As someone who has been using boxing gloves for 15 years and frequently tests different brands and models, I am well experienced and knowledgeable on the subject, but sadly, I still can’t give you a precise answer to how long boxing gloves last.
Too many factors play a role in the longevity of a pair of boxing gloves. Depending on the frequency of training, the quality of the gloves, and the care the wearer takes for them, gloves can last anywhere between 6 months and 3 years. Gloves for different purposes also have different shelf lives, so this must also be considered.
By using the right gloves for the proper purpose and taking good care of them, you can drastically increase the time before it’s time for a replacement. But do you know how to treat your gloves and when it’s time to “retire” them?
How Long Do Boxing Gloves Last?
So many factors go into how long a pair of boxing gloves lasts. The quality of the gloves is an important factor in determining their longevity, as is the weight and power of the wearer, the training frequency, the maintenance, and even the humidity in the gym and your home.
So while some gloves might disintegrate in a few months, others will last for years and retain most of their qualities. Traditionally, gloves have been divided into sparring and heavy bag gloves, which are also used for pads, double-end bags, and other equipment.
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Ideally, people would have at least two pairs and use them accordingly. But since many people only use one pair for everything, manufacturers now offer a lot of suitable all-around gloves designed to facilitate both.
Dedicated sparring boxing gloves should be 14 or 16 ounces, preferably a model designed specifically for the purpose.
Sparring gloves’ chief objective is to protect sparring partners, and the padding is softer and bigger to help with this purpose. Sparring gloves have special foam layers with significant shock absorption properties, reducing head trauma and hand injuries.
The downside is that this softer padding is less durable and can be destroyed much quicker if used on heavy bags and pads.
Cheap models are rarely dedicated to sparring gloves. Usually, only mid-priced gloves are properly produced for sparring, and much more commonly, you are looking at higher-priced brands like Winning and Cleto Reyes, which have gloves solely made for sparring.
Most gloves are well-rounded for all training purposes, and if you dedicate one good-quality 14- or 16-ounce pair only to sparring, they will last you quite a while. If you buy genuine leather or high-quality synthetic gloves, they will last a good 2 years of sparring, in my opinion.
I see recommendations to change them every 6 months, but unless you are a heavyweight doing hard sparring 3–4 times per week, I don’t see any reason for this.
Most people spar once or twice weekly and are rarely hit with full power. With even a decent pair of gloves, you can do this for at least a year before you see or feel any deterioration, let alone need to replace the gloves.
Using soft gloves on a heavy bag is a different thing and can drastically decrease their life to 6 months, without a doubt.
Heavy Bag Gloves
Heavy bag gloves come in many different types and forms. Padding is stiffer and denser to endure the constant full-power pummelling against a heavy bag.
The correlation between padding stiffness and thickness is the opposite of sparring gloves. Here stiffer and thinner padding retains much of the force of the blow, giving you more feedback on the punches, and deteriorates the materials slower.
Depending on the frequency and intensity of use, bag gloves can last a year or two before you feel the knuckles pierce through the padding significantly. But because bag gloves are not used for sparring and don’t have to protect partners, you can still use them after they have all the signs showing they “must” be changed.
All Around Gloves
If we are honest, most practitioners who are not pros use only a pair of gloves for everything. While this is in no way ideal, it’s the reality because it is cheaper and more convenient.
The other option is for people to use one 16-ounce pair for sparring and one 10- to 12-ounce pair for bag work, but both models are not expensive specialized gloves but rather normal all-around gloves.
All brands produce gloves adequate for both sparring and bag work. For example, Venum, Revgear gloves, and Fairtex boxing gloves have great models with foam layers and construction designed to be protective enough for sparring but also durable enough for heavy hitting.
And brands like Hayabusa and, my personal favorite, Hit N Move, have made it their mission to produce outstanding all-around gloves that are protective and durable.
It’s why we recommend Hit N Move as the best boxing gloves in our in-depth round-up review.
If you use a single pair for everything you do in the gym, their life will be much shorter. With 3 or 4 sessions per week, it’s unlikely for them to last two years, but in all cases, you should look for signs showing it’s time to replace the gloves, especially when you use them for sparring.
When It’s Time To Replace Your Boxing Gloves
A few signs will tell you when it’s time to replace your gloves with new ones.
Padding Is Deformed
In time, the padding will deteriorate regardless of its type and composition. Some fillings will do much quicker than others, but the padding will be done sooner or later. If you start feeling your knuckles on the target, then it’s undoubtedly time to let go of this pair.
Sometimes padding can distinctly break into pieces, hurting your hands and, more importantly, your partner’s face. There is no way not to notice such a problem, so if the padding has been destroyed, do not use the gloves anymore, at least for sparring and partner work.
The Outside Material Has Been Damaged
With sweat and constant contact, the outer material will also deteriorate. Genuine leather is the most durable, but even the best-quality leather will fail sooner or later. Cheap synthetic material will get destroyed much quicker. When your top material starts to break and peel, it’s immediately time to replace the gloves.
The Velcro Has Loosened
Unfortunately, sometimes the Velcro strap surrenders before the rest of the gloves. While this may seem like a smaller concern, it’s crucial.
First, the wrist support severely decreases, and more importantly, the strap can get loose and scratch your training partner’s face or hands. If the Velcro loses its stickiness, you must either change the gloves or apply tape over the strap before each session.
How Do You Make Boxing Gloves Last Longer?
While even the most expensive gloves will fail over time, how you treat them matters and can prolong or shorten their life.
Most of us treat new gloves like some precious relic for the first few months, only to ditch all care after the “honeymoon” period. But if you follow at least the basic steps, your goals will serve you well and for longer.
Air The Gloves After Training
The most important advice I can give you is to immediately remove the gloves from the gym bag after you get home. Humidity is the biggest enemy of gloves and fight gear, and leaving the sweaty gloves inside a sealed bag is the worst thing you can do to them.
Leaving them to dry out in fresh air will drastically prolong their life and keep the nasty smell away. It’s gruesome to be hit with reeking gloves, which do more damage in the form of smell than impact. I am sure you know the feeling if you’ve been hit with community gloves.
To better air the gloves, loosen the laces or strap the Velcro the opposite way, then peel the gloves open and leave them as loose and open as possible.
Specialized deodorizers similar to those used for shoes can also remove moisture and smell from the gloves. They are cheap and easy to use, so there is no reason not to try them.
Don’t Leave You Gloves At Direct Sunlight
While airing gloves is very important, do not leave them in direct sunlight, especially if you live in a hot place. The sun will quickly dry the leather or synthetic material, making it stiff and easier to crack. Even leaving your gloves on the back seat of the car is not a good idea and can be bad for the gloves.
Use Natural Cleaning Agents
I don’t like using any chemicals on my gloves and use only a damp cloth to wipe them out almost after each session. If you want to be sure germs are killed, you can use special products, but make sure they are natural. Diluted white vinegar is a simple cleaning solution helping to remove odors.
Some special products are designed for boxing gloves, which I have yet to try but should do what they promise. We have a guide on cleaning boxing gloves here.
More expensive does not always mean better. But the price is usually a good indication of the quality of a product, and this principle is fully valid for boxing gloves.
Some brands overprice their products, and you pay for the logo, which is valid only after a certain price point. There is no comparison between $40 and $100 gloves, let alone more expensive ones.
Do you need expensive gloves? No. Are expensive gloves really better? Yes, they are. My Hit N Move gloves and other expensive gloves I have tried have a different feel to them.
The materials, the little details like stitching and lining, let you instantly feel the higher level of materials and craftsmanship. So if you have been training for a while, know you are committed to martial arts, and have the extra buck, you should go for expensive gloves.
But you can train without any problems using just good quality boxing gloves. Luckily, the market is saturated with brands and models, and many offer everything you need at a reasonable price.
Fairtex, for example, produces handmade, high-quality genuine leather gloves for around $100, which is a steal in my eyes.
Revgear, Venum, and Sanabul all have excellent all-around gloves for even lower price tags, and they will all get the job done and keep you and your training partners well-protected for great value.
But please don’t fall for the trap of buying cheap gloves. The mass-produced Everlast basic models and many other brands are not worthy even of being used for decoration.
Boxing gloves are the most essential piece of equipment for striking combat sports, and their longevity is a question everyone considers.
Depending on the quality of the gloves and training intensity, they can be done in less than 6 months or still be good enough after 3 years. Investing in above-average gloves, taking good care of them by letting them air out after practice, and cleaning them properly, you will need to replace them less frequently.