Best Boxing & MMA Headgear (2024): Coach’s Top Picks

December 16, 2023

Boxing headgear is a rather complicated topic. Science is inconclusive about whether they reduce the impact delivered to the brain, but what is certain is that good headgear prevents cuts, bruises, and more severe face injuries like broken bones or cartilage.

There are different types of headgear, and the ideal design changes depending on whether you are only boxing, using kicks, or sparring in MMA.

Personal experience is the best, but I have compiled a list of head guards for all needs and made a guide on choosing the best one to get you started.

Winning FG2900

Best Boxing Headgear

Fairtex HG10 Headgear

Best MMA Headgear

Title Boxing Leather Sparring Headgear

Best Budget Boxing Headgear







Full face

Full face

Full face


Best Boxing Head Guard

The Japanese brand Winning is the gold standard for boxing equipment, and their headgear is the blueprint for most other brands. If you want the best headgear for boxing, nothing comes close to the FG2900.

The FG2900 offers unrivaled protection thanks to the type of padding, its placement, and the overall construction. What makes things even more impressive is how light the head guard is for this level of protection.

The cheek protectors are perfectly designed and offer the most nose protection outside of getting a face-saver-style head guard. Winning delivers only the best quality, and the FC2900 will last years and years of hard sparring.

There is a good reason Winning is known for making the best headgear on the market.

While this design is perfect for boxing and not ideal for MMA, where the chin strap can't hold it well during grappling, the protection is so good that I've seen many MMA fighters also use this model.

But with everything truly premium, there is a monetary price you must be willing to pay. Depending on where you are buying from, the Winning FG2900 costs anywhere between $350 and $500, which is a serious amount of money and a few times more expensive than the other options on this list.


  • Unparalleled protection
  • Super light and comfortable, especially considering the protection
  • Excellent face and nose protection
  • Extremely durable


  • 3 times more expensive than other solid head guards
Winning FG2900

Winning FG2900 Headgear

Best MMA Headgear

Fairtex HG10 Headgear

Best MMA Headgear

Although Fairtex was primarily a Muay Thai brand, they make excellent MMA gear, and their HG10 full face is my favorite head guard for MMA sparring.

The outstanding features here are many. First, the HG10 is made from genuine leather and handcrafted in Thailand. Everything is put together perfectly and with quality materials, guaranteeing outstanding durability.

The padding is harder than in traditional boxing head guards like the Title and Winning, but this is better for taking kicks and elbows.

The chin protection is well-designed and helps the head guard stay in place even in grappling scrambles. This is further supported by the adjustable top lace.

Although boxers may also use this head guard, MMA guys are the ones who will love it. The HG10 is light, comfortable, fits perfectly, and is made with quality materials.

Read our full in-depth breakdown in our Fairtex HG10 Headgear review.


  • Handmade in Thailand from genuine leather
  • Stays in place even during grappling
  • A good middle ground between weight, protection, and visibility


  • The padding is a bit stiff when compared to traditional boxing headguards
Fairtex HG10 Headgear

Fairtex HG10 Headgear

Best Budget Boxing Headgear

Title Boxing Leather Sparring Headgear

Best Budget Boxing Headgear

The Title boxing leather sparring headgear is an excellent boxing headgear. It is not exactly a budget offer, but it sure is when you compare it with the Winning FG2900.

This Title head guard model is an attempt to replicate Winning, and it's a very good attempt. There are 3 layers of different padding materials, which offer excellent protection and noticeably reduce the impact of punches.

The outside of the head guard is made from genuine leather, while the inside is from nice plush suede. The fit is excellent, and the laces allow for a very precise adjustment.

The Title Boxing Leather sparring head guard is an excellent substitute for people who don't want to spend the cash on Winning but want something with comparable features and protection.


  • Genuine leather on the outside and suede on the inside
  • Excellent face protection
  • Great snug fit
  • Great value for the price


  • None for the price
Title Boxing Leather Sparring Headgear

Title Boxing Leather Sparring Headgear

Best Budget MMA Headgear

Venum Challenger 2.0

Best Budget MMA Headgear

If you are on a budget and looking to buy your first head guard, the Venum Challenger is an adequate choice.

I recommend buying a more expensive head guard because, unlike gloves or shin guards, there is a big difference in efficiency between cheap, mid-priced, and premium options.

The Venum Challenger is a solid head guard for MMA, which will still provide decent protection at an affordable price.

The Challenger is a full-face design, preferred for MMA and Muay Thai. The guard is lightweight and made from synthetic materials. The visibility is good, and the protection is decent.

Given the low price and the vast number of positive reviews online, you can be certain the Venum Challenger is a solid piece of equipment.

One thing I don't like is that it's one size fits all. Even though there is an adjustment, the head guard is designed to fit all sizes of heads, which means it won't fit perfectly on anyone.


  • Good full-face design
  • Soft and protective padding
  • Great value for the price


  • One size fits all means you can’t get a perfect fit
Venum Challenger 2.0 Headgear

Venum Challenger 2.0 Headgear

Runner Up Full Face Headgear

Hayabusa T3 Adjustable MMA Headgear

Best Full Face Headgear

Another great MMA full-face headgear is the Hayabusa T3. Hayabusa likes to do things differently, and they have changed the standard full-face design in the T3.

First, the chin protection is larger than any other model, which is not bad when you can get hit with knees or elbows. It also helps the headgear stay in place better.

The patented T-Cross closure is the other detail that sets the T3 apart, which allows a much more customized fit than usual.

Outside of the unique features, the T3 is a solid head guard perfect for MMA, made from a microfiber leather shell and a nice, soft lining on the inside.

There are two options for size, which are enough thanks to the innovative closure system.

While the T3 MMA head guard is an excellent piece of equipment, it is more expensive than the Fairtex HG10 but not necessarily better, so I have chosen it as the second-best.


  • Big chin protection piece in addition to the cheek design gives a good full face protection
  • Durable materials and excellent craftsmanship
  • Innovative T-cross closure provides the ultimate non-shift fit


  • A bit expensive for a non-genuine leather product
Hayabusa T3 Adjustable MMA Headgear

Hayabusa T3 Adjustable MMA Headgear

How To Pick The Best Headgear

I want to clear up the most common misconception about headgear and what it's used for. Boxing headgear does not significantly reduce the impact of a punch on the brain.

The science is inconclusive as to the exact level of protection against concussions headgear provides and if it helps at all.

Many studies on different sports show helmets do not reduce the rate of concussions, but a well-fitting head guard will dissipate the force of a punch to a wider area.

The topic is important, and I suggest you spend some time investigating it in more detail.

What is without a doubt is the effectiveness of headgear against cuts, bruises, and fractures, and boxing headgear was initially designed for this purpose.

Cuts from strikes, accidental headbutts or elbows, broken noses, and swollen eyes are drastically reduced by wearing correctly fitting boxing headgear.

With these crucial points in mind, let's see the different types of boxing headgear and how to choose the best one for you.

Vision vs. Protection

The most significant compromise you will have to make when choosing headgear is sacrificing either vision or protection.

The more protection and coverage a head protector has, the more bulky it will be and the more it will inhibit your visibility.

The size and shape of the cheek protectors and the forehead protection determine visibility. The more padding there is, the more the parts will protrude out of your face and will limit visibility.

This is why there are a few distinctly different types of headgear, each with its pros and cons.

Different Types Of Boxing Headgear

Different Types Of Boxing Headgear

Open Face

The open-face headgear's name is self-explanatory. You get protection on the forehead, side, and back of the head but nothing on the face. This is used in many amateur boxing, kickboxing, and Muay Thai tournaments.

The visibility is excellent and is almost the same as wearing no headgear. But I believe open-face headguards are entirely pointless.

I have yet to see someone get hurt by being punched in the forehead, and without any face protection, these don't protect against cuts, either. Thankfully, headguards have been removed from amateur boxing since 2016.

There is absolutely no point in using an open-face headguard in training for any other reason than to get used to the feeling of having a competition where you will be required to wear one.

Cheek/Mexican Style

The most popular type of headgear used in boxing is one with cheek protection and a chin strap, like the Winning FG2900 and many other models.

When the cheek protectors are large and well-designed, they offer excellent protection on most of the face, including the nose.

A good-quality head guard of this type does a great job at letting hooks glance off and taking some steam off even straight punches to the nose.

The cheek protector limits visibility, but not to the point where it’s impossible to see uppercuts or kicks. The open chin design makes this model most suitable for boxing, less suitable for kickboxing and Muay Thai, and the least for MMA.

Full Face

Full-face headgear is used mainly in MMA. With full-face models, you get complete chin protection instead of a chin strap, and the guard covers your entire head.

There is cheek protection, similar to that of the Mexican style, but they are usually not as big and leave a larger opening on the face.

The chin padding and overall design of this type of headgear allow it to stay in place on your head better than other types, making it more suitable for grappling.

Face Saver

Face-saver headgear comes with a full bar across the nose. This type offers the most complete face protection but the least visibility.

Face savers are bulkier and more heavily padded and are mainly used during fight camp by professional boxers and fighters to eliminate the possibility of cuts or a broken nose.

The nose bar, which is part of a cage on the inside, and the immense padding of face-saver head guards make them bad for MMA or striking with kicks because it's hard to see down.

Generally, there is no point in wearing that level of protection if you don’t have a fight coming up because the size and limited visibility alter your perception and style in general.

For these reasons, I have not included a specific face-saver head guard in the list, but if you need one, the gold standard is the Winning FG5000, which is used by 90% of pro boxers.

Fit and Comfort

The fit of a boxing head guard is perhaps the most important quality you need to address. Regardless of the type of coverage, padding thickness, or any other detail, if you are uncomfortable, it's no good.

Even perfectly fitting headgear is not the most pleasant thing you will wear, but things get way worse if something does not fit right.

The head guard should stay in one place and not slip around, but at the same time, it shouldn't be so tight as to create pressure on certain parts of the head.

All headgear has sizes, and picking the right one for your head is crucial for how well you feel and how much protection you will get.


While in most cases nowadays, budget gear is pretty good, the case with headgear is slightly different. There is a huge difference in how expensive and cheap headguards feel.

Cheap headgear is not only useless, but it can be harmful. The reality of wearing headguards is that you will be hit more often because your head is larger, visibility is reduced, and you get a false sense of security.

For a head guard to do anything, it must fit perfectly and be very well constructed. This is why I recommend you spend more and buy the more expensive options you can afford.

Should I Wear a Boxing Head Guard?

It depends on your situation, and it has pros and cons. In general, head guards do not help much in protecting the brain, while very often, they will get you hit more because of their extra size, weight, and reduced visibility.

Headguards will, however, protect you from cuts and bruises, which is why all pro fighters spar with headgear when they are in camp. If you are competing, headgear is recommended close to the fight; it might be pointless if you are just training.

Another factor is your fighting style. For people who rely on head movement and peripheral vision, head guards are terrible and do more harm than good. For a slugger who likes to trade punches, it may be better to wear one.

There is also the matter of where you train. In boxing, everyone spars with headguards, and this is the norm. In Muay Thai and kickboxing, almost no one uses one, so you might have to comply with the rules and recommendations of your gym.


For pure boxing, nothing comes closer in quality and level of protection than Winning. The FG2900 is the perfect sparring head guard; most elite-level boxers use it. But the design is not ideal for MMA or kickboxing, where a full-face head guard will be better, and the Fairtex HG10 has the best price-quality protection ratio on the market.

Winning FG2900

Winning FG2900 Headgear

About the author 

Plamen Kostov

Plamen has been training for the last 14 years in karate and kickboxing, before settling in for MMA for the last 5 years. He has a few amateur kickboxing fights and currently trains with and helps a stable of professional and amateur MMA fighters.


You may also like