Faits D'Armes Historical Fencing Bag

Recently, I've started adding an extra practice session to my weekly routine with my instructor. We meet up before work at a park in downtown Denver, do an hour of practice, and then I walk a mile and a half to my office.

This gives you an idea of the context in which I decided to get the Faits D’Armes Historical Fencing Bag: I wanted a bag that was the right size to carry just enough gear to do some full-force sparring. I also needed the bag to be easy to carry.

Schlepping my duffle bag through the streets of downtown Denver with gear and a feder using the bag’s over the shoulder strap was not only an actual pain in the neck, it looked a bit silly, too. I had the occasion to answer a few facetious “What’s in the bag, dude?” style questions. “Bodies” seemed to be the answer that satisfied them.

Review Experience/Methodology

I bought the bag from the Faits D’Armes website for myself. I bought the bag to use it, not with the idea of reviewing it. I’ve used the bag to carry gear to fencing classes and to sparring practice. For reference, at the time I bought the bag, March 2017, I paid 75€ and 32€ shipping.

Construction & Materials

The bag is made from a heavy duty plastic coated fabric, I’m not sure what. It’s much taller than it is wide. There are some heavy fabric handles used to carry the bag horizontally, as well as padded adjustable shoulder straps used to carry the bag like a backpack. Both sets of straps are sewn on.

I’d prefer that these be riveted on or something similar, and I find myself being very careful as I pick the bag up, because I can already see that the sewn on straps will be under stress to pick up a full load.

Performance

The bag is up to the task of carrying just enough gear for sparring. The bag is much more compact than a duffle and has the exact feature I was looking for: backpack-style straps.

Inside I’m able to easily carry gear for a sparring session: jacket, mask, gloves, forearms, gorget, knee and shin protection, and a 54” (138cm) SGT feder. You have to pay attention to the best way to pack the equipment, for instance packing gloves inside of mask, knee protection at the bottom with the mask fitted inside of the curve - things like that, but it all fits fine.

I even tried pushing the limits a bit and added more - another feder, rapier, dagger, and light sparring gloves. The bag was at capacity but seemed fine. The zipper seems to be heavy duty enough to stay together under this kind of pressure, but I didn’t feel like I could just force the zipper into place. I felt the need to be careful each time I zipped it under that kind of pressure.

Carrying all of this on my back is still comfortable. The length of the bag makes it so walking is a little more awkward than normal, since the bottom of the bag goes below the hips, but it’s still more comfortable than carrying a duffel. These pictures show how the bag sits with enough gear for a light to medium sparring session.

The bag is also capable of carrying a full load of steel (editor's note: heh, he said 'load'). To a recent club open house event, I put my kit in my duffel and brought all of my little collection of toys in the new bag: two rapiers, one dagger, three feders, one blunt longsword, two side swords, and a cold steel rondel trainer. It felt more comfortable carrying that on my back than one feder stuffed into my duffel bag with the rest of my kit.

One other feature to mention is the second pocket for other gear or tools. The pocket is designed such that it sits on top of the rest of the bag, so no matter what’s in the bag, the pocket space isn’t compromised. So far, inside the pocket I keep my rondel trainer, MMA wraps (I find that they help my Konings fit better), and my trusty electrician’s tape for repairs. I could easily fit more in the pocket if I needed to.

Customer Service

Ordering from Faits d’Armes is great. The shipping time from their warehouse in France to Denver was remarkably fast.

I also have one very favorable interaction with customer service to report. I have ordered through the Faits d’Armes site in the past, and so they already had stored my address. Unfortunately, I forgot to check this address when I placed the order for the bag. I’m sure they presented it to me for confirmation a number of times, but I didn’t catch the fact that the address was actually an old one.

(There may have been alcohol involved.)

When I realized that the package was refused and that the address was wrong, I contacted customer service and received a prompt reply. They weren’t able to do anything about the package already being sent back to France, but without even being asked, they sent another bag that day and I received it a week later.

I think that qualifies as “above and beyond”, and I’d love to buy something from them again in the future.

Conclusion

The Faits d’Armes Historical Fencing Bag is not the bag to carry all your gear all the time, but it is a great choice for carrying just enough for a good sparring session, maybe even a tournament, comfortably. The only feature I’m concerned about is how durable the handles, and to a lesser extent, the backpack straps, will be. I’ll be paying extra attention every time I lift the bag or put it on my back.

There are other HEMA-sized bags with more durable construction and more features, like wheels or straps inside, and you’ll have to decide what your needs are.  But for the money? This is a great, no frills, comfortable bag.