Best Thai Pads Reviewed
There is no better feeling than summoning all of your strength for a well balanced and powerful kick. When you are training with a partner, you may feel that you need to hold a little back for fear of actually hurting them. Using high-quality Thai pads means you can unload all of your pent up frustrations safely on soft, but sturdy Thai pads.
Thai mats aren’t just a rectangular piece of foam- they have features that are designed to keep you and your partner protected. Features such as curved frames and reinforced backing ensure that it can safely absorb your most powerful punches and kicks free from injury.
In this guide, we have compiled a list of some of our very favorite Thai pads that are primed and ready to take on whatever you can throw at them!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 7 hrs of research
Extra thick option
10 Best Thai Pads
1. Fairtex Standard
Extra thick option
For those that water superior protection, this design from Fairtex hits all of the boxes. It has a frame that is large enough to fit comfortably and keep you protected, and it is composed of high-quality materials that hold up well over time. If you want the best of the best, this is a really great choice.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this option is that it has a curved frame. The subtle curve in the frame fits easily to your arm for a comfortable fit. It has three different loops for your forearm and hands to ensure that you get a tight grip on the pad before your partner starts landing blows!
We also like that this unit is made from high-quality materials from top to bottom. The outside is coated in a thick layer of durable leather. Leather is great because it is incredibly durable and easy to wide down. The inside is filled with tough padding with softer padding on the head for leg strikes. Plus, there are no sharp edges located anywhere on the pad.
If you are in the market for something that is made from high-quality materials that will hold up quite well over years of training, this design from Fairtex is a great choice. We also love that it comes in a standard size as well as an extra thick padded model as well.
2. Sanabul Battle Forged
This design option from Sanabul has a classic outward appearance that looks like it is something out of a 1940’s gym. Don’t let it’s classic design fool you, however, because it is designed with cutting edge materials that are lightweight yet incredibly durable. If you want something that can keep up with you over the years of training, this is a great choice.Read more
One of the most notable features about this option is that the foam used is incredibly lightweight. They use San-Air Ultra Light Foam that clocks in at about 1.5 pounds per pad. Even though they are incredibly lightweight, they still work great at absorbing blows. Even some UFC champs use this design while they are training- so you know they are effective!
The outside of each design is made from a thick layer of durable leather. Each design has a classic look to it, and they are offered in three colors that include chocolate brown, black, and white. Leather is a great material to use because it won’t absorb odors, it is durable and it’s super easy to wipe down at the end of the day.
For those in the market for something that the pros use, you can’t go wrong with this design from Sanabul. It is constructed from high-quality materials that are double-stitched together, which means it will hold up quite well over the year. Plus, it comes from one of the leading brands in the industry which you know that you can trust.
Easy to clean
A little heavy
Contender is another big name when it comes to fighting gear. They have a wide range of various MMA, Muay Thai, and martial arts gear for beginners and veterans of all ages. What we liked about this set of pads if they are made from thick and durable materials that hold incredibly well after years of constant kicks and punches!Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that it is composed of very durable vinyl materials with thick double-stitching. The use of vinyl also means that it is something that is incredibly easy to wide down at the end of class, and it will not hold on to odors.
Weighing in at just shy of 3 pounds per pad, these are a little heavier than most. The good news is that they are really able to absorb some pretty powerful blows and won't break down over time. We also love that the arm straps are affixed in place with velcro so they won’t fly off.
If you are on the market for something that is really made to hold up well over time, this design from Contender is worth checking out. It may be just a little heavier than most, you but you know that the quality materials will hold up quite well no matter how powerful your sparring partner is!
Not sold as pair
What we loved about these Thai pads from RDX is that it has a sporty and run design that is composed of quality materials that hold up well over time. It has a unique design that helps protect yourself from powerful kicks from your sparring partner and has a comfortable fit as well.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this option is that it is has a curved frame that contours to the shape of your body. It has three loops for your arms, two on the bottom are fastened to your arm and the top loop is designed for your hand to hang on to. This design means it will stay firmly in place no matter how hard you are hit.
The exterior is composed of Maya Hyde Leather- which is a premium style of PU leather. This means that it will hold up well over the years, and it is a cinch to wipe down and clean. The inside is composed of a stiff foam that is infused with a gel coating for a soft and comfortable fit as well as landing.
If you are in the made for something that has a sporty look to it, this is a great option. What we loved is that it has quite a few features that you won’t find in any other designs out there on the market. If comfort is important to you, this is a really great choice.
5. Combat Sports
Made from leather
Not for hard hits
Holding your arms up while your partner is training can get pretty exhausting after a while, with or without pads. If you want something that is a little bit more lightweight than most but still offers powerful protection, this is a great option. Plus, it has a unique design that makes it just a little bit easier to use as well.Read more
One of the very first things that we noticed about this design is that it is incredibly lightweight. A pair of pads clocks in at just over 3 pounds, which is about 1.5 pounds per arm. This is one of the lightest options out there on the market, which is perfect for long training sessions. Plus, the pad measures to be 4 inches thick, so you aren’t sacrificing weight for protection.
Users also love the arm loops that help keep the devices securely in place. It has two loops at the bottom that can be secured in place with velcro, and a top loop to grab with your hand. It is composed of thick leather that is incredibly durable and is a cinch to wipe down.
For those in the market for something that's a little bit more lightweight than other options out there on the market, this is a great option. It has a unique design that provides a comfortable fit and is made from durable materials that hold up well over time.
At the top of your game and need something that can keep up with you? This option from Meister is made from incredibly tough and high-quality materials that are perfect for advanced classes. It has an ultra-durable construction that is still very lightweight so you can hold it up for longer without your arms getting tired.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this option is that is has a deeper curve than you would find with some of the other curved designs out there on the market. This means that it forms to the shape of your arm for a more comfortable fit. It has two loops for your forearm and a handle for your hands.
One of the things that we loved most about this option is that is is made from actual cowhide leather (unlike many of the PU designs out there on the market). This means that it can really take a beating over the years without skipping a beat. Plus, it is incredibly easy to wipe down at the end of your training session and will not absorb sweat and odors.
If you are in the market for something that is composed of quality materials that hold up quite well over time, this is a great option. It is very lightweight which will not tire your arms out over time, and the curved frame makes for a very comfortable fit.
7. Elite Sports
Layered foam padding
Heavier than most
What we loved most about this design from Elite Sports is that the interior is designed to really help absorb the blow from some really powerful kicks! Elite Sports doesn’t just pop a foam insert inside and call it a day- the interior foam has multiple layers to really help absorb a lot of the impact for you. If you need something that is incredibly powerful, this is worth checking out.Read more
The most important thing to note about these designs lies on the inside. The padding found inside is made of multiple layers of foam padding that is reinforced with gel padding to really help absorb the blow of each and every kick.
The outside is made from PU leather that holds up well over the years of continued use. What makes this design unique is that it has riveted leather handles that will not break away from the pad over time. Plus, it has double stitching around the edges that ensures that it will not fall apart on you while in use.
This design from Elite Sports is great because it is made from quality materials that are stitched together like iron. If you need something that can really take a beating, this is a great design. It is important to note that this design is just a little bit heavier than most.
Not for hard hits
What we liked about this option from Farabi is that it is tough, but lightweight. It is made from quality materials that hold up well over time, and it has a design that makes it comfortable enough for longer periods of time. It is important to note that it ships as a singular unit, and not as a pair.Read more
One of the things that we loved most about this design is that it as a curved frame for a more comfortable fit. One of the things that users love most about this option is that it has velcro straps on the arms for a secure fit. Two straps at the base can be adjusted tightly to your arm, and the loop is to grip your hand to control your movements.
The exterior of this unit is composed of Rex leather (a form of PU leather) that is incredibly durable for years of continued use. The underside is coated with a layer of mesh nylon to prevent your arms from becoming overly sweaty and slipping right out of the shield.
For those in the market for something is that is made from high-quality materials that hold up well over time, this design from Farabi is worth checking out. We love that is has a curved design that fits on your arm like a glove, and simple design features make it stand out from the pack.
Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to this option from Adidas. It has a basic frame that isn’t curved or has any unique design features. If you need something that is simple, comes from a trusted brand, and is made from high-quality materials that can hold up to whatever you can throw at it- this is a great option.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that it is incredibly simple. It boasts a flat rectangular frame that some users perfect over the curved models. It also has riveted handles on the underside that will not break away from the shield no matter how hard it is hit!
This padded design is also incredibly lightweight. One shield weighs in at 1.5 pounds, which makes it one of the lightest options out there on the market. The exterior is composed of high-quality PU leather that is easy to clean and will not absorb odors.
For those in the market for something that comes from a trusted brand, this is a great choice. Each design is tried and tested by the Pro Combat Team from Adidas- so you know it effective!
10. Revgear Assassin
What we liked most about this design from Revgear is that it is built like a tank! Reinforcements in the stitching handle and armbands ensure that this will be the last shield that you will ever need to buy. Plus, is it still incredibly comfortable while being strong at the same time.Read more
What makes this design stand out from the pack is the reinforced features that make it incredibly tough. It has riveted handles that won’t break away from the shield with heavy hits. It also boasts double stitching along the seams that hold up well to some pretty powerful kicks.
Users also like that the armbands are easy to adjust to find the right fit that is tight without being too tight. One of the downsides to this rugged designs, however, is that it is pretty heavy. Each shield weighs in at about 3 pounds per arm, which can really weigh you down after a long class.
For those in the market for something that is heavy duty and really designed to take a beating over the years, this design from Revgear is worth checking out! It is important to keep in mind that while it is incredibly durable, it is also quite heavy.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
At the end of the day, you simply want to avoid injury.
When training throughout the week, you want to be able to not hold anything back without the worry that you will actually hurt your friendly sparring partner! That’s why we wanted to make sure that we selected designs that keep you protected no matter how strong your sparring partner is. Below, we have listed some of the things that we looked at to ensure that they will keep you up off the floor.
Brand: Professional fighters train with shields, so we wanted to seek out the brands that the pros use! Sanabul, for instance, is one of the big brands to keep an eye on. Their products are used by UFC fighters and are even used by champions such as Michael Bisping.
Fairtex is another award-winning brand that is worth a look. They are a Thailand- based company bringing high-quality gear to fighters since they were founded in 1958. If you want gear from a company that knows exactly what fighters need, Fairtex is worth checking out.
Size: The larger the pad, the more protection it provides. We wanted to make sure that we included larger options that use thick padding to keep you protected from the most powerful of fighters. Shields with a larger surface area means that it will absorb a lot of the impact of each kick. Thick padding that measures to be around 4 inches is excellent for powerful players.
Keep in mind that more padding means that it will be heavier. The heaviest designs out there weigh in at just over 3 pounds. While 3 pounds (per arm) may not seem like a lot, holding up 6 extra pounds on your arms may feel pretty heavy after a while!
The materials used dictates how well it will hold up over time as well as the level of protection it offers.
Most of the products out there on the market use a variety of similar materials, with minor differences here and there. Below, we will go into a little bit of detail about the materials used for inside as well as the outside, and their possible benefits to you.
Leather: Leather options come in a few different varieties. For most instances, companies opt for a tried and tested PU leather. This manufactured leather is just as durable and reliable as cowhide leather but at a fraction of the cost. What makes PU leather a great option is that it wicks away moistures, and will not hold on to odors and bacteria. Plus, it is incredibly easy to clean.
Foam padding: As far as the insides are concerned, foam is the way to go. Many brands out there on the market add various layers of foam that helps absorb the impact from each and every hit. In addition, some option includes a gel coating to the foam that helps further absorb the impact of each and every blow.
We also wanted to make sure that the materials used were of superior quality. The better the materials used on both the inside and the outside means the better it holds up over time. Higher quality materials are also great because they provide a more comfortable fit and can help keep you more stable.
Thai pads take a beating, so it needs to be something that can hold up well over time.
We wanted to ensure that we selected products that not only hold up for the duration of your training class but also work for years to come.
The materials used play a big part in a product's durability. We have already gone into a little bit of detail above about the materials we preferred, but it is worth mentioning again. For the most durable designs, a leather exterior is the most durable option. Whether it is PU leather or cowhide, it works great at wicking away moisture that can weaken the fabric used.
Double stitching ensures that the fabric will not rip apart at the seams. We made sure to select products that had incredibly heavy-duty stitching not only at the base od the shied but in the handles as well.
One of the most common ways these products head to that big broken gear graveyard in the sky is when the handles break away from the shield. Extra care in the stitching of the handles is a great way to keep the handles in place. However, riveted handles ensure that those handles aren’t going to go anywhere. If you need something that will not break under the pressure, we suggest opting for riveted handles.
We combed through hundreds upon hundreds of user reviews to determine which products held up under the pressure. While the quality of the materials used is half of the formula to durability, the proof is in the pudding. If we found that there was an overwhelming number of users that felt that their products did not hold up over continued use, we would move on to another product.
No one ever wants to wear gear that is awkward and uncomfortable.
While protection and durability are incredibly important, we also wanted to make sure that it is something that is comfortable to wear. There are a few things to look at to ensure that your thair pads won’t make your arms feel like they want to fall off of your shoulders.
The first thing that we looked at was sharp edges. You want every corner and handle of these designs to have smoothe edges so that it will not dig into your skin with continued use. Smoothe edges also include the handles as well.
We also wanted to make sure that the loops for the arms were able to be adjusted and won’t fit too tightly on your arms. Some designs have simple loops for the arms that make it easy to slip on and off. Other designs use adjustable velcro bands that allow you to affix to you your arm and it will stay in place even when you lower your arms.
Ensuring that each product provides a comfortable fit that successfully absorbs each and every blow is the recipe for an excellent product.
Extra features in the design and style can really make all of the difference in the world.
Below, we have gone into a little bit of detail about the extra features that we looked for in the products that we selected
Curved frame: A curved frame is great because it does a better job of catching strikes easier. If you are just starting out and need something that can offer you a little bit more help to keep you from being knocked to the ground a curved frame is the way to go.
The downside to curved frames is that they can only accommodate certain types of strikes. If you need something that is a little more versatile, a flat option may be better for your specific needs.
Riveted handles: The last thing that you want is handles that pull away from the base. While double stitching is helpful to keep them firmly in place, some designs need a little something extra. Rivets use a round piece of metal or steel to hold the handles in place. It is incredibly hard to pull of handles that are riveted to the base!
Mesh underside: When you think about it, your forearms will start to sweat a little bit as you fend off multiple blows and kicks. If your skin is placed against bare leather, that just intensifies the sweat. A great way to combat excessive sweating to keep the pad in place is a mesh material. There are com brands that utilize a mesh fabric on the underside that is great for wicking sweat away from your skin to keep you cool and dry.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
In a regular sparring match without pads, it is a really good ability to anticipate the movements of your opponent. When you are training with pads, however, this anticipation of movement can actually be detrimental. Be sure that you never lunge forward in anticipation of your partner's kicks. By shifting forward, you are abbreviating the extension of their kick and may even make them lose their balance.
There is never time to relax when you are sparring with a partner. It is important that you keep your arms stiff as you can. If your arms are loose, you run the risk of getting punched in the face by your own fist! It is also important that you keep your entire body rigid and stiff. This prevents you from losing your balance and falling over as you get kicked.
Don’t just stand there like a training dummy! A good sparring partner moves around and throws in a few punches and kicks to keep their partner on their feet. If you simply stand there like a statue, you are robbing your partner of the benefits of training with a real live human being!
Other Factors to Consider
The last thing that you ever want to do when training is to hold anything back. Using a training bag may be a great way to work on your form, but the real skill comes when engaging in hand to hand combat. That’s why sparring with Thai pads is the perfect way to hone your skins with a real human being, and not worry about hurting them with your raw power!
Before you take the plunge, take into consideration your needs. If you are new to the game, a thinner and more lightweight option may be better for your needs. If you are working with powerful fighters, heavier designs that offer more padding may be better.
Whether you are the one throwing kicks or absorbing them, each partner is bound to get in a really great workout and learn a lot of each side of the pads. No matter where you are in your training, staying protected and safe while enhancing your skills is always the more important thing to keep in mind!
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Why do I need to use Thai pads?
How are you supposed to hone your Muay Thai skills if you only do air drills or bag work? Sparring with a partner is a great way to learn how it feels to spar with a real opponent without the risk of injury.
Equipping a pair of shields on your arms doesn’t mean that you aren’t learning or getting in any training. By being a sparring partner, you have the opportunity to anticipate their movements which in turn makes you a better fighter as well.
Using a pair of Thai pads is a lot more than being a training dummy. You need to be able to tighten your body to anticipate their kicks, but you cannot play on the offense because you may throw off their balance.
q: Do I need to buy them in a pair?
It’s important that you keep an eye on the Thai pads you intend on buying. Most brands indicate on the product description whether or not they are shipped as a pair, but it is important to note that not all come in pairs.
For the ultimate protection, we suggest buying a shield for each arm. While you only need to dodge one kick at a time when spotting, only using one shield can throw off your balance and send you flying to the floor.
Be sure that you check that the product you select comes in pair of two unless you are simply replacing an old shield that has fallen apart on you.
q: Are Thai pads easy to clean?
Absolutely! The great thing about these pads is that they are constructed from materials that are incredibly nonporous. Plus, due to the fact that they don’t have a lot of nooks and crannies for bacteria to hide, it means you will not have to clean them as frequently.
However, if you notice that your gear is starting to smell a little funky, cleaning it is quick and easy. We suggest investing in a small bottle of a cleaning solution that is designed to be used on vinyl or PU leather. A mix of water and alcohol on the surface of the shield is perfect for killing off any odor-causing bacteria that may start to form.
Simply spray a cleaning solution on the surface, and then wipe it down with a soft cloth. It is important that you let it air dry completely before packing it into a gym back or popping it in your arms for a little bit of training.
q: How should I hold them?
Learning the correct way to hold them is not only beneficial to you, but to the person throwing the kick as well. If you hold the shields incorrectly, you run the risk of injuring yourself and can throw off the person throwing the kick.
The most important job as a shield holder is managing momentum. The most common mistakes that spotters run into is taking a step forward as they brace for impact. While this is a great way to ensure you're not knocked to the floor, it can hinder your kicker (and sometimes make them lose their balance).
While you want to move along with your fighter, you also need to brace yourself for impact. Loose arms are a recipe for getting punched in the face- so keep those arms stiff! It's important that you keep your arms tight and close together. Keep tight, and let the kicks come to you.
q: Are they heavy?
The answer to this question depends upon the style that you select as well as the level of padding in the design that you choose. The good news here is that even the thickest options are not excessively heavy.
On the light end of the spectrum, thinner designs weigh in at about 1.5 pounds per arm. To put this into perspective, its like tying a small bag of rice to each arm and holding it upright for the duration of a training session.
On the heavier end of the spectrum, there are designs out there that weigh in at around three pounds. While it may not seem like that much at first, it can really start to weigh you down after a long class of holding your arms up.
q: How do they work?
There are three loops along the back of the unit that is designed for your arms. The bottom loops sit just below your elbow, and the top loops are designed for your hands. There are some designs out there that fasten in place so that when you put your hands down they will not fall off.
The shield itself is wide and broad, which distributes the impact of a kick evenly. This prevents you from falling on your butt from the sheer force of the kick and keeps the kicker from falling over as well. The inside is filled with a layer of incredibly sturdy foam that is far from a pillowy soft surface. It is important to note that the surface is hard, so you still need to ensure that you engage in proper form.