A Muay Thai Miscellany

Best Muay Thai Gloves: Fairtex vs Twins vs Top King

This is it, the ultimate faceoff, the clash of the titans. Fairtex, Twins Special and Top King are -without a doubt- the three most popular Muay Thai brands in the world. Almost every Muay Thai practitioner owns one or the other brand of gloves at some point in their training career. And it is not uncommon to own all three brands of gloves. If you are looking for the best Muay Thai gloves, you really don’t have to look any further than these 3 brands. So whether you are a beginner looking for your first pair of gloves; or a more seasoned martial artist considering an upgrade but not sure which of the 3 brands to go for, this is the right article for you. Which is THE best Muay Thai gloves brand? Before we get to that, let’s take a quick look at the brief histories of the 3 brands:

Fairtex Equipment Co., Ltd.

Fairtex started out in 1971, selling Muay Thai training equipment and t-shirts to Thai department stores. After decades of domestic experience, they expanded in the 90s to distribute their products to Muay Thai and martial arts gyms worldwide. Now, Fairtex has become synonymous with premium quality Muay Thai gear and equipment.

One of the key factors to Fairtex’s success was the introduction of Fairtex Muay Thai gyms during the brand’s beginning foray into Muay Thai. The first Fairtex gym was set up in 1975 in suburban Bangkok and was one of the first gyms that welcomed foreigners and even female fighters to train in. The setting up of Fairtex gyms in the United States played an immense role that led to the brand’s success in the west.

Another ingredient in Fairtex’s marketing success is the sponsorship and cultivation of famous fighters, notably Yodsanklai Fairtex and Attachai Fairtex in recent times. But the biggest credit for Fairtex’s status owes it to its founder’s lifetime passion for the sport, who has played a pivotal role in promoting the sport since the 70s.

Twins Special Co., Ltd.

Formally established in 1992, Twins Special (more commonly known as Twins) is a powerhouse in Muay Thai and boxing equipment and gear. They are loved and used all over the world in almost all pugilistic martial arts from boxing to Krav Maga and of course, Muay Thai.

From Muay Thai gyms all over Thailand, to Lumpinee Stadiums, and fight gyms the world over, you will see Twins gloves and equipments. In this short amount of time, they have overtaken most Thai brands with much longer histories. This could be attributed to the company’s strong focus on quality assurance, using the best materials and manufacturing equipment.

So word spreads, and everyone starts talking about these affordable yet high quality  Muay Thai boxing gear. When you have great products, your customers are the best form of advertising.

Top King Boxing Co., Ltd.

Top King is the youngest of all 3 brands, having started only in 2009. The brand’s quick rise to success can be attributed to the experience of the founder, who left Twins, ditched the former King branding to start his own Muay Thai brand. So Top King and Twins can be said to be owned by the same family.

Although not as well established as the other two, Top King is a very popular choice when it comes to Muay Thai gear. Their shin guards are especially well-received and constantly top recommendation lists for shin guards. At the moment, Top King’s range of products is not as extensive as the other 2. But with the right business strategies, they have the potential to give the other 2 brands a run for their money.


The Best Muay Thai Gloves

best muay thai gloves

For this review, I have chosen the flagship model and same size (14oz) from the brands. Just a quick intro of the 3 gloves featured in this comparison: the Twins Special gloves is the FBGV (fancy boxing gloves) model which is basically the flagship BGVL-3 with fancy designs; the Top King gloves are the Super Air model which features a palm mesh for better ventilation; and theFairtex gloves is from the “Nation Prints” collection, part of the best-selling BGV1 model range.

In order to determine which is the best Muay Thai gloves, here are the 6 main factors to consider:

Fit
Fit is one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing gloves. Comfort is key and the fit needs to be right in order for the gloves to feel comfortable. Too tight, and your hands are gonna feel numb after a few rounds. Too loose, and there is not going to be enough support for your wrists. Every brand has its own fit, just as hands come in different shapes and sizes.

Twins gloves have the roomiest hand compartment among the 3 brands while Top King gloves have the most snug fit. Fairtex gloves lack a grip bar but is more flexible (good for clinching). In terms of tightness, it fits somewhere in-between the other 2. All the 3 gloves will feel snug brand-new but will break-in fairly quickly. After over a year of moderate usage, Top King gloves continue to feel real snug. Fairtex and Twins gloves will suit most average-sized hands after breaking in.

Physical Size
best muay thai gloves

best muay thai gloves

As you can see from the pictures, Top King gloves are clearly the bulkiest. Both Top King and Twins gloves look significantly puffier than Fairtex with Top King being the biggest of the lot. If you are small-ish in stature, both Top King and Twins can make you look like a little person wearing giant mittens. Fairtex gloves have a streamlined design that makes them more proportionate to body size. The alternative is to go for lighter gloves, say 10-12oz, which will look smaller, and will fit better for lighter people.

Protection (Wrist Support/Padding)
Twins and Top King gloves are thoroughly well padded gloves which makes them seem puffy as you can see in the pictures. They are often described as being “pillowy” and that really is the most apt word to use. The all-round cushion is a boon for protecting your hands and wrists during bag work and sparring. Fairtex padding while adequate, may feel a tad firmer compared to Twins. In pugilistic circles, we say that there is a nice snap when hitting the bags or pads. But they will feel less forgiving on your sparring partner. As far as hand protection goes, all 3 gloves will do their job well with good impact absorption.

Now as for wrist support, Top King offers the most secure fit especially if you have thin wrists like me. The velcro straps will wrap around the thinnest of wrists firmly and the elongated cuffs will keep the hands straight to reduce wrist injuries. With Twins and Fairtex, the wrist cuff is shorter and comparatively less rigid. For both gloves, you need to give the cuff strap a real tug in order to fasten tightly on skinny wrists but will be alright otherwise.

Durability
All 3 gloves are made with high quality genuine leather, crafted with the expertise from decades of glove-making experience. Using high density foam for padding, you can expect high punching mileage from the brands before they start breaking down. These real leather gloves are made to withstand not just the rigor of training, but also the hot, humid climate of Thailand. Thai fighters train up to twice a day, 6 days a week, so you can be assured of the durability of Thai gear. However, It is difficult to say which of the 3 brands is the most durable, since no one has ever evaluated them under controlled testing. With no extensive testing or scientific findings, I would rationally rate them equally in terms of durability.

Aesthetic Designs (Looks)
All 3 brands offer a diverse range of designs. When it comes to aesthetics, it all boils down to individual taste. Both Fairtex and Twins have a bewildering wide range of designs and colors. Whereas Top King excels in their more aggressive-looking designs. If I had to rank the 3 in terms of looks, Fairtex would be my top choice, Top King second and Twins third. To reiterate, that’s just my taste. Don’t judge me.

Price
Fairtex has always been regarded as the top-tier and premium Muay Thai brand.  They takes pride in their products and this extends to their store operations. If you visit the Fairtex outlets in Thailand, you can see that they are the most professionally-run Muay Thai stores. Everything from the service to decor is extremely well done. They really pride themselves on being a premium sports brand. As such, Fairtex products are usually priced higher than most other Muay Thai brands. That said, if you intend to purchase them online, they are often priced very competitively on Amazon. So price is hardly a deciding factor. For a pair of high quality gloves made with genuine leather, they are all great value gear.


Best Muay Thai Gloves for Bag Work Pad Work

If you were a beginner about to start out in Muay Thai, I would not hesitate to recommend Twins as your first pair of training gloves. Hitting the merciless heavy bags can wreck your hands and wrists if you are not careful. Besides using proper hand wraps, I recommend using gloves with the most comfortable padding. Twins gloves offer great protection while you gradually condition your hands to the sport. The feeling is more springy and less raw when you hit the heavy bags.

For more seasoned martial artists, the Fairtex is a great choice as they give you great feedback when you hit the bags and pads. As for folks with small hands or thin wrists, then there is no better option than Top King with the snug hand compartment and longer cuffs for wrist support.

Best Muay Thai Gloves for Sparring

The smaller construct of Fairtex gloves is a double-edged sword when it comes to sparring. On one hand, it makes it easier to pierce-punch through defenses. On the other hand, smaller gloves means a smaller area of shield to guard your face against punches. If you don’t quite feel like getting punched in the face, the pillowy size of Top King and Twins offers more protective coverage.

Both Top King and Twins offer better hand/wrist protection against kicks with their more comprehensive padding (on the back of the hand) . The denser/sturdier padding on the Fairtex also means lesser protection for your sparring partners. This is something to take note of if you want to be kind towards them. You can really feel more sting when getting hit in the face with a Fairtex. So if I had to pick, I would much prefer getting punched in the face by someone wearing Twins or Top King.

I would go with Twins or Top King as my sparring gloves as I value protection for myself and my sparring partners. Cos I’m nice like that.


Summary

For the TL;DR crowd, here’s my personal take for each of the 3 brands of gloves:

Fairtex BGV-1

Fit Fits small to average-sized hands.
Physical Size Streamlined design ideal for those smaller in stature.
Protection Well-padded for bag/pad work but less protection for sparring partners.
Durability High quality, durable material.
Looks Plenty of colors and designs to choose from.
Price Premium real leather gloves under $100.

>> Click here for more Fairtex reviews on Amazon <<


Twins BGVL-3

Fit Roomy hand compartment for medium to large hands.
Physical Size Pillowy due to thick cushion. Looks big on short/thin people.
Protection Well-padded gloves with springy feel, ideal for beginners and sparring.
Durability High quality, durable material.
Looks Wide range of designs from basic colors to fancy graphics
Price Premium real leather gloves under $100.

>> Click here for more Twins reviews on Amazon <<


Top King Gloves

Fit Snug hand compartment, ideal for small hands
Physical Size Bulkiest gloves among the 3
Protection Excellent wrist support and elongated cuffs, suitable for skinny wrists.
Durability High quality, durable material.
Looks Smaller range of designs than Fairtex and Twins but aggressive tribal aesthetics popular with many martial arts lovers.
Price Premium real leather gloves under $100.

>> Click here for more Top King reviews on Amazon <<


Conclusion

When it comes to punching gloves, there is no clear or definite winner between the 3 best Muay Thai brands. All 3 brands have their own advantages and will suit you depending on your individual fit or preference. There is no such thing as the perfect Muay Thai gloves, only a pair that is perfect for you.

Chok dee!

3 Comments
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  3. […] high quality gloves available in the market but honestly, you don’t even have to go beyond my top 3 below. But if you are looking for something beyond the first recommendations, there are many decent […]

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