Something we’ve noticed through our time reviewing equipment here at fightquality.com is that the combat sports market is somewhat lacklustre when it comes to ethical training equipment.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of brands offering synthetic boxing gloves, however the vast majority of these are of questionable quality, used as a cost-saving method rather than any intentional choice. We’ve covered a handful of non-leather boxing gloves in a previous article, but wanted to step back and take a look at the wider picture, and go into a little more detail.
We’re going to start by talking about why it seems to be harder to find good synthetic gloves, before breaking down the options across the market, and finally giving you a couple of suggestions for our personal picks.
Note: Before we start this article, it’s worth noting we aren’t vegan ourselves, but we fully support the choices of those who are. Our experience as equipment reviewers means we have tested out a variety of both leather and non-leather equipment, giving us a good sense of the quality in comparison.
Why is it so hard to find good synthetic gloves?
Synthetic leathers are used frequently in the boxing market, however it can be a little hard to tell.
In a lot of cases, synthetic materials are used as a cost-saving substitute to genuine leather. The issue with this is that consumers know there are a lot of cheap, horribly textured synthetic gloves on the market. As a result, brands have started to come up with clever names for the material they make their gloves with, to distance themselves from that association and make their own gloves sound more impressive. Despite what you might think, terms like ‘Skintex Leather’ and ‘Maya Hide Leather’ are actually not animal leather at all.
Not only is this misleading when trying to buy genuine leather gloves, it’s also incredibly unhelpful if you’re trying to avoid them.
While researching this article, we spoke briefly to Trevor Wittman – founder of ONX Sports, whose gloves are made purely with synthetic leathers. In this interaction, he mentioned that there are many different types of synthetic leathers out there, but the names that come with them are just branding. He also mentioned that the qualities of synthetic leathers (strength/durability, water proofing components, break strength/tear strength, abrasion resistance, etc.) is very much dependent on the process they are made with, and as such you really do get for what you pay for when it comes to Synthetic or microfibers.
The Big List
We’ve put together as comprehensive a list as we can, incorporating the majority of dominant brands on the market, looking specifically at whether the brand produces non-leather boxing gloves. Sometimes we’ve reviewed such gloves offered by the brand in which case we’ve linked to our full review and added a quick note to how we rated the quality of the substitute leather. Here’s a quick breakdown of what the options mean:
The quality is of a basic level. This may have a plastic-like feel, or be of a low durability.
The quality is of a decent standard. The texture or appearance may seem very synthetic, but there are no major concerns.
The quality is Good compared to most non-leather gloves. This may be almost as good as genuine leather, or may have other positive qualities.
The quality is of a high level. This may be of a similar texture to genuine leather, or better.
A few other important clarifications:
- We haven’t included any custom made options – the products we are looking at are all stock items.
- Due to the sheer amount of brands out there it’s possible we may have missed some brands who should be on this list. If there are any brands you think should be on the list, leave a comment at the bottom of this article.
- All comments are checked at the time of writing, but due to constant product releases and updates we urge you to always double check before buying.
*No products matching the criteria were available at time of writing, but may have been added since, or in future
Best Quality Non-Leather Boxing Gloves
When it comes to getting a good glove, Rival are a solid choice. We’ve personally tested out the Rival RS1 in their ‘Rich PU’ (only Gold and Lime Green are made with this rich PU) and were thoroughly impressed. The slightly newer RS100 range is completely made with Super Rich PU, and so would make a great high quality option, perfect for anyone looking for a great fitting glove.
Fly Sports – Fly Sports recently released their Fly X range, which recreates their renowned Superlace range (as well as other equipment) with an artificial leather.
ONX Sports – The unique gloves produced by ONX are all made with synthetic leather, after their own testing found it performed better.
Best All-round Non-Leather Boxing Gloves
From our testing of Hayabusa’s popular T3 gloves, we would say they’re a solid choice for any fighter, and the fact that Hayabusa have chosen to make these with their ‘Vylar-2’ engineered leather is even better. These are packed with features, such as the microfibre suede thumb to wipe away sweat, which makes these a great buy.
Engineered leather is typically built with less than 50% leather, using recycled materials, however Hayabusa claim their ‘Vylar-2’ is completely vegan.
Fairtex – The Fairtex BGV14 are a classy glove, which benefit from Fairtex’s vast experience, while keeping a more traditional boxing shape. The Microfibre material allows for a range of genuinely unique designs.
Best Value Non-Leather Boxing Gloves
Finding a lower value glove is a little difficult, as there are a lot of terrible options out there. As a general rule, we’d say to avoid brands like Everlast and Lonsdale, but have found some of RDX’s synthetic ‘Maya Hide’ gloves to be a slightly better balance of cost and quality.
Carbon Claw – We’ve previously been quite impressed with Carbon Claw’s equipment, and while we haven’t tested any of their non-leather equipment, their synthetic GX-3 sparring gloves look like a great low-cost option with some good wrist support.
If you have any questions, or have spotted a new brand or equipment which you think should be on this list, then help us out by scrolling down and leaving a comment.