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Best Boxing Headgear for Training and Sparring – Buyers Guide & Top 10

Whether you are a top-notch fighter, or someone who likes to spar in the ring to let off some steam, you should always make head and skull protection a top priority. You can have all of the training in the world on dodging, bobbing, and blocking, but all it takes is one skilled blow to the skull to cause damage. That is where the need for finding the best boxing headgear comes in.

Through this guide, you will learn about a few of the top options and have the opportunity to figure out which will be best for you.

Keep in Mind

When training, and especially sparring, you need to keep in mind that there is some debate surrounding if headgear actually helps or offers added protection in a fight (see more details on The New York Times).

The Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) even banned the use of headgear in some fights whilst claiming that the fighters were at a more risk of brain damage whilst wearing padded helmets.

The argument against wearing headgear is that they can limit your vision which can prevent you from slipping, dodging, ducking and weaving blows from your opponent.

Some also claim as they add weight to the head, you can experience slower reflexes. The added critique is that padded headguards increase the size of the target (your head) which can lead to the boxer receiving more punches to the head.

Many experience fighters also suggest that wearing headguards can offer fighters a false sense of security. Assuming they are more protected, they might be more risky and/or confident taking a strike to the cranium.

So, the question remains – will wearing headgear prevent concussions and serious injury?

Well, honestly no one can say for sure.

The question is still being debated to this day. This is why most boxing and MMA gyms leave it up to you, the fighter, to decide whether you want to wear the extra equipment or not.

Remember that the main purpose of headguards is to protect you from cuts and bruises to the face not to protect your from concussion or brain damage.

We suggest that you wear the headguard and spar at between 40 – 70%.

Providing you and your opponent stay within this range, you can avoid cuts and bruises whilst reducing the risk of concussion or more significant injuries.

How to Select The Best Headgear

Now that we have given you some information on how and when you would wear headgear, we need to explore how to select the best one.

This will depend slightly on which sport you are training (boxing, MMA or Muay Thai) but be sure to read through all of the details below in case they apply to your situation.

Select a Style & Fighting Discipline

Boxing Headgear

Headgear for boxing tends to be built slightly different than the headgear for other combat sports. This is because in boxing, the head is the main target for your opponent.

As such, there is a wider range of options when it comes to your boxing headgear (depending on what type of training, sparring or fighting you are doing).

Sparring Headgear

If your boxing headgear is for sparring, it will usually be larger and more padded. This is because for the most part you won’t be sparring at max strength and energy.

They cover large parts of the head and face and are primarily to protect the boxer from cuts on the face.

Given the larger size of sparring headgear, your visibility will be limited. You will also find that you have more blind spots. These two combined means that there is all the more reason to keep your sparring sessions light.

Even within the range of sparring headgear available, you will find a range of different shapes, sizes and styles.

The largest, sometimes known as “face savers“, will offer complete face protection. Of course the more area the guard covers, the more they limited your vision will be.

You will also find “Mexican guards” available which cover your cheeks. The rarer guards come at a higher price and offer a more specialist design. They protect your from cuts without limiting your vision as much as the traditional sparring style.

Finally, you also have the open-face style headguards.

As the name suggests these are open on the face and should not significantly limit your vision. However, the shape and style of these also means they offer limited protection from cuts and bruises.

Competition Headgear

Boxing competition headgear is considerably less padded so as to not limit vision. This is vital in a competitive bout where the opponent will be coming at you as fast and as hard as they can.

Before investing, make sure that the headguard you are buying meets AIBA or US Boxing regulations. Failure to do this could mean that aren’t allowed to compete!

Muay Thai headgear

The headgear used in Muay Thai sparring sessions is similar to the guards used in boxing training. Although traditionally Muay Thai gear is made from hand and tends to be more padded. This is because kicks, elbows and knees are allowed in fights which can deliver even greater impact.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Headgear

MMA fighting involves even harsher and higher impact techniques than boxing and Muay Thai.

For this reason, the headgear is more padded and made from firmer materials. Given the range of movements that MMA fighting can involve (standing and ground work), you should strongly consider how headgear will limit your vision.

What To Look For & Review Criteria

You should consider each of the below factors whilst looking at the headgear that you want to order.

We have used each one to more objectively and accurately analyse the headguards that made it on to our shortlist.

Material

As any experienced fighter will tell you, the material that your headgear is made out of will make a huge different to how well it performs, how long it lasts and how comfortable it is.

You need to first consider what padding material is used as this will effect how protected your head and face is whilst sparring.

Also think about the material used for the stitching of the headgear. This will determine how long it lasts and how snuggly it fits.

Leather is the best material for the outside surface of most fighting gear. It is strong, long lasting and smooth. This is why you will find most punching bags and boxing gloves made out of it.

Fit

Next you will need to consider how the headgear that you are buying fits. Is it comfortable? Could you wear it for extended periods of time? Will it fit snuggly enough that after you’ve been hit, it won’t effect your vision (more so than a headguard will do anyway).

Protection

What kind of protection will the headgear offer? See the details above to help you decide and look for equipment that matches your training needs.

Visibility

Whilst it might seem obvious, to fight effectively and defend yourself in the right, you need to be able to see.

Headgear limits visibility but different styles will do so to a greater extent than others. Select the gear which will effect your vision the least and keep in mind which combat sport you are training in.

Price

You do not want to go for the cheapest option when it comes to fighting equipment which will directly effect your health and safety. However, not everyone has the budget of a professional fighter and you will no doubt be looking for an affordable option.

Look for brands to help determine price, you should be able to find newer brands who don’t compromise on quality if you are on a stricter budget.

Things To Remember

Before you take the plunge and purchase boxing headgear, here’s what you should keep in mind:

  • Stitching quality matters:​ Even if it’s comfortable and fits perfectly, boxing headgear with low-quality stitching can fall apart after a few tough sessions. Look for headgear that uses leather instead of synthetics. Leather is typically more durable and has higher quality stitching.
  • The right closure system:​ A great closure system stays in place, regardless of how hard you train. While buckles and laces might work fine, velcro is usually more convenient to put on.
  • Comfort:​ There’s nothing more annoying than having to constantly adjust your headgear, especially in the middle of a sparring match. You want to find a headgear that’s not too wobbly or too tight once you close it.

10 Best Boxing Headgear

​1. Venom Challenger 2.0

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

Venom is a highly recognized brand in terms of high-quality boxing gear. The majority of their gear is lightweight and offers some of the best protection, and the Challenger 2.0 is no different. The headgear is open enough in the front that you have a clear view of your opponent, which means that you can see their movements easily and react accordingly.

This headgear has heavy cushioning that is not so heavy your head feels weighed down. Venom is one of the only brands that offers lightweight, full-coverage protection. It has two-way velcro closures for perfect adjustment and features Skintex leather.

Pros

  • Lightweight.
  • Protective.
  • You can wear it for an extended period.

Cons

  • It only comes in one size.
  • Smaller heads do not fit as well.

2. Hayabusa T3

Hayabusa T3
186 Reviews

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

Hayabusa fighting gear is another highly recognized brand. The headgear they make performs at a top-level while remaining aesthetically pleasing. The T3 MMA Headgear gives you a large range of visibility and does not weigh your head down.

This headgear has a T-Cross closure system that holds it in place during fights and training. It is constructed from a CrushZone core material to provide your head with the best shock absorption possible. The headgear is very durable and resilient.

Pros

  • Comfortable and breathable.
  • Fits snugly.
  • Used for a variety of training.

Cons

  • Stiff.
  • The nose is more exposed.

3. Venom Elite

Sale
Venom Elite
232 Reviews

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

As Venom is one of the top brands out there, it is no surprise that they have more than one headgear option that we recommend. The Venom Elite headgear is another lightweight option that absorbs shock and distributes punches evenly. It is not as padded as other options, so it is more suited for fighters with a bit more skill in the ring.

If you are new to boxing or sparring or do not spend a lot of time training, this may not be the best option for you. For more experienced athletes, it is the perfect option because of the lightweight feel.

Pros

  • Very lightweight.
  • Adjusts easily.
  • Comfortable.

Cons

  • One size only.
  • Not for new fighters.

4. Winning FG2900

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

Winning gear is one of the most sought after choices among top boxers when it comes to comfort and protection. If you want your headgear to give you ultimate comfort and protection, the Winning FG2900 is a pristine choice.

The headgear checks all of the boxes for head protection when sparring and training. It fits very snugly on the head, making it comfortable and giving you an unobstructed view. The weight of the headgear comes in at nine ounces. It is one of the only headgear options that are available in multiple sizes and colors as well.

Pros

  • Conforms to head shape.
  • You do not need to break it in.
  • Lightweight.

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • The back of the head is not as padded.

5. Title Gel Full Face Headgear

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

True to the name, the TITLE Gel Headgear has gel protection inside. That means you get a form-fitted piece of protection and great impact resistance. Along with the gel, the headgear’s lining contains many foam layers. The combination of those two gives the wearer both comfort and protection on a whole new level.

The headgear offers more full-face protection than other options. It has padding around the cheeks, forehead, ears, and across the back of the head. It features a hook-loop closure for easy adjustment that is reinforced with leather for durability.

Pros

  • Full-face protection.
  • Comfortable.
  • Easy to adjust.

Cons

  • It takes time to break-in.

6. Cleto Reyes Headgear

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

Cleto Reyes is a name in the fighting industry that many recognize as providing some of the most high-quality products. Their gear is very durable and comfortable for training and sparring. The Cleto Reyes headgear is built to fit your head perfectly and has a hook and loop closure system.

There is also a lightweight bar in the front of the headgear for more protection from blows and latex foam padding. This headgear will not obstruct your vision.

Pros

  • Anatomical fit.
  • Adjustable.
  • A lot of coverage.

Cons

  • Strong leather smell.
  • Chinstrap is thin.

7. Ringside Competition Headgear

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

The Ringside Competition Headgear offers more variety than other options. It comes in multiple colors and sizes without sacrificing too much in terms of quality and price. Though the name has the word, this headgear is not approved for competition use but is fantastic for sparring.

Ringside made this headgear to contour the face and protect all areas of your head during training. The leather is durable and is laminated with foam to absorb as much impact as possible. You can use this for various training, including kickboxing, Muay Thai, sparring, and heavy training.

Pros

  • Multiple options.
  • Easy to adjust.
  • Breaks in fast.

Cons

  • Padding is not as thick.
  • Bulky.

​8. Everlast Everfresh Headgear

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

The Everlast Everfresh headgear is one of the more affordable options for training and sparring. If you are someone looking for protection during light sparring, this is the choice for you. It is great for beginners and light trainers who do not expect to take many incredibly hard blows to the face.

It comes with a little extra cheek protection and an adjustable chin strap for comfort and optimal fit.

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Light.
  • Fits to head.

Cons

  • Lower protection.
  • Not for professionals.

9. Rival Intelli-Shock Headgear

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

This head protection piece from Rival covers all of the major bases in headgear for training and sparring. It is constructed from leather covering the entire exterior, metals buckles on the chin straps, and unobstructed vision. The headgear will sit still on your head without budging.

This is a more expensive option, so it is more suited for those who spend a lot of time training and sparring. However, you will wonder how you made it this far without this quality gear once you make a purchase.

Pros

  • Full visibility.
  • Quality material.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • Nose is exposed.

10. Winning FG-5000

*Details last updated on 2021-04-13

The Winning FG-5000 is another fantastic option for headgear from Winning. As we have mentioned, this brand produces some of the most popular and quality protection for training and sparring, and this piece is no exception.

It has a front nose bar, large face holes for complete vision, and a lot of thick cushioning. All of this means that your headgear will last a long time and give you fantastic protection from blows. It is sleek and lightweight, so you may even forget that you are wearing it.

Pros

  • Very cushioned.
  • Great vision.
  • Comfortable.

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • Chinstrap is not comfortable.

Conclusion

There are many training pieces and sparring headgear on the market, so finding the best one can seem a bit daunting. Here we have gone over ten of the best choices out there so you can get a better idea of what it is that you want from your head protection.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I select the right size for my headgear?

Easy, follow the size guides!

A headguard too small will put you at risk of headaches. One too large will limit your vision and offer limited protection.

Which is the best type of padding for a boxing headgear?

This will depend of course on your personal taste and what your training goals are. However, GEL padding tends to be a good option as it is strong and lightweight. Foam is often cheaper but it decompresses on impact which can make it less effective.

Which type of closure system should I choose?

Whilst shopping for headgear, you will find a number of closure options including velcro, buttons, poppers or buckles. This will also depend on your personal preference but we like the traditional buckle closure. These are secure and comfortable, they can also be adjusted to fit your particular face shape.

Can I wear competition headgear in sparring and training sessions?

Technically yes although for the most part you should not. Competition gear is lighter, thinner and generally less protective so you shouldn’t be wearing it in your regular sparring sessions.

However, it would be wise to have at least a couple of light sparring sessions whilst wearing your competition gear before the tournament. Doing so will allow you to get accustomed to the unique feel and fit of that gear.

Is headgear worse in boxing?

This is still up for debate. Some argue that wearing headgear impairs your vision which can lead to you receiving more blows to the head. The added weight could also mess with your ability to slip, duck and weave punches.

Others however maintain that headgear is simply to protect your face from cuts and bruises. It will be highly effective for this reason.

Sources

New York Times, Making Olympic Boxing Safer by Eliminating Head Guards, Accessed on 10th March 2021.

Wikipedia, Headgear (martial arts), Accessed on 9th March 2021.

ESPN, Olympic boxing drops head guards, Accessed on 10th March 2021.

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, Use of Head Guards in AIBA Boxing Tournaments—A Cross-Sectional Observational Study, Accessed on 10th March 2021.

Jake Dennon

Jake Dennon

I am an avid sports enthusiast who has been fortunate enough to train with some of the best athletes and coaches in the world.

As a child, I had a keen interest in football (soccer) and regularly played with my friends and for my school. We had an ex England ace coaching us at one point and he really motivated me to make sports a big part of my life.

Moving into my teenage years I tried everything from basketball to weight lifting and everything in between. I was lucky enough to train weekly at a local tennis club who's head coach was a at one point the 9th best player in India and within the top 100 ranked players in the world.

The combat sport coaches I have been trained by have also trained some of the top fighters in the industry. All of these brilliant trainers (and all the ones in between) have shown me just how rewarding keeping fit and healthy can be.

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