit uncomfortable for me as I have thick calves for my height – my height ratio didn’t allow me to wear these Bamboo Legend Guards as high on my leg as I’d like without pinching in slightly on the sides. After some clarification from the manufacturers, I found out about the target area for these guards which is starting 1 inch above the ankle and covering the 7 inches above. For the next play test, I implemented the suggestions and wore the guards in the lower position. With them laying more flush with my leg there was minimal movement which was ideal. Whether they were still on my leg or not was a constant question I had as I would reaffirm with a knock on wood every 10 minutes or so of play. They were that seamless.
The question remains with me about if one size guard can fit all – and this will come down to preference in the placement.
The soccer equipment category is generally a bit lost in the shuffle regarding customization. Cleats can only last so long before succumbing to normal wear and tear, and balls have never seen that area of the market at least for sale to the regular everyday customer. Insert – the last guard you’ll ever have to buy, in theory. After watching the Legend Soccer staff whack away at these guards with hammers and other blunt objects, I’m not sure they’ll ever succumb to the regular wear and tear most products do which makes them an ideal candidate to inscribe a logo of your team, your number etc.
The Bamboo provides a great blank canvas, and Legend are working to offer unique laser-cut customization at a consumer level eventually. These guards are worth a buy, even as a novelty item. Ultimately though, you want your shinguards for practical purposes, you want guards that protect you and that you never have to worry about. For the first time in my experience, shin-guards could emerge from the depths of the soccer bag; not stinky and hiding away, but sitting proudly on the shelf showing your participation in the sustainability movement while playing and supporting your team.