Choosing the right pair of boxing gloves is one of the most important things you can do to improve the quality of your training. Having a bad pair of gloves is like finding you have a rock in your shoe: it’s aggravating, irritating, and may even increase your chance of injury over time.
You may think choosing the best pair of boxing gloves is easy. But it’s not.
Sure, you can just walk into your local sporting good store and buy a random pair of boxing gloves. But there’s a pretty significant chance you a) won’t like the gloves and b) they won’t be comfortable to use when actually hitting something with them and c) they won’t deliver what you are looking for.
So do yourself a favor and pick the RIGHT best pair of gloves first so you don’t have any future issues and waste time and money.
Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Pair of Boxing Gloves
There are a number of things you need to consider that will impact your glove choice:
What will you be using your gloves for the most: Bag work? Sparring? Competition Boxing? MMA style fighting with grappling?
- Are you a beginner?
- What style of martial art do you do: Boxing, Muay Thai, MMA, Kickboxing, or other?
- Will you be sparring with the gloves?
- Do you intend to fight or compete?
- How heavy are you?
- Do you want a more padded glove or less padding?
- Do you want Velcro or laced gloves
- Do you prefer leather, faux leather, or vinyl?
- What’s your budget? (do you want budget boxing gloves, mid-range gloves, or premium gloves)
Not so easy, to choose now, is it?
Fear not: I’ll go into each one of these factors so you can make an informed choice and avoid the mistakes a lot of beginners (or even non-beginners) make when choosing a pair of gloves.
Keep in mind that ideally, you may need a couple pairs of gloves to cover different types of training uses. It’s hard (even impossible) to find one single boxing glove that will be perfectly suited for every type of training.
Types of Gloves
There are a number of ‘specialist’ boxing gloves that are best suited one one specific activity over the
Bag Gloves: For general punching bag work, you might opt for a lightly padded glove; the lighter the glove the longer and faster you can train and at the same time you’re conditioning your hand. You have two kinds: fully padded, regular-sized gloves that have extra padding and shock absorption for bag work and smaller, lighter, less padded gloves designed for speed bag work.
Training Gloves: For general training; you can use these for pads, bag work (heavy bag, speed bag, upper cut bag, etc), and, in some cases, sparring. These are your sort of ‘everyday’ gloves and will likely be THE gloves you will use in training 75% of the time.
Sparring Gloves – If you will be mainly sparring with a training partner the gloves ideally are well padded, especially around the knuckles for your safety and your training partner’s.
Competition Gloves – Competition grade gloves are usually lighter for speed and less fatigue and you want your opponent to feel the strikes. The type of competition will dictate the specific gloves allowed. For example, amature boxing matches require as specific style of amature boxing competition glove to be worn. Pro boxing matches may have specific weight and brand restrictions. Muay Thai matches may require you to wear specific Thai brands at either 8ounce or 10 ounce.
Glove Size and Weight
When choosing the weight the most popular choices are 12oz, 14oz and 16oz gloves. There are even lighter and heavier gloves outside of this range, but these three are the most common in gyms everywhere. The size and weight is mostly dictated by the amount of padding inside. More padding means more protection for your hands, but also more weight to the glove, which will slow down your punching speed. You’ll also find your shoulders fatigue faster.
Typical Gloves Size Uses
8oz to 10oz – Typical for competitive boxing fights/competitions
12oz – Middle ground between weight and padding; the recommended ‘general’ training glove size
14oz – Lighter weight classes can spar with these / general training
16oz – The gloves size most gyms require for sparring
18oz to 20oz – Typically used for larger heavier weight classes for training
My recommendation is to buy 12oz gloves for general training. You’ll use this weight 90% of the time for pads and bag work. If you are a heavy weight and you hit hard, you may want to consider using 14oz gloves for general training. If you want to spar and you are less than 180lbs, you’ll need to buy another pair of gloves that are 16oz. For heavy weights, you might need 18oz gloves for sparring.
The Type of Boxing Sport
Do you need boxing gloves for Western Boxing or for Muay Thai, Kickboxing, MMA. Or maybe you just need a pair of gloves for cardio kickboxing class.
The bottom line is that each sport may require a particular glove type or weight.
Traditional Western Boxing Gloves
Boxing gloves are not only used for boxing, each style has its own subtle design difference to suit the needs of the practitioner.
A boxing glove will hold your hand in the closed fist shaped with a contoured shape along the back glove area and the wrist. The wrist area typically will ride higher up the arm beyond the wrist area; this provides more stability and support for heavy punching.
Make sure you read our Ultimate Guide to the Best Boxing Gloves for specific pure boxing glove recommendations. It’s the best article you’ll find on the topic on the web, we promise!
Muay Thai Boxing Gloves
Muay Thai Gloves look like boxing gloves, but have a few modifications for the sport of Muay Thai which incorporates kicks and heavy clinching in addition to punching.
The padding on the back of the gloves is usually thicker (to help absorb kicks to that area) while the front and thumb areas are more flexible to allow your hand to open and close for grappling, catching kicks or holding the opponent.
Muay Thai gloves tend to be more boxy and less contoured than boxing gloves and the gloves tend to end just above the wrist area (while pure boxing gloves tend to ride higher up the arm).
Kickboxing, due to the similarities to Muay Thai, tend to require the same type of gloves and you can easily use a Muay Thai brand of glove for Kickboxing.
Check out our Boxing Gloves vs Muay Thai Gloves article for a more detail breakdown of the differences and similarities between boxing and muay thai gloves.
Make sure your read our Ultimate Guide to the Best Muay Thai Gloves for specific recommendations for pure Muay Thai gloves. All your questions will be answered there.
MMA Boxing Gloves
For MMA, which includes all the martial arts under its training umbrella, you can get by with either pure western boxing gloves or Thai style gloves, depending on the training. If you are working on more stand-up boxing, you may be better served using a pure Boxing glove; if you are working on more Muay Thai or Kickboxing work, then you might find the Thai style gloves more suited (they offer more protection for wrists and more clinch grip). You may want to have two pairs in fact — western and Thai-style.
Some gloves also have an extra feature called a thumb lock, basically the thumb is attached to the side if the glove so when you make a fist the thumb will sit in the correct safe position and keep it curled and on the outside, rather than sticking out or tucked inside the closed fist.
MMA Gloves are very different in form and function over regular Boxing gloves as MMA requires a lot more free movement . MMA gloves have exposed fingers that allow for the holding and grappling requirements of MMA. MMA fighters fight with 4 ounce MMA glove, rather than the 10-12 ounce boxing gloves used by Muay Thai, Boxing, and Kickboxing.
Make sure you read our Ultimate Guide to the Best MMA Gloves for specific recommendations.
The type of glove material is also something you’ll want to consider when buying a glove, especially as it impacts your comfort, the durability of the glove, and the cost.
What’s the best boxing glove material to choose?
The most common materials used for boxing gloves are vinyl and leather (both Polyurethane and genuine leather).
Vinyl – Vinyl gloves are the cheapest gloves ranging from around $20 to $40 and for that reason, you’ll find beginners often opt for Vinyl boxing gloves.
If you train regularly, however, then Vinyl gloves are inferior to leather, both in comfort and durability. Vinyl typically won’t stand up to the test of time, and most noticeably, will get very hot and sweaty inside. These are fine if you are just looking for casual pair of gloves to take part in fitness lessons with very little actual hitting anything with;, otherwise I recommend investing in a pair of leather gloves.
Polyurethane leather – As I mentioned before there are two types of leather commonly used: polyurethane leather and genuine leather. Polyurethane is manufactured leather and looks like genuine leather and made to be durable; the gloves will last much longer than vinyl gloves. Prices vary from anything from $30 to $120. I would recommend Polyurethane gloves as a good starting glove if you don’t want to break the bank too badly.
Genuine leather – These are the of the price range starting at around $60 and up to $400 they are also the highest quality; With real leather you can be sure your gloves will go the distance. Leather gloves also gradually mold to your hand shape and become better fitting in time. However, there may be some break-in time where the gloves push uncomfortably against parts of your hand.
My Recommendation: Choose Genuine leather. The cost over Polyurethane or Vinyl is minor (or the same, in some cases, depending on the brand of glove) and the comfort, durability and overall quality typically superior. Make sure you read our Ultimate Guide to the Best Boxing Gloves for specific glove recommendations. It’s the best article you’ll find on the topic on the web.
One of the most important gloves features that will make a big different to how you use the gloves is the type of glove closure.
Choosing Laces or Velcro
This is the age old debate: what’s better, laces or velcro?
Laces give you a tighter, more stable fit to your glove while Velcro’s are a snap to tighten and loosen.
For your average training session — and for most people — velcro hands down is the best option.
The reason? It’s easy to close your own glove in seconds. With laced gloves, it’s impossible to tie up your own gloves; this makes it a two man chore to get your gloves on and off (you holding your hands out, and fiddling with the laces). Grabbing your water or, god forbid, using the washroom are incredibly challenging activities with laced gloves on.
Laced gloves, if the laces are not taped over, may also cut your sparring partners due to the lace edges sticking out.
Laced Gloves are better for serious sparring or bag work, where you need a tighter fitting glove. If you compete (boxing tournaments, boxing fights, kickboxing fights, or Muay Thai fights), you are going to use laced gloves during your bout.
My Recommendation: unless you are a pro fighter who needs to train for fights or you take your sparring very seriously, go with Velcro. It will save you a world of time, effort, and manpower putting on and taking off your gloves. Make sure you read our Ultimate Guide to the Best Boxing Gloves for specific glove recommendations. It’s the best article you’ll find on the topic on the web.
By far the least important aspect but very often the most considered when looking for new gloves. There really is no limit to the color options and animal print or motifs out there.
You should just choose whatever color or pattern suits your personality and enjoy them.
If it come to choosing a color for competitions, you are usually limited to either Red or Blue, and you usually are automatically assigned to a color. However, if you have some choice of color, you might want to consider Red as some studies show there is a psychological winning advantage to red.
However, color choice is really a personal decision and, in terms of actual performance of your glove, not a factor that matters.
Don’t Forget Good Hand Wraps
Hand wraps are a very important, sometimes over-looked aspect when choosing a new pair of gloves. When choosing the size you should always try them on with wraps on under the gloves. You should always wear wraps when training so also when looking for the right fit.
Hand wraps are an inexpensive must-have when training for hand protection as your hands take a look of punishment, there are 27 bones in each hand and wrist and they need that extra support so remember to wrap up before slipping on your gloves. There is an art to applying hand wraps and every one does it differently; you can go onto YouTube or simply Google it to see how to put them on and you’ll find the method that feels good for you. Boxers put on wraps differently than Muay Thai people; and there are variations between individuals too.
You typically have four general choices when it comes to wraps, though for most people, the last two options will likely be your real choice when it comes to hand wraps:
Cloth string wraps (this old school method involves putting a light cloth strip and wrapping it around). This is common in Thailand training camps among Thai fighters.
Cloth Elastic Bandage Wraps: if you fight, your hands will be wrapped up in elastic bandage wraps then tapped up for additional support. This requires more materials and someone to expertly wrap your hands, which is why outside of professional boxers getting ready for a fight or serious sparring match, you won’t deal with this. These offer the best support, but take serious time to put on and take off (sometimes requiring scissors). As such, they are not practical for most people and most training sessions.
Non-Elastic Cloth Hand Wraps: wraps made from non-elastic material. TWINS and TOP KING brands both offer this cheaper version. I don’t recommend these as they do NOT pull as tight around your hands and wrist and offer less support because of it. On the other hand, they don’t wrinkle as badly over time.
Elastic Cloth Hand Wraps: these are the best sort of hand wraps and made from an elastic cloth that stretches when you pull it tight. I recommend these as the best general hand wraps for training.
My Recommendation: Go with Elastic Cloth Hand Wraps. They are not that much more expensive than the cheaper non-elastic wraps and offer better support and comfort. You’ll thank me for that recommendation. Make sure you check out our The Ultimate Guide to the Best Hand Wraps article for specific hand wrap recommendations.
Buying Boxing Gloves: Store or Online?
You can buy your gloves online or in a store.
Online, of course, is significantly cheaper. However, you won’t be able to physically try the gloves on, which does count for a lot, especially for your first pair of boxing gloves.
If you’re not familiar with a specific brand then I recommend going into a MMA gear shop (or a local boxing supply store) and trying on some of the gloves to see how they feel while wearing them. If you find a pair of gloves you do like with a specific brand, you can always order them online to save money. However, the variety of boxing gloves is usually pretty limited at your local fight gear store, which is why you’ll probably have to order online if you are fixated on a specific brand, especially the more expensive or less popular ones.
Also note that many online retailers like Amazon do offer full refund policies — you can can always just order a number of different gloves, try them on, then return the ones that don’t fit.
Tip: Use Amazon.com or Ebay for the best selection and prices.
From what I’ve seen, Amazon.com offers the cheapest prices for NEW Boxing gloves; and you are protected by Amazon’s grantee and return policy. For new or used gloves (or hard to find brands), also consider looking at Ebay.com — I’ve bought a few pairs of gloves from EBay and you can often find some of the more premium or harder to find brands on Ebay that you can’t find on Amazon.
Boxing Glove Price Range
There is wild range in pricing for boxing gloves, from under $20 bucks to nearly $400. There is a price difference between Thai-style boxing gloves, which side at about 60-70 USD on Amazon, and Boxing Glove brands which cost about 80-120. Some of the pure boxing glove brands like Cleto, Grant, and Winning will cost you between $200 to $400.
Personally, I find the perfect intersection in cost and quality is at about $70-$80. Paying more than this will get you fancier gloves, but the overall performance is usually pretty similar. I.e. you won’t be getting something that delivers THAT much more. The exception being the pro style gloves like Winning, Cleto, and Grant, which give superior stitching, padding, and comfort, at the cost of cost.
Boxing Glove Price Range
$20 and Less: Toy boxing gloves. Buy these for your child, but don’t ever put these on in a real boxing gym. If you hit a bag with them, expect to break your fingers.
$30-50: entry level budget boxing gloves. You can get some real steals from some brands like Title.
$60-$90: middle range quality boxing gloves. The best value at this range.
$90-$140: upper middle range. Many of the MMA style boxing glove brands have their best models at around this range. At local MMA or Muay Thai gyms in the USA, expect to pay this for a pair of gloves.
$150-$400: The pro-style boxing gloves. The best, but unless you are a serious boxer or professional fighter, you don’t need these. However, if you have hand or wrist injuries, you might want to pony out for the $400 winnings which are the best padding gloves on the market.
Boxing Glove Maintenance
When it comes to taking care of your gloves there is one clear rule: DRY YOUR GLOVES AFTER TRAINING.
Seriously, you’ll double or triple your glove lifespan.
Store in a cool dry place
The enemy of glove durability is moisture; nothing will destroy your gloves quicker than training with them semi-moist. Always completely dry out your gloves after a training session. If you train in damp gloves, the leather will give into tears much quicker and bacteria will gleefully thrive inside the gloves, giving them an unpleasant odor.
I’ve been living in Thailand for five years now and I’ve killed more gloves in that period than people own in a lifetime. Typically, a new pair of gloves will last me about 6 to 8 months from new to falling apart. This is because the humidity and consistent training causes the materials to degrade much quicker than in the more dry climates.
I’ve heard of people using all sorts of home-made remedies for keeping their gloves dry and fresh. Like stuffing a sock with wood chippings and putting them inside each glove so to capture moisture and leave a fresh scent. As long as you keep them cool and dry you won’t have any issues and your gloves will serve you well for years to come.
Rotate Your Gloves
You can vastly extend the lifetime of your gloves by simply owning two or three pairs of gloves and rotating between them (if you train every day). This allows your moist gloves to completely dry before another session, which increases their durability.
Best Brand Name Boxing Gloves Overview
You get what you pay for and boxing gloves are no different.
There are plenty of really good companies out there producing quality boxing gloves that can make all the difference in your training, so to help I’ll list a few well-known brands that offer quality gloves. Each brand has their own take on design, padding, and weight distribution and will appeal to different people.
Popular Thai Style Gloves
Twins Special – Twins produce well-padded Thai-style gloves for a very reasonable price. A good training glove that will take (and give) a lot of punishment. These are wildly popular for Muay Thai and found everywhere in Thai gyms across Thailand. They are used in some of the top Muay Thai stadiums for actual big match fights between Thai champions. In Thailand, TWINS and Muay Thai are nearly synonyms of each other. For more info, read my TWINS Muay Thai Gloves Review
Fairtex – One of the better quality Thai-style gloves that costs a bit more than the competing Thai brands like TWINS and TOP KING. They have a more simple, yet compelling design and the quality of materials is definitely better. Fairtex boxing gloves are thinner than Twins and not as boxy. I prefer them over Twins and Top King for comfort, style, fit, and actual performance. For more info, read my Fairtex Muay Thai Boxing Gloves Review.
Top King – another popular Thai style glove, found in gyms across Thailand. Top King is actually owned by one of the TWINS family members (one brother owns TWINS and the other owns TOP KING). However, Top King has it’s own visual style and a completely different fit than do TWINS. Top King ops for a more tribal design style with aggressive patterns. Top King gloves are a lot more puffy and boxy in shape than the other thai glove brands. They are thicker than Fairtex and Twins when you compare them side to side. Some people like this style and fit. For more info, read my Top King Muay Thai Boxing Gloves Review
Raja – the king of comfort and fit for the Thai gloves. Raja makes Muay Thai gloves that fit and feel like boxing gloves — which is to say, a whole lot better. They fit snug, are tight, but have a more contoured shape to them then the other brands. Again, they are the closest traditional Thai style glove to the western boxing gloves styles. They are also my favorite glove. For more info, read my RAJA Muay Thai Boxing Gloves Review.
Boon – another Thai-style glove that’s owned by Australians. The gloves are popular in Australia.
Yokkao – a more visually arresting style of boxing glove made in Thailand (the owner is Italian). They are famous for sponsoring Saenchai and as such, you’ll see them in the Media quite often. The quality of Yokkao is so so, however, and you may or may not like their over the top flashy designs.
Sandee – similar to TWINS in style and feel. However, they are some of the best glove deals in Thailand (and the world) by giving you the same quality as Twins, the same sort of feel, but for significantly cheaper. It’s hard to find Sandee, however.
Windy – am older Thai style glove that’s feels a lot more puffy and rubbery. I’m not a fan of this style personally, but some people like them. They feel a bit like Top King.
Thaismai – a small, almost unknown mom & pop brand in Thailand. The gear is handcrafted and, overall, I find very well made. A bit of a steal.
Fighting – new brand in Thailand
Muay Thai – cheap brand in Thailand
Lumpinee – cheap brand in Thailand
Western Boxing Glove Brands
Everlast – Everlast are probably the most well known old school boxing glove. They make a traditional boxing glove and they’ve been around for decades. However, outside of sponsoring their gloves for use in high-profile boxing matches, Everlast does not produce very good boxing gloves these days, in comparison to the other better brands now. The now produce a lot of ‘toy’ level gloves that are not to be considered by anyone looking to train seriously. To get a decent pair for real boxing, expect to pay at least $80.
Venum – Venum gloves are generally well-made and ideal for beginners. A good starter glove. The brand is popular in the MMA world due to sponsoring UFC fighters. Note that some Venum gloves are ‘made in Thailand’ and some gloves are ‘Designed in Thailand.’ The ‘Designed in Thailand’ are cheap gloves that are made in China or Pakistan, so beware of this marketing gimmick. Read my Venum Boxing Gloves review for a general review of the brand and all their main models or my review of the most popular model the Venum Elite Boxing Gloves Review.
Hayabusa – Hayabusa is bit more expensive but at the top end of the spectrum in terms of design; the company pride themselves on innovative design and science-backed performance features added to their gloves. Hayabusa are wildly popular in the MMA circuits, but not so much at Boxing and Muay Thai gyms.
Ringside – A high quality boxing glove brand that injects a good deal of features into their glove design (shock absorbing foam padding, for example). The premium Ringside gloves are expensive, but worth it.
TITLE – A classic boxing glove that’s reasonably priced for what you get. In fact, some of the Title gloves are the best bang for buck when it comes for quality boxing gloves under 40 bucks!
Lonsdale – a older brand, but owned by the same company as Everlast. The company does not have a good reputation
RDX – an recent brand that’s become popular on Amazon. However, the company borrows designs from other brands and the quality is cheap, with the gear made in China. Not a bad budget brand, but the company does not make quality gear in general
Cleto Reyes – Cleto Reyes are worn by many of the top Boxers and are considered one of the best for Boxing if not the best, just ask Manny Pacquaio who only trains and fights in them. They are also known as ‘puncher gloves’ with less padding than other brands.
Grant – The gloves worn by Mayweather and many other pros. These are the Cadillac of traditional boxing gloves and hard to buy. They are made to order. Many people say the fit and feel of the gloves is somewhere between Winning and Cleto Reyes.
Winning – The Japanese company Winning is world famous as being the most comfortable, the best fitting, the most padded, and also the most expensive. The simple design lace-up glove that are famous for their comfort and designed in such a way that when you punch, all the force is correctly distributed to avoid as mush injury as possible. Probably the reason why so many professional boxers choose Winning, especially for sparring and bag work. They will also cost you between $300 to $400 and are made to order only in Japan. They are widely considered ‘the best’. If you want to know more, read my comprehensive Winning Boxing Gloves Review
More Glove Brands?
There’s a lot more gloves on the market than I’ve listed. However, the best of the best are usually some of the established brands listed. There may be good gloves from newer brands not listed here, but be careful because there is a lot of crap out there produced in India, China, and Pakistan.
I’ve detailed the popular Thai and western boxing glove brand on the market with the specific features associated with each brand. However, this comes from my basic experience with each glove brand; there may be variations among different models.
More Equipment Guides:
- Best Muay Thai Gloves
- Best Boxing Gloves
- Muay Thai Boxing Shorts
- Muay Thai Shin Guards
- Best Muay Thai Pads
- Best Skipping Ropes
- Muay Thai Shorts Guide
- Best Muay Thai Handwraps
- Muay Thai Head Gear
- Muay Thai MouthGuards
- Best Punching Bags
- Best Muay Thai Heavy Bags
- Best MMA Gloves
The Final World
I’ve given you everything I know about choosing the perfect pair of boxing gloves for your needs.
You should now be more equipped to make the right choice and choose a pair of gloves that suit your needs, with the right pair of gloves you can bring your training to a whole new level and enjoy them for years.
For specific model and glove recommendations, do read my two detailed articles: Ultimate Guide to the Best Boxing gloves and Ultimate Guide to the Best Muay Thai Gloves. I give actual recommendations and reviews of gloves there.