Ultimate Guide to the Best Muay Thai Headgear

best muay thai headgear

Anytime an activity includes strikes to the head, the associated risks of absorbing these punches must be accepted, but also mitigated. Boxing is well-known as a cause of permanent brain damage. However, the sport is Muay Thai must also be acknowledged as a source of potential, long-term neurological trauma.

Versatile striking arts like Muay Thai that feature blows to locations other than the head may cause fewer instances of brain damage, but eventually, severe consequences will still occur. This damage is going to happen in any sport where head strikes are absorbed, even in practice. The wearing of padded gloves only slows, but does not lessen the inevitable result of constant head strikes.

The wearing of headgear is one of the most important ways to prevent, or at least lessen neurological injuries. This equipment isn’t a total solution for head trauma, but it helps to lessen its effect. It is mandatory to wear head protection in amateur competitions, regardless of the combat sport. This requirement means that all dedicated fighters must adjust to wearing headgear sooner rather than later.

You have a choice to not wear headgear during sparring sessions, but I believe that it is a necessity, especially if you are sparring with intensity and passion. Fighters should not throw harder because they and their training partners are wearing headgear. It doesn’t justify harder shots- it just means that the damage that can result from hard shots is lessened. Let me mention that headgear is unnecessary during sparring sessions that focus on individual techniques. It is more appropriate when fighters are not holding back or when fighters are involved who lack self-control.

While using headgear helps to prevent head injuries, it also allows Thai fighters to throw elbows without causing damage to your sparring partners. Just as elbow padding is needed to protect them from sparring damage, wearing headgear is just as important to protect sparrers from damage inflicted by wild, undisciplined fighters.

Number One Muay Thai Headgear Pick

This headgear is a great buy if you are in the market for great Muay Thai head protection.

Fairtex Super Sparring HeadGuard

Overview: Great for Overall Sparring

A solid piece of Muay Thai headgear must protect against elbow strikes. Any headgear that does not cover the cheeks is not suitable for Thai-style fighting protection.

Fairtex’s Super Sparring HeadGuard is a top choice for Thai-style head protection. It provides complete coverage that assures full coverage during Western Boxing or Muay Thai sparring.

The Super Sparring HeadGuard provides a triple threat of heft, covering, and sightlines that gives you both superior security and a comfortable fit.

My Recommendation: The HeadGuard is a great purchase.

The Super Sparring headgear is an excellent choice to because it helps you to absorb sparring impact while allowing clear sightlines. The HeadGuard continues Fairtex’s excellent track record for providing superior combat sport gear. This product is ideal for Muay Thai specialists who spar hard and long with their hands and elbows.

Headgear Buying Factors

The following factors are the ones to consider when purchasing headgear. I understand that personal preferences will always come into play in making these recommendations. My idea of sufficient padding may not agree with someone else’s idea of adequate padding. I may share criteria that isn’t on your radar because you don’t care about it. If so, just skip over that section. For the sake of completeness, I need to be as thorough as possible, even if some aspects aren’t applicable to everyone.

Comfortable Feel and Fit

The primary criteria for successful headgear is getting a comfortable feel and fit. The initial impression to look for when you first try it on it is that the gear needs to be tight enough to stay in place, but not so tight that it feels uncomfortable. You are not likely to find one that fits perfectly, yet, you want one that provides the desired amount of comfort and protection. Trying out new headgear requires a period of adjustment, especially if it is your first one. Give yourself time to get used to it and don’t expect love at first use.

Headgear is a tool. You should be able to use a tool without thinking about it, wondering about it, or contemplating it. It is something that is supposed to work the way you want it to work when you use it. If you are thinking about your headgear while you’re sparring, something is very wrong. And that wrongness can cause you to move in the wrong direction, forget to bob, weave, or duck, and walk right into a punch, kick, or elbow.

Some headgear includes a slipper lining. This lining may slide and wrap around your head when taking a punch. This will not only irritate you, it can also obstruct your vision if it gets twisted to the side. This is a great example of the importance of having snug fitting headgear that stay in place during sparring contact and despite sweat.

Another factor that plays a huge part in headgear performance is how the chin strap fits. If it fits loosely, the gear will also feel loose. The opposite is also true. If the strap fits too tightly, the gear will wear too tightly on your head, or the strap will constrict around your chin like a chokehold. The right headgear will neither fit too loose or too tight, but comfortable.

Visibility

Visibility is another extremely important factor in selecting the correct headgear. The old fight axiom is true. The worst punches are the ones that you spot coming until they have landed.

Generally speaking, headgear that provides maximum protection also provides minimal visibility. That means that the best headgear somewhat sacrifices your ability to see.

Obviously, not seeing incoming punches is a problem because that means that you will get hit in the head with greater frequency than you should, leading to potentially more severe brain damage. Therefore, you must have headgear that provides enough visibility to defend strikes from various directions.

The thickness of cheek and forehead padding is the determining factor regarding visibility. Thicker padding means less peripheral vision, which means that you will not be able to see from important angles. On the other hand, thicker padding will have the effect of weighing down the face and head.

Coverage

Another factor to consider in evaluating headgear is how much coverage it provides to the wearer. The majority of headgear covers four primary areas: the forehead, cheeks, chin, back and side of the head. The level of protection varies among the different areas because some areas need more protection than other sections.

The varying levels of protection add up to varying levels of coverage. There is headgear that provides a nose guard to prevent broken noses, but I don’t think that this feature is necessary. Optimum headgear gives excellent coverage that doesn’t hamper the fighter’s ability to see.

Keep in mind that if you must choose between visibility and coverage, visibility wins every time. Seeing an approaching punch means that you can evade or deflect it. The unseen punches are the most dangerous and the ones likely to cause the most damage.

Size and mass

Headgear size and weight are capable of negatively affecting mobility. When you are participating in Western Boxing, your headgear must allow you to avoid punches and not sacrifice speed and mobility. If the gear weighs you down too much, you might receive more strikes due to moving at a slower speed than you would have if you wearing lighter gear.

Choosing clunky headgear for protection’s sake might lead you to find that the weight of the headgear will negatively affect your training. One way to find suitable headgear to read headgear reviews and product descriptions. Doing this may help you to find gear that will provide both the right amount of protection and a weight that doesn’t slow you down.

The Differences Between Combat Headgear

A difference between Muay Thai and Western Boxing is the presence of clinching in Muay Thai. Because of this difference, Muay Thai gear is less bulky than Western Boxing gear. The lighter Muay Thai headgear permits the necessarily mobility within the clinch. When the head gets trapped in the clinch, you can’t put up with gear that won’t let you move back and forth so you can get yourself free.

Extended clinching is not allowed in boxing, so head protection is considerably thicker since the head won’t be trapped in a prolonged clinch. This additional thickness in boxing head protection provides extra protection from head strikes, but it also makes it less flexible than Muay Thai headgear.

Someone who trains in MMA needs headgear that gives them a full range of motion and allows them to wear it during ground training. This means that you need a tight fit, and to get that, you must sacrifice better face protection. The tight fit is a necessity in MMA since MMA gloves are very light and training includes ground grappling (Wrestling or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu).

If you are a Muay Thai fighter or undergoing Muay Thai training, I recommend that you only use Western Boxing head protection. The only exception I would make is if you are going to be training wrestling, in which case you can use MMA headgear. If you are training in both MMA and Western Boxing, I think it’s best to have separate headgear for MMA and Western Boxing/Muay Thai training.

Quality and Price

There are many headgear products available on the marketplace. The level of quality varies wildly depending on the brand and where the product is manufactured. Keep in mind that you attempt to save money by purchasing cheaper headgear, you will most likely be buying an unreliable product.

You should not be a cheapskate when buying a product you will need to protect your body, and not just any part of your body, but the part that includes your brain. Buying the proper headgear is not optional; it’s a necessity.

Gear prices are directly related to the gear’s manufacturer and the materials used to make the gear. Cheaper brand and cheaper headgear adds up to cheaper materials and headgear that may be cost efficient, but also dangerous. I have discovered that the major boxing gear manufacturers make lots of headgear that works well for Muay Thai as well as Western Boxing.

Rating Muay Thai and Boxing Headgear

After reviewing the important points to consider when buying headgear, I am going to give my recommendations for the better-known brands and special subcategories of headgear. Remember that the shape and contours of your head will impact how comfortable the headgear is and how well it fits. Researching the different headgear brand and reading their reviews will greatly assist you in finding the correct fit.

Best Muay Thai Headgear (And Best Overall Headgear)

Fairtex Super Sparring HeadGuard

Overview: Overall Sparring Headgear

A solid piece of Muay Thai headgear must protect against elbow strikes. Any headgear that does not cover the cheeks is not suitable for Thai-style fighting protection.

Fairtex’s HeadGuard is a top choice for Thai-style head protection. It provides complete coverage that assures full coverage during Western Boxing or Thai-style sparring.

This headgear provides a triple threat of heft, covering, and sightlines that gives you both superior security and a comfortable fit.

My Recommendation: The HeadGuard is a great purchase.

The Super Sparring headgear is an excellent choice to because it helps you to absorb sparring impact while allowing clear sightlines. The HeadGuard continues Fairtex’s excellent track record for providing superior combat sport gear. This product is ideal for Muay Thai specialists who spar hard and long with their hands and elbows.

Best Muay Thai/Kickboxing Competition Headgear

Fairtex Competition Headguard

Overview: Amateur Headgear

It is not permissible to use your everyday headgear when competing in amateur Thai-style or kickboxing events.

Regulation headgear in amateur events must weigh from 10-12 ounces, has regular pad material around the sides, with no chin or face straps permitted.

Fairtex’s Competition Headguard is compliant with all weight and technical regulations specified by IKF Amateur rules, and is permissible for use in their events.

It is always better to give yourself time to adjust to competition headgear while you are training. When training for amateur competition, I would recommend that you wear the competition headgear for the final three weeks of training before the actual competition. You will have no adjustment issues during the competition if you follow my advice.

My Recommendation: Fairtex’s Competition Headguard is a must buy for amateur fighters or fighters who are planning to compete.

Owning Fairtex Competition Headguard is imperative for amateur fighters. This headgear is not as well- padded as their sparring headgear, but it provides solid head protection.

Best Western Boxing Headgear

Title Gel World Full Face Training Headgear

Overview: Western Boxing Sparring Headgear

This Title Headgear is highly-rated Western Boxing headgear that is one of Amazon’s best reviewed products in its category. The Title gear provides the best possible protection for the head, face, and chin.

This headgear is ideal for your sparring sessions. Title’s design provides maximum protection and coverage.

This brand has been a top Western Boxing gear makers for a long time. Therefore, it makes lots of sense that this brand would make top headgear products.

My Recommendation: The Gel World Full Face Training Headgear is an excellent headgear choice for Western Boxing sparring, particularly for training with hard hitting sparring partners.

I believe that headgear is extremely important for Western Boxing sparring, more important than for any other combat sport and type of contact. The reason I feel this way is more brain trauma is risked during boxing sparring than at any other time. Muay Thai. MMA, and Kickboxing sparring and training includes kicks and other moves that do not focus on head strikes. Consequently, this is the reason that headgear is so vitally important in Western Boxing sparring.

Discount Sparring Headgear

Everlast Everfresh Headgear

Overview: Bargain Basement Head Protection

The Everlast Everfresh headgear is suitable if cost is your one and only criteria for head protection. The Everfresh cost less than $30, and gives somewhat adequate protection for Thai-style and Western Boxing sparring.

Not only is this gear barely adequate at best, but does not fit snug and shifts constantly while you are sparring. This headgear is best used for fighters who don’t go full out when they spar, and are sparring with other fighters who share the same mindset. No, you are not well protected if you use this headgear, it won’t cost a lot of money, and that is enough reason for some fighters to buy them.

They also work for you if you are just dabbling in sparring and you are making sure that if an accidental strike hits you in the head, you are less likely to have your bell rung. Again, this gear is the choice for cheapskates who don’t want to part with a reasonable amount of money for quality headgear/

My Recommendation: The minuses of buying the Everlast Everfresh Headgear greatly outweigh the pluses.

Low cost items are always intriguing. However, the low level of security it provides doesn’t make it worth the tradeoff. Don’t bother with it.

Backup Muay Thai Headgear

Twins Special Muay Thai Headgear

Overview:

Twins is a very successful and long standing combat sport brand that makes solid headgear. You can use them for Thai-style sparring and they provide good head and face protection.

This headgear cannot be used in amateur competition due to chin padding. That is not actually a loss since you should use as thick an amount of padding as possible.

The Twins Special Muay Thai Headgear is not innovative in any way. There are lots of fighters who swear by the Twins Special brand and they will want to use this headgear.

My Recommendation: The Twins Special Muay Thai Headgear is worth the buy.

Fighters who prefer Twins gear over Fairtex should buy this gear. They make high quality gear and their look and construction is very good. The Special headgear have great sightlines so you can see when to avoid hand and foot strikes.

Best Full Face Protection Headgear

Fighting Sports No Contact Headgear

Overview: Great Starter Headgear

The No Contact headgear is exactly what its name implies. They should only be used for novice Muay Thai practitioners who plan to avoid actual contact, but want to hedge their bets.

This gear comes with a front bar covering the face. The good news is it will totally protect you from any errant punches thrown by your training partner. The bad news is it covers the face so well that you are unlikely to see a punch or kick thrown at you unless you are warned that it is coming.

Keep in mind that the worst strikes are the invisible strikes that you don’t see until they hit you. This headgear defeats its purpose because it covers so much of your face that you may end up eating more punches than you would have without any protection at all.

My Recommendation: The No Contact Headgear allows too much contact.

The No Contact gear makes sense only if you are not wanting to ever be hit in sparring. I’m betting that this doesn’t apply to most of the people reading these ratings. They only make sense for use in Western Boxing. Don’t spend your money on this gear if you are primarily a Muay Thai fighter or trainee.

Best High Priced Headgear

Winning Fg2900 Headgear

Overview: Costly Headgear

Winning headgear is used by many of the best professional boxers. The brand is the costliest in all of combat sports, but it also provides one of the best levels of protection in the marketplace.

The Winning headgear provides the highest quality padding. This means that strikes from the hand or feet will be mitigated easily, giving the wearer added security.

Winning gear is made in Japan, helping to the heavy cost. The Fg2900 works for all kinds of sparring, providing its adaptability. They are the best headgear money can buy, which is good since they run for as much as $220.

My Recommendation: The Winning Fg2900 headgear costs a lot of money, and you get exactly what you pay for when you use it.

Winning makes the top headgear, gives the best amount of security, and works for sparring in Western Boxing, Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts. It’s understandable that some of you may not be able to afford such an expensive piece of gear. If that is you, the rest of this review should provide much lower cost options. But if you can afford it, there’s no doubt that you should buy the Winning Fg2900.

Conclusion

Headgear is great and necessary, but don’t become so dependent on it that you slack on movement and footwork. Even amateur fighters get clocked and put down, so allow yourself to get a false sense of security.

Punching, kicking, and elbowing make headgear a necessity, not an option. Even when fighters are trying to control their strikes and be careful, they can knock each other out. Fighting and fight training are unpredictable. Better to adequately protect yourself from the possibility of a knockout than take the risk that you won’t get hit.

Thai fighters train differently than most fighters. They don’t usually use protection in Muay Thai because their sparring sessions are very light. Most fighters fight an average of every three weeks, meaning that they don’t need the extra contact because they already have enough fight time.

Less experienced fighters need to spar and train to gain the experience needed to be great fighters. Headgear will make the difference in providing novice fighters with the protection they need as they learn and grow in skill.

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