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Gambeson

We are happy to see you in category Gambesons. Various models of quilted body protection, shown in this section, were used by medieval knights in different historical periods. Our gambesons are made-to-measure custom models and perfect choice for reenactors and fans of history.

About Gambeson

Gambeson, aketon or “almost armor”

High quality, holeproof and soft padded armor is an essential item in wardrobe of any fighter. Despite any metal or brigandine armor is good in its own right, each of them is useless without such simple, but irreplaceable detail as gambeson. But, sometimes stars are placed in such a way that underarmor starts own being. It protects so good that becomes an independent armor. Just like a gambeson – the thickest, the softest, the largest an armor on its own.

***

First references and pictures of this part of armament can be find in the X-XI centuries; its popularity goes down in the XIV century. Dawn of gambeson falls at the XII-XIII centuries. We should specify that we speak not about late pourpoints and underarmors, thin and tight enough. No, here is their ancestor – gambeson jacket… or aketon?  

It is not possible to say definitely, what are the differences between gambeson and aketon, since these terms are confused quite often. However, the most of the researchers tended to believe that aketon is a “padded shirt”, close and more coarse cloth. However, gambeson (to which term “gambeson jacket” was used more often) could be unbuttoned and more fanciful.

There are also mentions about layering: aketon, chainmail, gambeson. With clarification of expensive outer fabric, silk gambeson and coat of arms on it. In such a way, gambeson could function as protective outfit, parade clothing of knight and his cott-de-arm. If we talk about body protection of common warriors, so there are frequent references and images of aketon armor as a single protection.

But! At the same time, we may see inverse layering that embarrasses researchers and reenactors even more.

However, the most popular version is that aketon armor is clothing of not noble or unwealthy infantrymen. Close, thick and coarse clothes, which interchanged an armor. But, knights were flaunting in gambeson coat, wearing it as under the main armor, so over it with, and with aketon under armor. It was not necessarily, they could do it vice versa;)

***

Ancient manuscripts, which reproduce details of the past events with maniacal accuracy, are treasure troves of valuable information for research and remodelment of padded armor. In spite of conditionalism in the medieval art, here we can drill down gambesons and aketons at their finest and in any possible variants. Grave tombs and bas-reliefs with images of medieval heroes are also survived until our days.

This padded armor is quite long – bottom hem reaches knees; it has vertical stitching and might have festoons on the edge. Sleeves might be as tight, so wide. In the first case, they are wrist-length or even lengthened into the mittens. In the other variant, they reach elbow and might be decorated with festoons as well. As a rule, collars are high and hard and stitched like a body part of gambisons. Some images allow us suggesting that gambeson/aketon does not have a collar, though there is a separate element – quilted pelerine with high collar or coif – is worn over it. Such models could be as pulled over (if they were close), so worn as a jacket. Last variant suggested buttons or lacing for fastening.  

***

Let’s have a look at gravures from The Morgan Bible, also called the Crusader Bible or Maciejowski Bible (Forty three folios are kept in the Pierpont Morgan Library. Two folios are kept in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. A single folio is kept in the J. Paul Getty Museum.)

For example, at this fragment, we can see two aketon-wearers in wide aketons with short tight sleeves. One of them has a collar, which looks like a separate element, worn over. Judging by absence of helmets, chainmail elements and weapon, it is hardly a cream of knighthood.

***

These two poor fellows with heads to be cut, have two different variants – with long tight sleeves, lengthened into mittens and with wide short sleeves, under which we may see mail sleeves with gloves. By the way, collar of long sleeved gambeson is definitely a separate element: even a fastening is shown. So, despite the faith is unfortunate, they are probably noble and well-pocketed men.

***

However, for a true researcher, it is dishonorably to orient only at one source. So let's examine one more masterpiece of medieval painting, which also acquaints us with padded armor - Grandes Chroniques de France or Les Chroniques de Saint-Denis (British Library).

Here is an entire parade of medieval gambesons or even aketon armor. They are not unbuttoned and worn as outer layer; however, helmets and plate armor imply that wearers are definitely not peasants. Colors are for any choice, some of them are even two-colored.

***

Here we can see at least one handsome guy in open gambeson jacket. Colors still delight our eyes.

***

And, one more:

***

This way, it is not too possible to separate gambeson and aketon. But, should we have to do that? However, why was gambison so popular among medieval knights and modern reenactors? There are few reasons:

  1. There are simplicity and cheapness of manufacture. Of course, gambeson material, used for quilting, was not too cheap. But, there were a choice among the lowest-budget linen gambeson to the kingly classy silk gambeson. There were models for any taste and pocket.​

*By the way, besides above-mentioned materials, Steel Mastery is ready to make cotton gambeson or leather gambeson for your body protection, or even Kevlar gambeson.

In any case, such variant will be cheaper than steel armor. Talking about technology, sewing did not require special equipment, but only fabric, needles, threads and much, very much of patience.

  1. Both medieval gambeson and modern gambeson have good protective qualities. You may be surprised, but medieval people wanted to stay alive very much, so unreliable body protection wouldn’t be simply caught on.  Present-time fighters does not have such a great threat, but they are not masochists. So, multi-layered, good-stitched aketon almost guaranteed wearer’s safety.  Moreover, if one would wear aketon, then chainmail or another armor, and then gambeson over it… Well, very few plate armor could provide such a protection.

  1. Such padded armor may be sewn in any variants and for any taste: light gambeson, hard gambison, long gambeson, short gambison, short-sleeved gambeson, long sleeved gambison, sleeveless gambeson… And so on. Various colors, appliqued ornaments, coat of arms and blazons – in whatever way you would like to adorn your gambeson (or aketon, after all?), so Steel Mastery is always for your service. Order it and into the breach!

Gambeson actively used in medieval epoch Europe in XIV century. It came from an aketon, a suit jacket or a gambison (from the English Gambeson). Knights used medieval gambeson as an indispensable element of armor plate (under drawer) or as an independent armor.

Traditionally, parts of knights armor were attached to the gambeson sleeves by linen or silk cords. In different times, this kind of armor called as a "fighting jacket". Such armor outfit was an integral part of the knight's kit. Gambeson was as an underwear of a breastplate or chain mail.

As an independent armor Gambeson was made of thick materials (presumably, the material for it was leather). Sometimes leather gambeson had from 18 to 30 protective layers.

Let’s try to understand what it is:

  1. Gambeson in a broad sense is a padded jack, worn under or over an armour, or in a narrower context - quilted or printed fabric or leather long jacket, worn under the armour. It was also used as a separate kind of armour.

  2. Aketon - (the term "aketon" comes from borrowing from the Arabic language al-qutn "cotton") is a cotton or linen jacket, worn under the armour, composed of several layers of thick cloth or leather, quilted together. It can be both short-sleeved, and even without them. Sometimes leather cords were sewn to the sleeves of aketon to fix the armour.

  3. Doublet is a leather or fabric short jacket, worn under the plate armour. Unlike gambeson (in a narrow context) and aketon, doublet looked more like civilian clothes.

  4. Pourpoint is a fabric short quilted jacket with a slim fit waist and puffed-up chest.

  5. Jacques (jack) is multi-layer fabric short jacket, used as separate infantry armour. Sometimes it was worn over the mail armour.

For tailoring of the gambeson we use only natural materials. This provides not only sufficient level of protection, but also appropriate level of comfort.

Gambeson cut options and used materials will satisfy all over customers:

  • supporters of historical authority - reenactments
  • participants of SCA events
  • Larp - "Live Action Role-Playing" participants

The proposed site models take into account the various specifics of our gambesons. At the wish of the customer gambeson can be machine or hand sewing.

As a set for gambeson warp we offer different materials (colors available): linen, silk, cotton, wool, velvet, leather.

linen linen gambeson
silk silk gambeson
cotton cotton gambeson
wool woolen gambeson
velvet velvet gambeson
leather leather gambeson

For the lining we use:

  • cotton
  • silk 
  • linen 

We can produce different types of them: short, long, sleeveless, short sleeved, closed-front. 

short Gambeson, short gambeson, black gambeson
long Gambeson, long gambeson, jousting gambeson
sleeveless Gambeson, sleevless gambeson
short sleeved Gambeson, short-sleeved gambeson
closed-front Gambeson, closed-front gambeson

Gambeson options: you can choose one or make your own design.

  • Gambeson could be ONE, TWO or FOUR colored combination. 
Gambeon, one colored gambeson, gambeson by Steel Mastery Gambeson, two colored gambeson, gambeson by Steel Mastery Gambeson, 4-colored gambeson, gambeson by Steel Mastery
  • If you wish historical (mottos, names of city or area) and free nature inscriptions can be embroidered on it. 
Gambeson blue motto gambeson blue embroidery gambeson by steel mastery Gambeson red motto gambeson red embroidery gambeson by steel mastery Gambeson yellow motto gambeson yellow embroidery gambeson by steel mastery
  • Gambeson sleeves can be completely sewn, with a hole under the armpit or laced for better mobility. 
Gambeson sleeves gambeson by steel mastery standard Gambeson sleeves gambeson by steel mastery with holes Gambeson sleeves gambeson by steel mastery laced
  • Gambeson padding can be done vertically, rhomb-shaped or any other shape. 
Gambeson padding by steel mastery rhomb Gambeson Padding vertical steel mastery
  • Gambeson bottom edge can be decorated with festoons with configuration selected by the customer.
Gambeson bottom edge style 1 Gambeson bottom edge style 2 Gambeson bottom edge style 3 Gambeson bottom edge style 4
  • In case if the gambeson must be fastened we offer a choice of buttons (metal, cast bronze with ornaments, buttons covered with cloth) or leather lacing. 
Gambeson metal button Steel mastery Gambeson leather laces Steel mastery Gambeson metal buckles Steel mastery Gambeson casting buckles Steel mastery
  • It is possible to select the number of layers of padding (from 2 to 6) to create the gambeson of desired thickness. 
Gambeson padding layers 1 Gambeson padding layers 2 Gambeson padding layers 3 Gambeson padding layers 4 Gambeson padding layers 5 Gambeson padding layers 6

Historical pause

Quilted vests were in use in Asian countries for a long time. However, European knights saw the true value of medieval under armour only in the XII-XIII centuries. Such clothing was called gambeson, aketon or doublet. All these types were rather similar in meaning, but had own characteristics and differences.  For example, aketon could be worn under the main armour, and highly decorated thin gambeson was worn over the body defense. Sometimes it could be combined: sleeveless gambeson was worn over the aketon to reinforce its protective features.

gambeson by Steel MasteryGeneral feature of medieval under armour was design. There was rather thick jacket, which had vertical or horizontal quilting. Sleeves were puffed or flared a little. Their length could vary: some gambesons did not have sleeves at all.  Cut of body part was straight or a fitted a bit. Gambeson was usually knee-length or had length to the middle of thighs. Bottom edge was pl

Review about items

  • Renaissance period gambeson XVI-XVII century
    Renaissance period gambeson XVI-XVII century
    HG-08

    JERRY J

    Amazing item! I ordered it with 1 layer of padding and that is more than enough for use under a plate harness. I am super excited about this product and plan on ordering from Steel Mastery in the future.

  • Gambeson VI-XIII century
    Gambeson VI-XIII century
    HG-09

    Dale

    This padded gambeson is perfect!. It is superb quality and workmanship. I have recommended you to all my comrades!

  • European gambeson front closed
    European gambeson front closed
    HG-02

    Cristoff Moor

    Hello! I received the gambeson today. It is in perfect conditions and the measures are ok. Thank you!

  • European gambeson front closed
    European gambeson front closed
    HG-02

    Mike Shufter

    Absolutely delighted with your service, the quality of gambeson, the packaging and the amazing pricing. Will definitely order something more from you again.

  • European gambeson front closed
    European gambeson front closed
    HG-02

    John Ellis

    This is an amazing gambeson made by skilled armorers. I would buy from seller again!

  • Arming doublet / aketon - 1360 year
    Arming doublet / aketon - 1360 year
    HG-03

    Andreas Völcker

    Wonderful care and good work keep it up. We recommend

  • Arming doublet, 1405 year
    Arming doublet, 1405 year
    HG-04

    Andrew Waterson

    The arming doublet was very well made and my son (who it is for) was more than happy with it. Steel Masters service is very good and professional. The custom made size fits perfectly, is very comfortable to wear and easy to move around in. This isn't our first product from Steel Mastery and it will not be our last order from them as all their products have been well made and their service has always been good..

  • Arming doublet, 1405 year
    Arming doublet, 1405 year
    HG-04

    Dom Sanerivi

    I bought this gambeson with the intention of using it for HEMA. My first observation of it was that it is thick and flexible. I chose the thinnest option, and it hasn't affected my mobility in the slightest. I can get my arms to touch my ears, a feat nobody else in my club can achieve in their gear. It is very warm, and comfortable enough that I've worn it as a jacket when going for walks. I cannot stress enough how much I like this gambeson!

  • Arming doublet, 1405 year
    Arming doublet, 1405 year
    HG-04

    T.F

    The Doublet is beautiful. It fits perfectly, and even thought it is only 3 layers, it is sturdy and feels like a stand alone armor. I can not get over how comfortable it is. I have several “off the shelf” gambersons, but nothing comes close in quality or fit to this doublet. I don’t understand why I waited so long to get a respectable piece such as this.

  • Arming doublet, 1405 year
    Arming doublet, 1405 year
    HG-04

    Adam

    I am very satisfied of the products and will order on Steel mastery the next time

  • Arming doublet, 1405 year
    Arming doublet, 1405 year
    HG-04

     James

    Overview: I ordered this gambeson for use in HEMA, specifically the works of Fiore dei Liberi. This is is the first tailored garment I own, and the difference between this and an off-the-shelf gambeson is incredible. I have full practical range of movement. I have worn several gambesons in the past, and all of them required me to fight them to move the way I wanted. With this gambeson, I simply MOVE, and the gambeson complies. It is an ally to my movements, not an enemy. Fit: As in the overview, the fit on this gambeson is excellent. I was worried my measurements would be wrong, or something wouldn't sit quite right, but Steel Mastery has provided an amazing garment based on my sub-par measurements. I can lift both hands above my head, reach my hand over my shoulder and into the small of my back, and do many of my normal stretches while wearing it. It fits snugly without being tight. The tailored waist keeps the fabric against my flanks, which helps to avoid bunching and discomfort. The linen fabric seems to breathe quite well, and while it keeps me warm, I did not feel as though I was overheating over the couple hours I wore it last week. More testing in the summer months at renaissance faires in California will see how that holds up. Protection: I bought this gambeson for use in HEMA sparring and the occasional tournament. I wear a WinterTree gorget under the gambeson to protect my collarbone and throat. The gambeson fits very nicely over the gorget, and keeps it flush to my body. While I would not karate block and incoming sword blow and expect the gambeson to protect my bones from being broken (it's not steel armor after all) it does what I feel a gambeson should do in terms of protection. It makes sure that errant or poorly executed cuts are nothing to worry about. I am confident this garment would protect me from minor alignment errors even against period-sharp swords, though I will not likely test that any time soon. I received a couple of thrusts to the torso and cuts to the arm during my testing, and they all felt solid but manageable. I cannot speak to more layers of padding, but if you are planning on wading in against opponents with little to know control and that "but hitting hard is how you HEMA" mindset, you may be helped by 3 or 4 layers of padding. For me, I'm comfortable with the protection offered. Style: Gods damn, I look good in this. This gambeson really stands out from the crowd. In an era where ren faires seem to be dominated by mass produced garments from the same three shops, and where tournament fighters wear what look to be space suits and call them "historical" this piece of kit REALLY brings together the medieval look. The blue is subtle. At first, I thought it was black! But sunlight shows its true color. Regal, but not ostentatious.

  • Arming doublet, 1405 year
    Arming doublet, 1405 year
    HG-04

    Francisco Seven

    Communication was excellent and the gambeson is amazing!!! +++++ Will buy again!!

  • Arming doublet, 1405 year
    Arming doublet, 1405 year
    HG-04

    Lucas Mendes

    I got this doublet in royal blue, 2 layers with linen exterior. With some nice festoons. It's an amazing doublet. The color is beautiful the linen makes it really soft and comfortable to wear. Their products are built to last and the craftsmanship is beautiful. Not only does it protect well in battles it also looks amazing on its own. I only use steel mastery padding under my armour. Amazing customer service and shipping was very fast and resonable. I recommend them to everyone looking for gambesons and the like.

  • Aketon, second half of the 14th - first half of the 15th century
    Aketon, second half of the 14th - first half of the 15th century
    HG-06

    Dylan

    Very satisfied with the service at Steel Mastery! I opted to have extra buttons and additional length and they were more than happy to make the adjustments for me.

  • Aketon, second half of the 14th - first half of the 15th century
    Aketon, second half of the 14th - first half of the 15th century
    HG-06

    Misère

    Great choice of customization! And the manufacturers are attentive to historical requests: I ordered a gambison with real eyelets sewn instead of the usual straps, it's solid! Thanks from France! (French crossbowman of 1459, franc-arbalétrier d'Auvergne)

  • Eastern Gambeson
    Eastern Gambeson
    HG-07

    Peter

    I heard nothing but only good reviews about Steel Mastery from my friends. However, I've never ordered custom-produced products on-line, as I doubted it may be manufactured well without personal attendance (my body has some "peculiar" features, hehe). Finally, I ordered this Eastern gambeson (two-layered, black linen), provided measures and approximately in a month, I got my gambeson. What can I say - these guys have an eye for custom manufacturing! Firm stitching, nice fabrics, and what is the most important - gambeson fits me so good, not even like a glove, but like a skin, lol)) So, 5 of 5 stars and highly recommended!

  • Eastern Gambeson
    Eastern Gambeson
    HG-07

    David

    I ordered this for a number of reasons (style, color options and more protective than my other gambeson) and am very satisfied with the result. I can tell I'mma get a lot of use out of this in my HEMA group

  • Eastern Gambeson
    Eastern Gambeson
    HG-07

    Alexander Morena

    I just receiv the gambeson, and it is amazing ! Thank you, you and all the team, for it ;)

  • Eastern Gambeson
    Eastern Gambeson
    HG-07

    Gustav Morgan

    I do all my online medieval shopping with Steel-mastery and I'm never disappointed. They are the best. Quality and service is the best. Return process is really easy and simple. I ordered the wrong style gambeson, so I just paid for shipping and additional cost for some options that I needed. Thank you guys, for your understanding and patience.

  • Eastern Gambeson
    Eastern Gambeson
    HG-07

     Jose

    Tested in combat and really confortable. Made to measure and fast delivery. Very well attended also. I'll definitely buy from Steel Mastery again!!

  • Eastern Gambeson
    Eastern Gambeson
    HG-07

     Steve

    I received my gambeson and I am very happy. It is really comfortable and beautiful.

  • Gambeson with sewn mittens of the XIII century
    Gambeson with sewn mittens of the XIII century
    HG-12

    Sean Gaffney

    Great Product it was of extremely high quality and exactly what I ordered. When it says custom design they take the time to work with you and make sure they are building the suit that is right for you. Sound contact all the way through the process keeping you updated on progress and always happy to talk.

  • Gambeson with sewn mittens of the XIII century
    Gambeson with sewn mittens of the XIII century
    HG-12

    Nick

    This is a great gambeson. It is very sturdy and well made, with a good historical feel. I chose maximum padding, 5 layers, and in addition to being very protective it wears surprisingly light and is very comfortable. If you go with this option I would recommend getting the open armpits however, because it gets very hot at this thickness. And finally, Steel-mastery's customer service is excellent. After ordering the gambeson I found that I had misunderstood the measuring procedure, and they went ahead and made a whole new gambeson without extra charge.

  • Gambeson with sewn mittens of the XIII century
    Gambeson with sewn mittens of the XIII century
    HG-12

    Chris Aartsen

    Amazing quality for such a prize. It's very comfortable to wear and does its job 100%. Only prob I had was with the laces but that was easily taken care of.

  • Long gambeson of the XI-XV centuries
    Long gambeson of the XI-XV centuries
    HG-21

    Peter

    I'm vey happy with this gambeson. It's very well made, and everything about it fits perfectly. The customizable options really let you get exactly what you want, and customer service was very helpful. Shipping was also quite quick considering how far it had to go.

  • Long gambeson of the XI-XV centuries
    Long gambeson of the XI-XV centuries
    HG-21

     H. Serrano

    Good quality and a fantastic work! I ordered this gambeson for HEMA training and I'm very satisfied with the results. Highly recomended.

  • Long gambeson of the XI-XV centuries
    Long gambeson of the XI-XV centuries
    HG-21

    Mike Wilks

    Awesome service. I just got my second gambeson. First one was spoiled at customs or during transportation. Package was opened and closed again. On the front part there were some oily stains. Before shipping Steel mastery send me the photo, everything was fine. Since it was not their fault, I agreed to pay for the shipment in both directions, but the manager discussed the situation with the owner and we split the shipping price. A+ or AAA+++. You are the best.

  • Long gambeson of the XI-XV centuries
    Long gambeson of the XI-XV centuries
    HG-21

     Manuel

    I own this Gambeson for a month now and for me it is well worth the prize. The made to measure fit is comfortable and doesn't restrict movement. The finish leaves nothing to find fault with, stitchings are firm and no loose threads up until now.

  • Ordinary Gambeson
    Ordinary Gambeson
    CG-02

     Kjell

    An excellent item! Three layers of linen keep me snug and warm, and though it felt a little tight at first, I quickly got used to wearing it!

  • Ordinary Gambeson
    Ordinary Gambeson
    CG-02

     Adrien

    I use my gambeson for sword fighting. It is resistant, protects well and fits me perfectly. During the whole procedure, I had an excellent follow-up and I received my order on time. What more ? I am very satisfied of what i ordered :)

  • Ordinary Gambeson
    Ordinary Gambeson
    CG-02

    Sondre

    I have this gambeson in linen with 3 layers of padding in the torso and 2 layers in the arms. With holes in the armpits this gambeson gives good maneuverability, and my movements do not feel restricted while using a sword. The overlap in the front of the gambeson seems sufficient enough to stop a sword thrust from slipping in. The gambeson also does a good job at keeping me warm, even in snowy environments.

  • Ordinary Gambeson
    Ordinary Gambeson
    CG-02

     Claudia

    I am very happy with this gambeson. The choices of material are nice and it fits nicely.