You might not be surprised to learn that we are commonly asked about how to choose the best boxing gloves. With so many options, narrowing it down can feel overwhelming.
Do I need a bag glove or a sparring glove? Leather or synthetic? What’s IMF Tech? There are so many things to consider.
And then you have to figure out what size you need to get.
With all these choices facing you, how can you make sure that you’re picking out the right pair of boxing gloves for you?
We’ve put together a guide that will walk you through the seven things you need to understand when choosing your first (or your next) set of boxing gloves when starting our boxing classes.
When it comes to choosing the best boxing gloves, you’ll want to consider the following seven characteristics before making a final decision.
1. Boxing Glove Type
Boxing gloves come in four primary categories: Bag, Sparring, Training, and Competition. To understand which of these options will be the best boxing glove for you, you will need to know what your primary use will be.
Bag Gloves have ample wrist support and significant padding over the knuckles. This provides substantial protection from the constant impact with the heavy bag. They also tend to be lighter than sparring gloves to allow fighters to throw punches for longer than with a heavier sparring glove. If you intend to focus on bag work, need a separate pair of gloves for hitting the bag, or have taken up fitness boxing, you will want bag gloves.
Sparring Gloves are built to protect you and your partner while you spar in the ring. Heavier than competition gloves, these gloves also help you to improve punch speed and endurance. If you can only afford one pair of gloves for training, then choose sparring gloves. You can always hit the bag with a set of sparring gloves, but you won’t want to spar with bag gloves.
Training Gloves are intended to be an all-purpose glove for training. Designed to provide proper protection for both bag work and in-ring sparring, they are a bit of a hybrid between the two glove styles. Some training gloves manage this hybridisation really well, but not all manufacturers nail this mash-up. If you are just getting into boxing, training gloves are a good option. But you’ll want to do some research on which ones are worth the money.
Competition Gloves are lighter and smaller than the gloves used for training. They are built to protect your knuckles and wrists while allowing you to “feel” the contact. If you intend to compete, you will most likely be required to supply a set of competition gloves. Some tournaments, however, will supply these for you.
Boxing gloves primarily come in Leather or synthetic material.
Leather Gloves will be more expensive and require more care to maintain. On the other hand, when properly maintained, leather gloves are far more durable than any other material currently in use.
Synthetic Materials, like vinyl, are generally less expensive and easier to maintain. But these types of materials tend to wear out more quickly.
Polyurethane Leather Substitutes are another, a less familiar material for making gloves. This material looks and feels like leather, and provides a similar durability level while offering a lower price point and vinyl’s easy maintenance. Gloves that feature a leather substitute are worth checking out if you find them.
If you’re serious about the sport and need a pair of gloves that will withstand a lot of abuse, then leather (or leather substitute) will be your best boxing glove option. If you’re just getting started or primarily focused on boxing fitness, a synthetic material will be a good option.
3. Closure Type
You will need to secure your boxing glove at your wrist to make sure it fits snugly and doesn’t move. The most common closure types are lace-up and hook & loop, but there are a few other options.
The Lace-up style is the traditional, old-school method of securing a pair of gloves. Many fighters and coaches prefer the lace-up style because they believe it provides a tighter, more secure fit. On the other hand, these gloves take a long time to put on and take off. They will usually also require you to have a second person to tie them up properly.
Hook & Loop closures, often referred to as velcro, have become common types in boxing gyms today. Hook & loop closures provide a quick, convenient method for getting your gloves on and off and don’t require a second person to secure them. On the downside, it may be harder to fine-tune the fit using this style.
Quick-tie closures marry the convenience of hook & loop with the secure feel of a lace-up. This type of closure can be cinched by merely pulling on the strings until the glove is secure. The quick-tie system provides a snugger, more fine-tuned fit than hook & loop while giving a more convenient, faster means of securing the glove than lace-up.
Slip-on gloves feature an elastic cuff or a set of elastic cords to secure the glove’s opening. Typically only beginner gloves or old-school bag gloves are available in a slip-on style.
If you are only going to use your glove for hitting the bag, the hook & loop closure is the best boxing glove option for you. You can get the gloves on quickly, hit the sack, then pull them off just as soon so you can continue to the rest of your workout.
For competition gloves, the best option is a matter of personal preference. You and your coach should pick the style that you think is best.
Whatever you decide on competition gloves, you should probably use the same style for your sparring gloves. Best to train with the same type of gear you will be competing in. Unless you will also be doing bag work in your sparring gloves, it’s best to choose hook & loop or quick tie style sparring gloves.
You’ll be wearing these gloves for every training session and workout. Just like your shoes and your clothes, the best boxing gloves for you should reflect your sense of style.
We’ve come a long way from when the only options were brown, black, and red. Gloves come in a wide range of colours and designs. Choose an option that you’ll enjoy wearing and showing off to others.
Competition and sparring gloves sizes are based on the weight of the glove. Sparring gloves are typically offered in sizes from 14 oz to 20 oz, while competition gloves generally are in the 8 oz to 12 oz range.
Bag gloves, for the most part, come in sizes marked small, medium, large, and extra-large. The size of the glove you choose will generally scale with your size and strength. Lighter, smaller fighters will opt for lighter gloves, while larger, heavier fighters will need bigger, heavier gloves.
If you check out our the size-chart on our sizing page, it will give you size ranges for all varieties of gloves.
When it comes to bag and sparring gloves, measuring your hand circumference will provide the best metric for determining what size glove you should be selecting. You select competition glove size based on your weight class and the rules of the sanctioning body you fight under.
When you try on a pair of gloves for the first time, it should slide on smoothly, without a log of force. It should fit snug, but not feel tight. There should be room enough for wraps. There should be no areas that feel pinched or constricted. You should feel minimal resistance when making a fist, and your fingertips should touch the tip of the glove.
7. Bells and Whistles
There are other miscellaneous factors that you might want to consider when choosing the best boxing gloves for you.
Padding type: What type of padding is used to protect your fist. Old-school style gloves billed as “puncher’s gloves” still use a horsehair fill. Most modern gloves use either moulded layered foam or an injected moulded foam to provide the exact amount of padding needed for a particular glove style.
Breathability: Many bags and sparring gloves are made with vented palms to allow air to circulate inside the glove while training. This can cut down on the moisture that builds up inside the glove while sparring or hitting the bag.
Gel layer: Some gloves come with a gel layer that provides an additional layer of protection for the boxer’s hands.
Sport Specific: Gloves are also available in styles that are suited to specific types of combat sports. MMA gloves have open palms, divided fingers, and free fingertips to allow for grappling maneuvers. Muay Thai gloves provide fighters more flexibility in their hands and thumbs to enable fighters to grab or clinch with their opponents.
Best Boxing Headgear: How to Choose the Right One
If you intend to spar or compete in the world of boxing, you’ll need some headgear to protect your noggin.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem like a very complicated decision. You pick out one that looks good, and you go about your day.
But then you get to thinking, this is something that’s supposed to protect my face and my brain. Maybe I should put some more thought into this.
If you’ve ever had questions about how to choose the best boxing headgear for your needs, then read on.
As with choosing boxing gloves, you’ll need to know why you’re using the headgear to pick out the best headgear for you. Are you planning to compete at the amateur level or are you only going to spar at your local gym? What size are you and how intense are your sparring sessions?
If you know the answers to these questions, then you’re ready to start looking for the right piece of headgear for your needs.
The basic design of a headgear piece looks like a layer of padding that wraps around your head. It covers your forehead, your temples, your ears, and the back of your skull.
Headgear can typically be adjusted at three different locations: under the chin, at the back of the head, and at the top of the head.
From that basic design, many different variations have emerged.
Are you looking for headgear for competition or sparring?
Competition headgear incorporates less padding than the kind of helmet you’d use in your sparring sessions. This makes it lighter, less bulky, and less of an impediment to your field of view.
Most sanctioning bodies require that competition headgear is of an open face design, though many allow headgear with some cheek protection. Competition headgear must be certified by USA Boxing or AIBA, and it must have a tag on it indicating this certification.
Masters Competition headgear comes in as a special sub-category. Amateur fighters aged 35+ are eligible to fight in the Masters class of tournaments (fighters aged 40+ can only fight in Masters class). The required headgear for the Masters incorporates thicker padding and larger cheek guards than the standard version.
Sparring headgear includes pretty much every other kind of headgear out there. These helmets tend to have thicker padding and therefore be heavier than the competition styles. They can also include a number of protective features that we’ll get into later. You’ll want to choose a set of sparring headgear that meets the needs of the kind of sparring you do.
Headgear Facial Coverage Options
The basic design of the headgear, with protection only around the top of your head, would be considered an open-face design. From here, most manufacturers and designers offer additional options for increased protection.
Cheek guards provide the simplest form of additional protection. As the name suggests, cheek guards bump out from the side of the helmet to cover the fighter’s cheeks. This padding can save your face some impact but could limit your vision depending on the size and thickness of the guard.
A Face Bar expands on the protection offered by the cheek guards by extending all the way across the face, protecting the nose as well.
The Mouth/Chin Bar provides protection for the bottom of the face. Similar to the face bar, the mouth bar is a single piece that extends all the way across the face covering the mouth and chin.
A Full Face headgear incorporates both the mouth bar and either cheek guards or a face bar.
Some headgear also includes a Face Cage or plastic face shield to provide 100% coverage of your face. In most cases for boxers, this will prove unnecessary.
When choosing between these different options, always remember that you are making a trade-off between different performance aspects. Any additional protective feature you add will also add weight and potential to reduce your field of vision. While it’s essential to protect your face and head from repeated impact, the number one best way to avoid injury is not to get hit in the first place.
The headgear should feel snug but fit comfortably. There should be no parts that feel like they’re pinching or squeezing tight. You’ll want it to feel very secure when before you start exerting yourself because you don’t want it flopping around your head when you start sweating and moving. Make adjustments to your headgear’s fasteners until it fits exactly right.
As pointed out, boxing headgear can be adjusted, typically, in three different places.
The chin strap fastener is typically either hook & loop, a plastic clip with a slide adjuster, or a buckle style. Hook & loop is quick and convenient but may lose effectiveness over time (especially if not kept clean). The plastic clip options are also pretty straightforward, but the slide adjuster can work itself loose over time. The belt-buckle style is the most secure but offers less precision in fit unless you make your holes in the strap.
The back of the helmet and the top are managed by either a hook & loop system or a lace-up system. Hook & Loop systems are easy to adjust by yourself while you are wearing the headgear. H&L systems are less likely to loosen up over time. Lace-up systems can provide a more precise fit, allowing you to tighten or loosen the fit at specific points. For headgear, unlike lace-up gloves, you don’t need a second person to make this adjustment for you. But you might want to anyway.
Now that you understand the most critical aspects of headgear design, you should be ready to pick the best boxing headgear for your needs.
A Guide to Cleaning Your Boxing Gear
“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” – Muhammad Ali
Don’t let countless hours of work and the money you spent on great boxing gear go to waste because you failed to take care of said gear by not cleaning it. By following our guide to cleaning your equipment, you can place most of your focus on the journey from boxing training, that behind the lines work, to dancing under the lights on fight night.
It never hurts to consult a guy called “The Greatest” for advice in his area of expertise. Of course, in the quote above, Ali was referring to the work he did training his body day in and day out, training his mind to out-think his opponents in the ring and developing tactics and strategies suited to each opponent he faced. But there’s another aspect of behind the scenes preparation that should be top-of-mind for boxers of all skill levels: cleaning your boxing gear.
Hand wrap Cleaning
Wearing a clean pair of hand wraps underneath your boxing gloves will protect your hands and wrists while also absorbing the sweat that you generate. To get the most out of your wraps, though, you cannot let them sit in your gym bag, wet and unwashed after you leave the gym. Unpleasant odours are just the tip of what you’ll start to run into. And no one wants to start a workout with wraps that are still damp from the last training session.
The most significant step in adequately taking care of your hand wraps is to just take the wraps out of your bag and hang them up, so they can dry out. This will help guard against funky smells and mould buildup. After every few sessions, you’ll want to stick them in the washing machine to get them thoroughly cleaned up. Here are some suggestions on getting the best results from the next wash cycle:
- Put each wrap in a small mesh bag or pillowcase to prevent tangling.
- Since the colours of the wraps may bleed, wash them by themselves.
- Hang up instead of using a dryer. While most wraps can go in the dryer, many boxers believe they’ll get more shelf life out of wraps that are hung to dry instead.
Boxers are fixated on their boxing gloves. A lot of time goes into choosing just the right pair. And that makes sense, because suitable gloves aren’t cheap, and they will be your steadfast partner through all of your training. Get the most out of your investment and keep that attachment going as long as possible by keeping them in peak shape.
It’s essential to wipe down gloves after each workout. A washcloth and some antiseptic spray on the inside and outside of gloves will do the trick. The goal here is to snuff out bacteria, whose presence will cause nasty odours and mould buildup. Just like with hand wraps, take your gloves out of your bag as soon as you can so that they can dry out. You can speed up the process by placing them in front of a fan.
To go the extra mile and keep them smelling good—or as realistically “good” as possible—shove a few dryer sheets deep into each glove. You could also fill two socks with cedar chips, tie the end of each hose, and then place a sock in each glove—creativity points for the latter.
Headgear and Groin Protectors
For the apparent reason, both of these items are pretty important. Don’t neglect them. Wipe your headgear and groin protector with antiseptic wipes and hang up to air out after each training session.
You know you’ve put some work in when you feel pools of sweat collecting in your shoes. That’s a good thing. What’s not OK is failing to air them out afterwards. So, don’t do that. Another “don’t do” is to wear your shoes outside. Boxing shoes are precisely that—boxing shoes. Wearing them out or anywhere but in the gym or the ring will mean you’ll have to invest in another pair far sooner than you’d like.
Clean your mouthguard before and after each workout. Rinsing with water beforehand will suffice. After your workout, we advise that you soak it in a glass filled with water and mouthwash overnight. For sanitary reasons, always keep your mouthpiece in its case while in your bag.
Jumping rope is likely part of your routine in some form or fashion. Avoid tangling by taking the jump rope out of your bag as soon as you get home. Hang the rope on a hook or hanger, then tie a paperweight to each handle. That should help prevent annoying tangling.