When you’re buying yourself a new pair of boxing gloves it can feel a little bit daunting. There are endless options from loads of brands and it can make finding the pair that suit you seem impossible. Buying cheap gloves means you could get a few pairs to try out but when you start looking at high quality products the price heads upwards and that quickly stops being an option.
To help you buy the best gloves for you the first time around, and make the whole process a lot easier for you, we’ve put together a list of five things you need to look for when you buy boxing gloves. Keep these things in mind, and you’ll be much more likely to buy a pair that are best suited to your needs.
1. What are you using the gloves for?
For a start there are a few differences between gloves designed for Muay Thai (they tend to be padded a little different, are looser around your hand and offer more flexibility for clinching) and standard boxing gloves. This isn’t to say you can’t use Muay Thai gloves to box or boxing gloves for Muay Thai, but if you’re exclusively training one it might be worth narrowing your search.
You also need to consider what the training sessions you’re using the glove in are going to consist of. A lot of brands offer sparring specific gloves or general training gloves which have been tailored for those types of sessions. This is also going to determine the size of the gloves you buy, as most gyms won’t let you spar in less than 16oz (or 14oz depending on your weight class).
2. What material do you want your gloves to be?
When it comes to boxing gloves you’ve got the choice between leather or various types of synthetic leather. The general consensus is that leather offers superior durability and makes a better choice for gloves because you’ll get more use out of them before they get damaged. The counter to this is the fact that synthetic leathers are often much less costly than the real deal, and of course if you have an ethical problem with the use of animal products then synthetic leathers offer a good alternative. We have a great guide on some High Quality Non-Leather/Vegan Boxing Gloves which should help you determine the good from the bad.
3. How much wrist support do you need?
Wrist support is often a striker’s priority when it comes to boxing gloves. It’s very easy to injure your wrist when you’re boxing, and the support that your glove offers you can be what makes all the difference. This is where it gets a little tricky when you’re shopping online, because you can’t try on or test out the glove to decide if it’s the fit for you. Obviously you can check reviews and independent gear review sites (anyone know any good ones?) but if you can’t find anyone discussing the amount of wrist support offered we’d recommend looking for a wide cuff that would extend down your wrist with a broad velcro closure, meaning you can strap them up tight and support your wrists well.
4. What type of padding does the glove have?
When it comes to padding you have a few options that offer different benefits for your knuckles. The majority of gloves you buy these days have some form of foam padding, often a layered foam system that will provide great protection for both you and, in the case of sparring gloves, the person you’re hitting. Layered foam is typically going to be all the padding you’d need from your gloves, but now some brands are producing gloves that are padded with gel infused foam. This improves the force dispersion through the padding, and gives a slightly different feel when you strike. To me the gel infused padding can feel a bit denser and it offers better feedback when you connect, as well as making it feel like you can hammer in punches as hard as you like without hurting yourself.
Finally, and a bit of a throwback, you can still find gloves (including some gloves produced by Cleto Reyes, the premium mexican brand) that are padded with horsehair. This was the standard boxing glove padding before foam became the go-to and often the horsehair gloves are referred to as ‘punchers gloves’, as they let transfer more force to your target with each punch. The downside is that you lose durability with horsehair – some of the Cleto Reyes gloves are certified for just 30 rounds of boxing.
5. Do you like how the glove looks?
Our fifth point is probably the most obvious one on this list, but it’s also what most people consider as the first and often only thing they look at when picking gloves. Everyone’s guilty of it (personally we have lists of gloves that we want based almost entire off of how amazing they look) but if you want to get the most out of your gloves, and therefore the most out of your training, you should make the visuals of the gloves a much lower priority. That being said, you could have a pair of gloves that performs exactly as you need but if they look rubbish you’d never use them.