10 Best Boxing Headgear For Sparring & Nose Protection - Reviews of MMA & Muay Thai Head Gear

Before I start, I’d like to clear a false belief most people think getting a headgear will help them with:

A headgear will NOT stop you from getting knocked out—nor will it stop a concussion. 

To ease your mind a bit, a good boxing headgear CAN reduce your risks of having a concussion...

Now, let me explain what getting the best boxing or MMA headgear can do for you.

Headgears are typically made to prevent cuts and abrasions to the face while sparring or in amateur boxing fights. It is equally important to a pro boxer, in the same way, to prevent their bout from being cancelled or postponed if he sustains a cut. 

To this end, hobbyists, pro boxers, and other MMA fighters are always on the lookout for the best boxing or MMA headgear within their budget.

The thing is, it can be a daunting task because the best boxing headgear will be next to useless if you get a feature or size wrong. 

But we’ve got you covered.

In this light, I’ve carefully compiled a list that isn’t limited to just boxing but also includes the best MMA headgear, best kickboxing headgear, among others.

Beware: Getting a high-quality headgear that costs you a fortune will be a waste if you don’t get one that fits you right.

So, I’ll give a brief explanation of how you will go about sizing and other factors that will help you choose the best boxing headgear later in this review.

The 10 Best Boxing Headgears - Reviewed

1. Winning FG-2900 Boxing Headgear

Winning Headgear Fg2900

Our Verdict: Best Overall

Winning is a Japanese company that makes professional-grade gears that come at an equally premium price.

This is why most of their products aren’t very popular but have been one of the best-rated in the boxing community for a long time. In fact, veteran boxer, Manny Pacquiao, spars with FG-2900.

Now, their Winning FG-2900 is well-made to take the heaviest punches without its padding being too much of a load weighing down the head.

Its minimalistic design is largely responsible for its lightweight. It doesn’t have the usual extra padding in the back, and it also uses a very light but effective Velcro chin strap instead of a buckle.

Because of this, it can be used for most MMA sports training and not just boxing. You can easily see low kicks or elbows, unlike many other Mexican style headgears.     

The FG-2900 features cheek protection that perfectly secures the face from cuts and bruises. Although its field of view runs a bit small, it doesn’t obstruct peripheral or straight vision in any way.

The Winning FG-2900 is guaranteed to last you several years of abuse, which is surprising because it’s made of synthetic leather.

As long as you get a fitting size, this headgear stays in place and can be easily worn or taken off using the hook and loop strap. Aside from that, it also means the chin protection will not obstruct your sight in fights.

The only issue with the material is that it gets hot when the fight gets intense. However, most users don’t get bothered because of the overall value it offers.

Overall, this is the lightest headgear that offers comfort and protection, which makes its price fully justified. 

The fact that it offers so much protection with such lightweight makes it the best boxing headgear for professionals or anyone who can afford it.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and not bulky
  • Fits snugly on the head
  • Used by many professional fighters
  • Durable hook and loop strap
  • Fast shipping
  • Available in eight (8) colors

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Might become hot during intense sparring

2. Ring to Cage Deluxe Full Face Headgear

Ring to Cage Deluxe Full Face GelTech Sparring Headgear for Boxing, Muay Thai, MMA, Kickboxing (Regular, Black/Red)

Our Verdict: Best in Protection

Ring to Cage is a fairly popular brand that sells all sorts of boxing or MMA gear and equipment you might need to add to your kit collection. From hand wraps, gloves, jump ropes to even a gym interval timer...        

That said, they are not amateurs in the industry, and they have proved just that with their Deluxe GelTech full-face headgear. A good head guard for boxers or MMA fighters to train hard before a fight.

Being a full face gear, it offers complete protection of the face from hits while still having a large field of vision. Its nose protection is a that feature fighters who are prone to getting their nose cherish a lot.

As you might already know, full face gears do not have the best peripheral vision, especially against taller opponents.

The combination of materials in this headgear is quite impressive. It couples GelTech with a thick layered foam padding to give it an ample amount of cushioning.

Also, its leather shell guarantees that it will last long. Plus, the DriMax poly fabric used in the headgear is soft and dries off sweat fast.

Not to forget that it also features padding at the back of the head, unlike the Winning FG-5000.

But this extra padding makes it heavier (24oz), which is a critical point if you’re considering using the R2C as an alternative.

On the bright side, you avoid spending hundreds of dollars if you don’t mind the weight difference.

To fit snugly, this headgear uses a lace adjustment, adjustable buckle and Velcro strap for the top, front and rear padding respectively. 

In general, this is a great mid-level headgear for anyone looking to have a taste of premium quality.

It is suitable for hardcore sparring and has good visibility, and isn’t heavy in a way that will expose you to easy blows.

Ring to Cage Deluxe Full Face Headgear is suitable for hardcore sparring, has good visibility, and isn’t heavy in a way that will expose you to easy blows.

Pros:

  • Good impact cushioning
  • Good protective coverage
  • Fits snugly
  • Long lasting

Cons:

  • Fairly expensive

3. Winning FG-5000 Headgear

Winning Headgear Fg5000 (Silver, Medium)

Our Verdict: Best for Intense Sparring

Not much is there to be said about the competence of Winning products. They make products of premium quality that comes at a matching price.

The Winning FG-5000 is commonly worn by professionals and amateur boxers for intense sparring and protection from cuts to the face.

It has a bar right in front that’s protects the nose and cheeks from getting broken or cut. Asides nose protection, the FG-5000 surprisingly has a better field of vision compared to the FG-2900. Plus, it has an eardrum guard, which is absent in the FG-2900.

Despite its overall large field of vision, the protective bar blocks you from seeing low and middle kicks fast enough. So, it isn’t going to work effectively for Muay Thai or kickboxing.

To keep it light as possible, it uses a light buckle closure and doesn’t have any padding in the back.

Nevertheless, the padding is very well done that it can easily score a 100% cushion rating, which is very surprising for its weight.

For a headgear that offers this much padding, it offers an incredibly lightweight size that you won’t find even in its closest competitors. It weighs just 15 oz.

However, the extra protection it offers makes it larger than the FG-2900.

It uses the same artificial leather in the FG-2900, which doesn’t absorb sweat and is very durable. However, vinyl headgears tend to slip on the head when wet. Fortunately, Winning made use of a high-quality material that rarely slips in their headgear.

All in all, if you are willing to spare no costs to protect your face and nose while sparring, the FG-5000 is the perfect deal.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Thick and soft padding to cushion heavy blows
  • Long-lasting vinyl material
  • Extra protection for the nose and ear
  • Fits snugly
  • Available in four (4) colors

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Might slip a bit when wet

4. RDX HGR T1B Maya Hide Leather Headgear

RDX T1B

Our Verdict: Best for Beginners

RDX Training is a well-known MMA brand I’ve included in this boxing headgear review for obvious reasons.

Like with all their products, this headgear is one of the few inexpensive products that isn’t made like a toy or helmet for kids.

The most impressive feature about this headgear is its padding. It combines a three-layered foam with gel sheet, and “Sponge-x” to effectively disperse the impact of hits.

The design of the RDX T1B is unlike what you’ll find in regular headgears. It includes a removable face grill that is made of padded plastic. Funnily, it is quite similar to Darth Vader’s mask, and it even reduces visibility. But using it is totally optional.

With the mask off, however, you will forfeit the nose protection it offers.

Now, for the selling feature of this head guard... 

Its Maya hide leather is an extremely durable material for a headgear in its price point.

Personally, I prefer using a hook and loop closure because it works easier and faster while sparring. If you are like me, then it’s one of the great features RDX included in this headgear.

Overall, RDX Training headgear is great for beginners and recreational fighters that don’t spar too heavily. Reason being that it is inexpensive, and for the value it offers, it is easily one of the best headgears to start out boxing training with.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Better padding than most budget headgears
  • Absorbs sweats fast
  • Big Velcro chin strap
  • Long-lasting Maya hide leather cover
  • Extra protection for the nose with its face grill (optional)

Cons:

  • The face grill impairs angular vision

5. Everlast Competition Headgear

Everlast 620400 Amateur Head Gear with Cheeks Red L

Our Verdict: Best Lightweight

As an amateur boxer looking for a competition headgear, there’s a big chance you’ve already heard about  Everlast.

The Everlast 620400 is one of the few headgears approved by the USA boxing body for competition use. The USA boxing label sewn-in is evidence to this course.

It is available in two versions: open face and cheek version. Both versions are padded at the back to prevent injuries from knockouts. To enhance performance, the cheek protection is contoured to the face in a way that won’t block vision in fights.

The padding of this headgear is not thick enough for heavy sparring. But this is expected of a competition headgear, plus it allows for faster movement in the ring.

The Everlast headgear is made of high-grade leather. While this will last you significant years of use, it might take your first few fights to break in.

For a fast change in between rounds and intervals, it uses a strong Velcro strap. This means you or your team will not be struggling with the headgear instead of cleaning up or getting tactics.

Once you acknowledge that this headgear isn’t for heavy sparring, it is a good buy. It's light and compact, so you can easily dodge and counter your opponents attacks.

For the value it offers, this headgear is moderately priced and you’ll have to pay a couple of extra dollars for thicker or similar products of the same quality.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Conforming fit
  • Long-lasting leather cover
  • Strong hook and loop strap
  • Sweat absorbent
  • Officially approved for competition by USA Boxing

Cons:

  • Good for only light sparring and competitions

6. Ringside Competition Boxing Headgear

Ringside Competition-Like Boxing Headgear with Cheeks

Our Verdict: Best Competition Headgear

First off, the Ringside headgear is not officially approved by USA Boxing.

However, since it mimics (meets competition standard) the features of competition headgears, it can be used in preparation for amateur boxing and also light sparring.

The Ringside headgear has a sleek design with leather covering inside and out.

The leather will definitely last long as an outer cover, but using it for the inner lining is questionable. It does wick off sweat; which for one, is good, but can also get slippery or slimy at times.

This headgear is sufficiently padded all-around without compromising competition standards. This also includes minimal padding at the back of the head to cushion falls.

Furthermore, it is highly adjustable, and this allows it to fit snugly for a smooth fight session. It uses lace on the top, a large Velcro strap at the back, then a belt chin strap to fit it snugly on the head.

One issue a few users have had is that the chin strap’s buckle tends to rust from sweat after a couple of weeks.

Once again, this headgear is worth buying for beginners who want to train with a competition-standard headgear. It is also available in a very wide variety of sizes so that aspiring kids can train in them.

Pros:

  • Light and compact on the head
  • Tough build with leather inside and out
  • Good preparatory headgear for competitions
  • Affordable
  • Wide variety of sizes and colors

Cons:

  • Inner leather might get slippery
  • Buckle rusts after some weeks of use

7. Sanabul Essentials Professional Headgear

Sanabul Essential MMA Boxing Kickboxing Head Gear (Black, L/XL)

Our Verdict: Best Budget Buy

Sanabul is well-known for making standard MMA gears at the lowest prices. This is why I’ve included their headgear as the cheapest product that is good enough to make it into this review.

The Sanabul headgear is lightweight, but not in a flimsy way. It has a foam padding across the face (chin and cheek included) and at the back of the head that absorbs a considerable level of impact. However, you should know that the nose is left exposed.

Surprisingly, its high cheek protection doesn’t mess with your field of vision if you choose the right size. But the chin pad does affect your peripheral sight to spot incoming kicks or uppercuts.

The shell of this head guard is made of synthetic leather that lasts reasonably well. To my surprise, its inner lining is a soft, sweat-absorbent suede material. This makes it stable and comfortable, as long as you aren’t irritated by a sweat-soaked helmet on your head.

Even better, it uses a hook and loop closure system at the back that locks the helmet in place and won’t take much of your time.

Without further ado, this headgear is good for beginners and boxers who haven’t had a taste of premium quality. It’s insanely cheap for the value it offers, plus it comes in several colourful shades of black.

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Soft inner lining
  • Strong hook and loop closure
  • Available in six (6) different colors

Cons:

  • Limited field of vision

8. Hayabusa T3 MMA Headgear

Hayabusa | T3 MMA and Boxing Headgear | Men and Women | Black/Grey | One Size

Our Verdict: Best Headgear for MMA Sparring

Hayabusa is another popular MMA brand who are known for adding a bit of style and innovation to their gears.

The Hayabusa T-3 headgear is a premium headgear with a handful of unique features.

Generally, it’s lightweight, which makes it good for sparring and grappling. The padding protects the forehead, cheeks and chin, but still has a large wind or unimpaired vision. For better comfort and breathability, mesh ear holes are added to the gear.

The material used in this headgear allows it to conform well to the head. It uses a microfiber leather (Vylar) shell that is strong and animal-free if you were wondering. The inner lining is odor-resistant, doesn’t leave marks on the face, and most importantly, stays in place while sparring.

The unique feature I promised is its T-cross closure. It’s a large two-way Velcro strap that locks the headgear in place and is also the reason it works well as a one-size-fits-all design.

Nonetheless, some users with a large head complain that it fits too tightly. Plus, it will take more time to put it on and off using the T-cross closure.

The T3 is arguably the best MMA headgear for sparring you can find. If you can afford it, don’t hesitate to buy it, unless the size of your head falls to the extreme of small or large.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Soft and odor-resistant inner lining
  • Compact fit
  • Large field of view

Cons:

  • One size

9. Cliff Keen F5 Tornado Headgear

Cliff Keen F5

Our Verdict: Best For MMA Grappling

All things considered, a traditional style headgear isn’t very effective for practicing grappling moves.

No matter how light the size is, the headgear will get in the way of performing grappling moves like a chokehold or headlock for example.

That’s why I’ve specifically chosen the F5 Tornado as the best headgear for MMA grappling.

It is basically for wrestling, but a lot of people are using it for MMA and BJJ. This headgear is extremely light with its only components being the head straps, chin strap, and ear protection. 

The F5 Tornado can be worn or taken off in mere seconds with its on-the-fly chin strap. Once you adjust the head straps to your fit, you only need to clasp the chin strap.

The ear protection has a hard plastic shell that’s safe for you and your opponent. Then, its inner foam padding allows you grapple for hours without it being rough on the ears.

Using a patented air vent and sound technology, the ear padding doesn’t totally block out sound and is very breathable.

With all of these amazing features, the F5 Tornado is easily one of the best head guards for MMA grappling. Not to mention that it’s available in as many as twelve color variations.

Pros:

  • Very lightweight
  • Reasonably priced
  • Adjustable head straps
  • Quick and easy to use on-the-fly strap
  • Audible and sufficient ear protection
  • Available in multiple colors (12)

Cons:

  • Not for sparring

10. Venum Elite Headgear

Venum Elite Headgear

Our Verdict: Best Kickboxing Headgear

Venum is a popular MMA brand, and most times, their elite products are handmade in Thailand to ensure the best craftsmanship.

Their Venum Elite headgear is no different and is actually best for your kickboxing training.

It is skillfully engineered with padding on the forehead, cheeks, ears and chin, in such a way that it won’t affect vision or become restrictive.

 To top it off, it is made with premium material, so the price you have to pay is just a fraction compared to its value.

Its unimpaired field of view makes it a great Muay Thai and kickboxing headgear where you need to see incoming kicks from the sides and below. Plus, it is ultra-light, so you can swiftly weave incoming strikes and respond with counter-attacks as if you weren’t wearing any headgear.

Also, its triple density contoured foam padding makes a good material for shock absorption.

Its shell is made of premium skintex material, which is sure to last for years of abuse. On another hand, its inner lining is a soft material that absorbs sweat well, but might need a few sparring sessions to break in.

To stay snug, it uses a flexible two-way Velcro strap at the back of the head. Although the headgear fits some users snugly with the Velcro strap, it is either too tight or wobbly on others because it has just one size.

All in all, the large viewing window and its ultra-lightweight make it a good headgear for Muay Thai or kickboxing.

Pros:

  • Ultra-light
  • Large viewing window
  • Can be used for multiple sports including, Muay Thai, kickboxing, Krav Maga and boxing.
  • Durable skintex leather
  • Has eleven (11) color options 

Cons:

  • One size
  • Fairly expensive

Choosing The Best Boxing Headgear

As you may already know, there are a lot of things that go into finding the best boxing headgear for sparring or competition use. Most times, you have to assess your personal preference and not just your budget. 

In any case, I’ll try to explain these factors to help guide you in picking the best boxing headgear that suits your taste.

Group of men wearing headgears ready for training

Before getting into all that, you may also visit our review of the best speed bags in case you opt for a solo training for upper body strength and toning.

Now, here we go...

Style Of Headgear

The first thing you want to look out for is the style of headgear that you want.

There are basically three (3) types of boxing headgear, and their difference lies in the amount of protection that they offer. 

And of course, style.

Open Face or Competition Headgear

This type of headgear is certified by USA Boxing or at least, made in line with competition guidelines.

They are open-faced, which means that they offer no cheek, nose, or jaw protection.

Because of this, they are usually very light. This, coupled with the fact that they don’t impair vision at all, is why they are perfect for competition and light sparring.

Also, open-faced headgears are the best for those who train in hotter climes.

The only thing is, competition headgears have the least protection because of their minimal padding and opened face.

Full Face Headgear

This type of headgear offers full protection for the face and sometimes, the back of the head.

It is usually for intense sparring, especially by people with a long or sensitive nose. The bar also protect the eye from direct contact with blows. Hence, their alias as Face Savers.

Despite the maximum face protection it offers, this style of headgear is very heavy and bulky. Plus, the protective bar usually blocks the peripheral vision of the fighter.

This is the most protective boxing headgear style.

Mexican Style Headgear

A Mexican style head guard is one that offers cheek protection. This makes them more protective than competition headgears.

Also, because they don’t have to follow competition guidelines, they are usually built with thicker padding to absorb hard hits. This is a thing you should look out for if you are going to do some heavy sparring.

A hybrid version of the Mexican style will also have a chin bar to protect the jaw from uppercuts or kicks. This style is usually used in Muay Thai and MMA, but with a more compact fit.

Quality Factors To Check For In A Good Boxing Headgear

Visibility

It is very critical that you have a clear field of view in your helmet to quickly read your opponent’s move. Wearing a headgear doesn’t make you invisible to punches, so you have to evade every punch as you will without one.

The open-faced headgears offer the best visibility, while the full-faced style offers the least.

Nonetheless, getting a premium cheeked or full-face headgear will give you a better field of view compared to most cheaper ones.

Comfort

Like with any piece of gear, wearing a headgear that isn’t comfortable is a NO-NO. Even worse, it can get you injured by exposing you to more hits.

So, before you purchase a headgear, be sure it you are not settle for one that’s uncomfortable in any way.

A feature that’s bad for another person may be good for you, so pick the one that suits you.

For instance, you might prefer a velcro strap because its quick and easy to use. But another person may feel buckle straps will hold the head gear in place better.

Weight

This is another important feature to look for in a headgear.

A light headgear allows you to dodge attacks easily without slowing you down.

In normal sense, headgears that offer more padding or protection are typically heavier. However, an elite headgear will give you a good protection-to-weight-ratio, which means you can have both.

Well, as long as you’re prepared to pay the hefty price.

Certification

In case you intend to fight in an amateur boxing competition, ALWAYS check to confirm that the headgear is certified.

Most times, you'll find the logo of the USA Boxing official certification emblazoned on the product. And you can also contact the manufacturer to confirm if you aren’t sure.

Padding

The padding of the headgear is the foam or material that absorbs the impact of blows.

Cheap boxing headgears usually mix foam with other “patent” materials. Whereas, premium ones are usually made of thick layers of foam to efficiently protect you from cuts to the face during intense sparring.

As you already know, the thicker the padding (protection), the heavier the headgear will be.

Keep in mind that a thicker padding will only reduce the impact of hits and not make you completely immune to blows.

Durability

A good headgear can last you up to a decade, while you might have to go through two cheaply made ones every year.

Not to mention that cheap headgears can do you more harm than good unless you find an exceptional one. For instance, the budget headgears we’ve listed in the review.

That said, a durable headgear will usually have a leather shell that is breathable and smooth. The only drawback is its high cost, which is more or less an investment in your passion or profession.

On the flip side, budget headgears are mostly made of synthetic or proprietary materials. Although most of them won't last as long as leather, a few will give you a great bang for your buck.

Sizing

For the most part, brands offer a wide range of sizes with the head circumference for each size specified on their site. Be sure to go through their guidelines because you might have to order a size up or down to your true size.

Also, some other brands offer a one-size-fits-all design. While it might seem attractive at first, things get grim for some users when they try to put it on.

In simple terms, this design isn’t for folks with a head size close to the extreme ends of either small or large.

Conclusion

It is hard to conclude which product is the best headgear for you since I can’t be certain if you intend to box, grapple, spar or compete with it.

Nonetheless, I’ll recommend the Winning FG-2900 if you want a taste of premium quality. As long as you can afford it, you get to enjoy an amazing weight-to-protection ratio and unhindered vision in the ring.

Its synthetic leather is one-of-a-kind as it is can last a lifetime of abuse. Also, this material doesn’t get slippery from sweat during fights. Plus, it’s quick and easy to use Velcro chin strap further adds to your comfort.

If it’s your thing, you can add a boost to your ego knowing that you are fighting with the same headgear many world-class boxers spar with before their big fights.

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