Review: Lace N Loop Glove Enhancing System

11 August 2019

The two basic systems of glove closure are the lace-up system and the velcro system.

Professional boxers seem to prefer lace-up gloves for training, and they always fight in them, probably owing to the requirements of sanctioning bodies. Gear aficionados tell us that the dominance of the lace-up system in pro boxing ultimately stems from the fact that lace-up gloves provide superior fit and support. The laces run from the forearm, over the wrist, all the way to the lower or mid palm, and you can tie them as loose or tight as you like. The downside, of course, is that tying laces is massively inconvenient, especially if you’re training alone or you don’t like the idea of asking the guys at your gym for assistance.

Velcro gloves, on the other hand, are widely used by almost everyone else in the world of boxing, even at the highest levels of amateur competition. According to the gear aficionados, velcro gloves provide inferior fit and support because of the narrowness of their straps, which only wrap around the wrist. You can pull the straps as tight or as loose as you like, but they do not disperse support as widely or evenly as laces do. The velcro system is really convenient, however, as even the gear aficionados must and do acknowledge. You can attach and detach the straps without any assistance in seconds.

I currently own five high-end pairs of lace-up training gloves: Cleto Reyes, Rival, and Topboxer, as well as two pairs of Winning. Although, like most amateur boxers, I’ve previously trained in many different models of velcro gloves, nowadays I only train in lace-ups. But I confess I don’t really know whether, in general, lace-up gloves actually do provide better fit and support than velcro gloves.

Indeed, if what the gear aficionados mean by “support” is “wrist support”, then I’d be inclined to say that the most supportive gloves I’ve ever used are Hayabusa Tokushus/T3s with dual velcro straps (“Dual-X”) and quad-splint design (“Fusion Splinting”). Don’t get me wrong: I really dislike Hayabusa Tokushus/T3s, but that’s for reasons other than their extraordinary support of the wrist.

Why then do I only train in lace-up gloves?

That question calls for a bit of honest introspection. First of all, I’ve read so many times that the lace-up system is better than the velcro system, that I probably now believe it, or at least take it for granted. The superiority of the lace-up system is just one of those things that everyone who knows about gloves “knows”. What’s more, the aesthetic of old-school traditional boxing strongly appeals to me, and there’s nothing more redolent of that than a pair of lace-up gloves (ideally an old, filthy, worn-out pair of leather ones hanging from a hook on the wall of a gym).

So, in short, I train in lace-up gloves because I can’t think for myself and I think they look cool.

I use lace-up gloves partly because of cool photos like that

But there’s something else I haven’t mentioned. And it’s absolutely crucial. My lack of independent thought and my aesthetic preferences were not sufficient, on their own, to get me to give up velcro in favour of laces. More specifically, since I often train alone, I couldn’t seriously entertain the prospect of training with lace-up gloves in the absence of a practical solution to the aforementioned and very serious problem of inconvenience. The difference-maker was my discovery of the Lace N Loop Glove Enhancing System.

Description

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The somewhat extravagant name “Lace N Loop Glove Enhancing System” belies the simplicity of the product. Lace N Loops are just synthetic straps with velcro on them. They’re functionally divided into three sections.

A pair of fully open Lace N Loops

The longest section, accounting for slightly more than half the strap, is made of a sturdy inelastic material with a strip of velcro loops sewn on the topside and a reinforced hole in the end. You attach the strap to your glove by first threading the laces through this metal eyelet and then tying a knot in them.

The short mid-section is elasticised, allowing you to close the strap as tightly or loosely as you like.

The third section is used for grasping, pulling, and wrapping the strap. It’s made of a sturdy inelastic material with a strip of velcro hooks sewn on the underside. There’s a little tab at the end of this section which, I think, is meant to facilitate the process of grasping, pulling, and wrapping.

And that’s pretty much it.

The way you use a Lace N Loop strap is by grasping the unattached end, pulling on it to tighten your glove’s lace-up closure mechanism, then wrapping the laces and eventually the strap itself around the cuff of your glove. Finally, you secure the strap by way of the velcro strips.

This process is best illustrated by Lace N Loop’s own infographic:

How to use a Lace N Loop

Lace N Loop tells us that its straps are “designed enable a lace-up boxing glove wearer to lace up their own gloves without help from another person.” It adds that they’re “designed to utilize all the benefits of a lace-up glove, without changing the fit, performance, or function.”

Evaluation

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Performance

For the most part, Lace N Loops do what they’re designed to do, and they do it well.

They enable you to put on and close up your lace-up gloves without the help of another person. And they seem to enable that while preserving the (allegedly) superior fit and support of lace-up gloves. This, I suppose, makes them much better than standard converters which, owing to certain structural factors, notoriously fail to preserve those superior qualities. So the company’s claims about its straps are not fantasies. This is a welcome respite from the torrents of marketing bunkum dumped on us everyday by most other gear companies.

Lace N Loops, however, do not entirely overcome the problem of inconvenience. Initially they can be very awkward to use indeed. One reason is that the velcro easily sticks to the laces. This necessitates tearing the velcro from the laces, which can damage the latter especially if you do it frequently. Another, more significant, reason for the initial awkwardness is that the process of grasping, pulling, and wrapping Lace N Loops around the cuffs of your gloves is much more difficult for the second strap than the first one.

The first glove is easy-peasy. This is because you can start with loose criss-cross laces and you always have an ungloved fingers at your disposal. The loose criss-cross laces allow smooth insertion of your hand in the glove. You can then adjust the criss-cross laces as you like with your ungloved fingers. This means that when you finally pull the Lace N Loop strap and wrap it around the cuff, you’re very well-positioned to achieve optimal or near-optimal closure of the glove’s lace-up mechanism. No problems here.

The second glove, however, presents something of a dilemma. If you start with sufficiently loose criss-cross laces for smooth hand insertion, you won’t be able to adjust them as you like with ungloved fingers. This is problematic because pulling on the Lace N Loop strap generally only tightens the lowest criss-cross laces over the forearm, not up at the wrist and palm, thereby making optimal closure of the lace-up system impossible. But if you start with tight criss-cross laces, insertion of your hand rapidly degenerates into a clumsy struggle, and you may not be able to insert it at all.

Of course, practice goes a long way toward alleviating the severity of such inconveniences. But it never does away with them entirely. Even now, after two years of using Lace N Loops on my training gloves, I not uncommonly find myself either tugging on overly loose criss-cross laces with my bare teeth, or struggling to shove my hand past overly tight ones.

Durability

A sad fact about me is that I own six – that’s right, six – pairs of Lace N Loops, one for each of my five pairs of lace-up gloves, as well as a spare set just in case I spot yet another pair of awesome lace-up gloves at a bargain price on eBay or Gumtree. (The idea here being that I won’t have to wait until I get Lace N Loops before I give the hoped-for awesome cheap lace-ups a whirl on the heavy bag; I’ll be ready to rock’n’roll straight away.)

My long-standing collection of these useful little straps, though a bit weird in itself, does at least afford me rare insight into how well this product tends to hold up over extended use. In particular, I’m able to base my judgement on more than just one sample. Most of my Lace N Loops have in fact held up very well, exhibiting no defects beyond reasonable wear and tear. I’d even go so far as to say that functionally they’re the exactly same as they were on the first day I got them. That includes the elastic mid-section.

But two pairs of my Lace N Loops have not held up so well. They began developing rust on their metal eyelets after only a few months of use. Not only is the rust unsightly, it is also abrasive, thereby threatening to mark, scratch, or even cut into the cuffs when these straps are pulled tightly against them.

Rust on the metal eyelet of an old model, an issue Lace N Loop has apparently resolved on the new model

The best explanation of this rust is that it was caused by sweat. Of course, if you’re going to sweat doing any sport, you’re going to sweat doing boxing – and gear companies like Lace N Loop should take that into account when selecting the materials from which their products are to be made.

NB: In late 2019, several months after this review was first posted, Lace N Loop informed me that it was aware of the rust issue and had already taken positive action to remedy it by upgrading the metal eyelet to stainless steel. This is a great credit to the guys behind Lace N Loop, and sets it apart from the vast bulk of gear companies who will stop at nothing to pollute the world of boxing with their crappy products and accompanying marketing bunkum. As I undertand things, the upgrade applies to all Lace N Loop straps produced as of late 2019.

Aesthetics

Lace N Loops are available in several simple and inoffensive colour schemes, each one of which is dominated by either black or white. The Lace N Loop logo, which features prominently on the largest section of the straps, is not a paragon of the art of graphic design; but it’s hardly obnoxious either.

So you shouldn’t have any difficulty selecting a pair of Lace N Loops to go at least tolerably well with your gloves. And if you do find it difficult, well, maybe your priorities have gone awry and you put too much emphasis on aesthetics. These things aren’t meant to be fashion accessories.

Value

Lace N Loops are good value given their utility.

If you live in the United States, Lace N Loops will cost slightly more than standard converters, such as those offered by Title and Ring-To-Cage. Lace N Loops go for US$20-$25, depending on the colour scheme, whereas you can get R2C’s converters for US$15-$20 and Title’s converters for only US$10 on Amazon. In this regard, however, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re comparing apples and oranges (as I suggested above under Performance).

In Australia, there aren’t really any alternatives to Lace N Loops, unless you’re willing to order something from Amazon US. So it’s fortunate you can buy Lace N Loops domestically for only A$35 inclusive of postage from MMA Fight Store on eBay. I’ve done that, and I’ve also bought them directly from Lace N Loop’s US-based online store. As always, you should make your own decision on the basis of the exchange rate and your delivery-patience threshold.

Overall

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I strongly recommend Lace N Loops to anyone who, like me, prefers to use lace-up gloves for training over velcro ones (even if, like me, your justification for that preference is utterly pathetic). Lace N Loops are not a panacea for the inconvenience of training with lace-up gloves. They do, however, significantly mitigate that inconvenience. If you understand their quirks and limitations, Lace N Loops won’t disappoint you and you’ll get a lot of utility out of them.

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Posted by ScepticalBoxer

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