Best Muay Thai Gloves Reviewed and Tested in 2017
We continue with our buying guides on the best equipment for full contact sports. After knocking out boxing and kickboxing, it’s Muay Thai’s turn to enter our ring and get… covered! Today, we’re bringing you the best Muay Thai gloves in 2017 so far, reviewed by us and tested by thousands of experienced customers. But, before the jump in the ring – the necessary warm-up question: What is Muay Thai?
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- Top King Gloves for Training and Sparring Muay Thai
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“The Art of the Eight Limbs”
If boxing was using hands only, and kickboxing was “boxing with kicks”, then Muay Thai is an evolution of both. It employs the use of both hands and legs in combat, but it adds a variety of clinching techniques as well. Muay Thai is a unique blend of both physical and mental discipline, culminating with not four, but eight “weapons” with which you can attack your opponent: punching is not only done with the hands, but with the elbows too, and kicking is not only limited to the feet, but the knees as well. Because of this, Muay Thai is known as the “Art of the Eight Limbs”, or alternatively, as the “Science of the Eight Limbs.” It makes use of punches (left and right / x2), kicks (x2) but also elbow swings (x2) and knee strikes (x2), which makes for eight points of contact. Meanwhile, kickboxing has four points of contact, hands (x2) and feet kicks (x2), while boxing has only two points of contact – punching with the fists (x2). So, we could say that Muay Thai is four times more complex and developed than boxing, and twice as complex and developed than kickboxing. Sounds like overkill? It should.
That’s because Muay Thai was originally conceived as a lethal military fighting discipline, unlike boxing and kickboxing, which developed either as forms of settling disagreements between civilians, or were conceived to be competitive sports to begin with. Muay Thai’s history stands in stark contrast to these two, because traditionally, Muay Thai fights were often fought to the death – the victory condition usually was to not have your opponent standing. Or kneeling, or struggling to get up. If your opponent in Muay Thai was on his knees, badly bruised, almost blind and disoriented, your job was to punch some more until you knock him out completely if you intended to win the match. However, such brutal fights are rarely found today and are largely illegal, and Muay Thai has since been tamed and regulated as a sport. Proof of this is the fact that initially, Muay Thai was actually called the “Art of the Nine Limbs”, because it included the head as the ninth, ultimate weapon. This dangerous “weapon” has since been rooted out of the sport, making it less brutal and more widely accepted.
The Stuff of Legend
The roots of Muay Thai are actually the stuff of legend. The beginnings can be traced to four to five centuries ago, during military battles between Siam and the Burmese of the Konbaung Dynasty around the 16th century. Participating on the Siamese side was a famous fighter called Nai Khanomtom, who was widely feared and revered. However, despite his martial prowess, he was successfully captured by the Burmese in 1767. As a token of respect and honor, however, but actually curious of his legendary prowess in hand-to-hand combat, the Burmese allowed Nai Khanomtom the opportunity to win his freedom by fighting in a life-or-death match. After making short work of his opponent and quickly winning, the Burmese were impressed and freed him to return back to Siam. Nai Khanomtom returned to his home as a hero, and his fighting style became widely popular – it was initially called Siamese-Style boxing, but later the discipline was known as Muay Thai, and became a national sport.
Which is where you come in, dear reader, and your pursuit for the best gloves for Muay Thai. Let’s discuss the fundamentals.
Boxing Gloves Vs Muay Thai Gloves
To the untrained eye, a boxing glove may appear identical to a Muay Thai glove – some wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference. But in order to help you make a wise purchase, and help you notice the features that set Muay Thai gloves apart from boxing gloves, we’ll look at some of the similarities and differences.
Glove Length: Sure, they are similar – maybe too similar. But first impressions can be deceiving. Upon better inspection, we can easily notice that boxing gloves are usually longer, while Muay Thai gloves are shorter. This is because boxing requires stronger, and more well supported punching, which in turn requires for a strong base. For this purpose, boxing gloves usually have thicker wrist padding and wrist support, and they go further down the arm to provide this extra stability for punching. Think of a battering ram – the longer the ram is, the more powerful it can ram into things… or opponent’s faces. In contrast, Muay Thai gloves are shorter, because the sport favors faster, more agile punching. What it lacks in fist power, it makes up for in kicking, swinging and knee bashing power.
Padding Distribution: Muay Thai gloves are better padded at the front, because they aim for more direct, precise punches. Boxing does this differently a bit, with the glove being almost uniformly padded from all sides – this is because boxing allows for greater punching angles. The padding on the outer side of the glove is also used to buffer any strong punches to the head. Muay Thay goes for the quicker, more direct jab. Better break their nose than slap their head ten times.
Wrist Flexibility: Additionally, Muay Thai gloves have a more pronounced wrist line. They have a break of the padding between the wrist and the palm – a feature that is crucial for the Muay Thai fighter, because it allows for better hand flexibility while clinching. Yup, one of the biggest differences in regards to boxing is that in Muay Thai the fighters are allowed to clinch, grab, and pull their opponents. For this to be effective, Muay Thai gloves have a more flexible wrist, which allows the fighter to flex their hand and cup the neck of the opponent. A feature that goes hand in hand with this one (pun intended!) is also the design of the thumb area. In boxing gloves, the thumbs are tucked close behind the knuckles, creating one compact padded fist. This allows for greater punching force, which is essential in boxing. In Muay Thai however, if you look closely, the thumb area of the glove is more loose and pronounced – the thumb almost floats away freely from the palm area, usually tethered with a short elastic string. Again, this is designed like this with the purpose allowing for greater mobility during those clinches, grabs and attachments to the opponent. You can’t grab a hold on your enemy’s neck, if your hand is cemented in a boxing glove. But with the Muay Thai glove, you can hook them and bring them down.
The Two Deciding Factors
Obviously, the purpose of using these gloves is slightly different from boxing gloves, kickboxing gloves, MMA gloves and so on. So we need a different set of parameters by which to assess each glove’s usefulness and quality.
Again, we’re focusing on the two important factors here: Durability and Comfort. Durability will tell you how long a product can last, and how much punishment it can sustain before it falls apart. In short, how the glove works. Comfort will tell you what the gloves feel like, what they’re good for (and what they suck at), as well as how flexible they are. In short, this is glove pleasure.
Finally, we’ve based our choices heavily on reported customer experience. A product may look nice on paper, but only real-world use can test its mettle and can give you a clear, real picture of what a product is really about. That being said, let us start. Welcome to our overview of the best Muay Thai gloves in 2017!
1. Fairtex Muay Thai Boxing Training Sparring Gloves
The premium leather makes them especially resistant to tearing, and being handmade ensures some perfect stitching quality. The design boasts a very snug, tight fit, that can sometimes feel too hard on the hands, but after a period of breaking-in the gloves get cozy. Last but not least, these gloves also keep your hands safe behind a thick wall of foam. Shock is evenly and easily dispersed. Keep punching!
The design has a very slight toll on the comfort – some customers report that the glove can sometimes be tough on the knuckles. However, others report this stops being a problem after the gloves break-in a bit, after which they feel very comfortable and the hardness is actually protective. The ergonomic design ensures a cozy, tight fit.
One of the best Muay Thai gloves out there. Perfect for sparring and some bag work. A good combo of durability and comfort. Will last you a long time.
- Top-notch craftsmanship
- Genuine leather without the smell
- Very durable
- All purpose
- Tough break-in period
2. RDX Maya Hide Leather Boxing Gloves for Muay Thai F7
Still, it is a very durable piece of material that is a strong competitor to real leather. RDX have really implemented some ingenious design technology with these gloves. Their shock absorption and dispersal technology is really effective while also providing extra protection for the hands.
Most customers find these gloves by RDX to be very comfortable and very durable. A joy to wear (down) and use. There are some complaints with the EZ Velcro closure because it’s not elastic, however, most people don’t find this a problem and they feel the gloves fit very well. The wrist wrap isn’t the best-padded on the market however, which maybe make these gloves more suitable for single workouts and not so much for sparring.
A very good combination between durability, comfort and added breathability. These gloves can take a beating while still keeping your hands safe due to the shock absorption technology implemented. Not the best wrist protection however, so be careful when sparring.
- Fit well and breathe well
- Excellent durability and perfect for beginners
- Light on the hands
- The elastic thumb strap can be an annoyance to some
3. Top King Gloves for Training and Sparring Muay Thai, Boxing, Kickboxing, MMA
The Muay Thai folks know best what a Muay Thai glove needs. What’s special about the design that they’re extra padded, but the forearm part is also longer, so much so that these gloves resemble boxing gloves. The padding goes from the backside of the palm all the way down the wrist and nearly half-way to your elbow, feeling strong. This adds great protection against kicks and enables very stable punches.
While the gloves can feel extra stable and stiff due to their wrist padding, they are also very comfortable to wear and can be used along with handwraps, gelwraps or without them. However, some customers report knuckle pain and bruises, which is either a result of rough inside material or just not enough break-in, so take heed. Otherwise, they’re very fit and snug.
Excellent brand and excellent value. Handmade and durable, longer than other gloves and offering extra protection for the true Muay Thai warrior!
- Very durable, breathable and not smelly
- Handmade Thai
- The layer of hard padding on the outer side of the hand ensures stability and extra protection
- Some find them too painful for the knuckles
4. Anthem Athletics STORMBRINGER Sparring Gloves
Classic Muay Thai glove design, optimized for training, pad/bag-work, sparring, and competition
Durability: This durable material, combined with triple-density PU foam and additional padding at the wrist make this product one of the best on the market. Specifically designed for no-nonsense (as they say) Muay Thai workouts, these gloves hold very well and offer extra protection and padding. No complaints about bruised knuckles, which is definitely an advantage when compared to the other models.
On the softer, more humane side, the Anthem Athletics gloves also feature an adjustable hook and loop closure, which makes for a very snug, perfect fit for everyone. While the padding is generous, it is not bulky and stiff, so workouts and punching will feel comfortable with these gloves. The palm is also covered by a mesh material which makes your hands less sweaty, and the wrist padding offers extra security and protection.
Definitely one of the best Muay Thai gloves out there. Contender for Number One. Premium leather and extra protection, combined with comfort and affordability. Well-rounded product.
- Real buffalo leather
- Optimized for Muay Thai training and workouts
- Breathable thanks to mesh palm
- Some customers report poor stitching
5. GranVela ZOOBOO Half-finger Boxing Gloves with Velcro Wrist Band for MMA & Muay Thai Training
Every fighter needs training gloves like these, and Muay Thai legends are no exception! That being said these gloves are very durable and can take a beating. The synthetic leather is capable of resisting tearing and scratching for a long time, and the padding is thick enough that it offers good protection even with heavier workouts.
Very good fit, for almost all people. GranVela tried to go with an interesting concept here – one size fits most. In actuality, this is no different than those “one size fits all” advertisements by other brands, but GranVela choose to be honest. The reality is that these kinds of gloves fit most people, but definitely not all. With that out of the way, these gloves feature an open palm and an open thumb. The open palm is a joy, because not only will your hands sweat less, but your grip will be much better, allowing you to engage in various types of exercises in-between punching. Not to mention reaching for the water bottle for some needed hydration. Watch the thumb, though. When sparring, you have to keep it close or it can get injured.
Very good training glove, excellent in combination with a proper Muay Thai sparring and heavy bag glove. Durable, breathable and comfortable, definitely worth a try.
- Well-rounded training gloves
- Comfortable and well padded
- Put on and take off on the fly
- One size fits most
- Not for heavy bag use