A number of weeks back, I noticed that my arm guards just weren’t doing the trick. I was using Reebok pads and one of their versions didn’t slip at all but provided less than ideal protection. The other provided great protection, but the pad was bulky and never stayed in place. Both Warrior and STX answered my call for new arm guards, and I’ve already reviewed the Cell IIs by STX. Now it’s Warrior’s turn!!! They offered up their brand new Nation 11 Arm Guard for trial and tribulation testing, and the product didn’t disappoint!
I wore the pads in my First Masters Event EVER, and have worn them again once or twice and they’ve performed really well. When I first put them on right out of the box, I was a little worried that they’d be too tight to really use, but after a minute or two of moving my arms around, the pads loosened up a bit. At the tourney I pulled them out of my bag, threw them on my arms and started playing and definitely noticed they were a bit stiff at first, but after a couple of minutes, I started to forget about them.
As the day went on, the pads got more comfortable, and by the end of the day they were just like a pair I’d been wearing for years. All the sweat certainly helped. Sometimes a product takes a while to break in, but the time can still be well worth it, and the Nation 11 Arm Guards fit right into this category. Because that’s really their only major drawback. And it’s really only a drawback if you think that breaking in a pair of new arm guards to game condition should take less than a couple of hours.
The overall padding design is nothing new, as the pads feature an upper arm pad, and a lower arm pad, which are connected by an elbow cap pad. However, the lower and upper arm pads and joined together quite closely, which allows for a smaller elbow pad. I focused on the break-in time of the pads earlier for this very reason. At first, the upper and lower pads’ close connection made the guard a little stiff, but as the padding and sewing breaks in a bit, this stiffness wears out and the pads function beautifully. The eventual flexibility is aided by having such a small elbow cap, one that can float quite freely.
The exterior padding on the Nation 11 Arm Guard is also something a little different. When you press on it hard with your thumb, the padding everywhere but the elbow cap almost seems like it crushes, sort of like a crumple zone in a car, and absorbs the pressure. The elbow cap is a rounded hard plastic covered pad that protects the small area between the upper and lower arm pads. This interesting pad structure allows for the arm guards to remain slim and stream lined, but still protect.
The last thing I noticed about the Nation 11 AGs is that the pads are basically placed in an ergonamic position on top of an elastic sleeve. Imagine having a spandex sleeve on your arm and then being able to sew pads onto that to create a pair of arm guards. Well that’s basically what Warrior did here. The pads also wrap around the arm a bit, as if they were molded to fit the contours of the human body, which they probably were. At the top and bottom there are adjustment straps, and while the fit is snug, the design and flexibility allow you to use the straps and get the fit just right.
Overall, the Warrior Nation 11 Arm Guard is comfortable, protective, a little innovate and it possesses a very low profile. It’s the opposite of bulky. The Arm Guard does take a little while to break-in, but due to its design and functionality, this seems necessary. Most top of the line Arm Guards run for between $75 and $110, and the Warrior Nation fits right into the middle of the pack at around $95. For being in the middle of the price range, and performing very well, the Warrior Nation 11 Arm Guard gets a super solid 8.5 out of 10! Most pads don’t make it out of the 7s! These babies look slim, but protect like their bigger siblings. I’d expect this to be a popular item in 2012.