As a boxer, no matter how well trained you are, you’ll never get any special training on how to take a punch on your skull. Rather, you are taught how to keep your guard up, dodge, bob, and weave to take each hit with the least amount of force possible. But keeping in mind that your opponents are skilled to land effective punches mostly on your head, it’s certain that some hits will break your guard. And that’s where the need for the best boxing headgear comes in.
The primary role of a boxing headgear is to remove cuts and bruises from the equation. But the heavily padded head guards also offer a little protection from the cumulative impact.
Head size is not universal. And this means that getting the perfect boxing headgear that won’t compromise your comfort and vision when sparring or in competitions can be a little bit hard.
While we have a comprehensive guide on how to buy the best boxing headgear later in this article, we’d also advise you try out a few; most boxing gyms have a communal head guard or you could borrow or loan from someone.
Of course, communal and borrowed head guards have several disgusting factors; sweat, spit, blood, grime, and germs that you’ll need to persevere. But they give you a solid overview of what to look for in terms of size, style, and brand at least.
8 Best Boxing Headgear in 2021
Our first contender in our best headgear reviews is currently the most expensive in this list, but it’s also the best that money can buy today. It goes without saying that a formula that every other brand is trying to replicate is bound to be a masterpiece. And Winning- a Japanese company- seems to have it.
If its premium price tag isn’t an issue, we highly recommend you to go with this head guard. It has everything that you could be looking for from a sparring Mexican-style headgear and a few more. What we really like about it is its excellent fit, padding, and comfort. And we also appreciate that it is available in several sizes and a choice of 11 eye-catching colors.
Hint: If you find this model so pricey for your budget, the Ringside FightGear Master’s reviewed later in this article might interest you. It is several folds cheaper but features an exact design and almost similar level of protection.
The Hayabusa T3 failed to clinch our first slot due to the fact that it’s available in one size only. Otherwise, if durability was our main concern, no other model in our reviews of the best headgear 2021 would be able to take this model down; not even the Winning FG2900 above!
The Hayabusa is with no doubts a great pick for those who are not sure about the right size for their boxing headgear. This helmet can be used for both boxing and MMA and has a good amount of padding. It also performs well in terms of comfort thanks to its breathable interior and an open-top design. Even better, if durability is your major concern, the 100% fine-grain leather used for this guard will definitely appeal.
There’s always something good with combat accessories made from Thailand more so if they are from huge brands such as Venum. This is one of the best boxing headgear brands today and a go-to manufacturer for boxing and MMA enthusiasts who want affordability without compromising protection.
The Venum Elite is a mid-range headgear that seems to impress so many people from the forum comments. Some of its highlights include its lightweight design that makes punch evasion possible and a great feel off the bat. It has minimal padding and it’s, therefore, best suited to elite fighters with quick head movements and reflexes. For starters, check out the Venum Challenger 2.0 reviewed below.
The RDX Facesaver is currently one of the most sought-after headgear for people who want total protection of the head when sparring or training. Considering that it comes in all sizes (small, medium, large, and x-large), this model also makes one of the best boxing headgear for children as most parents’ sentiments affirm in the reviews sections.
If safety is your biggest concern, then the RDX Facesaver is what you should be looking for. This is an amazingly affordable and well-built headgear that comes in all sizes and an array of colors to match with your other fighting gear. Among other things, we appreciate that its outer shell is crafted from Maya leather (the closest that synthetic leather can go to replicate genuine leather) and it’s heavily padded so you can train hard.
A family boxing firm founded in the 1940s in Mexico, Cleto Reyes is one of the most renowned brands in this industry. Most of its products including gloves cost top dollar mainly because they are made of nothing else than genuine leather.
The Cleto Reyes Traditional Headgear is our number 1 recommendation for the best boxing headgear for nose protection. But it also has a lot more to offer besides.
Overall, this is one of the best headgear for boxing, MMA, and kickboxing from Cleto Reyes. It is a little bit pricey but has an amazing combination of protection, weight, and visibility. It’s also designed to last for years thanks to its all-leather construction and solid stitches and has received a high rating in terms of fit and comfort.
The Venum Challenger 2.0 is an affordable alternative to the Elite that we saw earlier. It also boasts more padding thereby fitting our recommendations of the best boxing headgear for beginners. It is predominantly black with bold and vibrant highlights that create its 3 color options. If you love keeping a low-profile, the all-black model might be the head guard for you.
But is it worth its current rave?
For the price, the Venum 2.0 Challenger is a recommendable headgear for beginners and intermediate level strikers. While it does not promise decades of use, it has a lot to offer in terms of protection, comfort, and fit. It also performs fairly well in terms of visibility and can, therefore, be used for boxing, MMA, and Muay Thai.
Next up is a Master’s-approved competition headgear that has been professionally engineered to absorb punishment- something that it does with a lot of passion! This is the best headgear 2021 for starters and intermediate fighters who tend to eat lots of shots. It might also appeal if you are looking for a communal head guard for your gym.
If you want the best boxing headgear in the world but can’t afford the Winning FG2900, this is a great pick. This guy is a beast in terms of shock absorption and protecting your face and nose from cuts and bruises. It’s also durable thanks to its all-leather construction and solid stitching and also notably lightweight at around 20 ounces.
Our last recommendation in our best headgear reviews is what we consider to be the most affordable headgear for boxing. Affordable here also means low-level construction. That being said, we’d only recommend this guard if you are totally strapped for cash but you still want some form of protection during light sparring. It’s also a good option for people who are just getting their feet wet in boxing and want a feel of a headgear before investing on a high-end model.
The Everlast Everfresh might be worth considering if you are on the market for the most affordable headgear. This is a budget-friendly option with basic construction design that targets beginners who participate in irregular and light sparring sessions. For hard sparring and if you practice boxing as a career, consider other models in this list.
The question of whether a headgear really helps in a fight is a serious issue of contention today. As a matter of fact, since 2013, the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) banned the use of head guards for male-senior open-class elite fighters claiming that the fighters are at a higher risk of suffering brain damage with the padded helmets on than without.
In one of the theories in their study, protective boxing headgear impede vision thereby making it hard for boxers to dodge blows on time. And this, as they explain, was responsible for the high rates of concussions in boxing competition.
This leads us to a very important question, ‘‘does the best boxing headgear prevent concussions?’’ Well, the jury is still out on this issue. However, considering that a well-trained boxer can deliver a punch weighing up to 1000 pounds, it’s very unlikely that even the best padded boxing headgear will ward off the risk of your brain jarring due to the impact.
In addition, a head guard tends to offer a false sense of protection to the fighters thereby encouraging them to take greater risks that may be detrimental to their well being.
Headgear, however, have been found to prevent lacerations and serious facial cuts and head injuries that might bring a sparring or a competition to a halt.
Most gyms today have left the decision on whether or not to wear a headgear when sparring solely to the boxer. And that’s why it’s not uncommon to find some boxers training in these protective helmets and others without.
The main role of a boxing headgear is to protect you from cuts and facial injuries. Although the padding may also help in minimizing the impact of the punches, that’s no excuse to neglect your guard and defense techniques. In addition, it’s highly important that you get a helmet that fits you nicely without slipping around or blocking your vision. The next section has a few pointers on how to buy the best boxing headgear for sparring and competition.
HOW WE CHOSE THE BEST BOXING HEADGEAR
Style vs. Discipline
Combat headgear looks similar in almost all aspects. However, if you’ve scoured around, you must have realized that some are marketed as the best for boxing while others are recommended for other branches of martial arts including MMA and kickboxing.
So, what’s the difference between boxing headgear and kickboxing or MMA head guard?
Your head is the major target in boxing. That being said, the best boxing head guards sport a more streamlined design that allows better visibility of your opponent’s movements and punches. This allows you to react in time.
Before falling for any model that is listed as a boxing headgear, you need to note that these again differ depending on what you’ll be using them for; competition or sparring.
Boxing competition headgear is much more streamlined and also have fewer blind spots. They also have lesser padding than their sparring alternatives with the aim of allowing you to make quick head movements. If you are looking for a head guard purposely for competing, you’ll need to make sure that your target model meets the requirements of either AIBA or US Boxing. Otherwise, you might not be allowed to don it in the ring.
Sparring headgear is notably more heavily padded than real-fight helmets. These models may, however, differ depending on the additional protective features on them. For instance, some offer full-face protection and have, therefore been nicknamed Face Savers. These styles offer the most protection from bruises and cuts on the face. Their major drawback, however, is that they greatly impede visibility.
The next category of sparring headgear is those that major in cheek protection. They are also known as Mexican style guards and are a little bit hard to find and when you do, chances are that they’ll be notably pricier than the full-face alternatives. These are a hybrid between open-face sparring headgear and full-face gear in that they protect a large portion of your face without minimizing visibility a lot.
Open-face sparring headgear are just that… they leave a large part of your face open. These models are the easiest to find both online and in most local stores and appeal mostly to people who don’t like the feel of being enclosed (claustrophobia). Their main advantage is their excellent visibility. But this is their biggest downside as well since a large part of your face namely the cheeks, eyes, and chin are left open to strikes that may cause bruises and bleeding.
Muay Thai headgear
These headgear are pretty much similar to boxing head guards and you may not tell one from the other. Yes, this also means that you can use either whether you are into boxing or Muay Thai. Worth noting, however, is that helmets that are crafted for thai from scratch tend to have a slightly harder padding due to the additional fighting techniques involved.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA headgear)
MMA headgear are completely different from other disciplines’ head guards both in terms of construction and the amount of padding. In mixed martial arts, a variety of mixed martial art techniques including boxing, catch wrestling, holding, and ground and pound take precedence. Consequently, MMA headgear tends to have a firmer padding compared to boxing and Thai headgear that are notably softer and less dense.
Construction materials and overall quality
A nicely constructed boxing headgear can last you over a decade. But a cheaply-made model will not only require regular replacement but it could also get you a good beating.
When thinking of the overall quality of the boxing headgear, you need to think of the construction materials used (inside and outside) and the stitching. Of course, you don’t want a guard that will rip open along the seams with just a few blows.
It goes without saying that leather is the best material for combat accessories thanks to its durability, breathability, and overall great feel. Its only drawback is its high initial cost.
Synthetics offer an economical alternative if you are operating on a budget though. Most of these don’t last as long as leather gears but the best in class can give you a good value for your money with great care.
Fit and Comfort
Fit and comfort go hand in hand in boxing headgear. A helmet that fits you perfectly without squeezing you too much or being too wobbly will allow you to concentrate more on your offensive and defensive techniques rather than struggling to position it amidst raining punches.
You might not be lucky to get a headgear that conforms to your head’s shape. But the idea is to get something that won’t stress you.
There are 2 major sources of distractions that you need to keep a close eye on when shopping for the best type of boxing gear. First, ensure that that the chinstrap isn’t too tight to create a choking feel. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be so loose to make the entire gear to move around whenever you receive a punch on the head.
The inside lining of the helmet is also another common source of annoyance for most people. This is a matter of preference though as some are objected to smooth interiors while others feel that furry linings hide dirt, especially in communal and borrowed helmets.
A headgear is all about protecting you from potential bruises and cuts. And that’s to say that a good padding is of paramount importance. The amount of padding in a headgear may depend on a few factors including the intended use of the helmet (competition or sparring) and the type of brand (Muay Thai or boxing).
Competition headgear have a thinner padding in favor of a lightweight helmet that allows you to move your head swiftly when dodging punches. Models that are designed for sparring, however, are thickly padded to protect you from scratches when training.
If you engage in professional boxing or high level amateur boxing, we strongly recommend you to have both of these headgears; one for hard sparring and another one for real fights.
Coverage vs. visibility
As we said earlier, boxing headgear comes in different types depending on the amount of coverage that they offer. For instance, full-face protectors cover the entire head while the open-face models leave a portion of your face uncovered. More coverage in headgear comes as a trade-off against visibility. Vice versa is true.
At the end of the day, everything boils down to what you value most; protection or visibility. There is an age-old saying in the boxing community that says that it’s the invisible punch that knocks you out. In the light of this saying, our advice would be to value visibility more then up your defense game.
Q: How do I get the right size for my headgear?
A: Getting a head guard with the perfect size for your head is everything. Most people point out that small helmets cause headaches after just a few minutes of having them on. On the other hand, oversize headgear not only give your opponent a larger target but they also make punch evasion almost impossible.
Most brands offer these accessories in different sizes usually in terms of head circumference but others feature a one-size-fits-all design.
Helmet sizes range from small to XL. But it’s important to note that the exact size differs greatly from one brand to the other as shown in the images below.
Q: Which is the best type of padding for a boxing headgear?
A: Well, this is a matter of personal preference. Foam is the most commonly used type of padding in headgear today perhaps because of its affordability. However, gel padding has received a good press in the recent pass citing its ability to retain its shape even with regular punches, unlike foam that decompresses and loses its shape after some time.
Q: What type of enclosure system should I go with?
A: Different headgear use different types of closing systems ranging from buckles to Velcro strap. Hands down, Velcro is the way to go if you are looking for a system that you can undo in a split second. It also offers excellent adjustability depending on the circumstances. The major drawback, however, is that it tends to stretch and lose its grip easily during intense workouts or fights. This causes the helmet to move around uncomfortably and may even block your vision or expose a part of your face to blows.
Buckles don’t budge and this means that the helmet remains intact all the time. On the downside, most of them might take a few more seconds to undo.
Q: Can I train in competition headgear?
A: Well, you could. But it’s not advisable. Similar to competition boxing gloves, competition headgear is crafted with speed and mobility in mind and, therefore, have less padding. This means that they offer minimal protection against lacerations, especially in hard sparring. If you are preparing for a competition, the last thing that you want is to have an injury even before the real fight.