Sometimes, a little physicality is all you need to reinvent your training. Boxing and combat sports can serve as great fitness disciplines, combining elements of cardiovascular, strength and agility training all rolled into one regimen. But to effectively — and safely — throw those high-intensity haymakers, you need the right gear.
One such piece of vital boxing equipment is a solid pair of boxing gloves. These padded accessories range in weights to allow for ultimate comfort and protection during training and competition. Additionally, as combat sports have progressed, so have gloves, with a number of models and styles catering to specific combat disciplines like Muay Thai, MMA and others.
To weigh in on which boxing gloves reign supreme, we trained with amateur fighter Mike Kocjancic, an instructor at American Top Team Happy Valley in central Pennsylvania. What we learned first and foremost, however, is that it pays to understand just what to look for in a glove before you begin to punch your way through an effective training session.
What to Look for in Boxing Gloves
Before you embark on your own personal fight camp, you should consider how you intend to use your boxing gloves. There are a few factors to consider, all of which can play a role in your training experience.
Fit and Function
According to Kocjancic, these are the two most important factors to consider when choosing a proper pair of boxing gloves. Gloves are sized according to their weight — measured in ounces — and each brand has an appropriate sizing chart that corresponds to a user’s height, weight or hand circumference. The higher the glove weight, the more padding that’s showcased in the build.
While larger fighters are typically instructed to opt for heavier gloves, like a 16-ounce mitt, Kocjancic notes that it’s important to listen to your instructor, as glove weight is intended not just for your safety, but others in your class. “You can’t be using 12-ounce gloves when everybody in the class is using 16s. Your hands will be faster,” he says. “It’s definitely worth it […] to plan and get the right gear for the right activity […] It all comes down to talking to instructors and people that have experience in the realm.”
While following a brand’s size chart should lead to a comfortable, snug fit, Kocjancic doubles down on this notion, as this can greatly affect the efficiency of your gear. “You want to make sure that your wrist is firm, you have padding on your knuckles and a bar to grab onto so you can make a good fist,” he says. Having a properly sized, snug glove with comfortable yet secure dexterity can allow you to throw punches and jabs while remaining protected from potential injury.
You should also look for boxing gloves that provide some ventilation, durable stitching and an ergonomic, cozy feel over your hand — what’s the good in making a protected fist if it’s uncomfortable, after all?
Lace-Up vs. Hook-and-Loop Boxing Gloves
You might be stepping into boxing for the first time and think that, “If the professional fighters wear this specific glove, it has to be proficient for my use, right?” Well, according to Kocjancic, doing a little bit of research can help you get a better fighting experience, all while saving you a little coin, too.
“A lot of people, they go for the nicest gloves they can buy, and that ends up being lace-ups,” Kocjancic notes. “Then, they have to have their buddy lace up their gloves every time. It takes five to 10 minutes, so, really, unless you’re a person that’s fighting professionally, you don’t need the lace-ups.”
Instead of going with whichever gloves you see Tyson Fury or Floyd Mayweather wearing, Kocjancic recommends sticking with hook-and-loop gloves that offer an easier on-and-off experience. These options can still provide plenty of wrist support without the need for a dedicated training partner or coach to lace up your mitts every time you intend to throw blows.
We took to the gym and tested a number of these top-tier boxing gloves, noting the fit, features, comfortability and durability of each mitt. With Kocjancic’s guidance, we sweat through the jabs and punches, getting a feel for each boxing glove through bag work, shadowboxing and more. Now, let’s dive in and get you suited up for your next round.
BEST OVERALL BOXING GLOVES
Hayabusa T3 Boxing Gloves
- Exceptional thumb protection
- Dual-X interlocking wrist strap for a firmer, more secure fit
- Premium pricing
- Dual wrist straps, while supportive, can be cumbersome to put on
If you want to come out swinging with your boxing training, the T3s from Hayabusa are the absolute cream of the crop. Available in multiple colorways, these boxing gloves are constructed from Vylar engineered leather for a durable, secure exterior. Dual-X interlocking wrist straps provide a one-two punch of support, and Kocjancic notes the exceptional breathability that’s prime for those longer bag sessions. When you begin to sweat, you can conveniently wipe your face free of beads thanks to the microfiber thumb. While the price is higher than other available gloves, we cannot deny the quality sewn into these premium boxing mitts.
BEST UPGRADE BOXING GLOVES
Venum Elite Evo Boxing Gloves
- Padding is distributed evenly for a comfortable yet powerful feel
- Reinforced seams for improved durability
- Smaller thumb design, which could hinder those with larger hands
- Wrist cuff is not the best for boxing disciplines
Strike confidently with the Elite Evo boxing gloves from Venum. Boasting a microfiber polyurethane casing, these mitts are designed to last round after round. Four layers of natural foam provide the protection you need for bag work and other sessions, while a perforated palm helps keep each jab and punch as cool as the last. Plus, there’s no denying this glove’s visual appeal. The only anti-venom in this mitt is the wrist cuff. While it’s serviceable in both Muay Thai and boxing regimens, it doesn’t stand out exceptionally in either. Not a heavyweight, but definitely a contender.
BEST BUDGET BOXING GLOVES
Sanabul Core Series Gel Boxing Gloves
- Effective padding at a great entry-level cost
- Tapered hook-and-loop strap provides support higher up the wrist
- Sizing can run small
- Synthetic material can deteriorate over extended use
No matter your experience, the Core series from Sanabul can help you deliver a knockout punch at a fraction of the cost. As the brand’s mid-tier glove, this mitt features gel foam padding that absorbs impact. What does this mean, exactly? It means you can train and strike with peak power without the strain of tired punches. A tapered hook-and-loop closure brings a higher support system to your wrist, which can help keep your form tight and precise in every blow, too. We do recommend, however, that you carefully consider the sizing chart, as some gloves have been known to run small, especially for individuals with larger hands.
BEST BOXING GLOVES FOR BAG WORK
Everlast Elite Training Gloves
- Mesh palm for great breathability
- Bar is easy to clinch for a tight, precise fist
- Single hook-and-loop closure takes some getting used to
- Interior fabric around fingers can be prone to bunching up
While we named the Elite series as our favorite for heavy bag work, these premier gloves from Everlast were more than capable in a variety of training regimens. The one-piece design allowed us to easily form that knockout-ready fist, and when cinched down, the EverShield reinforced wrist proved to be very supportive. The only issue, however, was the single hook-and-loop closure, which was sometimes difficult to operate for that locked-in feel. Aside from that, the Everlast Elite series is a great option from one of the sport’s most trusted brands.
Liteboxer Go Lets You Bring the Boxing Ring Anywhere You Travel
The on-the-go shadowboxing tool allows you to get a calorie-burning session in wherever, whenever, at a fraction of the cost.
MOST VIBRANT BOXING GLOVES
Ringside Apex Bag Gloves
- Bright casing and unique look that stands out in any gym
- Grip bar has a nice, consistent feel throughout the entire fist
- Plastic patch on wrist closure can impact opponents in sparring sessions
- Firm, injection-molded foam might not be best for bag work
I mean the proof is in the pictures, right? Boasting a can’t-miss visual appeal, the Apex from Ringside is sure to make your presence known in any boxing gym. Looks aside, these gloves feature a carbon-fiber-esque synthetic exterior that proves its durability punch after heavyweight punch. A tapered wrap-around closure system helps create that secure wrist you want in your strikes, too. And as you jab your way to your desired championship self, you can stay comfortable thanks to a ventilated palm that’s designed to keep your hands dry, cool and collected.
BEST MMA TRAINING GLOVES
Hayabusa T3 7-ounce Hybrid Gloves
- Premium leather for form-fitting comfort and support
- Additional thumb protection for added security
- Need to keep a clenched fist for ultimate protection
- Leather can be stiff, but should break in over extended use
If you want to delve into other combat disciplines like Muay Thai, kickboxing or MMA, you want a glove that’s ready for any task at hand. Kocjancic recommends the T3 Hybrid Gloves from Hayabusa for their premium microfiber vegan leather construction, as well as their added thumb protection. “It has a significant amount of padding on the knuckle, but you can still grapple with them,” he says on this glove’s versatility. Work seamlessly from the heavy bag, to sparring sessions, rolling routines and more with these mitts designed for quick precision and peak performance.
BEST MMA GRAPPLING GLOVES
RDX PF1 MMA Fighting Grappling Gloves
- Unrestrictive dexterity
- Lightweight profile for quick, precise strikes
- Only suitable for grappling sessions
- Lightweight build can be prone to deterioration over time
If you’re looking for a more grappling-focused glove that’s in-line with the octagon, consider the RDX PF1. These gloves feature superior dexterity for locking in those fight-ending submissions, while still providing serviceable protection in the knuckles and digits. An open-palm design ensures maximum mobility and breathability, while a comfortable fabric lining adds a sense of coziness when things get extra serious. Super Skin-Mayahide leather provides the durability you want in advanced combat equipment, and a Quick-EZ hook-and-loop closure provides ample wrist support for MMA-focused training. While we wouldn’t recommend these as your only pair of gloves, if you’re dedicated to the grappling game, these should definitely be on your radar.
BEST SMART BOXING GLOVES
Dribbleup Smart Boxing Gloves
- Works with any smartphone or tablet running iOS 13+ or Android 8+
- Hundreds of flexible classes and programs for guided training
- Some movements can be prone to tracking issues
- Only available in 12- or 14-ounce gloves
Maybe you’re looking to add boxing to your growing list of connected workouts. The Smart Boxing Gloves from Dribbleup grant you access to a plethora of punch-delivering training routines through the app to help you reach your fitness goals. Want to get the whole family in fighting shape? Dribbleup allows for up to six members to reap the benefits of just one subscribed membership. Choose from the brand’s constantly-growing library of boxing, kickboxing and other live and on-demand classes and knock out those calories from the comfort of your living room.
MOST COMPLETE CONNECTED BOXING PACKAGE
- Gamified workouts help maintain motivation
- Personal training from the comfort of your own home
- Initial setup can be tedious
- Premium pricing when compared to solely boxing gloves
Boxing is hands-down one of the more enjoyable, rewarding training disciplines, but finding a trainer or specialized gym can take some legwork. Enter FightCamp, one of our favorite at-home fitness services for sweat-ready training. Bringing the boxing environment to your humble abode, this interactive platform gives you the gloves, the bag and trackers you need to fight toward a new physique. Connect to FightCamp’s companion app and unlock elite classes led by instructors boasting years of boxing and combat-related experience. While setup might require a trip to the local hardware store, this could be your one-stop-solution to getting into a more physical training regimen.
The 4 Pieces of Gear You Need to Start Boxing
Everything you need to take your first steps in the ring.
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