Coping with heavy gear

So almost all my stuff for Empire has arrived! I’m super excited for the April event. I’ve got one small problem though: I’m a dingus who seriously misunderestimated the weight of chainmail. I got myself a mild steel hauberk and it is really heavy.

I don’t suppose there’s any tips or tricks for strutting around in heavy equipment? Exercising in this thing to get used to it seems like the most sensible option, so I’m jogging in it for 20+ minutes a day (starting about four days ago) and making sure I’ve got water at hand, but I’m worried that event day will come round and I still won’t be used to the weight of it. I hear a belt around the middle is meant to help support the weight of chainmail, and I feel like it helps a little bit but not loads.

Switching to aluminium seems like a good idea, but I don’t know if I have the cash for it: I got this full hauberk with long sleeves for cheaper than most places I can find an aluminium shirt.

right you need a decent leather belt make it so that the skirt of the maille sits on the belt there fore your hips take part of the weight and your shoulders the other part.
Don’t go for ali, its sh**.
Get your body used to the weight on you and just love the bit when your flying at the end. if you can get something padded for your shoulders that can act to make it comfier. Enjoy!!


A gambeson or other padded garment under your chain is good for taking a bit of the strain off your body.

Most important, though, is a good belt. It’ll redistribute the weight so it’s not all just hanging on your shoulders. I don’t wear chain myself, but I’ve heard various things from reenactors.


Risking making myself look like an idiot just in case you weren’t already thinking this: you don’t need to wear it all the time!

Putting it on for fights is good RP, taking it off after them is good RP, and not wearing it the whole time is (from experience) fantastic for not needing to spend half the event lying on the grass to conserve energy.

Seconding belt and padding, they make a huge difference.


Thank you guys!

When it comes to a belt, should I just tighten it around my waist or stomach while wearing my chainmail normally, or should I try and get a little beer belly of chainmail resting on top of it?

I’d like a gambeson for the authenticity, but the two things stopping me from getting one at the moment are cost (if I really enjoy Empire and decide I want to come to more events in future I’ll look into getting more kit) and worries about heat: I’m boiling away in the hauberk with just a t-shirt, a pair of trackies and a thin fancy dress robe underneath (the poor man’s arming doublet :stuck_out_tongue: Though, given it’s a cheap fancy dress item I think it’s probably artificial fabric, so it could be contributing to the heat). The ‘collar’ of the hauberk definitely does dig in though, so maybe a thin scarf just draped around my shoulders would help.

How long do battles and skirmishes at Empire tend to last? I definitely don’t want to be wearing this thing 24/7, just when its needed, but it’d be great if I could kind of set a goal for how long I ought to be able to wear it.

Battles normally last about 2 hours, with a lot of hurry up and wait involved in the lead up. But as long as you pace yourself you should be fine to jog about in armour for that. The real pro tip is bring along a flask of water and make sure you drink regularly.

I would recommend some sort of padding under your armour, I did chain with a thick larp shirt the first time and it destroyed my shoulders. These people do good value gambesons that are good for the first one you buy:

They’re also good to wear with monster kit too, which is PU plate, stops it rubbing :slight_smile: . I’ve got one of the long sleeved ones with tassets I bought on the field at Empire and it’s served me well since the start of Empire.


The secret cheap hack if you don’t want the cost and weight of a full gambeson is to buy a padded collar - Mytholon sell them, and several traders on the field are likely to have them available (the same models, note). This gives you most of the key padding, but is far cheaper and lighter.

Beyond that, a good stout belt helps as well. Darkblade makes very good ones for very reasonable prices. Ideally, get a friend to help put it on - you want to raise the mail up a bit, and then strap the belt on tightly, so that it’s sagging over the belt just a little when your arms are at rest.

Battles are a couple of hours. Skirmishes are under an hour. Even including time gearing up and so on, it’s quite difficult to need to spend more than perhaps three hours in one go in armour. And a surprising amount of that time will be standing or walking, not running.


Get a sturdy broad leather belt, and blouse the mail over it. (You want what you describe, a wee ‘beer belly’ of mail over the belt, at front and back.)
If you want to go all out, then lace the mail to the belt (holes in the belt, laces in the mail, put mail on then get someone else to lace the mail to the belt.) and that will stop the blousing slipping down as you move.
Mail should keep you cool. It’s a heatsink and radiator all in one. If you are overheating, it is probably the tunic. Synthetic fabrics are awful.
Linen is the best fabric for under mail. It wicks and breathes better than cotton, and is harder wearing.


I found a hero belt and mail bloused over the top to help a lot, as well as having a water skin of my own. I get stupidly hot when exercising so a gambeson is not an option for me


If you think the robe isn’t breathable enough and is increasing your heat then I’d personally change it, but then I found that overheating was actually a bigger problem than running out of stamina on the battlefield. I would seriously suggest you experiment with a few different underlayers to find one that you can live with and feels comfortable.

Also with regards to the battles themselves, running isn’t necessary most of the time. There might be the odd occasion when your entire unit is legging it and you absolutely need to keep up, but more often you can just stalk menacingly forwards in full heavy. Pacing yourself is the key to not dying of exhaustion.

1 Like