The most important protective equipment for Boxers is headgear. Given the fact that Boxer’s spend the majority of the time taking blows to the head, it would make sense to invest in a quality pair of headgear when you Box.
While MMA, Kickboxing, and Muay Thai involve striking the entire body, Boxers limit their punches to the body or head of their opponent. This means that you are constantly taking repeated damage the head when you train and you take even more damage to the head if you compete.
Good Boxing coaches will not let their students spar unless they are wearing headgear. Coaches understand the real risk that Boxers face whenever they take punches. Retired professional Boxers are known to suffer from a number of concussion-related symptoms like Boxer’s Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
While it may seem like headgear is only suited for the professionals, the truth is that beginners often suffer from damage to the head because of their lack of skill.
The worst time I was ever rocked in sparring was when I first started Boxing. Back then I didn’t realize the importance of keeping my hands up. As a result, I ended up taking a hard punch right on the jaw that nearly knocked me out. When you don’t have a lot of skill and experience Boxing, you won’t evade punches and are more likely to absorb direct punches to the head.
This is why you should never be afraid to invest in a good set of headgear whenever you are Boxing. Spending money on something that will save your brain cells sounds like a no-brainer, but a lot of people are too cheap to buy headgear.
The truth is there are so many different types of headgear out there; it can be difficult to decide which type of headgear that you need. Someone who is training MMA will want a different set of headgear than someone who is strictly Boxing.
What Headgear Does and Doesn’t Do
Before Continuing on it is important to understand what headgear does and doesn’t do. A common myth that people have is that headgear will prevent all concussions. This is false. Concussions are caused by the rocking of your brain against your skull. If you get hit with a shot that whips your head to the side, it can still cause a concussion when you wear headgear.
If you spar at 50% power without headgear, and spar at 100% power with headgear on, you are better sparring without headgear. If you are going harder with headgear on, that is going to increase your chance of injury more than going lighter without headgear.
You might be tempted to get a false sense of security when there is only so much protection the headgear provides. If you are sparring 90%, then YES, you definitely need to be wearing headgear.
The best defense against concussions is to block or avoid the punches (aka Floyd Mayweather). Believing that your headgear is a shield protecting you from damage is a false belief. The headgear will help you, but it won’t mean that you are invincible to head injuries.
Boxing vs. Muay Thai/MMA Headgear
The key difference between Boxing and Muay Thai/MMA headgear is the fit and size of the headgear. Since MMA and Muay Thai fighters will be grappling in the clinch (wrestling for MMA), they can’t wear headgear that is bulky and loose. MMA headgear is designed to work like wrestling headgear. While it provides some physical protection damage, it doesn’t provide as nearly as much protection as Boxing Headgear.
Because Boxer’s don’t have to escape choke holds and wrestle, the padding can be much thicker, and the face can be better shielded. The extra padding on the Boxing headgear allows for most absorption of the blows when you compare it to much thinner MMA headgear.
If you are an MMA fighter looking for headgear for wrestling and stand up striking, then you will want to purchase MMA headgear. Just keep in mind that you won’t get the same type of protection as you will with pure Boxing headgear, but it is more functional.
Anyone who is strictly Boxing sparring will want to stick with Boxing headgear. You want to give your brain the most protection, and a good pair of Boxing headgear will do that.
Main Things to Consider When Buying Headgear
Everyone has a different view on what they want in their headgear. Some people want headgear that covers their entire face, so they don’t get any damage (a model worried about face damage) and other people want the most visibility in their guard. The following are 5 important factors you should look for in your headgear.
I would argue that visibility is one of the most important things you should consider when you purchase headgear. Since most knockouts occur when you get hit with a shot that you don’t see coming, it makes sense that the more punches you see incoming, the more chance you can either avoid or brace of the shot.
The reason you are more likely to get knocked out by a punch you don’t see is because you are don’t have time to brace your jaw for impact. Having a relaxed jaw will cause your head to shake violently on impact. This is one of the reasons why knockouts happen in the later rounds when a fighter is gassed out.
When you get more visibility, you gain it at the expense of padding and coverage. So if you do get hit with a shot, you will feel it much more when you don’t have a lot of padding. If you are just starting off sparring, visibility or not, you are going to be eating a lot of hard shots to the eat. That is simply unavoidable.
The only we that we learn how to slip and dodge from punches is when we actually deal with real shots coming our way. That means that getting hit in the head is something that you will need to learn to live with.
Comfort and Fit
Nothing is worse than wearing headgear that is constantly moving around on your head. You will end up spending half the sparring session adjusting your headgear, instead of worrying about what your opponent is doing. Since you will be wearing your headgear every time you Boxing spar, you want to choose something that has a comfortable fit.
The best way to gauge fit is too look for headgear that isn’t too big and bulky. While you might get the most protection wearing a full face mask when you spar, it can be extremely irritating when you have it on. If you have an average size head, then you shouldn’t have a problem finding a good fit. However, if you have a really big or small head, you may want to get a size bigger or smaller depending on your situation.
Different types of headgear will provide coverage for different areas of your body. You can get anything from full face protection (literally a cage in front of your face) to very little coverage. The more protection and padding that you have in front of your face, the less visibility. This means it can be harder to see where your opponent is punching from.
Some of the headgear that have the handle bar across can even shift around in sparring, causing you to lose complete vision. If you are someone really worried about getting hit, you probably want more coverage in your headgear. Just keep in mind that you will be losing visibility the more coverage you have.
The padding on your headgear will determine how much shock absorption you get when a punch lands. Some headgears that are fully padded can feel like pillows when you hit them, taking away a lot of steam that you may experience on a punch.
If you are just starting out, you may want to look for headgear that provides you with a good level of padding. This will allow you to spar at a hard pace, without feeling the blow of every punch directly on your brain. Padding is definitely something that you need to consider when you are purchasing your headgear.
Most headgear is made from high-quality leather or synthetic leather depending on the brand and model. If you buy headgear that is manufactured in Pakistan or China, you can expect that quality to take a dive. Conversely, Boxing headgear made in Japan or Mexico has a great reputation for being the top in the world.
A quality Boxing head guard should end up lasting you a few years of heavy use. The stitching and materials used in the construction of the headgear will affect a whole lot of other issues related to headgear.
The cost of headgear can range anywhere from $40 on the cheap end to $400 on the high end. Most of the headgear on the market will fall somewhere around $100 depending on the brand. While you may not be able to afford expensive headgear, I would suggest you avoid buying cheap brands that you regret later on.
I don’t think you can really put a price on keeping your head safe, so spend a little bit more money and get something that is going to provide you with the best protection. There are plenty of brands out there that have a lower priced headgear that offers reasonable protection.
Best Boxing Headgear
Here’s our selection of what we consider the best boxing headgear you can buy. We look at the construction quality, overall padding & protection, durability, price, and value (bang for the buck) of each of these.
Understand that boxing headgear is designed to protect your brain (and face) from damage. While price is a consideration, you shouldn’t put a price on protecting your brain from damage. If you train and spar consistently, paying top dollar for the best headgear is paltry compared to the benefits. So keep this in mind: protection is more important than price here.
The Best of the Best
Winning Headgear FG2900
Winning is considered to be the premium leader of all Boxing equipment. Hand crafted in Japan, Winning headgear provides the best protection, comfort and fit. There is a reason why Winning Headgear is more expensive than the other brands out there – it is simply the best.
Winning is a brand that does no advertising at all. If you visit their website, it looks like they haven’t updated it for 20 years. Regardless, Winning is a brand that has consistently maintained high-quality standards and is the cream of the crop in terms of headgear.
Their headgear (and boxing gloves) are particularly well-loved by pro fighters everywhere.
EVERY pro boxers spars in Winning gear. The reason is simple: Winning provides the best protection possible.
While you may balk at spending $200-$400 on headgear (the cost of one of the Winning models, depending on the one), remember that you are protecting your most important asset: your brain. Don’t cheap out on this. It’s not necessarily the huge knockouts during a fight that cause brain damage, but consistent
Don’t cheap out on this.
It’s not necessarily the huge knockouts during a fight that cause brain damage, but consistent low-grade impacts over long periods of time (such as sparring a few times a week for years).
Fortunately, the FG2900 hits two points perfectly: superior protection & price.
While it’s not cheap, it’s still more affordable than it’s more expensive brother (the Fg5000).
This is the more budget friendly choice, being 100-200 dollars cheaper (but still about $200).
The main difference is in the facial protection design: the FG 2900 has check guards while the FG5000 does not but includes the full facial coverage.
Winning offers two models: FG5000 and FG2900.
For most people, I feel the Fg2900 is the better choice.
Fg2900 vs Fg5000
The Fg5000 is the full facial coverage while the Fg2900 lacks the bottom padding (above the jaw). As such, the FgG5000 is a bit more protective and has some design changes inside that put in a bit more padding. The FG5000 is also better fitting and a bit more comfortable (the the Fg2900 is still a top pick. The Fg5000 is also 100-200 bucks MORE.
Because the FG2900 is 40 percent cheaper than the FG5000, yet offers some of the same level (if slightly less) as the Fg5000, we give our nod to as the ‘best’ headgear for most people to the Fg2900.
Visibility is slightly better with the FG2900 due to the open chin area. This makes it better for evasions and slipping (easier to see incoming punches from angles — especially lower ones). Coverage, however, is not as great as the FG5000.
Why Pay So Much for Headgear?
What sets Winning apart from the other headgear you can find is how light it is. This headgear provides top level padding and good visibility, while not weighing down on you. The craftsmanship on Winning headgear is absolutely top notch.
But more importantly, this headgear provides some top level padding with good visibility, while not weighing down on you (it’s LIGHT at 10oz). The headgear covers the cheek bones but leaves the mouth and chin open.
Qualitywise, the craftsmanship on Winning headgear is absolutely top notch. The Winning Headgear use artificial leather — which normally is not a good thing, but for headgear is a positive. The reason is simple: the artificial leather can be made more breathable and more protective than regular leather. I’m usually against artificial leather, but I will say Winning has done the right thing here. These feel and perform something special.
Winning headgear is by far the most comfortable thing you will put on and it doesn’t feel heavy. The padding is excellent and after a few weeks, it will start molding to your face. If money is not a problem, then buy Winning headgear. This is as good as it gets when it comes to Boxing equipment.
When you watch Boxing videos of Floyd Mayweather and other top Boxers in the world, they are all wearing Winning headgear. If the best Boxers in the world use Winning as their top choice, you can bet there is a reason why.
The Best Protection
For those who want the absolute best protection possible, there is only one choice: Winning Fg5000.
It offers superior protection and comfort over the FG2900 (which is still one of the best head guards you can buy).
Honestly, you’ll find more than a few top boxers using the FG2900 (Mayweather, Manny) who love and use the FG2900. So preference also comes down to HOW the headgear fits on your head.
Some may prefer the full face style while some want the open chin style.
The full face offers MORE protection than the open chin style, however. And in the Fg5000, there are also some subtle design changes inside of the headgear as well.
It’s also very, very light (15oz) — so light that you won’t feel it when you wear it.
For most people (especially those who want the best on a budget), the FG2900 is the better choice. However, if you want even more protection, pony out more if you have the spare cash for the FG5000.
As such, this is the headgear to buy, regardless of cost. You can cheap out on your other gear. But if you intend to spar consistently, it’s worth paying out for the best head protection possible. And the Winning Fg5000 is the best you can buy.
TITLE Gel World Full-Face Headgear
If you are looking for Boxing headgear that offers great protection, but doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg, then the Title Gel World Full-Face is an excellent option to consider. This headgear set offers you full face protection with padding around the cheeks and even a small strip underneath your chin.
The gel lining and multi-layered design foamed helps to provide a great combination of comfort and protection due to the form fitting nature of the headgear. The hook and loop enclosure on the headgear ensures that you can get a fit that will work for your head shape. This is all leather headgear that is built for
There are two sizes offered in this particular model: Regular and Large. The large size is perfect if you have a larger head size and way over 170 lbs. With the adjustable chin strap, you can ensure that you get a tight fit no matter what size you choose.
While you will still feel the strikes to your head when you spar, this headgear will lessen the blows. Going from sparring with no headgear to having this on will feel like night and day in terms of protection. Title is one of the leading Boxing manufacturers and has been producing decent quality products for decades.
Overall, this is one of the top rated headgear that you can find online. While there are better options if you have an unlimited budget, if you want something that provides you the best overall value, this is a good place to start.
RIVAL d3o Pro Training Headgear
This is a highly protective headgear that gives some of the best (yet affordable) protection from a head guard. Not quite as comfortable, padded, or sleek as Winnings, but considering it’s half the cost of the Fg200 or 1/3 the cost of the Fg500, you can’t complain.
Get this if you are one a budget and you want shock absorption. The main difference here is the shock absorption helps distribute the force of impact; you don’t get as jarring an impact due to the specialized padding (d30).
The major downside to this is that there is absolutely no nose protection. Anyone with a medium sized nose will have it stick out above the padding, inviting a solid shot. As such, I do NOT recommend this for people with big noses (wear it and risk a nose break during sparring).
If you have a small nose, though, this is great headgear.
Best Budget Boxing Headgear
TITLE Boxing Full Face Training Headgear
If budget is the only thing you care about in your headgear, then you should consider getting then Title Boxing Full Face Training Headgear. At a price point starting at $49, you can’t beat the price on this headgear. Keep in mind that you always pay for what you get.
And you won’t be getting superior padding or comfort with this model.
The headgear is padded with inner foam around the inside to give quality protection. The fully adjustable hook and loop straps around the top and the back of the headgear ensure that you can make all the adjustments you need to get the perfect fit.
In terms of quality and craftsmanship, the title Gel headgear above is at another level. However, if price, is the biggest factor that you want in headgear this piece offers decent protection and the lowest price you will find.
Buy it…….if price is the only thing you care about
For the starting price point of $49, you can’t really get any cheaper than this. However, I would recommend you spend a little bit more money and get a better headgear. When it comes to protecting your brain, I don’t think you can really justify not spending more and getting better protection.
Best Muay Thai/MMA Headgear
Venum Elite Headgear
It’s important for a headgear designed for MMA or Muay Thai sparring to allow maximum visibility, so you can see kicks and clinch attempts. You also want good protection along the sides the face to if you receive a head kick.
The Venum Elite Headgear is an excellent headgear that offers all of the above, yet is priced very well. It doesn’t offer as much protection as the Title Gel or the Winnings because it is made with density foam, but it offers good overall protection.
While it doesn’t offer as much protection as say the Title Gel or the Winnings (the foam padding is inferior), it offers good overall protection for most people. And it’s affordable at under $80, which is another positive.
The coverage on this headgear is excellent as it has a chin bar and provides protection on your cheeks. The face area is quite open which allows for easy visibility for kicks and takedown attempts.
The Venum Elite Headgear is made with skintex leather (fake leather), and it is padded with density foam. The craftsmanship of this headgear is excellent as it is hand made in Thailand.
The best feature of this headgear is it has a design that allows for 180 vision. Good vision is very important because it will allow you to see more strikes and give you a chance to block or evade the strikes.
The best defense against any punch is to avoid the strike all together. This headgear provides some of the best visibility of any headgear you will find in the market.
If you are looking for headgear to use for MMA or Muay Thai training, then this is a great option to consider.
While the padding isn’t as good as the Title Gel, the extra vision is more important. This is a headgear that is used by a lot of people in MMA gyms because it provides a tight fit and isn’t too bulky.
Best ‘No Contact’ Headgear
Fighting Sports No Contact Headgear
The Fighting Sports No Contact Headgear is perfect for people who are looking to avoid any damage to the face. The large handle bar across the front of the headgear ensures that you won’t damage your nose if you take a direct hit to the face.
The padding is nowhere near the same level as say the Winnings headgear, it’s not as comfortable to wear, and frankly, it’s bulky, but the front area pushes out so much that your nose, cheeks, or any other part of you won’t touch the glove.
This one is good for beginners who are afraid of taking face damage in sparring.
Overall it’s a good headgear and one of the better ones on the market.
The headgear is made with a trio of high and low-density foams that are designed to really reduce any impact that you experience. The fully padded forehead and sides of the headgear ensure that it will reduce a lot of the impact you receive when you are Boxing.
This is a one size fit most designed headgear, so if you have a very large or small head shape, it may not be the best option. This headgear has chin straps with top and back laces to ensure that you can get a good fit when you are sparring. The inside is lined with a smooth and durable material that is easy to clean after you train.
Buy It…….If you don’t want ANY contact.
The purpose of No Contact Headgear is to block all incoming strikes from landing. The increased padding and handle bar across your face will reduce your visibility when you wear the headgear. This headgear is only suited for beginners and people who don’t want to do hard sparring and receive any contact at all.
The disadvantage with this headgear is that your head is a bigger target — so keep this in mind. If you are a more evasive fighter and want to slip and duck under punches, you are better off going with a headgear that’s smaller.
Cleto Reyes – overrated. Does not offer the protection or comfort of much cheaper headgear brands on the market. Love their gloves, but the headgear is a big miss.
Grant – used by pro boxers. One of the better headgear models you can buy (offers serious padding, is comfortable, and looks slick visually), but is expensive and hard to find. You’ll have to order it from Grant. You can’t really find it sold online outside of directly ordering it.
Ring to Cage Full Face Sparring Headgear for Boxing – R2C makes good budget Winnings copycat gloves. Thier headgear is nothing like Winnings, however. It doesn’t fit as well, and the padding is meh. Decent, but nothing over the other brands.
Everlast – most of their headgear is god awful. You are better off spending the same (or just a bit more) on the other brands like Rival, Ringside, or TITLE which give you better protection. If you go with Everlast, pick their Competition headgear over the rest.
The Final Word
If you plan on Boxing sparring, it is important to have good head protection. There is a reason that every single professional Boxer can be seen wearing headgear in their sparring videos. If the best Boxers in the world are using headgear for protection, I think it is safe to assume that it works.
The type of headgear that you purchase will depend on your sparring goals. If you don’t ever want to get hit, you may want to choose a no contact headgear that completely covers your head. Keep in mind that the more coverage and padding you have, the less visibility you have as well.
I don’t think anyone will ever argue that Winning makes the best headgear on the market, but at a price point over $200, it may be out of your budget. The next best headgear you can choose is the Title headgear that is reasonably priced and offers good protection.
If you are looking for headgear for Muay Thai/MMA, I would suggest you have a look at the Venum Elite Headgear. They make a quality product that is hand made in Thailand and produced to a high standard.
There are plenty of options to choose from online. I suggest you ask yourself what kind of protection you want and then go from there. Keep in mind that more protection is not necessarily a good thing if you can’t see when you are sparring.