Shin protector (shin guard or shin pad) is equipment used in many sports such as football, baseball, rugby and cricket to protect the athletes from being hit by other athletes or the ball. shin protector is not required in general boxing. However, Muay Thai, which kicking is allowed, is used shin protector in amateur competition. The shin protector in Muay Thai is soft but that of in football is hard. The difference is that the shin protector for Muay Thai is used to protect the person who does not wear it from taking the kick but the one in football is to protect the person to wear it in case other players are accidentally hit the shin.
The difference between Muay Thai shin protector and other shin protector is that Muay Thai protector is usually bigger than other types. It covers all the way from your lower leg, right below the knee to your feet because, in Muay Thai, you can be aggressively hit everywhere and one hard kick can broke your shin to three pieces and immediately end your career. The more you protect your body, the safer you are.
Also, one of an interesting part we see in shin protector, and probably other Muay Thai equipment, is the decoration in traditional Thai style. You can even have them as a collection because each is very unique. You can never find them anywhere in the world.
Price of the shin protector can be varied starting from a few USD to hundreds depending on many factors. The cheap one usually low in quality and is appropriate in training only, not applicable in the real competition. The high quality ones meet all requirements and usually make the person who use it feel more comfortable. It is light and insert with some materials that absorb sweat such as some synthetic fabric so you can focus on your training or fighting only. Some high quality shin protector has steel inserted to strengthen the equipment.
Sometimes, wearing expensive shin protector is not the final answer. You should think about the main purpose. If you want to use it in the practice only and do not plan to go for the real competition, do not buy an expensive one. If you are just a beginner, wearing those steel shin protectors can be quite uncomfortable and can discourage you quite a lot. Start with the one you feel most comfortable with. If you go to Muay Thai gym, they usually have many types of shin protectors for you, try it first, move around with them for a while. Do not choose because it looks cool. You are not cool anyway, if you use it awkwardly.
However, it is highly recommended to wear during the training, especially if you are the beginner. Like I said before, one kick at the shin can severely break your leg and end, or long-postpone your career. Also, it helps you to move faster when you move without them later or make you familiar with the standard Muay Thai Equipment that are required in the real fight.