Best Muay Thai Shorts: A Compendium of Style 2018
Updated 16th Nov 2018: There are now more and more Muay Thai shorts brands and designs than ever before. New brands, new styles, and lots to choose from. Here’s an updated guide with new recommendations, new images and some added information. Enjoy!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Muay Thai shorts! I would say it’s a borderline obsession and addiction. (Pictured above is just a portion of my collection.) Let me just say it for all you Muay Thai shorts lovers, we can’t have enough of them and there will always be space in the wardrobe for another pair. So, wanna know what are some of the Best Muay Thai shorts or just the best looking Muay Thai shorts out in the market? Are there designs that are culturally inappropriate? And importantly, how do you pick one in the right size?
There are many brands in Thailand making Thai boxing shorts and an increasing number around the world too. On top of well-known Thai brands such as Twins Special, Yokkao, Fairtex and Top King, there is now a bevy of modern fight brands offering Muay Thai shorts such as Venum, Booster FG and Anthem Athletics. Many gyms also carry their own gym-branded shorts for sale. These are typically manufactured by one of the aforementioned brands so you can always count on their quality. In short, there is no shortage of options to choose from.
All About Muay Thai Shorts
Muay Thai transitioned into a sport sometime in 19th century. It became more and more popular over time in Thailand, and in early 1900s, adopted formats of western boxing such as the ring, set rules and protective equipment. While Muay Thai is a completely unique sport, its influence from western boxing continues throughout its early development. This includes the choice of apparel in the form of the boxing shorts.
Muay Thai assimilated the boxing shorts and made it something (almost) entirely its own with loud colors, covered in graphics and inscriptions. Boxing shorts “grew” longer into the current knee-length style but Muay Thai shorts retained its shorter cut due to the high-kicking nature of the sport as well as the hot climate of Thailand.
Are there any rules with regards to wearing Muay Thai shorts?
Not really. If you train Muay Thai, and you wear Muay Thai shorts, no one’s going to stop you. Not your trainers, and not your gym mates -unless they are a bit of an ass. I have read people asking if you need to reach a certain level before wearing them and there is absolutely no rules like that in any Muay Thai gym. Kids in Thailand wear them the day they start to train so nothing should deter anyone from wearing them. Muay Thai shorts are designed for functionality which makes them ideal for training in the sport. There is also -traditionally- no ranking system, so any color is game. However, some gyms in the West do adopt a ranking system with different shorts color but that is in the minority. If you are confident enough, you are welcome to rock in pink shorts if you wish.
For outsiders of the sport, some Muay Thai shorts can look gaudy. It has yet to make it into the mainstream sports apparel market, remaining within the realm of the niche fight sport. You can say it’s a bit of an acquired taste. There have been attempts to modernize it, but by and large, they remain within the realm of the sport. Adidas has already been making Muay Thai shortsfor a while but they usually remains within the confines of martial arts stores.
In the last few years, Muay Thai has slowly grown to encompass a diverse group of practitioners. A growing number of people are training Muay Thai for fitness or recreational purposes. With that is a corresponding rise in more trendy-looking fight gear and apparel that may well transition into mainstream sports fashion in the coming years.
Several celebrities have also donned the MT shorts in recent memory including Mia Kang, Wiz Khalifa and DNCE. Japanese luxury streetwear label Human Made also released a series of Muay Thai shorts this year.
Same Same But Different
There are a lot of Muay Thai shorts out there with mediocre design. I can imagine many of these fight brands just get a random staff member to come up with some of the designs instead of an actual designer. Also, if you look around, you will see very similar designs even between different brands. That is because many brands use the same factory for production and they just rehash the same designs.
The Top King and Sandee shorts above are pretty good looking shorts. But it is obvious that they use the exact same template. In fact, many of the fight brands and gyms around the world use the same few factories in Thailand to produce their line of gear and apparel. I don’t actually have a problem with that and the quality of materials is usually excellent, so it’s not a bad thing. But most of them really need to step up the aesthetic game and come up with more original designs.
For those who are unfamiliar with Thai culture, it is worth mentioning that certain design elements are not appropriate for Muay Thai shorts. They might even be offensive to the Thais. Take a look at the Hayabusa shorts above as an example: while these look really cool, they are actually culturally inappropriate. On a human body, anything below the waist is not considered a respectful position in Thai culture (and many Asian cultures in general). The Garuda is a symbol of Thai royalty, so to have it on the crotch is certainly very disrespectful to the Thai people. Same goes for the Thai flag – it should not go onto the Muay Thai shorts. If you are looking to have a custom pair made, these are a few points to take note of.
Satin or Nylon
Satin is commonly used for good quality Muay Thai shorts. They are light, comfortable and extremely durable. Despite the heavy mileage that your shorts will be getting in the gym, these tough sportswear seem indestructible. Other materials include nylon, cotton and polyester blends. Our recommendation is to always go for high quality satin because they feel good to the touch and will last longer. With low quality material such as nylon, your muay thai shorts become rather translucent when they get drenched with sweat, especially with the lighter colors. Having said that, there ARE some thicker, reasonably good quality nylon shorts and the great thing about them is that they dry up really fast. Ideal choice as a daily workhorse training gear or for lounging about at home. Another cool thing about nylon is that they are usually really cheap compared to satin shorts.
How to Wear Your Muay Thai Shorts
The standard Muay Thai shorts typically end a little above mid-thigh (see above middle). Some Thai fighters roll the waistband with the shorts ending even further up the thighs as most of them prefer their shorts short. The retro style (with narrower waistband and shorter length) is very popular nowadays and they are very form-fitting and shorter than the classic style. Now, depending on the size of your thighs, the leg openings for some shorts -especially the classic style- can sometimes be a little too wide and may thus reveal your nether regions to unwilling spectators. If you have thick quads, this will not be of an issue. If not, boxer briefs, trunks or rash guard shorts are all great underwear options for modesty. Otherwise, your reproductive organs may make surprise appearances while you perform your stretches or high kicks.
I have seen some people wear them baggy and long, reaching just a little above the knees and looking like western boxing (see above right). So long as your kicks are not hindered, there’s no wrong in wearing the shorts that way. Whatever rocks your boat.
Buying Muay Thai Shorts from Online
There are now loads of online shops retailing Muay Thai gear that the choices can be positively overwhelming. They range from stocking the well-known Thai brands as mentioned earlier, to their own in-house brand of apparel and gear. The only hassle when it comes to buying online, is determining the right size and fitting. There is no standardization across the many Muay Thai brands so a size Large will fit differently from one brand to another. Even within the brand, different models can vary in measurements too. If you are looking to buy your Muay Thai shorts from online stores, each site will usually provide a sizing guide based on waist sizes and weight. If provided, the length of the shorts and width of leg opening can give a better indication of how they will fit.
For me, I have bought several pairs from the web and they didn’t fit the way I like them to fit. Either the waistband is too tight or they look way too baggy. I’m 5’7”, 30-31 inch waist, weighing in 130lbs. Based on my stats, I am supposed to go with size L for most Thai brands based on the sizing charts provided. I have learnt that the charts take into account the waist and sometimes weight stats. While the waist can feel comfortable, I have found M to be right in terms of the fitted look that I prefer albeit the tight waistband.
Here are some tips for buying shorts from online stores:
- If you have a fight store around your area, you can head down and try their stock out for fitting. Once you have a good idea of how each brand and its sizes fit, you can go back and make your purchase online. Due to space rental, a brick and mortar store will typically charge higher for the same item. But if the price difference isn’t insanely marked up, you might be able to forge a bond with your local fight store by supporting them. They will be able to order the design you want and even offer you a discount.
- Many people stick to one brand for the same reason. Most brands stock a bewildering range of designs so if you find a brand fits the way you want, buying from online will be a lot easier.
- If you already own a pair of Muay Thai shorts, they can serve as your reference. Just take their measurements to check against the sizing guide provided on the retail site.
- If you have already made a purchase and the waistband feels too tight, you can remove 2-3 of the elastic bands around the waist using the third method shown in this wiki page. I have done this on a few of my own shorts and they are just perfect.
Best Muay Thai Shorts
Ask 10 different people and you might get 10 different answers. Comfort and fit are definitely the most important factors. Too small and you risk the shorts riding up your crack; too big and you might look kinda goofy. It’s all Goldilocks and you want something that’s “just right”. That aside, it boils down to if you are a fashionista or NOT. If you are a connoisseur of style, you want shorts that are outstanding and unique. On the other side of the spectrum, there are many folks whose idea of the best Muay Thai shorts are the ones that you can get on a sale.
My recommendation is to go for a reputable brand. Cheapies can be easy on the wallet but won’t last as long. The elastic bands or the seams will come apart quickly under heavy usage (see below). So by all means, avoid buying those souvenir nylon shorts branded with Thai Boxing that you can get from Patpong Night Market. They are okay to give away as gifts but definitely not for training.
The Best Muay Thai Shorts are the ones that fit right, feels good, and looks great. I won’t say that I have found the perfect 10/10 pair but there are certainly lots of worthy candidates for that title. Here is my list of the top styles and brands to serve as your reference:
Fairtex is a brand suited for bigger guys due to the wide leg openings. If you have thick thighs, this is the brand. The brand also released a new range of slim-cut shorts (retro-style) this year with basic style but high-end feel. In terms of designs, I feel like they have a lot to catch up with many younger and hip labels in the market. That said, Fairtex is a trusted brand and household name in Muay Thai so quality comes with each purchase.
When it comes to pushing the boundaries, there is no other brand like Yokkao. They are really changing the way Muay Thai shorts look with the latest CarbonFit line, just as they did when they popularise the retro style with the Carbon shorts back in 2012. Their latest designs are bridging the gap between conventional Muay Thai apparel with sports fashion. These Monster shorts were released last year and became one of the most talked-about shorts among fans. It’s hard not to like these really. If any Muay Thai brand has the potential to crossover into mainstream sports fashion, it is going to be Yokkao. Yokkao shorts are true to size, very comfortable, lightweight and very breathable. Overall, one of my personal favorites right now.
Top King is definitely a very popular choice. It’s one of the brand that gets recommended a lot on forums. They have a number of very classic designs that are often copied by other brands. TKB also has a very popular retro style model which are shorter so the brand has got most tastes covered. However, much like Fairtex, they haven’t really caught up with evolving tastes and trends, so they are starting to look quite dated. Tribal aesthetics is just not my thing. Standard quality shorts.
Another great and favored choice by Muay Thai fighters. The Rajadamnern Stadium’s choice, in fact. Twins probably has the biggest range of designs when it comes to Muay Thai shorts. One of the best there is when it comes to MT shorts. Twins is the go-to factory for many gyms and fighters so if you see something you like but can’t find it anywhere, just get in touch with a retailer that deals with the brand and he’ll most likely be able to get a piece for you. One trusted dealer in Bangkok is Action Zone. (See my Bangkok shop guide)
The retro-style Muay Thai shorts are very popular these days. They differentiate from the standard Muay Thai shorts with a narrow waistband, shorter length, and higher cut on the sides. I can definitely see an ironic trend in which this supposed “retro style” is becoming the style of the modern era. Many gyms are moving towards this style for their gym shorts. Lumpinee is one of the brands popularising this style and comes in many colors to choose from.
Here comes the great savior: finally, shorts that fit true to standard American sizes. AA shorts are modeled on the retro style but come in westernised designs and more modest side slits.
Great fit, great price, cool design. The best part is that these are made with light microfiber material with tear-resistant qualities which makes them fully machine-washable. The designs have been getting better with each release so they are another of my top picks, especially for bigger guys.
When I think of Venum, their range of loud neon-colored gear comes to mind. Plus the instantly-recognizable snakehead logo. The mma brand has come a long way and has established themselves to be one of the top fight gear brands around the world. These flagship Inferno Muay Thai shorts feature a short fit Thai-style in a standard satin material, all made in Thailand. Definitely head-turning quality. Nice western size with XL that fits up to a 40-inch waist or thereabouts. 2 thumbs up from me and one of my top choices on the list.
Tuff Boxing is a Thailand-based online Muay Thai goods retailer that started their own line of products somewhere along the timeline. They were one of the earliest to use the dye-sublimated printing techniques on Muay Thai shorts with very good results. Unique designs that really differentiates their shorts from all the other shorts in the market. Not the best but at least they have a distinctive style and looks better than many more established brands, and are more affordable too.
Boon Sport has been around since 2002 and is a fairly popular choice especially in Australia. John Wayne Parr’s Boonchu Gym is sponsored by Boon as is Muay Thai legend, Petchboonchu FA Group. No exceptional designs but the quality is on par with the best. Boon shorts are short, great for those who prefer them that way. Muay Thai shorts that are made the way people expect them to be. I recently had a custom pair made in Bangkok on their latest camo retro shorts and am very pleased with them. These are very lightweight and comfortable. Fitting is true to size too. Drop me a mail if you want a pair of these.
Almost every Muay Thai gym have their own gym shorts which are most definitely made in Thailand. Because of that, you can rest assured of the quality. Many people like to purchase a pair of a gym’s shorts when they travel to train in Thailand, as a souvenir for themselves. The best part is you get to try them on for size for the best possible fit. For most people who first signed up for Muay Thai, they will tend to end up with the gym shorts because of the convenience and maybe to feel like part of the community.
Raja is a mid-tier brand in Thailand with a wide range of shorts designs. Pictured here is a pair that I own, purchased from the Raja Boxing store in Bangkok. This pair is one of many models from the Songkran collection. I got these at my usual size M and they were very comfortable to train in. I like the cut of the shorts overall. These are made using 100% cotton and imho, I prefer regular satin when it comes to training. That said, you have to love the Hawaiian feel on these. You can shop these direct from Raja social media by sending them a message.
Siam7 is a clothing brand based in Hua Hin, Thailand. The brand specializes in dye-sublimation printed apparel including an expanding range of Muay Thai shorts with really fun designs. There are several shorts inspired by the notorious MMA champion, Conor Mcgregor such as the one above. Other designs that piqued my interest include a Bruce Lee “Game of Death” shorts and a new “Yaksha” line inspired by the mythical Yaksha guardians of Thailand. The quality of the satin is excellent and stitch-work is professional. Certainly a brand worth checking out. Click the banner below to buy direct from their online store.
Thai Battle Boxing
Thai Battle Boxing is a Muay Thai brand based in Bangkok. These are from the Sukhothai collection which uses half satin and half traditional fabric to give it a lovely ethnic look. The collection comes in very stunning colors like Gold, orange, purple and a green which I eventually settled for. These actually feel really nice to train in and pretty tough too. I actually like these enough that I might go back and get them in another color on my next trip. They are available from the official webstore but for a hugely inflated price. If you are in Bangkok, you can check out their store located in the popular MBK mall (3rd floor).
Reasonably priced, old skool designs on reasonable quality material and very comfortable to train in. The brand has faded a bit compared to their prime days back in the 70s and 80s. They are still widely used in Thailand as an economy brand but less so around the world, especially compared to the more popular names these days like Fairtex and Twins. They have several cute designs using pop culture characters like Pikachu, Powerpuff Girls and Darth Vader which can lend a rather amateurish feel to some people. Personally, I think it’s cool and appreciate their humor. Don’t judge me.
I sourced around for a while before finding these at the Super Export Shop in downtown Bangkok. Thank goodness for that as the trip out from central Bangkok to the Banchamek Gym is so inconvenient. The shorts are excellent quality material, some of the best you can find. These sit high on the waist so I roll or fold down the waistband when I wear them. These are an old design. The Banchamek logo was pirated by an “enterprising” bunch in China and so the gym has gone and designed a new logo along with new shorts for Buakaw. Put them on and invoke the power of Buakaw!
DE has been around since 2004 but remains a fairly unknown brand to the average Muay Thai practitioner. Can’t say I am a fan of their products as the designs don’t appeal to me but I gave these a try and I have to say I really dig the comfort and fit. In terms of design, nothing exceptional it doesn’t really stand out among the myriad brands. But quality and comfort-wise, they are on par with many top brands. Made in Thailand.
Booster Fight Gear
Booster is a European-based brand that has been going on a strong publicity campaign of late sponsoring events (the latest being All-Star Fight in Bangkok), gyms and fighters with their products. The Banchamek Gym is sponsored with a bunch of Booster equipment now. Several of the Thai fighters on Kunlun Fight are also spotted wearing Booster gear including Jomthong and Buakaw’s protege, Superbon. Definitely a brand to watch for.
I managed to cop a pair of the hard-to-find Superbon Banchamek shorts (pictured here) and they are now my favorite shorts to train in. Comfortable on the waist with a slim retro-cut and a modest side-slit just the way I like it. Fits true to size. Again, these are priced high (in Euros) on their official website but are very affordable in Bangkok where you will find them exclusively at Super Export Shop.
Infightstyle is an American fight brand most known for their stylish designs and customization service. All items are handmade in Thailand with some of the prettiest designs anywhere. If you are looking to have a custom designed pair of Muay Thai shorts, this is the place to go to. Apparently, the brand has their own factory so they must be doing a brisk business. I recently bought a pair of their shorts (See my Instagram) and I can say that the quality is top-notch Thai standard and the sizing is smiliar to Thai brands like Top King and Twins. A tiny bit smaller on the waist than I would have liked but still comfortable overall.
I would rate this particular model here as one of my all-time favorites but they are priced beyond what I am willing to spend. These shorts are inspired by the A-10 Warthog fighter planes and -I suspect- the Shark hoodie by streetwear brand Bathing Ape. Too cool.
|Nothing lasts forever but with proper maintenance, Muay Thai shorts can last you a good few years’ worth of training. Check out: “How to Clean Muay Thai Shorts” for maintenance tips.|
Customized shorts are the next step for many training the sport. In Thailand, customized shorts are worn by the fighters during their competitions. They are personalized with the fighter’s name, camp, sponsor, or a variety of unique patches. Nowadays, many casual Muay Thai practitioners custom-make shorts to show their love for training in the sport. It’s personal, it’s the only piece in the world, and it’s basically you. Even just having your name on the shorts just gives you that little bit more motivation to go to the gym and kick some bags in style.
There are quite a number of online retailers that offer customizing service. As mentioned above, Infightstyle is a popular option in US for customization. Another site that offers customization is Thailand-based Muay Thai Factory. But just google and you will have a long list of online retailers that provide the service.
Best Muay Thai Shorts for big guys
Finding Muay Thai shorts that fit right can be a pain for the big guys. The Thai brands used to be the only options in the older days but there are now more modern fight brands that are more suitable for the western bodies. With the exception of Fairtex, most traditional Thai brands, the sizes only go up to about a 36” waist unless you submit a custom size order. But brands like Anthem Athletics, and World MMA Gear are making them up to a 40” waist with a retro cut and more modern aesthetics. Fairtex shorts are your best bet with an XXL that also fits up to 40” waist, if you prefer the traditional look. I got you big guys covered with “Best Muay Thai Shorts for Big Guys“.
Best Muay Thai Shorts for skinny guys
You may think that us skinny guys have it easy. Muay Thai shorts are supposed to be designed for the slimmer build of the Thais, right? Well, it actually depends on your body type. If you have skinny legs, you may end up with skinnier legs in some Muay Thai shorts because of the wide leg openings. I get around this by getting a size down from the recommendation and stripping away 2-3 elastic bands from the waistband. That way, the shorts will feel right and look right. In my experience, Booster and Boon retro shorts are great for skinny folks.
Best Muay Thai Shorts For Women
Muay Thai shorts have largely been accepted as unisex apparel over the years but with the increase in females training in the sport, some brands have took to offering shorts designed with the female aesthetic preference in mind. These women’s shorts have shorter length, as well as a shorter waistband. Thaismai has a nice selection of women’s Muay Thai shorts. Another brand that deserves a mention is Hong Kong-based Ultim8 which is founded by a female fighter. For more recommendations, check out “Pink! Women’s Muay Thai Shorts“.
The choice of Muay Thai shorts is highly personal and boils down to individual taste. You either love them or you don’t. I think of Muay Thai shorts as a freedom of expression. An expression of style, personality and individuality. Some people don’t really care as long as they can get one for cheap, they will just wear it. Since you are going to be spending much time in the gym, you might as well look good doing it. A cool pair of Muay Thai shorts have been known to be a very good conversation starter too. If you have a favorite pair of Muay Thai shorts, do leave a comment and share it with me! As always, train in style!