4 Most Famous Leather Armor Types

  1. Brigandine
  2. Cuirass
  3. Jack of Plates
  4. Jerkin

Leather Armor Types: Leather armor has been a staple of protective gear throughout history. The most famous types include the cuirass and brigandine. Cuirasses offered torso protection, while brigandines combined leather with metal plates. These versatile and widely used forms of leather armor provided a balance between protection, mobility, and comfort, making them popular choices among warriors and adventurers.

In the golden age of the Renaissance, skilled craftsmen known as blacksmiths played a crucial role in forging the tools and weapons that shaped the course of history. Among their many creations were suits of armor, designed to protect the brave soldiers who fought on the battlefield. While metal armor is often the first to come to mind, leather armor also played a significant role during this era. Leather armor was a popular choice for both soldiers and nobles, prized for its durability, flexibility, and unique aesthetic.

History of Leather Armor

Leather Armor types

Leather armor has been used for thousands of years, dating back to ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. However, during the Renaissance period, leather armor experienced a resurgence in popularity.

This was due in part to advancements in leatherworking techniques, which allowed craftsmen to create more intricate and durable armor.

Most Famous Leather Armor Types List

Brigandine leather armor is a type of protective gear that emerged during the medieval period. It consists of a series of small rectangular plates, typically made of metal, attached to a durable leather base. The plates are strategically placed to cover vital areas of the body, protecting against slashing and stabbing attacks. The leather base offers flexibility and mobility, while the metal plates enhance defense.

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Brigandine leather armor was popular among knights, soldiers, and mercenaries, offering a balance between protection and maneuverability on the battlefield. Today, it is often replicated in historical reenactments and is admired for its distinctive appearance and historical significance.

A cuirass was a two-piece leather armor set that consisted of a breastplate and a backplate. It was often worn over a chainmail shirt for extra protection.

Cuirass leather armor is a type of protective gear commonly used during the medieval period. It consists of a breastplate and a backplate made of metal, typically steel, with leather straps or fittings for attachment. The cuirass provides substantial protection to the chest and back areas, shielding the vital organs from attacks. The addition of leather components enhances comfort and flexibility.

This armor type was favored by knights and soldiers in heavy cavalry units due to its effective defense and imposing appearance. Today, cuirass leather armor is often replicated for historical reenactments, showcasing its historical significance and craftsmanship.

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A jack of plates was a leather jacket reinforced with metal plates. It was similar to brigandine armor but had larger plates and fewer of them.

Jack of Plates leather armor is a type of protective gear that gained popularity during the medieval era. It consists of overlapping plates made of metal, such as steel or iron, which are riveted onto a sturdy leather backing. This design provides excellent protection while maintaining flexibility and mobility. The combination of metal plates and leather allows for a comfortable fit and ease of movement during combat.

The Jack of Plates leather armor was often worn by knights and foot soldiers, offering reliable defense against various types of attacks. Its distinctive appearance and practicality make it a notable armor type in medieval warfare.

A Jerkin was a sleeveless leather vest that was worn over a shirt or other clothing. It was often used as a lightweight alternative to heavier armor.

Jerkin leather armor is a type of protective garment that emerged during the medieval period. It is made from thick, durable leather and is designed to cover the torso and upper body. The jerkin provides a layer of defense against slashing and stabbing attacks. It is typically sleeveless, allowing for greater freedom of movement.

Jerkin leather armor was popular among foot soldiers, archers, and individuals in non-heavy combat roles. Its simplicity and flexibility made it a practical and versatile choice for those seeking lighter protection on the battlefield. Today, it is often replicated for historical reenactments, showcasing its historical significance and functionality.

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Leather Armor

Leather armor was typically made from cowhide or sheepskin, which was then treated with various oils and waxes to make it more durable and water-resistant. The leather was then cut into the desired shape and sewn together using leather thongs or metal rivets.

In some cases, metal plates or studs were added to the leather for extra protection. These plates were usually made of steel or brass and were either sewn into the leather or attached with rivets.

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Uses of Leather Armor

Leather armor was used by soldiers and knights for a variety of purposes, including:

  1. Protection in battle
  2. Jousting tournaments
  3. Hunting
  4. Horseback riding

Leather armor was particularly popular among horsemen, as it was lightweight and allowed for greater mobility on horseback.

Care and Maintenance of Leather Armor

Ensure the longevity of your leather armor with proper care. Regularly clean with a damp cloth, avoiding harsh chemicals. Keep it away from direct sunlight and moisture.

Condition the leather to prevent drying and cracking. Store in a cool, dry place, and periodically check for any signs of wear, repairing as needed. Preserve your investment with mindful maintenance.


Leather armor played an important role in the military and sporting culture of the Renaissance period. Its flexibility and affordability made it an attractive option for soldiers and knights who needed to move quickly and protect themselves in battle. While it may not be as well-known as metal armor, leather armor is an important part of the history of armor and deserves to be celebrated.


Was leather armor as effective as metal armor?

Leather armor was not as effective as metal armor in terms of protecting weapons such as swords and spears. However, it was lighter and more flexible, which made it a popular choice for soldiers who needed to move quickly on the battlefield.

How was leather armor made water-resistant?

Leather armor was made water-resistant by treating the leather with various oils and waxes, such as neatsfoot oil and beeswax.

Was leather armor only used by soldiers and knights?

No, leather armor was also used for other purposes such as hunting and horseback riding.

How did leather armor compare in cost to metal armor?

Leather armor was generally less expensive than metal armor, making it a more accessible option for soldiers who could not afford the more expensive metal armor.

Is leather armor still used today?

While leather armor is not commonly used in modern military or sporting contexts, it is still sometimes used in historical reenactments and theatrical productions.