If you want to get the most out of your Muay Thai training it is important to have the right Muay Thai gear and training equipment. While there are plenty of options to choose from, there are some items that everyone needs in their training.
This article provides an overview of all of the Muay Thai training equipment that is available. We break it down into 3 sections: Training Gear, Pad Holding Equipment, and Gym Equipment. If you want to know more about each area then click on the link provided under that category.
Training Gear – Essential Items
Muay Thai Shorts – While you can train in any athletic shorts, wearing authentic shorts is something that everyone should do. Not only will it put you in the right mindset to train hard, but it will also make you look like a proper Nak Muay (Thai fighter). If you see someone wearing MMA shorts in training you know they are not serious about traditional Muay Thai.
Muay Thai shorts are the unofficially uniform of Muay Thai. If you are training Karate you would wear a Karate uniform, so when you are training Muay Thai make sure you wear the right pair of shorts.
One of the reasons why some people don’t like wearing Muay Thai shorts is because of the short length. The truth is the length is part of the traditional style of Muay Thai. You don’t have to hike your shorts way up like the Thai fighters do, you can simply wear them at a comfortable length. A quality pair of shorts will last you years, so don’t worry about investing $30 to get a good pair.
Ideally, you want to have at least 3-5 pairs of Muay Thai shorts so you can rotate them comfortably without having to wash them every day after training.
Make sure you also read our complete Guide to Muay Thai Shorts
#Smart Tip: Wear some athletic underwear when you train. If you are wearing Muay Thai shorts, they can get hiked up and if you are stretching you don’t want to have your private parts exposed.
Hand Wraps – Hand wraps are a must have whenever you are training. They will help protect your wrists from injury when you are hitting a heavy bag or during pad rounds. Keeping your wrists wrapped tight will prevent you from breaking your wrist.
Another benefit wraps provide is cushioning for your knuckles. Depending on how you wrap your hands, you can get a nice layer of protection around your knuckles. If you are punching a heavy bag with 10oz gloves on, it is nice to have some extra protection to ensure you don’t hurt your knuckles.Using clean hand wraps will also prevent your gloves from smelling inside.
The best types of hand wraps are made to be slightly elastic and have a little bit of flex. I would NOT recommend getting the Twins wraps, as they are my least favorite pair to use. Try a quality brand like Top King which have a good amount of give.
Check out our Guide to the Best Handwraps
Muay Thai Gloves – The last essential piece of equipment you need to train Muay Thai are the gloves. Muay Thai gloves are different than pure boxing gloves because they allow you to open your hands and get a grip in the clinch. This is one of the reasons why using a pure boxing glove when you train is not always advisable.
Muay Thai gloves will range in size and weight so it is important to try on different pairs and see what you fits you best. In general, people choose the gloves based on the weight of the glove.
For sparring and bag work, staying in the 14-18 oz. range is ideal. You don’t want to spar with anything less than 14 oz. because you can end up knocking out your opponent. The 16 oz. gloves are the perfect weight for sparring and a good size first glove to purchase. Ideally you should have 2 pairs of gloves, one pair for sparring and the other pair for hitting the bad and doing pads.
The brand of glove you choose will depend on a number of factors like price, style, size and fit. The top brands like Fairtex, Windy, Twins, Top King, and Boon all offer quality gloves that last. It all comes down to personal preference and what you like using best.
Check out our Guide to the Best Muay Thai Gloves
Mouth Guard – The mouthguard is an essential piece of equipment that you need if you plan on sparring or clinching at all. You never want to be in a situation where you need a mouthguard and don’t have one. Trust me, if you get your teeth knocked out it will cost you a lot more than a $20 mouthguard. Even if you are a beginner and just starting off, it is always a good idea to have a good mouthguard with you. This will keep you protect if you happen to do drills that require your partner to hit you.
The main issue you will decide when you purchase a mouthguard is between custom and boil and bites guards. I recommend ponying out the $100 and getting a custom guard that you use for the rest of your life. The custom guard is made from an imprint of your teeth, which ensures it has the best fit for your mouth. If you can’t afford a custom guard, a boil and bite will work just fine.
Check out our Guide to the Best Mouth Guards
Shin Guards – A good pair of Muay Thai shin guards will protect your shins during sparring and Muay Thai drills. Even if you aren’t planning on sparring for a while, you will still be doing drills that will require you to have a good pair of shin guards.
It is important that you get guards that fully protect your feet and shins. There are some smaller guards that I’ve seen people use that don’t provide much coverage at all. There are also shin sock guards that fit tightly to your legs. These guards are used in amateur tournaments and don’t offer as much protection as the standard shin guards.
Check out our Guide to the Best Muay Thai Shin Guards
Other Useful Items
Namman Boxing Liniment Oil – This oil is used by most Thai fighters in Thailand to help warm up their muscles before training. It is a very strong oil that will cause a burning sensation if you are sweating when you put it on. Most of the Thai’s will use the oil right before their warm up, which can prevent injuries from occurring. If plan on clinching, make sure your opponent doesn’t wear a shirt or the oil will stain his shirt.
Skipping Rope – The skipping rope is one of the most popular methods of cardio used by Thai boxers. Most of the gyms in Thailand have their boxers skip before training for warm up and endurance. While you don’t need to skip for training, skipping can help you with your footwork, cardio and balance. It is definitely a piece of equipment that you should use for training.
Check out our Guide to the Best Jump Ropes
Ankle Support – If you have weak ankles then a good pair of ankle guards are going to help you with your balance as you train. A lot of people use the ankle guards in the ring because they offer more support and balance throughout the fight.
When you are looking for a good pair of ankle guards make sure you select the right size and don’t get something that is too small. You might find that it cuts off your circulation and you end up losing feeling in your foot. Ankle support is very cheap, so you should definitely consider having a few extra pairs handy in case you sprain an ankle.
Groin Protection – In Thailand nobody uses groin protection. This is partly because the Thais who train are very skilled and know how to control their kicks. This is not the case in most western gyms. When you are sparring with someone new there is a high probability you will get kicked in the groin.
Groin protection is very important if you want to ensure that you fully protect yourself. The guards will range for $20-50 depending on the brand and style of protection you choose. Most guys get a jock strap that they insert a cup in between. While I personally don’t use groin protection when I spar, I highly recommend it to people in western gyms.
Check out our Guide to the Best Groin Cups
Headgear – People who are worried about getting hit in the head should consider getting head gear. While most people don’t use headgear in sparring, there is nothing wrong with wanting to add extra protection. If you are doing a lot of boxing, then headgear should definitely be on your list of things to get. Headgear can help provide you with a little more protection when you get hit with a big punch.
Check out our Guide to the Best Headguards for Boxing & Muay Thai
Elbow Pads – Elbow pads should only be used by advanced Muay Thai practitioners. I’ve seen beginners trying to use elbow pads and end up really hurting each other. When you don’t know how to control your power and techniques, you should not be sparring with elbows. Throwing a flagrant elbow at someone will injure them, regardless of the padding.
Thai’s do not believe in using elbow pads because they know that elbows can cause a lot of damage. Even if you have an elbow pad on, landing an elbow flush on the chin will result in a knockout. This is why elbow pads should only be used by people who are preparing for a fight.
Knee Pads – Knee pads are used for Muay Thai sparring and provide protection to your knee and padding to your partner if you land a knee strike. These pads come in a variety of different sizes so it’s important to find one that fits you.
Knee pads are not commonly worn in Thailand because the Thai’s know how to control their knees and don’t through knees to the face. In sparring, nobody uses knee pads because they will not condition your body as much as normal knees.
Unless you have really sensitive knees, an injury, or you need to complete with knee pads as a regulation rule, I feel these are not something you need.
Training Bags – A good training bag is essential for storing all of your Muay Thai equipment inside. Space is obviously one of the important factors when it comes to choosing a good training bag. A lot of people use big sport duffle bags that they can keep everything in, while others choose to go for backpack. Most of the Muay Thai backpacks have special compartments that you can unzip from the bottom to get access to your training gloves. This is a handy feature that makes things a little bit easier so you don’t have to take everything out of your bag to access your wraps or gloves.
Pad Holding Equipment
Muay Thai Pads – Thai pads are an essential piece of equipment you need for training. Most gyms have a supply of Thai pads that you can use, but it is always good to have your own pair. When it comes to selecting Muay Thai pads choose something that fits you. There are different sizes of pads available, so try out a few pairs and see what you like.
It is important to know that not all Thai pads are created equally. You want to have a set of pads that can absorb a lot of the power from kicks. Choosing pads from any of the top Muay Thai brands like Fairtex, Twins, or Top King is probably your best bet with Thai pads. You will notice they are extremely stiff when you first get them. It usually takes a few weeks to break in the pads after enough kicks start to soften them up.
Check our guide to the Best Muay Thai Kick Pads
Focus Mitts – Focus mitts are used to work on boxing combinations and striking. A common pairing you will see is training wearing one focus mitt and one Thai pad on each arm. This allows for a good blend of striking because the focus mitt is used for precision punches while the Thai pads can absorb the impact of the kick.
While Focus mitts aren’t essential in Muay Thai training, they are definitely a useful addition to have when working on your boxing. Wearing a focus mitt allows the pad holder to throw more punches, which builds better defensive reactions from the student.
Leg Kick Pads – Leg kick pads are another specialty item that is used mainly for working on low kicks. Another common combination that people use is one focus mitt paired with a leg kick pad. This will allow people to work on the jab followed with a strong right leg kick. You can also work on hook – leg kick combinations using this pairing.
These pads are designed to bear a lot of force behind it so you won’t feel the impact of the kicks as much on your leg. That being said, if you are holding pads for a very strong kicker you can still expect to feel some sting on your leg.
Thigh Pads – A new piece of training equipment that has started getting momentum are thigh pads. These are pads that are worn around your thigh and can absorb a large amount of impact on the leg. It is perfect when you hold pads because you can call out the combinations and then finish off with a strong low kick on the lead leg. These pads are great because you can hold a full set of Thai pads while using the thigh pads.
Most trainers use one thigh pad on the lead leg to help develop the right low kick, but it is up to the individual. You can use both sets of thigh pads, but you will find they are very bulky when you try moving around.
Belly Pads – Belly pads are used to help absorb some of the impact from strong teeps to the mid section during pad rounds. Belly pad, Thai pads, and shin guards are a common combination that many trainers use who hold pads for students.
Belly pads are not essential for training, but they can help the trainers absorb more impact from students who have strong punches and kicks. It is a piece of equipment that most trainers use in Thailand.
See our guide to the Best Belly Pads
Basic Gym Equipment
Heavy Bags – The heavy bag is where most people will be doing their bag work on. Heavy bags have a huge range of different shapes and sizes. Some bags are long tear drop shaped, while others are tradition bags that are not as long but thicker. Different bags are better for different techniques. Some are better suited for boxing, while others are better for low kicks and knees.
You will find that most gyms have a range of a few different types of heavy bags that you can choose from. This allows you to work on a variety of techniques when you are focusing on your training.
Angle Heavy Bag – The angle heavy bag is designed as a multi-purpose bag to take punches, high kicks, low kicks and teeps. The shape of the bag sticks out more at the top and then curves in at the bottom of the bag. It is a great back to work combinations and other Muay Thai techniques on. There are a number of different brands that sell angle heavy bags, so you can select a bag based on factors like price and shape of the actual bag.
Check out our guide to the best Muay Thai Heavy Bags
Buying Muay Thai Gear
When it comes to purchasing Muay Thai gear there are a few options that you have available. Firstly, most gyms sell equipment directly to their students. This is the most expensive way to buy your equipment. Gyms will often charge a premium of 20-50% in cost to their students. Most gyms will have their own branded shorts that they sell to students as well.
Outside of the gym you can look up any martial arts store in your city and you will find a place that sells Muay Thai equipment. Expect to pay another premium when you buy from a physical store because of the high costs associated with running a physical location. Once again you can expect to pay a 20-50% premium on all of the equipment you purchase from a physical store.
If you want to buy the cheapest Muay Thai gear then you need to look online. Online retailers offer the cheapest prices because they don’t have a physical location. The only added costs you have to pay is the shipping charging from the merchants. These will range depending if you purchase your equipment from Thailand or in your home country.
Ideally, you should try on your equipment before purchasing it online. This means that you should either ask someone to try on their pair of shin guards or gloves, or go into a store and physical try it on. Once you have tested it, go home and buy your equipment online.
Buying online will save you up to 50% of the costs of your Muay Thai equipment.
How to Choose the Best Muay Thai / Boxing Gear
Before you make a buying decision, you need to do your research. I want to be clear here: people have different preferences. Some might like say Fairtex boxing gloves while other people will swear by some unknown indie brand as the best.
In part, this has a lot to do with the fit and feel of equipment on your specific body type. Some brands may fit better on some people than others.
Consider the Level of Quality and How Good is Good Enough
However, what’s not universal is gear quality. Some gear may look great, but the materials are cheaper, the padding inferior, and the life expectancy, shorter. This is usually the biggest difference you get when you pay more for the higher-end gear vs entry-level or mid-range gear, though not always as some gear is highly overpriced for what you get.
Also realize that there may not be that big of a huge difference in the total quality and performance you might get between a pair of $300 dollar Winning Boxing gloves and a pair of $65 Twins gloves, but a difference does exist and you’ll pay several hundred dollars for that ‘difference.’ The best way I can explain this the amount of effort one puts forth to get an A+ writing an essay for a college lit class and the effort required to get a B+.
You might be able to pull off the A- with only a few hours put into your essay, but to get an A+ might require DOZENS of hours of extra effort to take your essay from A- level to A+.
It’s the law of diminishing returns — and this same principal exists with some of the fight gear. If you want that ‘extra’ bit of performance, or edge, or whatever you want to call it, you’ll pay a LOT more.
For most people, getting a ‘good’ enough piece of gear (say a mid-range boxing glove) will be fine. Paying significantly more for a ‘better’ glove is probably not worth it for the average person or beginner. You’ll only appreciate the difference if you are intermediate or advanced in your sport.
Look at Online Reviews on Amazon
Take these with a grain of salt as some manufacturers pay shills to write fake reviews on places like Amazon. There’s even a whole ecosystem by where new manufacturers give away free gear or huge discounts for a ‘review’. And you can bet that ‘review’ is always positive. I always look for the negative or 3 out of 5 star reviews. The fake ones are usually glowingly positive and 5/5 stars. Just be aware that not everything you read may be true and there is some commercial incentive for people to write fake reviews.
Check out what ‘Experts’ Say
There are a lot of fight gear reviews on various blogs / resource sites / review sites can check out if you surf online. It’s a good idea to see what’s being said about equipment. These type of sites can often point you to the right gear, but you need to look at the people writing the reviews to see if they are legit. You don’t want, say, some marketer sitting in an office who’s never put on a pair of boxing gloves before writing boxing glove reviews.
You don’t want, say, some marketer sitting in an office who’s never put on a pair of boxing gloves before writing boxing glove reviews for you. So make sure the people writing those reviews, like, actually know their shit and hey, have USED the products they review. Sadly, this is not the case most of the time.
See what people you know use
Common sense, but ask other people who train with you what they use. Ideally though, you’ll want to consult those who are more experienced than you. You won’t gain any real insight by asking a beginner for their boxing glove recommendations.
Where to Buy Muay Thai Equipment Online
Now that we have established you should shop online for your Muay Thai equipment, the next step is where to buy your equipment.If you want the cheapest possible price for Muay Thai equipment and you live in the U.S. I would purchase through Amazon.com. They offer free shipping and you don’t have to pay any import taxes. This means you end up saving money that you would have spent elsewhere.
You can also purchase your equipment directly through an online retailer website. All of the top websites are based out of Thailand because that is where all of the BEST Muay Thai brands are manufactured. I definitely recommend you choose a brand that is made in Thailand simply because the quality is second to none.