The shinguard is an essential piece of an equipment for any footballer, so it’s no surprise that in recent years, much like football boots, they too have got lighter and lighter. We were lucky enough to get our hands on GL Sport’s carbon fiber ElitePro shinguards, and had the chance to customize our own pair. With a pricetag of $96 USD with customization, around the same as a pair of Mercurial Blades we set out to find out whether the ElitePro were a good purchase. Thanks to Luca for making this review possible.
As these are a customized pair of shinguards, its definitely worth looking at the ordering process behind the GL Sport ElitePro. As I found out the whole process is pretty self explanatory, with one minor problem, the program that GL Sport uses to let you personalize your pair of shinguards is all in Italian. Despite this minor setback, I found that it was easy to figure out the basics of the program, and to upload an image from your computer or the web.
Once you’ve got the image uploaded, you’re then able to move it around on the shinguard, change its size, add text and other effects like a border. You can choose to copy this design onto the second shinguard, or like I did, use a totally different design. Personally, I found that all I really wanted from the software was the ability to upload my own image, and apart from the text feature, I didn’t utilize any of the others (partially because it was all in Italian) so regardless it did what I wanted it to do.
After you finish designing your shin guards, you then go through the checkout steps, one of which involves picking the colour of the neoprene backing. GL Sport do have two sizes, one is up to 30cm while the other is over 30cm.
The one problem I have with this software and process is that its pretty buggy as sometimes it works, while other times you have to refresh the page multiple times before you get to the customization screen.
Alternatively, if you want to get past designing the shin guard yourself, and just want to request a certain design, GL Sport have a ‘request’ feature which lets you contact them with any ideas you have for your pair of shinguards. They will then design a pair with you, for no extra charge.
Once you have entered in your registration information (the usual, name, address, etc) you have an assortment of payment options. You can either pay with PayPal/Visa or through a bank transfer. All in all while the process isn’t the most hassle-free due to the language and the buggy nature of the program, it most certainly gets the job done if you have a bit of patience.
In terms of design, there were a couple of things I was surprised about when I received my shinguards a couple of days after I placed my order. First and foremost, the sheer size of the neoprene backing shocked me. Pictures really don’t show how large the neoprene backing is, but in a sense having a huge blob of neoprene behind a piece of carbon fiber takes away some of the elegance of the product. On the plus side, my design came out really well, as there were no noticeable differences from what I had done on the program.
One of my initial fears was that the neoprene wasn’t securely fastened to the carbon fiber, but now after a bunch of sessions with the shinguards, I can confirm that it is pretty securely stuck. Certainly not the most clean and elegant looking shinguard around, but in terms of getting what you designed, the ElitePro definitely deliver.
Fit and Comfort
Ultimately, the fit and comfort of a shinguard is two out of three of the most important factors (the third being protection). One thing that is certainly a factor is the size that you pick, I got both sizes, and there is a definite difference. I could see how ordering the wrong size could end up in you receiving a shinguard that doesn’t fit too well, but thankfully I measured my size and got my customized pair in the right size. As a result, the shinguards fit really well, and they were really comfortable in the sense that you don’t notice them while playing. All of this is thanks to the neoprene backing that I highlighted as a negative in the design section. What’s more, they don’t slip down your leg while you’re playing, a problem you encounter if your shinguard is too small.
This is one area where I can’t fault the GL Sport ElitePro customized shinguards. Coming in at $96 USD, not including shipping (it’s worth mentioning GL Sport offer worldwide shipping), the customized ElitePro cost the same as a non-customized Nike Mercurial Blade, a top of the line shinguard. Obviously the one question that has come up countless times while I’ve been testing these out is: “What’s the point of a customized shinguard, it’s not like anybody sees it”. I would consider this a very valid point, if the shinguards cost exponentially more than any other carbon fiber shinguard, which they don’t. Ultimately, you are paying the same amount for more, and that is something that has to be chalked down as a positive.
Overall, the GL Sport customized carbon fiber shinguards are a good product. Apart from the buggy customization software, and the rather clunky looking neoprene backing, you get a shinguard that has a design identical to what you submit, is well fitting, comfortable and a similar price to other carbon fiber shinguards.
You can check out GL Sport’s website here.