Who Makes Leather Armor? – History, Style, & Types

Have you watched any of the legends from ancient times? Scenes where soldiers charge toward the enemy lines, swords clashing against shields, and arrows raining down on them. As a teen, I was fascinated by how the warriors without bulletproof vests or Kevlar fought bravely.

It’s hard to imagine facing danger without the modern advancements we have today. But leather armor was once the best defense against swords, arrows, and claws. A well-built one can mean the difference between life and death. Thus, my admiration led me to ask questions. Who makes leather armor? How did they withstand even the most brutal of attacks?

types of leather armor

Leather armor in history

Leather armor was used by humans back in the day for protection during war or hunting. It was gotten from the hides of cows, goats, and sheep. The hides are then tanned and treated with oils or waxes to make them stronger and waterproof.

One of the earliest examples of leather armor can be traced to the ancient Greeks. They wore it to protect their bodies during battles. The Romans were not also left out. Leather armor which they called “lorica,” was a part of their military equipment. The same goes for Vikings and medieval knights, who also wore leather armor during battles.

Yes, leather armor was popular because of its weight and flexibility, but it could have been better. It couldn’t withstand sharp arrows and spears and soon outlived its relevance. Modern materials like Kevlar and ballistic nylon are better for protection. I still see them in use today, although in historical enactments, Cosplays, and on motorcyclists.

Types of leather armor

Legend has it that leather armor has long been in existence. Because of its use since ancient times, it has evolved from different types of leather in different styles for numerous purposes.

1.    Medieval Leather Armor

During the Middle Ages, leather armor became more popular. Its design became more sophisticated- a combo of leather, metal plates, and boiled leather. Soldiers usually wore leather armor under chainmail or as a supplement to plate metal armor. Either option works depending on the situation of the soldier’s needs.

Also, as armor-making techniques improved, so did the quality of medieval leather armor. The addition of metal plates made it more protective and gave soldiers an extra boost of defense.

2.    RFB Viking Leather Armor

The legendary Vikings wore the RFB Viking Leather Armor. This armor is made from heavy woven leather that’s tough and durable and protects the wearer from strikes during battle by covering the chest, back, and shoulders with secured straps and buckles.

Today we have different modern remakes to help you channel your inner Viking. Plus, it’s customizable. I added personal touches to the one I purchased by decorating it with symbols or patterns representing my fantasy clan.

3.    Studded Leather Armor

Imagine you’re in medieval times. You need protection while battling it out with swords and axes. But you want to maintain your style.

That’s where Studded leather armor comes in! It’s made of treated and tanned leather to stay durable and resist stains. Plus, the little metal studs all over give it extra toughness and protection.

I’ll call it the bridge between leather and metal armor. Because while full metal armor can be heavy and expensive, studded armor strikes a balance. It’s a cheaper option that still does the job on the field.

So next time you’re out at a Cosplay or playing some Dungeons and Dragons, keep studded leather armor in mind for your costume. You’ll thank me.

4.    Female Leather Armor

Women’s bodies are different from men’s. Meaning that armor designed for men may not fit women properly and make them vulnerable in battle. To solve this, most female armors are usually thinner and take their body shape in view to create a fitting armor compared to their male counterpart.

However, history has it that female armor was extremely rare and was designed similarly to male armor to protect the upper body area of the wearer. The appearance of female armor in history depends on both reality and fantasy. Bra-shaped molding or corset-like armor are examples of fantasy armor you may only see on the screen.

5.    Leather Greaves

Leather greaves are a type of armor that protects your shins and knees. They’re lighter and more flexible than metal greaves, making them an option for archers and other people who need to move fast. You must usually strap them on with a fastener, like buckles or laces.

Some greaves might have extra straps or pieces of leather that go over your knee or around your ankle for added protection. Overall, this armor is an excellent protection against slashes and crapes.

6.    Functional Leather Armor

Functional leather armor goes beyond looks. It is built battle ready to protect the wearer from dangerous weapons like swords and axe.

According to history, functional leather is made from accurate tools and is usually thick yet flexible to fight effectively. It could be in various styles and designs depending on the culture and time it comes from. Some may be more ornate, with detailed patterns and embellishments. While others are just plain to go by.

7.      Boiled Leather Armor

Boiled leather armor was also common in the Middle Ages. It was made by boiling leather in water to soften it and then shaping it into armor pieces. The process of boiling the leather removes any impurities and makes it strong. Afterward, the cushioned leather would be coated in fatty substances and molded into a body shape for fit.

Although cheaper than metal armor and flexible, only some people can pinpoint the exact steps on how boiled leather was made despite many digs into the history. Today, boiled leather armor is mostly used in reenactments or as part of costumes for movies or TV shows set in medieval times. It’s a great way to bring history alive and make the wearer feel like a knight or warrior from a bygone era.s

8.    Leather Body Armor

Back in the medieval day, warriors wore leather body armor around to torso to shield themselves from sword strikes and arrows. It protects the soft tissue of the abdomen and the vital organs during attacks.

These days, it’s more popular in medieval reenactments, cosplay, and LARPing. Some bikers and horseback riders use it for protection too.

9.    Leather Armor Vest

A leather armor vest is protective clothing people wear to keep safe from harm. The vest protects the upper body, covering the torso, chest, and back. It is usually made from thick leather and is stronger than the ordinary leather armor people wear for protection.

You can still spot them in people who work dangerous jobs like construction or law enforcement or those who engage in sports like paintball or airsoft. Some are plain, while others come with studs for extra protection.

10.   Fancy Leather Armor

Fancy leather armor is all about glamor. It’s decorated with fancy stuff, like embossing, embroidery, intricate hand tooling, and even metal studs or plates. These embellishments make the armor look like a work of art that also happens to protect you from danger.

Who makes leather armor?

Legend has it that in ancient times, leather armor was made by skilled artisans called the “armorers,” Their skill was in high demand by warriors all over. Apprentices in England served a year and a day to learn the trade before becoming a journeyman.

Today, I still see some armorers around, but they are extremely rare. Instead, we have mostly leather workers who make leather items like jackets, belts, etc., including leather armor.

Although the techniques may have been refined to modern needs, the passion and dedication of those ancient artisans still live on in the leatherworkers of today. SCA leather armor is an example. They continue to create and sell functional leather armor products.

How much does leather armor cost?

Overall prices can range from $50 to $2000 and above based on these factors. You could get a quality armor set range of $1000 and above.

But from discussions with a leather worker, the price depends on a few things. What type of leather of used to make the armor? Is the design heavy with embroidery, studs, or simple? How big is the leather? What brand of leather are you buying?

Know this, the more complex the design, the more expensive the armor. Bigger armor pieces need more leather, so they’ll be more expensive than smaller pieces. And of course, popular brands will charge you big bucks for their top-of-the-line armor.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Q: What is leather armor called?

Cuirass is the name of the first original armor made of leather. It was made from tough leather to shield against sharp weapons and blunt force trauma. Over time we’ve seen leather armor evolve into Medieval leather, RFB Viking Leather Armor, Leather Body Armor, etc.

You can see their mimics in cosplay or TV shows where actors try to reenact history. If you want to purchase one, you can research reputable leather armor stores online or go to a local Renaissance fair.

Q: Did leather armor actually exist?

Yes, it did exist. People used them for protection in battles. Moreover, it was cheaper to produce compared to metal armor and gave decent protection.

For example, ancient Greeks and Romans wore “cuirass” -leather armor that covered their torso up to their chest and back. They also used leather strips to protect their arms and legs. As I did, you can dig up more information about ancient warfare by reading books or visiting the museum.

Q: What animal is leather armor made from?

Leather armor is made from the hide of animals like Reindeer, cattle, or horsehide. It is then designed by armorers committed to the trade of making armor. With the rise of modern technology today, we’ve seen new designs of leather armor made from suede, genuine, or faux leather.

Q: When did leather armor stop being used?

Historians estimate that by the 14th century, only a few people were wearing leather armor since plate armor was popular. Leather armor used to be a trusted protection back in the day. But as weapons got better, they became less relevant in wars.

Take the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 for instance- the English army wore plate armor and crushed the French army, dressed in chainmail and leather armor.

Q: Is leather armor better than gold?

From books I read on leather armor in history, gold armor was never in the picture. It would be a terrible idea owing to the weight. Yes, it could be stronger, but leather armor would still have served a better purpose on the battlefield.

The weight of gold would slow the fighters and make them easy prey to the enemy. What came close to gold armor was gilded armor- a form of steel armor with gold designs.

Q: Was leather armor expensive?

Compared to metal armor, which was popular in the middle ages, leather armor was cheaper. It required less skill and time. Plus, leather was also easier to find. However, it gave little protection. It was mostly embraced by the lower class who couldn’t afford the plate or ring mail amour.

Q: What is the oldest armor ever found?

Dendra panoply is the oldest armor ever found. It dated from around 1400 BC during the Mycenean Era and was discovered in the burial site of a wealthy warrior in a place called Dendra in Greece.

According to historians, the armor was made of bronze and consisted of a breastplate, a backplate, and shoulder pieces. It was well-designed with patterns and symbols, which shows it was made for a wealthy person.

Final words

Leather armor has been around for centuries, protecting warriors and adventurers. Today, artisans still specialize in making leather armor, using traditional techniques and quality materials. While it may not be popular as before, the art of leather armor making is still alive.

You can consider reaching out to a local artisan or attending a Renaissance fair if it interests you in learning more about leather armor. You may move from asking who makes leather armor to making one for yourself.

Titi Taiwo

Titi Taiwo is a passionate writer who's all about tech and giving expert leather advice. With experience writing for both online and print publications, Titi has collaborated with leading companies such as Pactnuel and Groomlog where she contributed her knowledge and expertise. Titi is always on the hunt for new and innovative ways to inspire and educate her readers. So if you're looking for some fresh tech insights or just want to up your fashion game, Titi's writing is your sure bet.

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