Best synthetic / non-leather boxing gloves

22 June 2019

If you’re a boxer and your values and beliefs rule out buying products made of leather, then what synthetic/non-leather boxing gloves should you buy?

This is a genuine problem for vegan and vegetarian boxers who abstain from eating animals on ethical grounds (though perhaps not for those who do so purely on health grounds). You don’t need to be a professor of philosophy to appreciate that such commitments don’t sit well with the consumption of leather products.

I’m a vegetarian myself (on ethical grounds) and I really do love a good quality pair of gloves. Although I occasionally buy leather gloves, I only ever buy them pre-owned as that way I avoid directly contributing to the demand for leather. And if I buy a brand new pair of gloves, I first make sure they’re synthetic/non-leather.

There’s certainly no shortage of synthetic gloves on the market. Synthetic gloves are everywhere. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them are overpriced generic junk. If you’re a boxfitter, then just about any of these synthetic junk gloves will do as long as you adequately control your power and technique.

It’s not so simple, however, if you do serious boxing training, by which I mean you train to fight, or at least you train as if you intend to fight. In that case, you can’t get by with just any synthetic gloves. Boxers punch harder and more often than boxfitters do. You need highly protective and highly durable synthetic gloves.

So what are the best synthetic/non-leather gloves for serious boxing training?

That’s the question of interest to me in this post. Given the nature of online lifestyle discussions, it’s worth noting that that’s the only question of interest to me here. My purpose is not to justify or defend veganism, vegetarianism, or any other lifestyle choice. If you’re eager to debate those things, please take your arguments and invective elsewhere!

You can buy both stock synthetic gloves (i.e. ready-made off the shelf) and custom synthetic gloves (i.e. made to satisfy your functional and aesthetic specifications). I set out here what I take to be the top three of each kind as well as a few other options you might want to consider. Since I’m only interested in the best synthetic gloves, I ignore the cheap and crappy models typically found on online lists of synthetic/non-leather gloves.

Best stock synthetic gloves

1 – Rival RB10 Intelli Shock Bag Gloves and RS100 Pro Sparring Gloves (US$180-190)

| eBay – RB10 | eBay – RS100 |

Rival divides its high-end models into bag gloves and sparring gloves. The RB10s and RS100s are not only Rival’s best synthetic bag and sparring gloves, they’re the best (stock) synthetic gloves from any brand. The padding is fit-for-purpose, they provide great wrist support, and the “super microfibre” from which they’re constructed is durable. They also breathe pretty well for synthetic gloves owing to the mesh palms. I usually despise mesh because for the most part it’s flimsy stuff used purely as a cost-cutting measure. But I’ve never had any problems with the mesh on my Rival gloves. The only potential downsides of the RB10s and RS100s, in my opinion, are that they’re expensive and neither is an all-purpose training glove. The latter is not a big deal, however, if like me you’re sympathetic to the idea that boxers should own one pair of lighter gloves for bagwork as well as a heavier pair for sparring.

2 – Fly Superlace X (&pound180/US$230)

| Fly UK |

Fly is a relatively new brand founded in the UK as recently as 2017. Its standard leather gloves are made in the UK and they’re extremely expensive. Despite Fly’s relative youth, its gloves have already been used for training and competition by several well-known professionals (including Tyson Fury, Joseph Parker, Dillian Whyte, Dereck Chisora, and Michael Conlan). This is because either the pros were paid to use them or the pros love them (or both). Either way, Fly’s gloves are definitely up there with many other top brands. The Superlace X model is identical to the standard leather Superlace, only it’s synthetic and made in China (though “finished” in the UK, whatever that means). The Superlace X is an excellent, albeit very expensive, all-purpose synthetic training glove. If it were not for the high price and recurrent concerns about the durability of Fly’s padding, I’d probably have put the Superlace X at the top of my list.

3 – Rival RB11 Bag Gloves and Rival RS11V Sparring Gloves (US$140-150)

| eBay – RB11 | eBay – RS11V |

If you feel that the Rival RB10s and RS100s are overpriced, you should give serious consideration to these two models from Rival instead. The RB11s are sleek, firmly padded bag gloves with the same wrist support mechanism as the more expensive Intelli Shocks. They give off a really nice pop on the heavy bag. The RS11Vs share the RB11s structure (including the same wrist support mechanism), but they’ve got more and softer padding for sparring. Both models have mesh palms to help them breathe. I normally despise mesh because it’s flimsy, but as I said above with regard to the RB10s and RS100s, I’ve never had any problems with the mesh used by Rival. If you’re happy to forego the premium look and feel (and price!) of the RB10s and RS100s, then the RB11s and RB11Vs will serve you well while also saving you lots of money.

Best custom synthetic gloves

1 – Winning MS-series (US$385)

| Kozuji |

The Winning MS-series training gloves are the best training gloves you can buy in the world. It’s widely known that Winning offers custom colour and name options for its MS-series gloves; but what seems to be hardly known at all is that Winning also offers custom material options as well. I made this discovery while in the depths of a glove-induced moral crisis. I really wanted a pair of Winning. But I knew that the MS-series is made of leather and I couldn’t find any reasonably priced pre-owned ones for sale at the time. Then it occurred to me that almost all of Winning’s other gear is synthetic. So why not inquire as to whether Winning could make me a pair of synthetic MS-series training gloves? I asked Steve at Kozuji about it and, much to my surprise and joy, he said that it’s possible. The big downside, of course, was the cost. Custom gear from Winning is astronomically expensive, even when it’s synthetic. Another downside was the long wait time of around six months. In the end, though, I got my synthetic 16oz lace-up Winning MS-600s, dumped my girlfriend, and married them.

2 – TopBoxer Win1 (US$130-200)

| eBay |

This outfit is run by Muhammad Irfan in Pakistan and produces really good quality gloves at reasonable prices. TopBoxer has many stock leather gloves in its lineup, but it’s best known for its custom gear. TopBoxer is able to make almost any glove you can imagine. In particular, Muhammad will gladly make synthetic gloves to satisfy your functional and aesthetic requirements. Although the range of customisation options is greatest for leather gloves, you still have a lot of choice when it comes to synthetic gloves. Muhammad will guide you through the process and answer any questions you may wish to ask about materials or construction. I personally own custom synthetic 12oz lace-up TopBoxers with “Win1” padding. The latter is a Winning-style padding, but there are also Mexican-style and other paddings from which to choose. My TopBoxers are certainly some of my favourite gloves. If it weren’t possible to get custom synthetic Winning MS-series, TopBoxer would be at the top of this list.

3 – UMA RT-41 (US$150-200)

| UMA Custom Gear |

Another good operation working out of Pakistan and selling to the world. Like TopBoxer, UMA has a range of stock gloves, all made of leather, but it’s best known for its custom gear service. UMA’s custom RT-41 gloves are pretty well-regarded. UMA will happily make a synthetic pair of RT-41s for you, though the range of customisation options will be smaller than for a leather pair. You should beware that the RT-41s are very heavily padded gloves. This makes them bulky. UMA also has another model, the IR model, which is supposed to be more of a “puncher’s glove”, but it looks pretty bulky to me as well. Bulky gloves make me feel slow and lethargic. I personally prefer gloves with a sleeker profile for the (subjective) feeling of speed and athleticism they somehow convey to me. This is one reason why I’ve put TopBoxer ahead of UMA. But UMA is a great choice for your next pair of synthetic gloves if you like wearing bulky gloves for the feeling of extra protection.

What do you think are the best synthetic gloves? Let me know in the comments below!

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Posted by ScepticalBoxer

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