Choosing the right boxing gloves is a crucial way to improve your training regimen. The consequences of having an inadequate pair of gloves can be annoying, aggravating, or most importantly, dangerous. Ill-suited gloves can lead to distractions, and distractions in training or in an actual fight can lead to injury or unconsciousness.
Finding the right boxing gloves is not as easy as it might seem. Yes, you could walk into a store off the street and buy a pair, but not shopping beforehand could mean that will disappoint you, won’t fit properly, and won’t work for you in training or an actual fight.
Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Pair of Boxing Gloves
There are several factors that should influence your choice of boxing gloves:
What’s the main purpose of the gloves?
- For Bag work
- For Sparring
- For Actual boxing matches
- For MMA (which includes grappling)
- For Muay Thai sparring
How far along are you in your training or professional career? Are you a beginner or a seasoned pro?
What’s your fighting art?
- Muay Thai
- Another martial art
What’s your size? Are you a flyweight, heavyweight, or something in between?
Do you prefer more or less padding in your glove?
Do you prefer Velcro-closure or laced gloves?
What glove material do you want? Do you prefer
- Faux Leather
How much do you want to spend on the gloves? Do you want
- Budget gloves
- Mid-range gloves
- Premium gloves
As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider. But don’t worry. This article is designed to help you choose the best gloves for your purposes.
It is important to remember that you may need at least two pairs of gloves for all of their possible uses. It’s extremely unusual to find a pair of gloves that meet all of your needs.
The Many Types of Boxing Gloves
There are several types of gloves that are used for a particular type of activity. They are:
- Bag Gloves: Lightly padded gloves are generally used for practice with a punching bag. This is because lighter gloves allow you to train longer and faster while your hands become conditioned to making contact. There are two kinds of bag gloves: one type is a heavily-padded glove that features shock absorption for heavy bag work; the other kind is a lighter glove with less padding for use with speed bags.
- Training Gloves: These gloves are for use in general training. They can be used with pads, bag work, and sparring. Basically, these gloves will be the pair you use for every day, routine training.
- Sparring Gloves: These gloves require padding, particularly around the knuckles so that you or your sparring partner are less likely to be injured.
- Competition Gloves: Competition gloves are typically lighter weight gloves to provide speed, less wear and tear on the hands, and designed to provide maximum punching power. Specific weights and brands for competition gloves vary depending on the combat sport. Amateur boxing matches require certain types of competition gloves. Pro boxing matches will sometimes specify certain brands and glove weights. Muay Thai fights often require certain 8-ounce or 10-ounce Thai brands.
Choosing the Best Glove Size and Weight for You
When choosing the right glove weight, you should know that the three most popular weights are 12oz, 14oz and 16oz. There are other gloves that are lighter or heavier, but the three listed above are the standard weights in most gyms. The gloves’ size and weight is dependent on the amount of glove padding. If a glove has more padding, it will provide more hand protection, but it also adds weight, which reduces punching speed.
Typical Gloves Size and Their Uses
- 8oz to 10oz – Used in most boxing matches
- 12oz – This size spans the average amount of weight and padding, making them the standard glove size for training
- 14oz – These gloves are generally used by lighter weight fighters for general training and sparring
- 16oz – The typical size required for sparring
- 18oz to 20oz – Used in training by the heavier weight classes
Choosing The Best Gloves for the Right Sport
The type of glove you should choose will depend on your preferred sport. Will you use them for Western Boxing, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, or MMA? Perhaps you just need a pair of gloves for the purpose of exercise. Regardless of the reason, each sport requires certain types gloves and glove weights.
Western Boxing Gloves
Western boxing gloves have a number of uses. Each type of glove has different uses.
Western boxing gloves force the hand into a closed fist position, and is contoured along the back and the wrist areas. The wrist area rides up the arm to provide stability and support for power punching.
Muay Thai Boxing Gloves
Muay Thai gloves are very similar to western boxing gloves, but have been modified for Muay Thai fighters, who not only punch, but throw kicks and grapple with their opponents.
These gloves have thicker padding on the back to assist with absorbing kicks. The front and thumb areas are constructed with flexibility so your hand can open and close. This is needed when you are grappling,
Muay Thai gloves are more square than western boxing gloves. The gloves usually are made to end right above the wrist, contrasting western boxing gloves, which tend to extend further up the arm.
Kickboxing gloves are usually the same design as Muay Thai gloves, although western kickboxing does not allow extended clinching or grappling.
MMA Boxing Gloves
MMA incorporates every range of combat – striking, kicking, clinching, and grappling. Depending on your type of training, you can use either western boxing gloves or Thai style gloves. Western boxing gloves are more suitable for regular boxing. Thai gloves are more appropriate if you are training in Muay Thai or Kickboxing work because they offer wrist protection and more ability to clinch. In fact, it may be a good idea to own a pair of both western and Thai-style gloves.
MMA Gloves differ from Western boxing gloves because MMA requires more movement. MMA gloves feature exposed fingers for clinching and grappling. MMA fighters use lighter 4-ounce gloves, instead of the 10-12-ounce boxing gloves used in the other combat sports.
Choosing the Best Glove Material
A glove’s material is an important consideration when choosing a glove. Key factors to consider with the material include
- Personal Comfort
Which Boxing Glove Material is Best?
Most boxing gloves are made of either vinyl and either genuine or polyurethane leather. While the ‘best’ tend to be genuine leather, other materials do offer up some advantages in terms of price.
Vinyl – Vinyl gloves are the cheapest option, usually ranging in price from $20 to $40. Because of their reasonable price, vinyl gloves are often the best option for beginning boxers.
However, vinyl gloves are not suitable for regular training because vinyl is inferior to leather. Leather is better in both comfort and durability. Vinyl is not a durable fabric, and the hands become hot and sweaty inside the gloves. Vinyl gloves are suitable for use in basic fitness, but for heavy training and actual competition, leather gloves are a much better choice.
Polyurethane Leather – Polyurethane leather is man-made, resembles genuine leather, and is very durable. These gloves are more longer lasting than vinyl gloves. Polyurethane leather gloves vary in price from $30 to $120. I recommend polyurethane gloves as a cost-efficient starter glove.
Genuine Leather – Genuine leather gloves are priced starting at $60 and go up in price to $400. They are so highly priced because they are also the highest quality boxing gloves. Leather gloves mold themselves to the shape of your hands, providing a custom fit. However, there is an adjustment period as the gloves begin to comfort to your hands, and they may feel uncomfortable for a time.
Chosing the Best Glove Closure Type
Glove closure is another important factor in choosing the right boxing glove.
Lace or Velcro Closure?
There is a long-standing debate in boxing. Which glove closure is best – lace or Velcro?
Lace closures provide a tight, stable fit, while Velcro closures are much easier to fasten and unfasten.
Most people agree that on average and especially during training sessions, Velcro closures are better.
Velcro is preferred over lace closures because the ease of opening the glove. With you use laced gloves, you can’t do it by yourself. Someone will need to help you take them off. Common training activities like drinking water or going to the bathroom are almost impossible to do wearing laced gloves.
Laced gloves are also more dangerous than Velcro gloves because they require taping over so you won’t accidently cut your sparring partners during training,
Laced Gloves are more appropriate to use during intense sparring sessions or bag work when you will want a tighter fit. It is also important to have laced gloves because they are the only types of gloves used in actual competition.
Choosing the Glove Color
Glove color is far from the most important consideration when choosing gloves. There are an unlimited number of color choices, motifs and patters available for purchase. Choose whatever color or pattern suits you.
When it comes to choosing gloves for competition, Red or Blue are often your only two choices, and you might have a color assigned to you.
In the end, color choice is up to the individual and it has no bearing on a fighter’s actual performance.
Should You Buy in a Store or Online?
You can choose to buy your gloves in person at a gear shop or order them online? Which method is best?
Shopping online is much cheaper. The downside is that you can’t try the gloves on, which is a problem since having the right fit is so important.
If you’re curious about a particular brand, go to a boxing or MMA supply store and try on the gloves to test the fit. If you find some that you like, you can get them online for cheaper than you would at the store, but because of the likely limited inventory at the store, you will need to order multiple pairs online to find the right pair for your needs.
While that is not ideal, many online stores will refund your money for the gloves that you don’t want and return to them.
Tip: Buy from these online stores to get the best deals.
I’ve found that Amazon.com offers the best deals for brand new boxing gloves. Another benefit of shopping at Amazon is that you are protected by their return policy. For new, used, or hard to find gloves, you might also shop at eBay.com. I’ve bought several pairs of gloves on eBay, and I have found brands that I can’t find on Amazon.
Boxing Glove Price Range
Western boxing glove prices range widely from $20 to $400. Thai boxing gloves can run from 60-70 USD, and western boxing glove can cost from $80-$120. A number of standard boxing glove brands are priced from $200 to $400.
I find that the most reasonable price range that includes both cost and quality is at $70-$80. You can pay more for expensive brand-name gloves, but you won’t gain much more performance wise. There are some brands that provide top-notch stitching, padding, and comfort at a higher cost.
- $20 and Less: These gloves won’t provide any protection during training or actual competition.
- $30-50: Brands like Title provide solid value at the lowest reasonable price range.
- $60-$90: This is the mid-range for gloves and where the most value can be found.
- $90-$140: This tier is the upper middle range for boxing gloves. A number of the best MMA boxing glove are found at this range. This tier represents how much you should expect to pay if you buy gloves at a US MMA or Muay Thai gym.
- $150-$400: This tier represents the best pro-style boxing gloves. Unless you are a professional fighter, these gloves are overkill. However, a fighter who has experienced hand or wrist injuries might want to buy the $400 Winning brand. These are the best padded gloves currently available.
Hand wraps are an often overlooked, but important aspect of choosing a pair of gloves. When choosing the proper glove size, make sure that you try the gloves on with hand wraps on underneath. This is important because you will need to wear hand wraps under gloves when you are training.
Hand wraps are essential for training to protect your hands from injury. The 27 bones in the hand and wrist need extra protection and support. Hand wraps are applied in many different ways depending on the preference of the person applying them. YouTube and Google provide instructional videos on how to apply hand wraps. Review them to find the method that is most suitable.
There are four typical wrapping choices. Most people settle on one of the last two options mentioned below.
- Cloth String Wraps: This ancient hand wrapping method involves putting a cloth strip on the hands. This is commonly used in Thailand by Muay Thai fighters.
- Cloth Elastic Bandage Wraps: These wraps work like elastic bandages that are then taped. Most people will not know the correct way to use them. Because of this, very few people outside of professional boxers use this method of hand wrapping. While they offer the best possible support, they take a long time to use.
- Non-Elastic Cloth Hand Wraps: These wraps are typically cheaper, they fit tight, and provide less support. The only benefit they provide is that they don’t wrinkle like the elastic cloth hand wraps.
- Elastic Cloth Hand Wraps: These wraps stretch better, and are the best suited for training.
Boxing Glove Maintenance
The best way to take care of your gloves is to dry your gloves after training. If you do this on a regular basis, you’ll will double or triple the lifespan of your gloves. Here are some other important tips:
Store in a Cool Dry Place
Nothing damages gloves faster than training with gloves that are still moist. You should always dry your gloves after training. Training in damp gloves causes the leather to break down and the moisture breeds bacteria, which will cause the gloves to smell.
Training in Thailand has led me to go through more gloves that most fighters will use in their entire fighting careers. New gloves only last 6 to 8 months because humidity and constant training degrades the gloves.
People use all types of methods to keep gloves dry. One method is to stuff a sock full of wood chippings and put them the gloves to prevent moisture and keep them smelling fresh.
Rotate Your Gloves
Another way to keep your gloves fresh is to buy two to three pairs and use each of them regularly, which will allow each pair to completely dry out before reusing them.
Best Brand Name Boxing Gloves Overview
There are a number of quality brands that make great boxing gloves. Each brand has its own qualities and characteristics that will appeal to different people based on their needs and preferences.
Thai Boxing Glove Brands
These are used for training and fighting in Muay Thai, but are popular in MMA circles, but less so for pure boxing.
- Twins Special – Twins make padded Thai gloves that don’t cost a lot. These gloves are used by some of the best Muay Thai fighters in Thailand.
- Fairtex – One of the best Thai gloves. These gloves cost somewhat more than similar brands. They have design is simpler, and is made with better quality materials.
- Top King – This brand is also make a Thai style glove. These gloves have a puffier and boxier shape than other Thai brands. They are thicker than other brands, which is preferred by some fighters.
- Raja – Raja makes Muay Thai gloves that are more like western boxing gloves. These are my favorite Muay Thai gloves.
- Boon – Australian-made Thai gloves.
- Yokkao – A distinctive Thai-made glove. The quality of this brand is marginal, and its designs do not appeal to some fighters.
- Sandee – This brand is similar to Twins but for a much lower price. However, they are hard to find.
- Windy – This is an older brand of Thai gloves. I don’t care for them, but some fighters enjoy using them.
- Thaismai – A small manufacturer makes these gloves in Thailand. A great deal for the value.
- Fighting – A brand new glove manufacturer in Thailand
- Muay Thai – A cheap glove brand made in Thailand
- Lumpinee – A cheap glove brand made in Thailand
Western Boxing Glove Brands
- Everlast – Everlast is the best known boxing glove manufacturer. Their brand has not kept up in quality with newer brands.
- Venum – Venum gloves are great gloves for beginning fighters. Don’t buy the Venum gloves that say “Designed in Thailand.” These gloves have been made in China and Pakistan and are of inferior quality.
- Hayabusa – Hayabusa is a more expensive brand, but are prized for their design. This brand is more popular in MMA than it is in boxing and Muay Thai.
- Ringside – An expensive, high quality boxing glove brand.
- Title – A classic boxing glove provides great value. Some are priced for under $40.
- Lonsdale – Owned by the same company that produces Everlast gloves. These gloves are generally considered an inferior product.
- RDX – A newer brand of glove manufacturer. Their designs are cheaper versions of better brands and they are manufactured in China.
- Cleto Reyes – Cleto Reyes one of the most popular brand with professional boxers. They have less padding than the average boxer glove, and are known as “puncher gloves.”
- Grant – These gloves are the most prestigious of traditional boxing gloves. They are custom made and extremely expensive.
- Winning – These gloves have the reputation of being the best overall boxing glove. A number of professional boxers use this brand. They cost from $300 to $400, they are made to order, and they are manufactured in Japan.
There are other brands that are not mentioned above. Some are newer and some are very inferior. The brands above are the better known brands. Be careful if you choose brand names other than the brands listed in this article.
The Final Word
Use this article to make a more informed choice when buying your boxing gloves.