One thing that sets Muay Thai apart from other martial arts is the use of the Muay Thai pads in training. The purpose of the Thai pads is to allow students to develop speed, power, and technique in their kicks against a real target, while at the same time offering protection to the pad holder.
Muay Thai kick pads are the most versatile piece of equipment in the Muay Thai gym. While Thai pads that come in a number of shapes and sizes, they are all designed to take punishment from kickers.
If you take a look at Thai pads online you will notice there are dozens of different options available. There are some Thai pads sold ridiculously cheap (made in China), while others are overpriced. This article is designed to provide you with a set of things you can look for when selecting Thai pads.
Before I start talking about the factors to look for when selecting a Thai Kick pad, I will give you my personal recommendation on which Thai pad I prefer.
My Favorite Thai Kick Pads
If you are in the process of buying a new set of Thai pads for your training, I recommend you take a look at the Fairtex Curved Kick Pads. If these pads are good enough for Yodsanklai to train with (he has the hardest kick in Muay Thai) then I think they can pass the test.The BestOur favorite pick for quality Muay Thai Kick Pads that will handle plenty of abuse while still remaining comfortable. These have a slight curved which make it better for kicking
Fairtex is the leading Muay Thai brand in the world. If you have ever used a pair of Fairtex gloves, you probably know the difference real quality gloves makes.
These Thai kick pads are designed with a curve, to ensure that you have an easy target to kick. The pads are built to withstand even the heaviest kicks, so you won’t have to worry about your arm being destroyed.
Made with all leather, these pads are built with quality in mind and will last you. The lighter weight of the pads will also ensure that your arms don’t tire out after a few rounds of holding them.
If you want to get a good pair of Thai Boxing pads that will last years, the Fairtex curved pads are the ideal choice. These pads are made in Thailand are built to last. These are my favorite Thai pads to kick because of the strong feedback they give on every kick. There is definitely a reason why Fairtex is a premium Muay Thai brand. I suggest you invest the money and buy these pads if you need to replace your old ones.
Now that we have finished looking at which Thai pads I like using, let’s have a further look at what makes a great set of Thai pads. The following are specific factors that you should look for when selecting your Thai Kick pads.
Factors To Consider When Selecting Thai Boxing Pads
Thickness of the Pads
The first thing you should look at when selecting Thai pads is the size and thickness of the pads. While smaller pads might be easier to hold and won’t tire out your arms as much, they won’t provide the same level of protection that thicker pads offer.
If you use cheap Thai pads you will feel the shock up your arm every time a kick lands. As a result, every time you hold pads for a heavy kicker your arms will end up bruised.
A good pair of Muay Thai pads should have enough padding so the pad holder doesn’t feel the shock of every kick. I know a guy who had his arm broken holding Thai pads because of the impact of heavy kicks, so don’t ever take it lightly when I say that adequate protection is important when selecting your pads.
Choosing the Size
The next decision you need to make when selecting your pads is the size of pads you want. Most brands offer 4 sizes of Muay Thai pads that you can select. This will range from small to extra large. The small size is suitable for women and smaller guys.
I am an average height and build of 5′ 10 (178cm) and the medium size pads work perfectly for me. If you are a taller male you might want to consider a larger pad, but I won’t get an XL unless you are a lot bigger than average.
The size of the pad will dictate how it fits when you hold it. Considering you will probably use these pads for a few years, it is important to purchase a set of pads that will last you a good deal of time. Keep in mind that pads are adjustable with a strap, so you can always make sure that it fits your arm by tightening or loosening the straps.
Choosing the shape
Different brands produce pads that have slight variation in the shape of the pads. Some pads are smaller in height, but the same level of thickness. These pads are less forgiving if a student doesn’t kick the pads on the exact spot that you want.
Other pads are longer, which can make them a little bit bulky and difficult to hold for punches. It often comes down to your own preferences in choosing what set of Muay Thai pads works best for your pad holding style. Larger pads give more surface area to kick but are bigger and heavier to hold.
The hybrid Thai pads are usually a cross between boxing and Thai pads, which allows the pad holder to be more active with the punches during the pad rounds.
The downside of the hybrid pads is they are much less thick than the traditional pads, so if you are holding the pads for a hard kicker you can expect to feel every ounce of kick they through. These pads are great secondary pads, once you already purchase a set of regular Thai pads.
A lot of trainers in Thailand actually hold one Thai pad and one boxing mitt. To do this you need to have toughened up your hand and know how to brace for hard kicks. This is not something I would recommend doing if you don’t have much experience pad holding.
Curved vs Straight Pads
Another thing to consider when purchasing new Thai Boxing pads is the curvature of the pad. Pads that have no curve are more difficult to kick and usually take a few months to break in. This is the equivalent to buying a brand new pair of shoes that are uncomfortable for the first few months but eventually, fall into place.
Some brands sell Thai pads that have a curve when you buy the pads. This allows you to have more comfortable kicks right away, without having that awkward month of breaking in the new pads. I recommend you choose pads that have the curved design because they are much more comfortable for the pad holder and the kicker.
All of the top Muay Thai brands will sell pads that have curves, but they usually cost a little bit more than the regular pads. The added curve is definitely worth the extra cost of the pads.
Quality vs. Price
When it comes to quality, Muay Thai products that are made in Thailand a much better quality than those manufactured elsewhere. If you are purchasing cheaper Thai pads that are made in China or Mexico, expect to get a product that won’t last you.
Thailand has been manufacturing Thai pads for almost a century, so it is not surprising that they produce the best products available. Nobody kicks harder than the Thais, which is why they understand the importance of protection and functionality.
Expect to pay around of $150 USD for a set of good Thai pads. Keep in mind that these pads will last you for years if you maintain them and don’t use them on a full-time basis. If you are full-time trainer holding pads all day long, the heavy use will affect the longevity of the pads.
While you might be tempted to buy a cheap set of Thai pads online, your forearms will end up taking a lot more damage than they should. Even though Muay Thai is a contact sport, you should still do what you can to protect your body from unnecessary contact.
Brands to Avoid
As I mentioned before, any brand that manufacturers their Thai boxing pads in Thailand is going to offer a quality pad. This being said, you should avoid using FBT (Thai sports brand) pads because they are overpriced and poorly built. All of the top brands of Top King, Fairtex, and Twins offer excellent Muay Thai pads.
A good set of Thai pads will cost you around $150. If you see pads listed for under $100, don’t bother wasting your money. The lower quality pads will provide very little protection. This means you will feel the impact of every kick against your arm. In addition to the poor padding, they will end up falling apart 10 times faster than the rest.
I have used a few MMA brands that sell Thai pads and I don’t like the quality that they offer. Most MMA products are built cheaply so they can sell them at low prices. So if you want to get a good set of pads make sure you buy the ones that are made in Thailand.
Smart Tip – Some manufacturers sell pads individually and not in a pair (left and right arm). If you purchase pads online make sure you are buying a pair of pads and not the individual pad. There would be nothing worse than having one pad show up at your door step when you order them.
When should you replace your Muay Thai pads?
While Muay Thai pads are designed to last, they will start to deteriorate after a lot of use. Father time has a way of making sure that nothing lasts forever, including your Thai pads.
How long your kick pads last depends on how much you use them. A trainer holding pads will likely wear out kick pads much faster than someone using a pair of pads 3-4 times a week in a group class.
The climate you train in will also impact the durability. Colder, drier climates are more friendly to pad life than tropical, humid climates.
After a lot of use, the padding inside the pads will start to bend inwards in a concave shape. When this starts to happen the cushioning in the middle of the pads will be pushed out to the side.
The first sign that you need to start looking for a Muay Thai pad replacement is when you start to feel the impact of the kicks on your forearm directly through the padding.
While you might notice the impact of a very heavy kicker, if you notice a huge difference in impact when you hold a brand new set of pads, compared to your old ones, it might be time to hang up the pads and get a new pair.
The next thing that will deteriorate on your Thai Kick pads is the stitching along the side of the pad. Once the stitching starts to go, the material inside the pad will start coming out. When this happens you can be sure that you will have even less protection when you are holding pads.
Best Muay Thai Kick Pads
Every major Thai, MMA, and even Boxing brand offers kick pads for sale. However, not all are created equal. As Kickpads are primarily used to handle Thai-style kicks, knees, teeps, and punches, I wholly favor the Thai-brands which have been producing quality kick pads in Thailand for decades. These are the pads that Thai trainers use and have been using since way back.
While you can certainly get some decent kick pads offered by western (read, MMA brands) brands, I’m still partial to the thai brands which are made from real leather and highly durable. Note that Thai pads do wear out. If you are a trainer holding pads multiple times a day (like Thai trainers) in a humid country, you can expect 1-2 years of heavy use out to the pads. Usually, after a good year or two in Thailand, Thai pads start to fall apart or are worn out to the point where kicks start to hurt the forearms of the trainers.
So like running shoes, expect to replace your own set every couple years of regular use.
The Best Kick Pad
I’m partial to Fairtex pads as they offer a lot of value and are extremely comfortable. Fairtex pads are not as commonly used as TWINS pads in Thailand by the trainers, but this is due more to the higher price than the TWINS being superior pads. Fairtex usually costs about 30 percent more than TWINS or Top King gear. Thai trainers being pretty poor, they usually go for the cheapest option.
I’m a big fan of the curved kick pad style which offers a bit more angle for the shin during kicks. It just feels a lot better when kicking a curved pad and it’s easier to hold the pad too during blows. The curve allows for better knee strikes too.
This model is Fairtex’s best and highly recommended. These are the pads I buy myself.
TWINS special kick pads are by far the most popular kick pad choice in Thailand. 75 percent of the trainers use these ones. They are not curved, however.
For a basic, yet reliable set of kick pads, you can’t go wrong with this standard choice. My preference is for the more curved kick pads, but if you don’t mind the straight style, then these are some of the best you can get anywhere.
Like all the Thai products, these are made from real leather. You can expect a couple years of use with these if you use them a couple times a week in colder, dry climates. If you are a trainer though and you take a lot of abuse every day using these, you’ll probably need to replace them after about a year, or you’ll start to feel the kicks.
These pads require a bit of break-in. It typically takes a few weeks to a month or so of use before the pad starts to break in — so if they don’t feel comfortable right away, that’s expected.
If you want to purchase a premium pair of Kick pads, the Top King “Super” pads is another excellent choice. One of the benefits of these kick pads is they have an extra layer of protection behind the arm.
The curve of the pad also makes for an easy target for the person who is kicking the pads. Top King makes excellent Muay Thai equipment and these Thai pads live up to their high standards.
Personally, I prefer these to the standard TWINS kick pad listed above. However, if you want something that’s about the same quality as the TWINS recommendation, but a curve, then go with these. They feel a bit more puffy than the TWINS.
So if you don’t like Fairtex, this is another good pair of kick-pads that will last you.
If you want to get a good pair of Thai pads that will last years, these Top King curved pads are the ideal choice. These pads are made in Thailand are built to last. These are my favorite Thai pads to kick because of the strong feedback they give on every kick. There is definitely a reason why Top King is a premium Muay Thai brand. I suggest you invest the money and buy these pads if you need to replace your old ones.
Best Budget Kick Pads
Look, straight out I recommend you pony up and spend the $120 bucks to get a proper Thai-made Kick pad. But if you can’t afford the cost (or you can’t fly to Thailand and pick up a Thai-brand for 70 bucks or so), then this RDX kick pad is ok.
The biggest benefit here is that it’s under $50 bucks for the kick pad set — or about 60 to 75 percent cheaper than the Thai brands on Amazon.
However, you are getting some real quality cuts in the process. These are far less durable, made from synthetic leather (Maya hide or whatever crap RDX spouts about this, it’s not anything near real leather).
These pads try to make up for the lack of quality with some snazzy MMA style aesthetics.
So if you need a basic set of pads just to tide you over as a Muay Thai beginner, then these will do. If you have been training for a while or, god forbid, you are a trainer, don’t even consider these pads. Invest in a proper LEATHER kick pad set from a Thai brand — they will protect your forearms a lot better, be more comfortable to hold and to kick, and last longer!
These are about the same quality as the RDX but feature a less flashy design. They are made from vinyl, which is not the best material to make a Kick Pad with and they won’t last a long time. These are not curved pads either so they take longer to break in.
Still, it’s about $40 bucks for a pair of kick-pads, which is 1/3 to 1/4 the cost cheaper than the quality Thai brands you can find on Amazon. So considering the price you pay, they will do in a pinch.
Like the RDX, you can buy these if you are new to Muay Thai, MMA, or Kickboxing but I highly recommend you upgrade to better quality pads within a year of buying these. It’s probably a better investment to buy quality pads first rather than buy these cheap pads then upgrade later, but if finances are a problem, these are decent.
While I’ve given 3 solid Thai-brand choices, by no means are these the only selection. I can personally verify that Boon Thai Kick pads are awesome (if a rather unaesthetic) — highly durable and very strong padding. They are straight pads, not curved, however and it’s much harder to get your hand on them as Boon is one of the smaller brands.
Yokkao makes some decent Kick pads. Overpriced and too flashy in my opinion, so it’s not really the best bang for buck, but the gear is good enough. Because I consider them overpriced, I have not included Yokkao as one of the best.
Windy, another Thai brand, makes a classic set of Thai kicks pads, that rival TWINS. However, unlike TWINS, it’s hard to get your hands on WINDY outside of Thailand, which is why I haven’t put them on the list.
You can find Kick pads produced by some of the boxing brands like Everlast, but stay away from these — the quality is pretty shitty.
Then there are the ultra low-cost Kick pads available by the likes of RDX and Contenders. I prefer RDX over the Contenders Kick Pads, but I don’t really recommend these unless you can’t afford to pay for a decent pair. Trust me, it’s worth paying double for real leather Kick pads rather than $40 bucks for a cheap pair of budget pads. You’ll just end up tossing them out in a few months and replacing them with the proper gear anyways.
Cleaning and Maintenance Tips
If you want to make your pads last longer, it is important that you make sure that you dry them properly after every use. If the leather gets soaked from your training and you leave it in your bag, it can stay moist.
While this will be fine for a few times, if you do this on a consistent basis you will find that the leather starts tearing near the stitches. This is especially true if you are in a country that is cold or one that is humid. Humidity is the reason why Thai pads don’t last that long in Thailand, especially when trainers are holding them for up to 6 hours a day.
To clean your pads you can rub them with a natural cleaning product like Dettol (a disinfectant) or you can use another sanitary spray that you have. You want to make sure that you wipe them down thoroughly so that the bacteria from the gym does not stay on the pads. You should never hold dirty pads because that is disrespectful to the person who is kicking your pads.
You don’t have to clean your pads after every use, but once a week you should be wiping them down to ensure that they are clean. If you are working with different people on the same pads, you should wipe them down between uses. (even though they don’t do that in Thailand)
This is often how skin infections (like Staph infection) end up spreading from student to student. If someone is kicking your pads with an infection on their skin, the next guy who kicks those pads will get that infection. So be sure to clean your pads when you hold them for different people on the same day.
While you might be tempted to purchase a cheap pair of Muay Thai kick pads, I strongly recommend you purchase something that is built with quality. A quality pair of pads can end up lasting years and provide enough protection so your arms don’t suffer any long-term damage.
I recommend going with the Fairtex curved pads if you want a quality kick pad that will last you for the best price.
The best Thai pads are the ones that come with a curve, which makes it easier when you throw kicks against the pads. The kicks will natural slide to the middle of the pad, instead of bouncing off the sides. If you choose a quality pair of pads from a brand like Fairtex, Top King, or Twins, you will have something that will last you.
Read more of our Ultimate Guides Below:
- Best Muay Thai Gloves
- Muay Thai Heavy Bags
- Best Boxing Gloves
- Muay Thai Boxing Shorts
- Muay Thai Shin Guards
- Best Skipping Ropes
- Muay Thai Shorts Guide
- Best Muay Thai Handwraps
- Muay Thai Head Gear
- Muay Thai MouthGuards
- Best Punching Bags