Best Sparring Gear for Combat Sports Reviewed & Rated

Many combat sports require you to wear protective gear simply to protect yourself and your opponent. Sports that involve sparring can get very physical which is why full body protection is almost always necessary.

Usually, a set of sparring gear comprises of five or seven pieces in total. A complete set of seven will usually have the headgear, two sparring gloves, two shin guards, and two sparring shoes. For a set of five, there are no sparring shoes. These pieces are decided as the basic set and designed to protect the most heavily hit areas.

Featured Recommendations

ProForce Lightning Headgear
  • ProForce Lightning Headgear
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Protective
  • Ventilation
  • Price: See Here
Sanabul Hybrid
  • Sanabul Hybrid
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Velcro Closure
  • Synthetic Leather
  • Price: See Here
ProForce Sparring Shoes
  • ProForce Sparring Shoes
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Traction
  • Range of Motion
  • Price: See Here

Based on the amount of equipment you have to wear, it seems like the workout is getting into all the gear itself. If you can get past the amount of work and money spent on the protective gear, there are actually many benefits to sparring. It is great cardio as you are constantly moving on your feet. It also improves your brain function as it helps your brain practice making good decisions and judgments on the spot. It also increases your flexibility as there are many kicks and punches that will have you stretching in directions and ways you normally don’t.

 

10 Best Sparring Gear Items

 

1. ProForce Lightning Headgear

This piece of sparring gear does not only prevent you from getting hurt, it also comes in a wide variety of colors and allows you to find one that suits your needs. This item is suitable for use in all combat sports and also as a tool to help recover from an injury. It is easy to maintain and can be used outdoors as well.
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Ventilation
When your headgear becomes hot, it can get very uncomfortable. There is a chance of overheating if there is no proper way to let the hot air escape. This product comes with specifically designed cutouts that allow for the heat to leave and for cool air to circulate within the gear.

Protective
People can get very particular when it comes to their head as it is a crucial part of their body. Even the slightest head injury has the potential to become very serious. This product comes with extra thick foam insulation that will give an extra cushioning to protect your head and brain. Despite having the large cut out areas, the gear is designed to ensure the most highly hit areas are covered.

Cost and Value
This product is in an affordable range and is of average price point. It has all the good qualities of a good piece of head protection and also has an added benefit of ear protection. There is a raised section that not only prevents injuries to the ears but enhances your hearing so that you can hear the people talk around you.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Easy to maintain
  • Durable
  • Enhanced protection
  • Multiple colors
Cons
  • Runs small

2. Sanabul Hybrid

This is one of the newest products in the Sanabul line. It features multiple colors and is the most versatile glove among their products. It can be used for all types of sports and is also a great item to use for bag practice. As with any Sanabul item, it comes with all the bells and whistles and will not disappoint!
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Velcro Closure
Many people have difficulty putting on sparring gloves as most of them are laced, thus making it hard to tie. This product comes with a velcro closure, which allows you to wrap it around your wrist easily even with a gloved hand. The Velcro will allow you to customize how tightly you want the glove to feel and will also act as an additional wrist support.

Synthetic Leather
Leather has always been a go-to material when it comes to constructing sparring gear. Despite its great properties, it is still an organic material that will break down over time. This product is constructed a leather that has been reinforced with synthetic fibres. These fibres are woven with the leather fibres to create an ultra strong thread.

Cost and Value
This product is extremely cost-efficient and comes onto the market at a low price point. It is a great addition to any sparring set as this is one of the best quality items out there. Not only will it protect you from injury, the enhanced foam in the knuckle area will also ensure that your opponent will be safe from your blows.
Pros

High quality leather

Wrist support

Customizable

Easy to maintain

Variety of colors

Cons
  • Can dig a little between the fingers

3. Macho Dyna Set

There are quite a few sparring sets on the market, but this is going to be the one that is worth your money. These items are easy to maintain and can adapt to most sizing issues that you may have. Depending on your upkeep, this product is one of the few items that you can purchase and use for almost the entirety of your sporting career.
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Customizable
Most sparring gear is designed to be slip on and slip off. As a result, they only fit the specific dimensions that are listed. All the items in this product are fully customizable, allowing for adjustments if you’ve purchased a slightly smaller or larger item. They all come with elastic velcro straps that you can easily pull to adjust and tighten them to a comfortable point.

Breathable
Unventilated sparring gear can be quite unhygienic as it allows bacteria to grow. Bacteria are incredibly hard to remove once it is absorbed into the gear and will also form odors. These items have specifically designed holes to allow for trapped heat to escape and to bring in cool air to circulate.

Cost and Value
Compared to other sparring sets on the market, this product is slightly more expensive. Depending on the size of set you are purchasing, there is also a difference in price. This product is worth the investment you can do a one-time payment and get all the times you need. Many other brands require you to build your own set which can become much more costly.
Pros
  • Great value
  • Breathable
  • Customizable
  • durable
  • Easy to maintain
Cons
  • Difficult to understand sizing chart

4. Whistlekick Sparring Gloves

4. Whistlekick Sparring Gloves
This is one of the most popular brands for sparring gear. This is because their products are proven to be durable and tough. It can withstand daily use and can really take a beating. Their products are extra reinforced for a longer lifespan and works with your body to improve your performance.
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Durable
Apart from the seams, one of the most easily damaged places on a glove is the closing mechanism. Like many brands, Whistlekick has switched over to using velcro for their securing mechanism. However, they have made an adjustment that puts them on top of their competitors. That is to reinforce the strap by doubling it, which increases the lifespan of the product dramatically.

Rip Resistant
A common breaking point in sparring gloves are the seams. Unfortunately, there are many seams for a glove and their potential to burst is high. To combat this problem, this product has reinforced problem seems such as the side of the palm and in between the fingers. This is done to delay wear and tear and to length the period of time you can use them.

Cost and Value
This item is a little more on the expensive side but it is worth every penny you invest. It is popular amongst people as it has great airflow capabilities and works wonders when it comes to controlling body temperature. The design of this product allows the heat to escape and works to wick away sweat within the shields.
Pros
  • Durable
  • Trustworthy Brand
  • Easy to maintain
  • Rip resistant
  • Ventilation
Cons
  • Expensive

5. ProForce Sparring Shoes

5. ProForce Sparring Shoes
This is a well-loved item on the market as it protects your feet without sacrificing movement. The bottomless shoe is designed specifically to give you better control and maneuverability. With a half in thick foam to work as cushioning, this product will give you a pleasant surprise.
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Traction
While it is important to protect the bottom of your feet, most feet gear are slippery and uncomfortable. This product was designed with no bottom so that your feet can provide the natural traction and prevent you from falling. When your feet become hot and damp, it will act as additional grip and allow you to control your movements better.

Range of Motion
Most people that do not wear sparring shoes because they are uncomfortable. They can also restrict movement and become a tripping hazard. However, if you find a good pair of sparring shoes, they can really improve your performance and enhance your abilities. This product is designed with an extra wide heel area to allow for more dexterity and control of your movements.

Cost and Value
Depending on the size you are looking for, the price varies and can get a little expensive. This is a must-have item as it protects your feet from injury and offers extra support in the ankle area. It is also reinforced with two elastic velcro straps to ensure it stays on your feet.
Pros
  • Control
  • Grip and traction
  • Increased movement
  • Better performance
  • Protection
Cons
  • Can get expensive

6. Sanabul Essential Shin Guards

6. Sanabul Essential Shin Guards
Sanabul is known for creating good products for combat sports and this product is not any different. It comes in a variety of colors and has many little upgrades. While they may look like any other pair of shin guards, they are better quality in every single way. Whether it is the material, the design, or ergonomics, this item has got you covered.
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Enhanced Protection
This product is created with a high impact foam that offers significantly more protection. It is made of layers of foam that are compressed to offer a more solid shield. It is constructed to withstand the toughest of hits and will also last a long time before the first signs of wear and tear.

Convenient
Many shin guards require you to strap yourself or tie yourself in. However, this product features a unique design that allows you to simply slip on or off your guard. There are thick elastics that are sewn onto the shin guard that allow you to put your leg through. The elastic is designed to hold the guard securely in place and will minimize the movement that may occur when you are using it.

Cost and Value
While these are on the expensive side, they are worth the investment. These shin guards are more enhanced compared to other brands on the market. They are able to prevent injury while ensuring that you are able to move and flex your feet and legs. These will be an asset to any sparring gear set.
Pros
  • Colorful
  • Good cushioning
  • Top quality leather
  • Shock absorption
  • Covers top part of feet
Cons
  • Costly

7. Whistlekick Sparring Headgear

7. Whistlekick Sparring Headgear
This is one of the more popular brands when it comes to sparring protection. This is because the brand has been in business for years and built up quite a reputation. This particular product uses a good quality material and is long lasting. It comes in a variety of colors, allowing you to find something that will fit your needs.
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Lightweight
After a long workout, the primary complaint for headgear users is that their neck and shoulders are stiff. This is usually caused by a heavy piece of head protection and can be prevented by choosing something that is lighter. This product is created with a thick but ultra light foam that will reduce the pressure on your body thus eliminating the fatigue you may feel.

Improved Airflow
A big concern is how much hot air can leave the headgear. Trapped hot air will cause you to run the risk of overheating and also create a lot of sweat that may impede your performance. This product has a large opening near the back crown of your head and is designed to allow for trapped heat to escape. It is also beneficial for people with longer hair as you can pull it through the large gap and keep it away from your face.

Cost and Value
This is a great product regardless of what stage you are in your sport. It is affordable and durable, requiring replacements after years of use. It was designed to protect your head while maximizing how comfortable it is. This product can withstand good hits and dissipate the shock to prevent you from getting a head injury.
Pros
  • Airflow
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to maintain
  • Durable
  • Variety of colors
Cons
  • Runs small

8. Century Sparring Shin Guards

8. Century Sparring Shin Guards
This product is a very popular item as there are very few shin guards that can also protect your feet. It is built with a high-quality foam that was designed specifically to mimic the bends and folds of your legs. It is really good protection for your legs and feet and also does not limit your movements in any way.
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Complete Protection
This product is great because it eliminates the need for sparring shoes. While they are still recommended, this product will offer a lot more protection in comparison to other brands. It completely covers the shin all the way to the base of the toes. This is a great design as it allows your shin guard to stay put and not wiggle around.

Ergonomic
For many shin guards that extend past the shin, the ankle area can be tricky to protect. A poorly designed guard will actually restrict your mobility or will be very uncomfortable when wearing it. This product was designed to fit snugly against your skin and to follow the natural contour of your feet. It is flexible and does not hinder movement of the ankle in any way.

Cost and Value
Depending on the color and design you chose, this product can become quite costly. However, this product is a highly recommended product to purchase as it eliminates the need for sparring shoes. You can save a lot of money without the extra item and invest the money gained on better equipment or more classes for your sport.
Pros
  • Cost saving
  • Comfortable
  • Full protection
  • Enhanced performance
  • Easy to maintain
Cons
  • Runs big

9. ProForce Lightning Gloves

9. ProForce Lightning Gloves
This product does not disappoint those who purchase it. It comes in a wide variety of colors and is suitable for people at any stage of their sporting career. Many professionals chose it as it gives additional forearm protection. This product is adaptable and can be used in both outdoor and indoor sports.
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Knuckle Protection
When sparring, the first place of injury is almost always the knuckles. This is because these areas are always the first point of contact on your opponent. This product is constructed with extra padding at the knuckles to prevent injury. The item is designed so that then extra foam is where your knuckles are when you are holding a fist.

Wrist Extension
An impact of a hit can be quite jarring. If you are unable to absorb the impact of the hit, usually one of your joints will get injured. Due to how close your wrist is to the impact point, that is the first joint that gets compromised. To combat this problem, this item has an extended piece on the sparring glove that goes a little past the wrist and into the forearm. This gives your wrist the extra support to prevent it from crumbling under the pressure of a hit.

Cost and Value
This product has an average price point and is affordable for most people. These gloves are worth the money spent as they are really able to protect your hands. They are constructed using high-quality insulation that is also very easy to maintain. To prevent these from slipping off while in combat, they are secured with a velcro that you can adjust to your perfect tightness.
Pros
  • Wrist protection
  • Extra thick foam
  • Easy to maintain
  • Affordable
  • Suitable for everyone
Cons
  • May have manufacturer defects

10. Sanabul Sparring Headgear

10. Sanabul Sparring Headgear
Headgear is never something you want to skimp on. This head protection is going to be the best you will find on the market. It has subtle changes in the design that allows for better cushioning and there is a significant improvement in the technology. If you are looking for a top quality item that can really protect your head, this is it!
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Full Face Protection
This headgear is much better in comparison to other products because it has chin insulation. There is an extra piece of foam that is constructed to prevent jaw injuries while being hit. It also has an extended piece that protects the cheekbones, allowing you to spar without worrying about injuries. This product is great as it genuinely covers all your face and can easily deflect blows.

Shock Absorbent
This headgear is made with a highly shock absorbent foam. There are little air bubbles in the foam that get depressed when it is hit. These air bubbles absorb the energy and pressure from a blow and dissipate it, allowing your head to have minimal impact to absorb. These air bubbles reinflate after a hit, which ensures the integrity of the headgear.

Cost and Value
While this product is more on the expensive side, it is worth every penny you will invest in it. The headgear can offer better protection than any other competing item on the market. It features multiple designs that greatly enhances the amount of protection your face gets.
Pros
  • High quality
  • Full face protection
  • Absorbs shock
  • Durable
  • Easy to maintain
Cons
  • Expensive

Sparring gear is expensive but it is worth it. Sparring is a great sport to relieve stress and is an alternate way to exercise. Many people struggle or fall off the wagon when they are only working out in a fitness center. Sparring allows you to meet new people and also keep fit while staying interested. There are many that do it to drastically increase their fitness levels and the added benefit is that it gives you a place to vent out all the frustrations you may have in your daily life.

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Sparring Gear Items

Where It Is Made

One of the most important factors when it comes to deciding what kind of sparring gear to purchase is knowing where it is made. There are many brands on the market that offer sparring gear at a very low or discounted price. There is a high possibility that these products are not ISO certified and may not actually withstand the impacts of hits. Being ISO certified means the product has gone through multiple strongest tests and their products have passed the quality management system. This certification guarantees that these products are able to protect you from bodily harm up to a certain amount of force. Unfortunately, with the number of manufacturers and channels to sell products growing, it is getting more and more difficult to ensure the quality of an item.

Foam Density

For items that are designed to protect your body, it is incredibly important to know how dense the cushioning is. In most sparring gear, the insulation is made of a type of foam. When purchasing your equipment, it is recommended that you look for something known as PU Foam. This stands for Polyurethane foam and it is currently the highest quality foam available on the market. It is a flexible type of insulation that contours to your body and fists. The foam uses a system of air bubbles to dissipate the impact of a hit. During the creation of PU foam, air is introduced into the material to create tiny little bubbles of air. The force from a hit will enter these tiny bubbles an either cause these bubbles to collapse or vibrate. Using this system, the air bubbles will absorb most if not all the energy from a hit and dissolve the impact, leaving little to nothing for your physical body to absorb. After each hit, the bubbles that have collapsed will reinflate which will start the entire process all over again.

Headgear

This item is most likely going to be your most important piece of protection. It is important to invest in one that will really protect your head versus saving a few dollars. A hit to the head can easily turn serious or prove fatal, which is why the product you purchase should be of top quality.

Apart from knowing whether it is certified and what materials it is made of, take some time to see if the headgear offers any enhanced protection or a design that is better than the average ones. These little upgrades make a significant difference in the performance of your gear. To save yourself time, it may also be worthwhile to invest in a product that is easy and quick to clean.

When trying to figure out how to purchase one, it is best to try it on physically. As each brand has a slightly different sizing system, simply measuring your head may not be enough. When trying it on, the headgear should be snug. Spend at least a minute or two in it as the pinching will be much more prominent if it is too tight. It is not advisable to pick a smaller helmet as a prolonged period of wearing it can cause a headache. Once you have put it on, rotate your head and see if the gear is too bulky as it may get in the way of your shoulders. Ensure that the helmet covers all the way down to your jaw as that is the most vulnerable area and is likely to sustain injury.

Gloves

There are many different types of sparring gloves you can choose from. Depending on your needs, there are ones that have better performance or are tailored to specific sports. In general, sparring gloves are opened handing, meaning that they do not cover the fingers. It is a large protective covering over the back of your hands and knuckles. If you extend your fingers, they will stick out from the glove. When your hand is closed, the glove works as a complete protective item over your entire fist. These sort of gloves provide for better dexterity and more flexibility in terms of movement.

When putting them on, ensure that they are able to fit snugly on your hand. Pay attention to the areas in which your fingers separate as the seams may be too thick and force your fingers to spread. This will cause an incorrect fist to be formed and may cause injury to your hands. Also, take note to see what kind of closure it uses. The recommended closure is a velcro one as it will allow you to adjust it to the proper fit. It also enables you to take off and put on your gloves by yourself without needing to ask for help from a training partner. Sparring gloves should allow you to form a fist comfortably without feeling like something is jammed into the palm of your hand.

Shin and Foot Guards

These guards not only protect you but also prevent your opponent from getting hurt. They are often made of fabric with a foam insulation on the shin area. Ideally, these should feel light and are can be cleaned easily. There are some great fitting guards for a relatively low price. Depending on what you want, costs can run very high. Compared to all your equipment, this is one that does not necessarily have to break the bank. Regardless of what brand you choose, it will do its job and protect your shin bones. It is recommended that you purchase the type of shin guard that extends to the feet, that way you have less equipment to carry around and also will save you money in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q. Can Kids Use Sparring Gear?
A.
Of course! Any child enrolling in martial arts or any type of combat sport will be required to purchase their own sparring gear. All the gear recommended in this article come in sizes that fit children or sizes that also fit adults. Sparring gear is also versatile enough that if you have multiple children, it can be handed down as the other child grows.

Q. Where can I buy Sparring Gear?
A.
Any martial arts store will have sparring protection. It is recommended for you to these kinds of stores as opposed to big sporting marts. This is because the sporting marts will have generic kinds that may not be the best on the market. While those products are acceptable for beginners, it may be better to invest in something that may offer a little more protection. Martial art stores will also offer more brands with different functionalities, allowing you to find one that suits your needs.

Q. How do I clean my Sparring Gear?
A. Most of the gear come with a vinyl coating. While it is not recommended for you to wash your gear in the washer, you can still ensure it gets a good clean. Add a drop of dish detergent into a bucket of warm water, take a cloth and soak it through. Give your gear a good wipe down inside and out, allowing it to air dry. Do not leave it out in the sun as it will damage the materials and foam. For storing, leave it in a cool and dry place.