The Case for Headbands in Fencing

Most people seem to believe that the fashion of wearing an absorbent, unisex sports headband came and went in the late 80s.

But brace yourselves, they’re coming back. The reason: they are so freaking practical! Especially for fencing. There are so many awesome benefits and they look pretty cool too:

  • Keep crap out of your face- They do a great job of keeping your hair and sweat out of your eyes while you fence, thereby removing potentially crippling distractions
  • Improved face to mask relationship- If you use a thicker, more absorbent brand, it helps hold your mask in position on your head. With the wire mesh bouncing around in front of your eyes less, you can focus more on the bout without your eyes having to work to keep adjusting to the shifting mask layout. The headband helps hold the mask comfortably in the right position while still giving you room to breathe inside the mask since your skin will be touching the grimy mask insides much less frequently.
  • Keep you looking beautiful- Wearing an absorbent headband can help improve your complexion. By keeping your face from rubbing against the inside of the mask and absorbing most of your sweat before it can soak up into your pores, you can reduce fencer breakouts.
  • Gives you an excuse- Adjusting your headband is a perfectly reasonable and easy way to buy yourself a few extra second from the ref between touches to break the other fencer’s momentum or rethink your strategy.
  • You’ll always have an extra towel – If you forget to bring an extra towel to practice or a competition, you’ll probably have a headband you can at least wipe your face with.

Headbands come in all types, designs and colors. You can absolutely find one that works for you. Thanks to their popularity for tennis, you can usually find a pretty good headband any place that sells athletic gear.

Here are a few different types that I’ve tried using in the past:

Nike Reversible Headband

Nike Premier Reversible Headband NNN06-011OS

This is the type of headband I’m using right now. It’s pretty absorbent, fits on my head well and has enough substance that it holds my mask in place nicely. After I’ve sweated in it for a while, I can flip it inside out and it feels like I’m wearing a fresher headband. When you flip it inside out, it shows a different color too. Because they are only $9 each, it’s easy to justify stocking up on a few of these. I’m a fan.

Nike Swoosh Bandanna Headband

Nike Tennis Swoosh Bandana- Light Armory Blue

This type of headband is really comfortable. The cloth is soft and it looks pretty cool too. The little kid in me loves how it kinda makes you look like a ninja with how it ties in the back. My only problem with it is that it isn’t very absorbent. Since I sweat A LOT when I fence, I don’t get to wear this headband long before it soaked through. I wish I didn’t sweat quite so much so I could rock this bad boy. At about $15 isn’t a great value but it’s not unreasonable either.

AllStar Fencing Headbands

SB - Image 1

These are the only “fencing specific” headbands I’ve come across so far. Frankly, I don’t like them. They are relatively absorbent but they are strangely wide and thin which makes then look weird. Because they are so thin, it doesn’t hold my mask in place the way I like very well either. I found this one for a little over $9 online.

Generic headband

I love how cheap a random generic headband is! They are always relatively absorbent and come in all kinds of colors. You can get them for $2 on Amazon. They are always decently absorbent, and they tend to be reasonably thick. The one problem is that they stretch out really quick. After a few wears and washes, you will probably have a headband that if way too lose on your head. That’s ok thought when you can replace them for 2 bucks.

Generic Bandanas

Bandanas, Red/Blue Western, Pack of 12

Some people like them but I’m really not a fan. They are never quite big enough to wrap around my big head and I think they look dumb but who am I to judge… They absorb sweat better than you would expect and they come in all kinds of colors and designs. You can also find these absurdly cheap online.


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