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It's heavier than it looks.

In 2013, when Davit Von Gherkin first spent a day at the Texas Renaissance Festival, he immediately knew he’d found his place in the world. “As soon as I got home,” he remembers, “I got on the internet and started putting a kit together.” He decided his character should be a crusader, and without giving a second’s thought to comfort, purchased a 75-pound set of chainmail with wool padding.

Today Von Gherkin, who prefers to use his “faire name,” is a pro, but he initially had some trouble with his garb.

“If you’re going to wear armor, don’t bite off more than you can chew,” he says. “That’s what I did. I bought a bunch of stuff and had no idea how heavy it was.” He also hadn’t thought through how hot Texas can be, even in October. Through trial and error, however, he’s learned this set of handy tricks:

  • Chain mail, Von Gherkin says, works muscles you didn’t even know you had, so during the months leading up to go time, train. “Training is probably the wrong word,” he admits. “I basically go out in my backyard, take three or four beers, and I hang out in my kit for two or three hours.”
  • When it’s go time, allow yourself 45 minutes for donning your kit.
  • Start off a morning at the fest in full garb—chainmail, helmet, sword, etc.—but as the day wears on, head back to camp (he typically stays the weekend), take a breather, and start discarding things.
  • Don’t let your bare skin rub against chainmail. It’ll burn.
  • Use WD-40 to prevent rusting caused by sweat.
  • After lunch, give up wearing heavy items altogether, and head to the bar.
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