Boxing Gloves Buyer's Guide
Back in the day, there were only a handful of boxing brands in the arena, but now you will see thousands of brands but unfortunately 99% are poor quality. To be honest, the quality of boxing gloves in our old days was much better. The stitching, leather, and overall construction was impeccable.
Fast forward to today, and there are thousands of brands with flashy logos, designs, and graphics but quality-wise, they are lacking. The popularity of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) caused a burst of manufacturing brands that also influenced boxing equipment as well. Many top brand American companies lost their way by outsourcing their manufacturing to Pakistan and China. Pakistan is one of the biggest producers of boxing equipment and unfortunately their products are sub par. Apart from TopBoxer, we have never noticed anything stand out from Pakistan.
So that’s the reason why most of the American boxing companies are not producing the quality stuff. Apart from that, some companies keep their prices deliberately high to give an impression of “PREMIUM BOXING BRAND” – but that’s not the case. So you can’t gauge the quality of your equipment by cost alone.
The bottom line is that it’s hard to find high-quality gloves at reasonable prices. But don’t worry, because here is your complete buying guide for boxing gloves. This is what we have learned from our experience in boxing gyms.
Types of Boxing Gloves
Light Bag Gloves
These gloves are used to get a bare knuckle type feeling but we don’t see many people using them anymore. The padding of these gloves are super thin and are really light weight. Here are some of the examples of light bag gloves.
Heavy Bag Gloves
For the heavy bag, many boxers use gloves with denser padding to protect their hands effectively. These gloves have thicker padding than training gloves and these are not fit for sparring as the denser padding can hurt your partner.
Sparring gloves have thicker padding but the cushion is really soft. These gloves protect your sparring partner with the soft cushion, reducing your punches impact. Apart from that, sparring gloves are not meant for the heavy bag as it can easily get damaged due to the soft cushion padding.
Training gloves are meant to be multi-purpose, including sparring, bag work, and mitts. Many boxers hesitate to pick different gloves for different reasons so training gloves are the best all-around option for them. Make sure to pick high-quality training gloves as many companies are selling their dense gloves as “training gloves”. Yes, quality matters and you have to pick the right ones.
Amateur Fight Boxing Gloves
As the name suggests, these boxing gloves are for amateur fights and their knuckle area is often a white color. Their weight is lighter than traditional gloves and the padding is a soft cushion for maximum protection. These gloves are provided by competition organizers for fair play so you don’t have to buy these for amateur fights.
Professional Fight Boxing Gloves
Professional Fight gloves have a very light padding to transfer maximum power to the opponent. Their size is pretty small as well and most of them don’t last long because of their construction.
The drawback of these professional boxing gloves is that it offers a lot less hand protection and in later stages of your career you tend to suffer hand problems. The padding of most of these gloves is horsehair and it breaks down very quickly.
Boxing Glove Review Criteria
Boxing is one of the toughest sports in the world for many reasons. Apart from skull crushing injuries, hand injuries are also quite common among professionals. When you do constant punching day after day, month after month, and year after year then hand injuries are in the cards for sure. That’s why we are encouraging you to get the highest quality boxing gloves. It will not only protect your hands but also prolong your career.
The best gloves aims to deliver maximum protection with high-quality material and construction. Whereas the low-quality stuff doesn’t provide you the protection and also breaks down in a short time, therefore, our criteria is straightforward. Comfort, maximum hand protection, and high-quality construction.
Glove fit is clearly an important quality for any glove. Everyone has a different hand size, width, and finger length, therefore, boxing gloves also come in various designs and shapes. Pick a glove which fits nicely and allows you to throw punches with a lot of flair and comfort. Check out these aspects of glove fit.
Some gloves fit perfectly on bigger hands whereas others fit better on smaller hands. The ideal hand fit is one where you can easily curl your fingers and make a nice fist without having to squeezing your fingers. If the glove is loose or too wide then you won’t punch properly and it will decrease wrist protection. Conversely, if it’s too tight it may cut off blood circulation. Moreover, if a glove is not curling properly then it can have a negative impact on your fingers as well. Comfortability clearly depends on hand fit and therefore, you must take care to choose the right glove size.
Thumb attachment is another crucial factor for boxers. There are two types of thumb attachments. One is a more visible thumb attachment whereas the other is hidden. We prefer straighter thumb attachments like those found on Winning gloves because it offers extra comfort. The only problem you can get in the thumb attachment is that if your thumb is short then the thumb curves stiffly which can cause injuries or discomfort. There are still some boxing glove models where unattached thumbs are used, however, they’re rare. Unattached thumb attachments injure your hands easily so we recommend simply avoiding them.
Another very important thing you need to check is hand movement. While wearing gloves, check your hand control by opening and closing your fist tightly. If you can’t make a tight fist then obviously you can’t punch properly. Moreover, hand control also allows you to relax and effectively block punches.
The primary function of boxing gloves is hand protection. Yes, without proper padding design, you can’t get full protection. If you are hitting denser objects like the heavy bag or an opponent’s skull, there is a fair chance that you might end up hurting your hands so proper knuckle padding is a must.
Padding also helps you to block punches and it plays a pivotal role in improving your boxing technique. In sparring sessions, you can use different padding designs to modify your training. If your sparring partner is heavy, you can use different weighted gloves to overcome their advantage. The best padding makes you feel super comfortable while landing solid punches. There are three common padding designs; large, long, and compact.
This padding is standard in training gloves. It has more covering and designed to deliver maximum protection. In this design, you see padding everywhere in the knuckles, wrists, and forearms. Its called large style primarily due to the fact that its heavy and more visible due to the denser padding. American, Mexican, European, and some Thai boxing brands have opted for a large padding style.
You will see long padding styles in many Mexican gloves as this style is streamlined for straighter punches. This padding design is lighter and helps penetrate the opponent’s defenses. Moreover, these boxing gloves offer better wrist protection and visibility since it doesn’t obstruct the fighter’s vision. The only complaint you will hear from boxers about the long style padding is that it hurts your hand due to a lighter cushion.
Compact padding is smaller and mostly used in Muay Thai and MMA. Boxers don’t like compact padding style as it is less secure and lacks wrist support.
These days, three types of padding are used in most boxing gloves; foam, gel, and horsehair padding. However, we have also seen a blend of foam and horsehair padding which also works well. Each of these padding types have pros and cons. Let us give you some insight into these padding types.
Foam padding is the standard type of padding used in 99% of modern boxing gloves. Most companies use latex foam to ensure better protection and wrist support. Whether its training gloves, sparring gloves, or professional gloves, you will see foam padding everywhere. However, the quality of foam really matters and it can play a huge role in your overall technique.
Gel padding is also quite common in modern boxing gloves. Manufacturers claim that these gel padding gloves are long-lasting and durable. However, we are not big fans of gel padding because it just doesn’t provide the comfort and high-level wrist support. When you land hard punches the gel just squeezes and it gives you a thunderous impact to your wrists. Your hands tend to wiggle and that’s not a good sign. So, hand support is not great with gel padding.
Horsehair padding has been the most commonly used padding type over the past few decades but now it is only limited to professional boxing gloves. Horsehair padding transfers huge amounts power and that’s why it is highly effective in professional fights. However, this padding doesn’t last long and it quickly deteriorates after a few rounds. It also doesn’t protect your hands to a great deal as it is designed to hurt the opponent, not to protect your hands.
It’s a common assumption that for knuckle protection you need a lot of padding. But that’s not always the case. There are many boxing gloves with dense padding but are very stiff and don’t protect your knuckles a great deal. Similarly, there are gloves with lesser padding and don’t produce great results.
Knuckle protection has a lot to do with glove design, construction, and padding material. The best gloves are made up of a multi-layer foam cushion to deliver proper impact and personal comfort. The dense gloves hurt your hands whereas the slim gloves hurt your knuckles. The ideal glove is soft on the inside and dense on the outside. The best boxing glove brands like Winning has 3 to 5 layers of foam cushion and that’s the perfect combination.
There are basically two types of closure systems; laces and Velcro. However, you will find some variations as well.
The old school laces closure system is the best one. The wrist support and glove fit is awesome and we recommend laces for everyone. Unfortunately, laces take a lot of time to put on and you can’t do it by yourself so with these closures you always need a friend to help you out in the gym.
Velcro is a very common closure type. Not as effective as a laces system but still used by many. Common in bag and training boxing gloves they are easy to use and you can put them on in a matter of seconds. There are other variations like elastic Velcro, hybrid, and double Velcro but we recommend you to ignore these.
A straighter wrist position while boxing delivers more support and as a result, most boxers prefer it gloves with wrist support. It is more secure and reduces the risk of wrist injuries. However, there are some boxers who like free wrist positions like what you see in Muay Thai gloves. It’s up to you but we would recommend you pick the long glove types with laces for extra support and protection.
Velcro straps don’t give you the ideal wrist position so we don’t necessarily recommend them. Apart from that, you can put tape on your wrists to make them more secure but it can be uncomfortable for many people. Pick good quality laces that secure the wrist.
Glove construction is really important and it’s not easy to find a high-quality pair. Don’t be fooled by looking at attractive colors and designs as “all that glitters is not gold”. Here are the things that make the construction special.
Natural leather is the best available material you need in your gloves, especially for the exterior parts. The plastic, nylon, and other synthetic materials are absolute junk. These materials make your hands sweat and smell very bad. From breathability to wrist support, synthetic gloves are awful. Leather gloves are durable, long lasting, and hard to find. Don’t be afraid to pay up for high-quality leather gloves.
To be honest, most of the manufacturing companies don’t pay attention to the stitching because not many people check it completely. But we would recommend you have a look on your palm, wrist, thumb, and strapping area and check the stitching thoroughly. Double stitching with thick threads are considered to be ideal.
We hope that you have found this buying guide useful. Explore our other boxing glove articles for more content and reviews of specific boxing gloves to help you find your next pair!