Bags

These can be broadly classed as roll bags and others.  The roll bags have wheels (obviously) and usually a rigid base. The others can be rectangular, as most roll bags are, or a type commonly known as a “guitar” bag with one end broad for the mask tapering to a narrow end opposite.

·         The large roll bags are intended for competitive fencers who travel to competitions and need to cart a 30 kg bag from the airport to the venue. This doesn't apply to children fencing in Brisbane. Nonetheless, they can make things easier when you have a lot of gear. They are worth considering if you think you will be getting a full set of competition gear (whites, electrics and 2-4 weapons) for Little Johnnie/Jenny in the near future, especially if there might be the chance of competing in two different weapons. They do take up more space in the car, and are not well suited to small hatchbacks (touring fencers will proudly tell you how many they could fit into a minuscule rental car, but this should not be emulated). These bags are also heavy themselves, with some models weighing 10 kgs empty – most are 4-8 kg.

·         The larger rectangular roll bags usually have two longitudinal compartments allowing you to separate blades from sweaty gear, reducing the rust on the blade and the rust marks on the whites.

·         The “guitar” bags, which are usually wedge-shaped and sometimes have wheels, can be quite practical for those who fence a single weapon and can pack light.  Some are larger than others: the Leon Paul version, called a “Free Runner” is very large and will hold two masks with five weapons and other gear.  Others are more compact and better suited to those who fence one weapon, with one mask and 2-3 foils and clothing.

·         The name brand bags, as usual, are good, however there are a surprising number of perfectly good “cheap and cheerful” bags out there. A critical factor is length, which must be 110 cm at least: 105 is enough for up to two pistol grip foils, but more than that, or French grips, or epées or sabres will soon prove unmanageable. Even though the pistol grip foil is shorter than that, you will find it difficult to pack more than a couple into a short bag as they want to lie with the guards overlapping, forcing one in front and one behind.

·         Side pockets are useful, but don’t go overboard. Two is enough, any more is a bonus. Water bottle storage sounds great but is not much in use – if there is just water in the bottle you will soon throw it in anywhere anyway, and if it is anything else the special water bottle pocket still won’t keep coloured sports drinks away from the whites when it goes wrong.

·         For a large rectangular bag, wheeled or not, you want separate compartments for the weapons and the rest.  A small one might just have one compartment.  Most “guitar” bags will only have one.  For these, placing the weapons in a “scabbard” of electrical conduit will at least minimize rust stains on whites.  If there are separate compartments, don’t bother with conduit.

·         Some bags have comically large zips (you’ll understand when you see them) which are really quite strong – if all else is equal, look for these. Fencing bags tend to fail for three reasons – the zip breaks (most common), the ends get holes (usually because the bag is too short so the weapon tips are pressing against the fabric) or the wheels fall off a wheel bag (either due to age, pulling them down stairs or “Made in China”).

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