Updated 15th Mar 2018: It’s time yet again to revisit the annual search for the best Muay Thai gloves. New models have been introduced, while some brands choose to retain their existing line-up (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it). So here’s the updated guide with a few new options among the classics.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to welcome you on the exhilarating, heart-pumping (literally) and adrenaline packed journey of Muay Thai. Whether you are new to Muay Thai or a seasoned old hand, you will need a pair of the best Muay Thai gloves for training. BUT! There are sooooo many glove models available that it can result in analysis paralysis! We all want to make the best purchase possible and make each purchase count. One of my earlier pairs of gloves brought me a good deal of agony (wrist injuries) due to the inadequate wrist support so I know fully well the importance of having the right gloves for Muay Thai training. Through my own experience, mistakes and research, as well as advice handed to me from my Krus and gym mates, I have found what works, what to look for when it comes to buying gloves. So I’m here to lend a hand and make your next purchase your best. I sincerely hope the information here will come in handy.
How to Choose the Best Gloves for Muay Thai Training
Your very first purchase when you start Muay Thai, will be a pair of training gloves. While many gyms allow their members to loan their on-site gloves to use for free, they usually stink after so much punching mileage over time. The padding would have thinned out too and may not offer enough protection for your hands.
You will eventually own a second, third, or even more pairs of gloves as you travel down this path. Be it for sparring, amassing your gloves collection, an alternate pair for rotation or simply to match your workout attire. But as your very first pair of gloves training this pugilistic sport, it is worth investing a little time to pick the right pair. Here are some essential factors to take note of when it comes to choosing your first pair of training gloves:
Punching gloves sizing are measured in terms of weight and for general-purpose training, they run from 8 to 18 oz. The heavier the gloves, the thicker the padding and theoretically speaking, the better the protection. Averagely speaking, 12 or 14 oz is the norm and either is acceptable so long as they fit right and provide adequate padding for protection. If you are on the heavyweight scale, you can also consider a heavier 16-18 oz. Here’s a training gloves general (not definitive) size chart -based on body weight- for a quick reference:
|Body Weight||Recommended Gloves Size|
|100lbs & below||8oz – 10oz|
|100lbs – 120lbs||10oz – 12oz|
|120lbs – 150lbs||12oz – 14oz|
|150lbs – 180lbs||14oz – 16oz|
|180lbs & above||16oz – 18oz|
Size matters. Some believe that training with heavy gloves (16 or 18 oz) is good for conditioning but the drawback is that it can also retard your movements and hence techniques. However, when you eventually progress to sparring, heavier gloves (14 to 18 oz) are actually mandatory. The reason for using heavier gloves is because gloves of these weights offers more padding which protects your hands and partner by minimizing the impact when it lands on your sparring partner.
For non-sparring training -which is what you will go through when you start out-, I personally use 12 oz as they allow me to focus on perfecting my techniques and flow while providing adequate protection for my hands. Anything lighter and you can really feel the raw impact of your punches. My gym and trainers recommend beginners to start with heavier 14oz-16oz (12oz-14oz for women) for proper protection and to let your still-tender hands and wrists get conditioned to the sport.
The budget-conscious will be happy to know that punching gloves are priced very affordably. Not just the brand-less generics from a general sporting goods store. Good quality, made-in-Thailand, pure leather gloves can be had for around $50-$100. The price tag will be on the lower end of the price range if you have contacts to buy them directly in Thailand.
Muay Thai is a high impact sports and right from the start, you will be hitting a lot of tough pads and dense heavy bags. If you want them to last, you are going to need reasonably durable gloves with good padding to withstand the constant and regular punishment. Genuine leather lasts longer and has always been favored over the comparably stiffer synthetic leather. However, the quality of synthetic material has improved tremendously over the years. Just like real leather, there are varying quality of synthetic leather with high quality ones rivaling some genuine leather. The ethically-inclined will also favor animal-free synthetics over real leather. Whichever your preference is, you will be able to find good hardy gloves in either material.
One thing I have experienced and learned is that genuine leather is a more breathable material. Synthetic leather tends to be less so and feels markedly warmer to train in. This causes hands to sweat more and tougher to dry up due to poorer ventilation, resulting in the easy build-up of odor-causing bacteria. If you have sweaty hands, I highly recommend more breathable gloves typically constructed using genuine leather and/or mesh panels on the palms.
Lace-up vs Velcro
Punching gloves come in either lace-up or hook-and-loop (velcro) versions. Lace-ups offer a secure fit and will not shift easily when tightly laced. However, they inconveniently require assistance from another person to tighten up which is impractical for gym training. In a typical training session, there will be a myriad of exercises done with or without gloves. So straight up, no competition, velcros are the way to go since they can be taken on/off easily by yourself.
Muay Thai vs Boxing Gloves
For general Muay Thai training involving bagwork and padwork, you can use either Muay Thai or pure boxing gloves. There are subtle differences in the aerodynamics construct but won’t affect the casual fighter. Muay Thai gloves are constructed such that they allow you to open your hands more easily, unlike the more rigid construct of boxing gloves. This feature is made to allow for clinching. So if you aren’t expecting to do any serious clinching with your gloves on during training, both types of gloves will work equally well. Otherwise, it is best to go with a Muay Thai brand.
Best Muay Thai Gloves in 2018
There is a good selection of affordable, high quality gloves available in the market most people tend to stick with the main 3 Thai brands. But if you are looking for something beyond the usual , there are many decent options available too. Here are my top recommendations for your consideration:
|Buying Gloves from Online Stores
Due to heavier operating costs, brick and mortar stores tend to price their gloves higher than the online stores. The price difference can be quite considerable and so many people make their purchase off the web. There are several options available when it comes to shopping Muay Thai goods online, a few of these are based in Thailand and they often offer the best prices even with the shipping costs factored in. However, I personally recommend buying from Amazon for a few reasons. Firstly, Thai web stores are slow in shipping their goods. It’s not unusual to wait a month or longer to have something shipped over. Second, customer service can be lacking due to language. Thirdly, Amazon has a great return policy with no questions asked and ships fast. For me, the choice is clear. Go with Amazon.
First up in the hierachy of Muay Thai brands is the top-of-the-line Fairtex. This is definitely the most popular and best-selling option outside of Thailand, and especially in USA. This may be due in part to the brand’s successful publicity campaign back in the 90s, but Fairtex gloves are favored for more practical reasons. Among its many selling points, these real leather gloves are made with the intention to last. The padding and leather are of high quality, and they boast a streamlined design, making them look smaller and less pillowy than other brands.
Fairtex gloves feel less soft compared to Twins or Top King, but the knuckle protection is still more than adequate. The BGV1 is also produced in so many colors and printed designs, you will surely find a pair that catches your eyes. What’s there to be said about the quality of Fairtex gloves that hasn’t already been said? As your very first Muay Thai gloves, these will live up to all expectations.
This top Thai brand prides itself on producing top quality products. Serious testings are conducted regularly for quality control and if you look around on the web, this is the brand which you will hardly ever find any complains on. Even as users report a drop in standard with other brands over the years, Fairtex has held up strong, producing top-notch martial arts gear to fighters and gyms all around the world.
|– “I’m in love with these gloves! They’re less bulky feeling than others I’ve tried.“
– “They provide ample wrist support and keep a smaller profile than a lot of other gloves, which is perfect for muay thai.“
|Rating: (4.6 / 5)|
In a short amount of time since the brand started in 2010, Yokkao has made immense improvements in the designs and quality of the products. The Matrix Boxing gloves are the brand’s solid color basic line released last year and priced at a more affordable range. These are my second pair of gloves from the Bangkok-based company. My first pair was a synthetic that lasted well over a year but I decided to get an upgrade earlier this year. The Matrix was my choice and they exceeded all expectations.
First off, the fit of Yokkao gloves suited my hands perfectly. I could make a proper fist in the gloves which is something that is overlooked by many beginners. The padding is standard Thai-style with foam well-distributed to protect the knuckles to the back of the hands and through to the wrists. The wrist support is better than most brands I have tried and offers a lot of stability but just enough that it doesn’t hinder clinching. The leather feel is great, breathable and you can tell it’s high-grade real leather. It will take a couple of sessions to break into the gloves but there on, they are perfect.
When it comes to designs, Yokkao gloves are unmatched.The brand’s fashion connections via its key person, Stefania Picelli, translates into trendy and stylish creations that would make the fashion capital proud. Overall, I would rank these among the top 3.
|– “The fit to these gloves are amazing. No air pockets between my knuckles and the inside layer. They needed minimal break in time. Overall an awesome Product from Thailand.“|
|Rating: (5.0 / 5)|
|Read my article “YOKKAO Boxing Muay Thai Gloves Review” for a comprehensive review of the YOKKAO Matrix Boxing gloves.|
Twins Special is arguably the most popular Muay Thai brand right now in Thailand. These premium cowhide leather gloves are favored by everyone from casual gym goers to trainers to professional fighters alike. As a high impact sport, you want gloves that can give you good wrist support and provide sufficient protection for your knuckles and Twins gloves will offer that. The great overall padding -from the knuckles to the back of the hand- offers ideal protection while you work on your techniques and strengthen your hands to withstand the impact of your punches. Very soft, very easy on the hands while offering adequate protection and wrist support. Definitely the best buddy for any beginner to the sport.
The hand compartments are slightly roomy than snug compared to the other Thai brands, making them a favored choice for Western hands. Good quality leather gloves giving you good mileage, this is a real workhorse. The designs for the flagship BGVL-3 are basic, no-frills single-colored, so if you want something a littler fancier, you can consider the Twins FBGV for fancier looks.
Twins Special has increased their prices over the last year and even in Thailand, they cost about the same as Fairtex. They are no longer the working class hero I previously dubbed them. But for purpose of Muay Thai training, I would rank these among the top.
|– “they have more cushioning than other gloves I have used for Muay Thai and I highly recommend getting them.“
– “Comfy gloves for punching people in the face. Training partners almost enjoy getting hit as much as hit them, just kidding“
|Rating: (4.8 / 5)|
|Read my article “Twins Special Boxing Muay Thai Gloves Review” for a comprehensive review of the Twins gloves.|
Another popular Muay Thai choice that you will see often in the gym is Top King. Offering comparative protection to Twins gloves, it is interesting to note that the 2 brands are actually owned by 2 brothers. One reason why they are well-liked is the bold and distinct aesthetics of their gear and they are certainly one of my personal favorites. For cool looking gloves, the quality of the craftsmanship and the cowhide leather used is commendable. They probably took some of the Twins experience over.
These sturdy gloves are well construct and have good foam padding to protect the knuckles and wrists. One thing to note is that the cuffs extend almost halfway up your forearms and would make very support for your wrists. Top King gloves have a really snug hand compartment and so if you have small- or medium-sized hands, you will love them. With such great qualities, you might not be switching brands ever after.
|– “Been using these for a year. No signs of damage. Great gloves.“
– “They’re durable as a train.”
|Rating: (4.4 / 5)|
If you are in the mood to splurge a bit more for your first gloves, you’ll not be disappointed with the Tokushu T3 boxing gloves from this top MMA brand.
The T3 is the latest upgrade from its best-selling Tokushu Regenesis boxing gloves that were listed on my recommendation list for 2017. A number of new features have been added but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the amazing quality.
Like many modern fight brands, Hayabusa prides themselves on extensive research and innovation in the design of their products. The Tokushu Regenesis was their most popular gloves model and with the upgrade, it now boasts a number of pretty nifty features other than an updated look.
The really outstanding feature of these gloves is the dual wrist wrap that was brought forward from the previous model. The additional wrap locking system firmly secures the gloves on your wrist to provide a support like lace-ups but without the inconvenience. A prominent feature this time round is the use of suede-like microfiber panel on the thumb extension which gives it an unique look in addition to its functional design.
As this is an upgrade, most of the original features from Tokushu Regenesis remains such as the inner fabric which incorporates an anti-microbial technology. The cool part about this is that it delivers anti-odor properties, improved ventilation, enhanced breathability and thermo-regulating properties. What that means, is that they will keep your hands cool and will dry up fast, a boon for sweaty hands. The one tiny glitch to these gloves is that they don’t open up quite as well as traditional Muay Thai gloves for clinching. But other than that, these are the perfect training gloves and hardly any breaking in is required – they fit great from the start.
Hayabusa has remedied some of the issues reported by users of the Tokushu Regenesis for the T3. While these are not pure Muay Thai gloves, the combination of high quality materials, good protection and wrist support, and little touches makes them a definite contender for a top spot on this list.
|– “ I spent a long time going through reviews and looking at higher end gloves before taking the leap on the T3s, and I couldn’t be happier.“
– “They have great wrist support, aren’t too hot, and fit my hands well. They also don’t retain the smell from the inevitable sweat that comes when using proper boxing gloves. Very happy with these.”
|Rating: (4.6 / 5)|
|Looking for cheaper options?
If you are on a budget, no worries. I got everyone covered in this article. Here are 5 of the best value-for-money gloves that you can have for under $50:
The Challenger is Venum’s best selling punching gloves catering to the entry-level market. Made of synthetic leather but not skimping on the overall quality, these gloves have firm padding with fantastic shock absorption and thick wide cuffs for secured fastening. A highlight is the clever use of thermal-regulating mesh helps to improve the breathability and comfort.
These gloves fit great for most average hand sizes after breaking in. The low price point is certainly one of the most attractive features, as is the sharp aesthetic design. The main compromise made on this low-cost model is the use of a less durable PU leather compared to the more premium synthetic Skintex leather use on their Elite model. I find the wrist support somewhat lacking as they seem to feel a little too flimsy. Good for clinching as they are really flexible around the wrists but also means less stability for support. I suppose you can’t have it all, especially at this price point. But if you are looking for affordable beginner gloves that looks good, this will be an ideal choice.
|– “I get so many compliments on my gloves, it’s insane.“
– “Highly recommended. I can’t believe I have spent all these years without them.“
|Rating: (4.1 / 5)|
For a pair of genuine leather gloves at under $50, these are a real steal. You will find it a real challenge to find another pure leather gloves at this price point. These gloves have firm padding, and are durable enough to hold up to the stress of regular bag punching. The velcro straps are also really wide and will provide a nice secure fit that won’t shift much when you train.
As far as I am aware of, the only complaint is that the colors bleed a little when you start using them. The aesthetics are simple and maybe a little dull for some. But if you are looking for durable gloves that can give you good mileage and protection, these boxing gloves are the best that money can buy at this price range. Real leather gloves do breathe better than synthetics so you may want to take that into consideration too.
|– “ they’re protecting my hands very well. I’ve sustained no injuries with these gloves (and wraps) on.“
– “I’ve had them for almost 8 months and they show very little wear and still offer the same protection as day one.“
|Rating: (4.3 / 5)|
Elite Sports is an American-based (California) mma brand with a wide range of gear and equipment offering. The brand first caught my attention with their 5-star rated gym bag. These training gloves are among the most affordable options on the list.
Plus points first. 2 things really stand out for these training gloves other than their affordability: there’s the mesh palm ventilation along with anti-microbial lining that helps to reduce odour build-up, and a stretchable wrist wrap that really secures the gloves. Nice roomy compartment for average to bigger hands, easy to put on and take off even with handwraps on.
One thing to note about these gloves is that they are built with a heavy top similar to boxing gloves. That’s to say that the padding is concentrated mainly over the knuckles area which makes them ideal gloves for hand-heavy fighters. The padding over the back of the hand is lacking so I would not recommend them as Muay Thai sparring gloves (light sparring would be fine). For the price, I would not expect them to last as long the top-tiered gloves recommended above. But these would be good starters for anyone just getting into Muay Thai or doing the sport on a more casual basis.
|– “ Anyone looking to get great gloves without breaking the bank, I highly recommend these..“
– “ My favorite features are the Maya fabric and the antimicrobial lining which keep my gloves smell free. no more stinking training bag.“
|Rating: (4.5 / 5)|
|Read my article “Elite Sports: MMA Muay Thai Gear Review” for a comprehensive review of the Elite Sports gear.|
RDX is a renowned fight gear company from the UK. They are used by both professionals and amateurs, and in boxing, muay thai to MMA arenas. For gloves that retail below $50 (as of writing), these RDXs pack decent quality from good padding, comfort to wrist support. There’s also moisture-wicking inner fabric to keep your hands cool and dry while you work up a sweat.
In case you were wondering, Maya hide leather is a fully synthetic leather with reasonable durability and resilience. It’s more breathable compared to vinyl and are softer too. I see this as a good alternative to Ringside Apex if you are looking for gloves at the same price point.
|– ” Fit good and can’t feel anything when you punch plenty of cushion“
– “the comfort is top notch considering how sturdy they are and how solid the wrist support/hand protection is“
|Rating: (4.6 / 5)|
Sanabul is a mma brand that also offers the whole shebang of mma-related training gear and equipment for BJJ to Muay Thai and more. The Essential Gel gloves is one of their bestsellers and actually one of the top selling training gloves on Amazon. The number one reason is the affordability but they are actually pretty decent gloves at their price point. It’s tough to find gloves cheaper than these at such quality.
The use of synthetic leather is expected at this price tag and frankly, these certainly aren’t the most durable gloves. But they hold up reasonably well and offer better breathability over many other gloves via the mesh panels. The use of gel padding seem to be rather effective in terms of shock absorption compared to the more traditional foam padding.
If you have plans to take Muay Thai more seriously, this will not be not the best option. But as the cheapest gloves on the list, I would readily recommend these as beginner’s gloves especially if you train casually (e.g. once a week). If you looking for something hardier, consider the other options on the list or Sanabul’s higher-tier but also affordable BattleForged Muay Thai Gloves.
|– “For the price, you can’t beat it. Nice material in and out“
– “ I do muay thai and go hard 4 days a week and they are holding up well.“
|Rating: (4.6 / 5)|
When choosing a new pair of gloves, you want a pair that is able to provide appropriate support and protection for your hands while being reasonably durable. In terms of fit, you may have to buy and try out a few pairs before you eventually find a pair that fits you exactly the way you like. As your first pair of Muay Thai training gloves, the recommendations here are some of the best and most popular options. With the information and recommendations that is presented here, I hope you can soon find the right pair of gloves to get you going on your Muay Thai journey. Keep fighting and as always,