There’s no denying that sparring is one of, if not the most effective method of practicing techniques and developing your skill set. Unfortunately, with sparring, comes a risk of sustaining injury, both to you and your sparring partner.
As such, equipment like body protectors in conjunction with focus mitts are a frequently utilised method of simulating a fight-like scenario, without having to spar.
With that in mind, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the best boxing body protectors you can use to train both effectively and safely.
Let’s get to it.
What Are the Advantages of Using a Boxing Body Protector?
Hands Can be Used to Hold Additional Focus Mitts – (Better Fight Simulation)
Implementing a body protector based drill session allows you to practice throwing strikes and combinations at both the body and focus mitts. Similarly, it allows you to both work on your offence and defence, as your coach/ training partner is able to throw counter strikes in return to your combinations.
This in turn provides a much more fluid training experience that is far more realistic than other methods of training, such as working the heavy bag or speed bag.
Focus mitt drills alone are incredibly important and beneficial for any boxer, and when combined with a body protector, provide an incredibly safe, and authentic environment.
What’s more, throwing on a body protector and some focus mitts is a great stepping stone for those new to boxing and aren’t quite yet ready to spar.
Learn the Importance of Working the Body
In this era of boxing, and many other striking based martial arts such as Muay Thai and MMA, I’m seeing more and more athletes constantly head hunting. Always looking for the stunning shot to the chin that leaves their opponents eyes glazed over, aimlessly staring at the ceiling.
Although an MMA example, former UFC featherweight champion José Aldo stopped Jeremy Stephens with an incredibly well delivered shot to the body.
Admittedly, Aldo finishes him on the ground with some savage G&P, but if that was boxing, he would have been down there for far more than 10 seconds.
Aside from understanding how efficient a well placed body shot can be, body protectors allow you to practice throwing a combination of strikes at different height levels.
Throwing an efficient combination at an opponent's body is a surefire way to get their guard lowered, opening up the chin for a well placed, fight finishing hook.
Allows a Proper Technique to be Practiced Safely
As I mentioned earlier, sparring has long since been a utilised method of training. However, as time has progressed, the benefits of intense, full throttle sparring has become a topic of debate.
Although sparring will provide you with real fight experience, you are definitely running the risk of sustaining an injury. Whereas, body protector drills, paired with focus mitts provide a realistic fight environment, with little to no risk of getting hurt.
What’s more, the best boxing body protectors are fairly well padded, meaning a low amount of impact will be felt on the hands and wrists of the person throwing the punches. This is especially true if they’re wearing hand wraps and well a pair of padded training gloves.
Practice Controlling Movement & Distance with Body Strikes
Body shots, when thrown from the right angle, are a great way to prevent your opponent from circling to either the right or the left.
If your opponent is circling to their right, and you throw a well placed hook to their left side, they’re either going to stop circling, or allow their momentum to continue towards your hook - strengthening the impact of the shot.
By getting familiar with this concept using a body protector, you’ll be much better equipped to control the movement and distance of your opponent.
Unfortunately, this process is fairly hard to replicate solely using focus mitts, as even for an experienced trainer, getting the focus mitt in the correct angle can be difficult and most likely painful.
Instil Muscle Memory & Enhance Accuracy with Body Punches
The beauty of body protectors is that they allow a fighter to practice aiming your strikes at certain areas of the body. This isn’t really possible with something like a heavy bag, where a fighter must rely solely on their imagination to envision where their strikes are landing.
By training on a body protector, a fighter can fully see where each one of their punches has landed and continually improve their accuracy.
For some inspiration, and to see a body protector in action, check out the video below.
Best Body Protectors for Boxing Reviewed
Ok, now it's time to start looking at some of the best body protectors for boxing currently available.
Fairtex Chest Shield - No Longer Available
First up on our list is the Fairtex Chest Shield, a top quality body protector suitable for boxing, Muay Thai and MMA. Bear in mind though, the padding probably isn’t thick enough to be blocking high powered kicks, especially if they’re landed with the shin.
As such, the Fairtex Chest Shield is much more suited for punches, knees, hooks, jabs and combination drills. If you are wanting to train kicks, I would recommend checking out belly pads, as their much more padded, although provide a much smaller target.
This is easily one of my favourite body protectors due to the fact that it provides such a large surface area, covering the vast majority of the upper body. This in turn allows for strikes to be targeted at different, vulnerable parts of the torso such as the kidney, ribs and solar plexus.
Similarly, if a strike misses its mark, it will more than likely hit another part of the pad, as opposed to smaller body protectors where a poorly aimed shot could hit the trainer.
As with most of Fairtex’s gear, their body protector is handmade in Thailand and upholds to the high quality reputation that they’ve become well known for. Due to the nature of body protectors, being on the receiving end of tens of thousands of punches, durability is one of the primary issues.
That being said, the chest shield is made using synthetic leather, which is known to wear quicker than genuine leather. Despite using synthetic leather, the overall quality of the chest shield is extremely good, and to be honest, the vast majority of these body protectors utilise this type of material.
In terms weight and maneuverability, the Fairtex body protector provides a great amount of protection over a large surface area, without hindering the wearers ability to move. This is due to the fact that the body protector fits very close to the chest, with lightweight multi-layered foam.
The final aspect of the Fairtex Chest Shield I would like to discuss is the white targets dotted around the pads. This is ideal for training those new to boxing and aren’t quite sure where to be targeting their strikes.
Check out the video below for a full review of the Fairtex Body Protector.
Ringside Gel Shock Body Protector
Next up is the Ringside Gel Shock Body Protector, which is a well designed, highly protective body shield coming from an extremely reputable brand.
The body protector is constructed using durable synthetic leather, allowing it to endure many hours of training sessions without showing signs of wear.
I’m always sceptical about synthetic leather, so I’ve scoured the internet to see if anyone has experienced any issues with the Ringside Body Protectors material.
I couldn’t find a single bad word about the leather, which to be fair isn’t surprising, considering Ringside’s reputation as a stickler for quality.
Ringside have also made use of highly shock absorbing gel padding. This allows trainers to wear the body protector for long training sessions without feeling any pain from each blow.
As is common with a lot of the best body protectors, Ringsides’ covers a larger area of the upper body. The protector covers both sides of the abdomen and up to the top of the chest. As such, strikes can be targeted from different angles at different height levels, especially when used with focus mitts.
Three red dots are featured towards the bottom end of the body protector. These serve as targets, allowing for the person training to see where to land their punches - which is especially ideal for beginners.
These targets are also slightly more padded in order to offer the trainer more protection in commonly hit areas.
Give the video below a watch to see a full overview of the Ringside Gel Body Protector and to see it in action.
Cleto Reyes Body Protector
Every part of me was screaming to rank this as our number one rated body protector for boxing. Unfortunately, there was one thing stopping me from doing so - the price.
This is by far the most expensive body protector on our list. That being said, there’s plenty of justification for it’s high price tag.
Firstly, this is a Cleto Reyes product. Cleto Reyes are synonymous with the world of boxing, possessing almost 100 years of experience producing top end boxing gear.
Their gloves for example, have been used in a vast number of world championship fights due to their supreme quality. This quality is maintained throughout the gear that Cleto Reyes offer, which can be seen in the use of genuine leather material in their body protector.
Using genuine leather ensures the longevity of the protector itself, allowing it to withstand a crazy amount of abuse for an extremely long time. If you’re looking to get a long lasting body protector and budget isn’t an issue, then Cleto Reyes has to be the way to go.
The body protecter has been designed to provide the wearer with unhindered mobility, allowing the coach/ trainer to move and use focus mitts freely. This allows for a very fluid, natural training experience that authentically simulations the motion of a real fight.
3 targeting zones are located around the body protector, which in turn allows the coach to call out certain combinations, and the fighter to know exactly where to land each strike.
Despite costing a pretty penny, you’ll struggle to find a better quality body protector anywhere else.
Contender Body Protector
While Contender are a relatively small brand of fight gear, I’ve heard some really great things about their body protector.
Firstly, it’s incredibly well padded. I mean, seriously, seriously well padded. As such, a lot of Muay Thai and MMA trainers have also been using the Contender Body Protector to allow their fighters to incorporate kicks into their combinations.
As such, you’ll have no problem as a boxing trainer being on the receiving end of a hard hitter working out.
Despite its use of thick padding, the Contender Body Protector is surprisingly lightweight, clocking in at around 3 pounds. Not only does this allow the trainer to move freely, but it allows for workouts to go on longer.
I also like the use of the quick release buckles on the back strap of the body protector. This means that the it can easily be taken off and put back on again, which is something that can’t be said of the cheaper, knock off body protectors out there.
My one issue with this body protector is it’s coverage. Unlike some of the other models on our list, the Contender Protector doesn’t range to the top of the chest. Instead, the top of the protector will probably come in line with the wearers pectorals, depending on their size of course.
TITLE Classic Body Protector
This is another body protector that mainly covers the lower part of the body, which to be fair, is where the deadly shots are going to be landing. Even so, it’s always good to have extra coverage incase a shot misses its mark.
That being said, the area in which the TITLE Classic Body Protector does cover, is extremely well padded. This is thanks to the multiple layers of shock absorbing padding that do a great job and reducing the impact felt on the trainer.
If you’re finding yourself constantly bruised from training with hard hitters, a highly padded body protector like the TITLE model will be your best friend.
The shoulder straps are adjustable, meaning that multiple people can comfortable wear the body protector with it at the right height. This is great for two fighters who can take turns wearing the mitts and protector
I also like how the inner lining of the body protector has been lined with moisture wicking materials. This will help to prevent the absorption of sweat and therefore help to prevent the protector from smelling. We all know how much boxing equipment can stink, so it’s nice to see TITLE taking this into consideration.
All in all, a great little body protector for a very reasonable price.
Combat Sports Boxing Body Protector
The final body protector we’re going to be taking a look at in this article comes from Combat Sports and is the cheapest on our list.
Despite being cheap, this is a fairly decent body protector, however I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re training with top tier boxers. This is due to the fact that it is fairly small in terms of body coverage.
Similarly, it makes use of a single strap closure system, which is somewhat like wearing a thick, padded belt. This is fairly different to the other models on our list, most of which make use of additional shoulder straps for increased stability.
That being said, the Combat Sports Body Protector definitely serves its’ purpose. It makes use of Dome Air Technology padding that disperses the impact from strikes across the protector. This greatly reduces the shock felt by the person wearing the protector and is more than suitable for training Muay Thai and MMA fighters who are wanting to work on their kicks.
It has been constructed using synthetic leather, as has all of the other protectors on our list, with the exception of the Cleto Reyes model.
I would say that the Combat Sports Body Protector is ideal for trainers looking to affordably stock up on decent quality protectors without breaking the bank.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Boxing Body Protector
Quality of Padding
At the end of the day, you’re buying a body protector to well… protect you. As such, the quality and thickness of the padding is always going to be one of the key determining factors as to how good a body protector really is.
We’ve covered a range of different thicknesses, with some body protectors solely designed for punching and others being able to withstand kicks. When looking to buy a body protector, it’s therefore important to know the types of combinations you’re looking to train.
Some of the best body protectors will make use of high density foam, often with multiple layers. This in turn prevents indentations from forming on the body protector, which can grealy reduce the amount of impact that is absorbed.
Size & Weight
I can imagine it’s pretty damn hard designing a decent body protector. You’ve got to have sufficient padding, whilst at the same time, not making the protector overly bulk and heavy.
A coach/ trainer needs to be able to move freely, with unhindered mobility in order to offer their fighter with the best possible work out.
Similarly, if a body protector if overly heavy, the trainer is going to have a large time maintaining a fast paced work out. This in turn can reduce the length of the session and great reduce the quality if each movement is laboured and slow.
Finding a balance between protection and bulkiness is key. Fortunately, the protectors we’ve covered in this article do this really well, so you’ve got nothing to worry about in that regard.
Durability & Quality
At the end of the day, body protectors are going to get a beating. Therefore, finding one that can withstand said beating is going to be important.
Top quality stitching is required in order to keep the body protector together. While durable materials are needed to stop rips and tears from forming.
The most durable body protectors are going to be made out of genuine leather (such as the Cleto Reyes protector we discussed). Unfortunately, genuine leather protectors are few and fair between, and often come accompanied by a hefty price tag.
Having said that, synthetic leather has come a long way over recent years, and while still not as durable as genuine leather, can still hold up pretty well.
It’s highly unlikely that a body protector is going to be worn by one single person. As such, a body protector must be adjustable so that it not only fits another person, but fits in a stable and secure manner.
You don’t want the body protector to be swinging around the trainers body as this will massively hamper the quality of the work out.
I’ve tried to include a variety of different price points in our list, but at the end of the day, you get what you pay for.
This can be seen in the Cleto Reyes protector (I know I keep going on about it, but it’s frickin good), which costs a fair chunk of change. However, this is one of the only protectors you know for a fine fact can withstand years of use.
If you’re on the lookout for a cheap body protector, make sure that it’s able to meet your needs. If not, it may be worth considering slightly increasing in your budget.
Best Body Protector Brands
Cleto Reyes are known to produce the best boxing gear in the world. Period. Founded in Mexico during the mid 1900’s, Cleto Reyes have long since been the go to brand for boxing purists looking to get the job done. Often their products are handmade, using only genuine leather materials, which in turn is probably the reason they’ve seen so much success.
What ever boxing gear you’re looking for, Cleto Reyes will provide you with nothing but the best.
While Fairtex are very much a Muay Thai brand, I’ve been very impressed with their body protector. It’s durable, comfortable and lightweight. Everything you could want from a body protector.
Ringside specialise in producing a variety of affordable, high quality boxing gear and equipment. Their body protector is the perfect example of this, being the go to choice of many gym owners and trainers around the world.
Body Protector FAQ’s
Do I Need to Wear Gloves When Hitting a Body Protector?
Yes, preferably gloves and hand wraps underneath. Although well padded, you’ll still feel the impact on your hands, so it’s always best to play it safe and glove up.
Do I Have to Wear Focus Mitts as well as the Protector?
While you don’t technically have to, it will provide your fighter/ training partner with a far more authentic training experience. This is due to the fact that they can practice their movement, such as slipping a counter after they’ve thrown a combination.
How do I Clean a Boxing Body Protector?
Annoyingly, the vast majority of boxing equipment is hard to wash. My first suggestion is to check on the body protector itself and see if it says anything there. If not, use a damp cloth to wipe the protector down and let it air dry outside. I would avoid using soap and/or washing powder if you can.
Do I Still Feel Pain When Wearing a Body Protector?
This will really depend on the quality of the body protector, as well as the person throwing the strikes. While it’s unlikely you’ll feel any pain, you will still feel the force of a strike being landed on the pads.
How to Use a Body Protector Effectively
Here’s a few tips from Douglas Ward on how to use a body protector in you gym:
Ok, so we’ve made it to the end of our article.
Which body protector do we recommend the most?
Well there’s two that really stand out:
- Cleto Reyes Body Protector: This really is the best in the business. However, it’s only really suited to those of you who are willing to spend a bit extra for a top quality product.
- Fairtex Chest Shield: This offers some brilliant value for money. It’s affordable, incredibly durable and covers the vast majority of the upper body.
Thanks for taking the time to read our reviews of the best boxing body protectors. If you have any comments, be sure to drop in the section below.