How to Choose a Pair of Boxing Gloves

Whether you are looking to select a pair of boxing gloves as a beginner or to select your next pair of boxing gloves to help up your game there are a few things to consider. 

If you are reading this it is likely that you a few questions in mind to help you you decide on the best boxing gloves to choose.   This this is perfectly understandable.  And you are certainly not alone.  With all the many brands, models, and sizes, and range of prices it can be a daunting task.

A glove is a glove, right?  Well, not exactly.   If you would like some useful guidance on choosing a  pair of boxing gloves then you have come to the right place.

What is the intended use?

The use of boxing gloves falls into one or more of the following categories:

Sparring.  This is when you attempt to punch your partner and defend against their punches.  It includes punching drills or any contact with another person. Sparring is used for training in boxing, kickboxing/ Muay Thai, and mixed martial arts (MMA) stand-up work (no grappling on the floor).

General fitness (non-contact). This is aimed at personal conditioning and working on techniques with partners, but without contact (other than holding shields and pads for you to strike).

Bag work. This is repeated punching of bags, usually large one. This can be particularly hard on hands and gloves, particularly with weekly repetitive sessions. So getting the correct gloves for this activity is important.

Fighting (in competitions). This is for professionals and very experienced amatures. Anyone looking for a fight glove will already know what they want, or they will be provided gloves by competition organizers.

There are general purpose ‘training’ gloves that allow you to do fitness, sparring and even some bag work.  If you are looking for gloves primarily for bag work then you will want to spend a little more to get a glove that is sure to protect your hands and withstand the repetitive pounding. 

Fighting gloves are very specialised and in many cases will be determined by the event organizers.

Some of our related articles that might be of interest:

What size gloves?

OK, this is important, so here we go.

Boxing gloves serve two purposes: to protect your hands and to protect your sparring partner.

Glove sizes indicate the weight of the glove padding that provides protection.  Typical glove sizes are 10, 12, 14, and 16 ounces. The first thing you need to do is decide the size (in ounces) that is right for you.

The appropriate size of gloves is not dependent on the size of your hand.  You can completely ignore any size charts with hand measurements.  In fact, you can ignore most size charts altogether as they are misleading.

If you will be sparring then you will need a larger glove to protect your sparring partner. Especially if your partner is smaller than you.  Larger gloves have more padding.

Sparring gloves are typically 12, 14 or 16 ounces depending on your body size.  But there is no hard rule here.  Manufacturers’ size charts vary on recommendations (just to make it more confusing).

As a general rule if you are 170-180 lbs (77-82 kg) or more you should be using 16 oz. gloves.  If you are 140-150 lbs (68-64 kg) or less than 12 oz gloves will be fine.

It is worth finding out if your club has rules on glove sizes.  For example, some clubs may require anyone over 170 lbs (77 kg) to spar with 16 oz gloves.

If you will be using your gloves for non-contact activities then you can use smaller gloves.  Size and padding become less of a concern. For pad and bag work smaller gloves will be more comfortable.  But larger gloves provide a better workout because they are heavier. If you use heavier gloves and make the transition to smaller gloves later on you will feel faster.

Some clubs allow light sparring, meaning you may ‘tap’ someone without any force.  This would fall under ‘general fitness’. Assuming it will stay that way a smaller size glove (10-12 oz), regardless of your size, is usually acceptable.

How do I know if they will fit me?

A good fit is determined by how comfortable your hand feels in the compartment and how well your hand and wrist is protected.

Stick with the size (in ounces) that is appropriate for you and then find gloves that fit comfortably.  Compartment sizes vary from one glove model to another. Don’t be tempted to change sizes for a better fit. Manufacturers’ size charts will try to get you to do this because they want the sale.  You would be better off returning them and trying the same size with a different manufacturer.

A pair of gloves may be very comfortable for 9 people, but the 10th person finds them uncomfortable and then writes a bad review.  It isn’t necessarily the manufacturer’s fault.  Also, some people wear wraps and some do not.  A loose fitting glove without wraps could suddenly become ideally snug with wraps.  Or the gloves could become too tight and restrictive.  Bear this in mind when reading reviews about how well gloves fit.

If lots of people say the gloves feel small and you have large hands, or vice versa, consider a different model.  Also, glove hand compartments will vary depending on where they are manufactured.  For example, gloves made in Thailand, such as Fairtex, tend to have smaller hand compartments than gloves made in the USA, like Everlast.

If the glove manufacturer provides a chart with hand size references you can use it to get an idea whether the size of gloves you want (in ounces) is likely to fit your hands.   Don’t consider changing sizes (in ounces) if the hand size suggests it may not fit comfortably. You would be better off with a different model.  Make sure you allow for hand wraps if you intend to use them.

There is an element of trial and error here, but for the majority of beginners it is less likely to be an issue.  Also, good online providers know this and they will be be helpful.  This includes making it hassle free to return gloves that do not fit well.  Just make sure you try them on and send them back before using them a few times.

Leather or Vinyl?

Vinyl gloves are the most common today for all-around training.   Vinyl wears out faster than leather, but it is cheaper and perfectly suitable for beginners and experienced people.

Vinyl is less breathable so your hands will quickly get sweaty and the gloves will regularly need the inside wiped down to control the odour.  (Something every glove owner contends with, even those with leather gloves.)

Leather gloves are more expensive but there are advantages.  They tend to be more comfortable as they mold to your hand with use.

Leather will last longer.  If you intend on multiple sessions every week working your gloves hard you may want to consider paying a bit more for leather.  Just note that is not unusual for the hand compartment to wear out before the outside leather.

Velcro Strap or Lace Up?

Velco is by far the most popular choice.  It makes getting in and out of your gloves much easier.  Most gloves using velcro have long straps that will circle around the wrist to secure them nearly as well as laces.  If you will be sparring then a glove with the velcro hidden will avoid abrasions on your sparring partner.

These days laces are mostly used by professionals.  Laces provide a firmer fit for the hand and extra protection for the wrists.  However, you will need to rely on someone to help you in and out of your gloves every time.

For beginners velcro is the way to go. The only exception might be if you require extra wrist support because of an injury or weakness.

What to do when your gloves arrive?

Weigh them.  Use an accurate scale for ounces if you have one.  Unfortunately it happens that gloves are not the correct weight.  This is more likely to happen with cheaper gloves, but it can happen with any manufacture.

The size of the glove (in ounces) is supposed to be the weight of the glove BEFORE the laces or velcro straps are added.  Laces will typically add 1/2 oz and velcro straps will add up to 1 oz.  So a 14 oz gloves that weighs 14 oz is actually underweighted.  This means it has less padding then it should.

The amount of acceptable weight variance is a personal choice.  Some variance is to be expected.  Especially if you are using a simple bathroom scale which is unlikely to be accurate enough (unless it is medically certified).

If you accept gloves that have more padding (in ounces) then they should you risk tiring out your arms sooner.  They may also be a little bulkier.  If you accept gloves that are underweight then you need to be more careful with your sparring partner.  You will also have less padding to protect your hands if you are using the gloves on heavy bags.

If one glove is significantly overweight and the other is significantly underweight then you should contact the manufacturer.  With any luck they will be helpful.  If not, return them, get your money back and try a different make.

Try them on.  Don’t forget your wraps if you will be using them. When you first put your gloves on make a fist.  Are they comfortable?  Are there no points of obvious abrasion from seams or stitching?  If so, then great, take them to your next training session and have a go with them.

If the answer is no then contact your supplier. Explain what is wrong.  For example, the compartment may not be long enough for your fingers, or it may be too snug or too wide for your hand.  You can ask your supplier to recommend a different glove if they have more than one model.  But do not let them suggest a different size of glove (in ounces) to resolve the problem.  It is reasonable to expect a hassle-free refund if you send the gloves back without using them.

When using your new gloves it is important that they feel comfortable.  There should be no pain or discomfort in your hand after throwing a punch.  After all, the gloves are supposed to protect your hands. This includes rubbing from seams and stitchings.  If you experience minor discomfort then you may find the gloves get more comfortable as you break them in over several training sessions.  Leather gloves can take a little while to settle in, but once they do they are usually more comfortable.

Need more help?

The above information should provide you with the knowledge you need to confidently make a purchase. But if you still have any doubts then speak to your coach or an experienced person at your club or training centre.  You may also send your query to us.

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