8 Best Boxing Headgear options of 2020 (Protect Your Head)

Boxing headgear isn’t exactly the most glamorous bit of boxing gear, it’s the one thing between your opponent’s fist, and your face. So it makes sense to find out what makes for good boxing headgear, and what the best examples are on the market. Buckle up, because we’re going deep into the rounds with 8 of the best boxing headgear of 2020.

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Boxing Headgear 

Every boxer wants that god-like head movement that makes your opponent increasingly flustered as they continue to pound the air. But that takes years of practice, so in the meantime, wearing good boxing headgear will make things more forgiving if you accidentally block a punch with your face.

Some people find headgear heavy, too big, or just plain uncomfortable, but more often than not, that’s just because they picked the wrong headgear. Boxing (and all martial arts) headgear should be comfortable, secure, and allow good vision.

Boxer in ring getting spoken too by coach.

With that in mind, let’s get you up to date with the best boxing headgear available, and what you should look out for when buying the perfect headgear for training or fighting.

Let’s get it on!

What Does Headgear Do?

The main purpose of boxing headgear is really just to keep your face pretty. The most common facial harm is cuts and other damage to your soft tissue, which is the inside of your cheeks, lips etc. Spitting out blood isn’t as cool as it sounds, especially since you’ve just been punched in the face. 

Headgear also helps to reduce the risk of breaking your jaw, losing a tooth, or breaking your nose. It doesn’t matter how big, or what your opponents boxing gloves are made of, they will only soften the blow a little bit, so you should protect yourself wherever you can. You can check out our full selection of boxing gloves here.

What Doesn’t Headgear Do?

Alright, this is a big one.

Boxing headgear may reduce the chance of some concussions, but it does not protect you from all concussions (1).

Do not let anyone tell you that it can prevent brain trauma, because it’s just not true. Concussion happens when a hit to the head causes your (very soft) brain to slosh around and bounce off the inside of your (very hard) skull.

Putting soft padding on the outside of your skull does not make the inside of your skull any less hard for the brain to bounce around in. It just doesn’t work that way.

In fact, the International Boxing Association (A.I.B.A.) removed boxing headgear from all mens’ division in the 2016 Olympics, saying that headgear provided a bigger target, and it gave fighters a false sense of security (2). By being over-confident you could punch your opponent’s head too hard and cause unnecessary damage.

The headgear becomes less useful and then not useful.

Blaine Hoshizaki,  Cranial Injury Researcher, University of Ottawa.

Bottom line, wear your headgear to protect your face, not your brain. Clench your jaw at all times, train smart, and give respect to your opponent’s health as well as your own. 

Type of Boxing Headgear

Full Face Headgear

If you want as much protection as you can get, full face headgear is the way to go. Generally they offer cheek inserts, thick ear protection, and even padding at the back of the head.

While full face headgear offers the most protection compared to the other styles, there are a few compromises. They generally tend to be heavier, less ventilated, and don’t offer as good visibility as the other options. 

Open Face Headgear

The lighter option in headgear, the open face style is well ventilated, gives excellent visibility, and is easy to put on and take off.

While excellent as a light sparring helmet to practice using good head movement, there is no chin protection at all, and less protection over all compared to full face headgear. 

Jaw Saver Headgear

The Jaw Saver style is in its name — there is a thick, firmly padded bar that runs across your jaw to protect it from blows. In some models, your nose is still a little bit vulnerable, but overall it provides good facial protection, with slightly better visibility compared to full face headgear. 

Factors to pick the best boxing headgear for you

Visibility

As the saying goes, the shot you get knocked out with is the one you don’t see coming; you don’t have time to dodge it or roll from it, and you don’t have time to clench your jaw to brace for the impact. So in that respect, visibility may be one of the most important aspects to look for when finding the best boxing headgear for training. 

Man with eyes closed wearing boxing headgear preparing for fight.

Extreme shock absorption is all well and good, but there is no point in being padded to the max if it feels like you’re looking through a mailbox slot. Find a good mix between visibility and protection that suits your skill levels and style.

Remember, the best protection from a punch is to avoid it, so seeing what’s coming is key. 

The problem was that it led to boxers not thinking to protect their heads, so when they were defending they didn’t care so much about getting hit in the head. By removing headgear, it has changed the way boxers and coaches prepare, it has changed tactics. Now you have to defend better, use good techniques to protect your head.

Ching-Kuo Wu, President of the AIBA.

Weight/Size

The more padded your headgear is, the more it’s going to weigh, so it’ll be harder to bob and weave your way out of a sticky situation. It also means it will make your head a bigger target for incoming fists. 

There is actually an argument that wearing (heavy) headgear while you’re sparring is actually worse because there is more of a fulcrum point so you can twist your head more.

Joe Rogan

If you’re a lighter fighter, you’ll probably want to find something slimmer, but if you’re a heavier weight fighter, you probably won’t notice the weight and size difference too much.

Protection and Coverage

You’ll want to have a look at where the padding is on the headgear.

The cheeks and forehead are usually where you will get hit the most often, so you’ll definitely want some padding there — just make sure it doesn’t affect your vision too much.

Your jaw and chin will be the second most important things you want to protect, but make sure you are comfortable with the added weight and size that adds to the headgear. 

Finally decide if you want padding on the back of the head. While punches to the back of the head are illegal, you may have a rolling style that means you might get caught there more often than most.

Getting a Comfortable Fit

Whether you are having a sparring sessions or fighting, the last thing you’ll want to be doing is thinking about your headgear. It shouldn’t be so heavy or loose that it wobbles about, and it shouldn’t be so tight that all you want to do it take it off.

Some headgear comes in different sizes, but some are ‘one size fits all’, which may not fit you at all depending on your head size. 

Try on all the styles and brands of headgear, and just find what feels right for you. It’s never going to feel as light and comfortable as a baseball cap, but it should feel as though you could spar with full confidence knowing that you have protection that isn’t holding you back in terms of bulk or size. 

Don’t forget to play around with the chin strap or any other lacing or velcro the headgear offers to adjust it to your liking.

Padding Thickness and Material

Rating this one is really about personal preference. Generally, the thicker the padding, the better the protection, but then again you lose out by providing a bigger target.

Some headgear styles however now come with gel padding which is much lighter and more comfortable, while still providing pretty good shock absorption. 

Remember just because you have enough padding to make your headgear look like an NFL helmet, it doesn’t mean it’ll stop you from getting a concussion. So just think of the padding as a way to stop you getting cut up and bruised — that way you should find the right level of padding for your needs.

Quality

Every model and brand of headgear we’ve reviews in our list of best boxing headgear is of a great quality, so you won’t have to worry about that here. But if you’re going out to buy something not on our list, just make sure it’s of a good quality.

There is no point in buying something cheap that is uncomfortable and only lasts a year. You should be looking to get at least 5 years, and sometimes up to 10 years of use out of your boxing headgear.

The Reviews of The Best Boxing Headgear 

1. TITLE Gel World Full-Face Training Headgear  — Best Lightweight Boxing Headgear

TITLE Gel World Full-Face Training Headgear

The Specs

  • Headgear type: Full face
  • Headgear weight: Regular (upto 150 lb), Large (150 lb and above)
  • Material: Genuine Leather
  • Padding: Foam and Gel

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The Good

  • Super lightweight
  • Reduces impacts well
  • Good adjustability

The Not so Good

  • Can slip around your head
  • Nose protection isn’t too good

If you were wondering whether it was possible to get full face headgear that was also lightweight, the answer is yes, and it comes in the form of the Title Gel World Full-Face Training Headgear. While providing excellent protection, this headgear manages to stay lightweight thanks to it’s gel padding components, keeping it down around 10 ounces.

The only downsides we found is that its nose protection isn’t brilliant (but still adequate), and some people find it slides around on their heads a little bit. 

Despite the relatively minor complaints, the Title Gel World Full-Face Training Headgear offers great protection, excellent comfort, and top durability, all in an extremely light package.

2. Venum Elite Headgear — Best Boxing Headgear for Beginners Runner-Up

Venum Elite Headgear

The Specs

  • Headgear type: Full  face
  • Headgear weight: One size fits all
  • Material: Synthetic ‘SkinTex’ leather, mesh
  • Padding: Triple density foam

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The Good

  • Reasonably affordable
  • Handmade in Thailand
  • Durable
  • Good levels of padding
  • Mesh for ventilation

The Not so Good

  • One size fits all may not fit all!

Offering great visibility, good protection, and excellent handmade quality, the Venum Elite Headgear is a solid choice for a beginner starting out in their boxing training thanks to it’s very reasonable price.

There are a few compromises made to get it down to its low price; it uses Venum’s Skintex synthetic leather instead genuine leather, however we don’t see this as too much of an issue for a beginner given its reputation for durability. It also uses high density foam, which isn’t as great as say gel or other forms of foam. But again, that’s probably not anything to worry about for a beginner. 

Funnily enough, those small compromises in quality make for a really nice, lightweight piece of headgear at a good price. 

The only reason we made this our runner up for best beginner headgear is that it’s just slightly more expensive than our main pick. Just make sure its one size fits all approach suits your head.

3. Ringside Fightgear Master’s Competition Headgear — Best Boxing Headgear for Beginners

Ringside Fightgear Master's Competition Headgear

The Specs

  • Headgear type: Open face
  • Headgear weight: Regular (upto 150 lb), Large (150 lb and above)
  • Material: Genuine Leather
  • Padding: Gel

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The Good

  • Excellent padding and protection
  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Good Quality, especially for price

The Not so Good

  • Visibility could be better
  • Quite bulky compared to other options
  • Ventilation isn’t great

There are a few reasons that the Ringside Fightgear Master’s Competition Headgear is used in many boxing gyms as their communal headgear for everyone to use. Firstly, it covers all of the bases when it comes to good headgear. Secondly, it provides incredible value with its low price point.

With it’s genuine leather construction, it should last you many years to come, and given that it’s modelled from the top-end FG2900, it offers pretty much all you’d ever want when you’re starting out with your boxing training. 

It has 1.25” thick cheek protectors that while providing excellent shielding, may reduce your visibility just a bit. Otherwise, if you’re a beginner, we can’t recommend the Ringside Fightgear Master’s Competition Headgear enough.

4. Cleto Reyes Traditional Headgear with Pointed Nylon Face Bar — Best Boxing Headgear for Nose Protection

Cleto Reyes Traditional Headgear with Pointed Nylon Face Bar

The Specs

  • Headgear type: Jaw Saver
  • Headgear weight: One size fits all
  • Material: Genuine Leather
  • Padding: Latex foam and nylon face bar

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The Good

  • Handmade quality
  • Excellent protection
  • Great visibility
  • Light given its level of protection

The Not so Good

  • Slightly bulkier compared to other options

The first time you get punched in the nose, whether it be in training or from your big brother, you know instantly you never want to be punched there again. The Cleto Reyes Traditional Headgear with Pointed Nylon Face Bar is the headgear for people that really, really hate being punched in the nose. 

That bar you see that goes across the chin helps to make sure no glove is going to smash your nose (or the rest of your face for that matter), so you can train without fear of damage. Coming from the famed Cleto Reyes classic brand, you can also be assured it has their famous handmade quality. 

It should also be noted that while this headgear offers excellent protection, it’s also quite light, which can be a hard combination to find. The only downside is that despite that low weight, it is still quite bulky, so it might provide your opponent with a bigger target.

5. Everlast Everfresh Head Gear — Best Budget Boxing Headgear

Everlast Everfresh Head Gear

The Specs

  • Headgear type: Open face
  • Headgear weight: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Material: Genuine Leather
  • Padding: Foam 

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The Good

  • Good variety of sizings for best fit and comfort
  • Affordable with good value
  • Decent padding
  • Antimicrobial

The Not so Good

  • Visibility could be better
  • Ventilation is not great

Boxing headgear is expensive, there is no getting around it. And once you’ve bought your boxing shoes, your gloves, and your mouthguard, your wallet is going to be feeling pretty light. And right or wrong, headgear is usually the last thing you buy, so you’re probably not going to have much money left over.

So that’s where the Everlast Everfresh Head Gear comes in. It’s comfortable, light, and offers good protection. Yes, it cuts corners in material and quality, but it does the job if you’re on a strict budget and you just need something to be safe while training. It even has an antimicrobial material to stop it from getting too funky.

If you’re really strapped for cash, grab this headgear and save up for something like the Venum Elite Headgear or the Ringside Fightgear Master’s Competition Headgear.

6. Ring to Cage Deluxe Full Face GelTech Sparring Headgear  — Best Boxing Headgear for Overall Protection

Ring to Cage Deluxe Full Face GelTech Sparring Headgear

The Specs

  • Headgear type: Full face
  • Headgear weight: Regular (upto 150 lb), Large (150 lb and above)
  • Material: Genuine Leather
  • Padding: Gel and foam

SEE ON AMAZON

The Good

  • Excellent padding
  • Good visibility with high levels of protection
  • Durable

The Not so Good

  • Expensive compared to some other options
  • Some find it bulkier than other option
  • Some find it heavier than other options

We said earlier that the more protection you have, the less visibility you’re likely to have — however with the Ring to Cage Deluxe Full Face GelTech Sparring Headgear, you get the best of both worlds. Offering tremendous protection to all areas of your face, there is also pretty decent visibility, which is rare.

It also offers full leather construction, foam and gel padding, and DriMax lining which keeps things dry and relatively sweat-free.

With all of that padding, you do pay a price in terms of weight and bulkiness, but given it’s good visibility, we think it’s a great option if you want maximum overall protection.

7. Winning Headgear FG-2900 — Best Premium Boxing Headgear

Winning Headgear FG-2900

The Specs

  • Headgear type: Open face
  • Headgear weight: Medium (21.0-23.0inch / 54-59cm), Large (22.5-24.5 inch / 57-62cm) 
  • Material: Genuine Leather
  • Padding: Gel and foam

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The Good

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Handmade quality
  • Excellent padding
  • Good visibility with high levels of protection
  • Durable

The Not so Good

  • Very expensive compared to other options
  • No padding at the back of the head

The Winning FG-2900 is the top of the line headgear from the Japanese company, and is widely considered the best you can get in the premium price range. Looking at its simple design, you might be forgiven for thinking it looks a bit cheap, but the success of it’s design is because of that simplicity.

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.

Mike Tyson

Everything about the FG-2900 is about making it lightweight while still maintaining protection and durability. Coming in at a featherweight 10 ounces, it uses a simple strap instead of a heavy buckle, and there is no padding on the back of the head. It also uses synthetic leather instead of genuine leather for weight saving reasons, but its durability still has glowing reviews (3).

There are more expensive pieces of gear out there, and even gear that is better. But since we don’t think it’s necessary to spend $600 on headgear, we think the Winning FG-2900 is a great premium choice.

8. Hayabusa T3 LX Headgear — Best Boxing Headgear for Durability

Hayabusa T3 LX Headgear

The Specs

  • Headgear type: Full face
  • Headgear weight: One size fits all
  • Material: Genuine full grain leather
  • Padding: Foam

SEE ON AMAZON

The Good

  • Possibly the most durable headgear on our list
  • Comfortable
  • Excellent padding
  • Good visibility with high levels of protection

The Not so Good

  • One size fits all may not fit all!

The Winning FG-2900 we mentioned above has legendary durability, but it could be argued that the Hayabusa T3 LX Headgear manages to beat it in this category, and all while being less than half the price. It also doubles very well as MMA headgear if you need that as well. 

Looking somehow both old-school and futuristic, the Hayabusa T3 LX Headgear is made of a full grain leather that is resistant to cracking and tears, and will only look better with time. From a purely looks perspective, you’ll definitely stand out in the gym wearing this headgear. 

While it is a comfortable piece of gear, you will need to wait a while for it to break in due to that full leather design. In saying that, it does offer good ventilation with an open top design to help heat escape.  

You’ll also want to make sure you can adjust it to fit you as it only comes in one size. Otherwise, it’s our number one pick for durability in our headgear roundup.

The Verdict: What Is the Best Boxing Headgear?

Whether you want the lightest headgear or the headgear with the most protection, we’ve covered all of the bases in our roundup of the best boxing headgear. Whatever your needs, these picks should have you (literally) covered. But of course if we’re going to pick the top 8 in headgear, we should also tell you what our absolute favourite is.

Our top pick for the best overall boxing headgear is the Ringside Fightgear Master’s Competition Headgear.  

Now we should point out, if money was no object, we would absolutely recommend the Winning FG-2900 Headgear. But not everyone is made of money, and we like to think boxing should be accessible for everyone, regardless of budget.

So it’s for this reason we’ve picked the Ringside Fightgear Master’s Competition Headgear — it offers nearly all of the features of the Winning FG-2900, with very few compromises, at a fraction of the price. We think they represent huge value for the price, and should last you a very long time, regardless of your skill level. 

As usual, every piece of headgear we’ve reviewed has a link through to show the latest and best prices, along with the reviews from other buyers. If you’re in doubt, talk to the people at your gym and ask them what they do and don’t like about their headgear. 

Happy training!

Visit our boxing hub here for more gear reviews, such as reviews of boxing gloves and punching bags for all your training needs.

FAQ

Does Boxing Headgear Prevent Concussions?

Despite what many people say (even some boxing sites), no, boxing headgear does not prevent concussions. While boxing headgear does a great job of stopping you from getting your face cut or bruised, it does not give you any proper protection against concussion.

The main reason for this is that a concussion is caused by your soft brain hitting the side of your skull when you take a blow to the head. The soft padding of the headgear is on the outside of your head, and not the inside, so it doesn’t make any difference in impact to your brain. 

The headgear also tends to make fighters over-confident, which can result in giving and receiving much harder punches to the head. For this reason, the International Boxing Association (AIBA), have found that referees have had to stop less fights due to concussion since they banned headgear from competition. Despite this, the value of wearing headgear during training is still very much worth it to protect your face from injury.

How Tight Should Boxing Headgear Be?

The best way to think of how tight boxing headgear should be would be to think of it like a comfortable but supportive pair of running shoes. You want it to be snug enough that you feel secure, but not so tight that it would cause discomfort.

To get the best fit possible, take a measurement around your head and see what size headgear would suit you. Once you start trying headgear on, adjust the straps etc, to find the best fit possible.

Once you have the right fit, it’s up to your preference to decide what mix of protection, visibility, and weight you want in your headgear.

References

  1. Richelsen, R. (2019, March 6). WILL REMOVING HEADGEAR MAKE BOXING SAFER? – University of Notre Dame. Retrieved from http://sites.nd.edu/biomechanics-in-the-wild/2019/03/06/will-removing-headgear-to-make-boxing-safer/
  2. Belson, K. (2016, August 6). Making Olympic Boxing Safer by Eliminating Head Guard – New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/07/sports/olympics/making-olympic-boxing-safer-by-eliminating-head-guards.html
  3. (2012, October 11). Winning fg-2900 review after 100 logged rounds – Sherdog. Retrieved from https://forums.sherdog.com/threads/winning-fg-2900-review-after-100-logged-rounds.2231789/

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