Leather vs. Synthetic Boxing Gloves: A Detailed Comparison

Boxing Gloves

Becoming a champion requires choosing the best every single time and being able to face the worst. When it comes to preparing for one of the most popular and ancient combat martial arts forms, i.e., boxing, you can’t compromise with what goes on your fists. Yes, we are talking about the most prized piece of equipment for any boxer, the boxing gloves. Choosing the right kind of gloves can be a deal-breaker for most players inside the boxing ring. We can broadly classify most boxing gloves that are available in the market under two categories: leather and synthetic boxing gloves.

Types of boxing gloves materials

Let’s dig deeper to learn about different types of materials being used to build boxing gloves in the contemporary world.

1. Cowhide leather

Most leather-based boxing and MMA gloves are carved out using cowhide leather, given its rich quality. It is extensively used to create highly durable and sturdy boxing gloves which can be used for a professional boxing match. A 100% cowhide leather glove will be very comfortable to wear and you won’t get any hints of unpleasant odour even after long training hours. Its decent stretch quality allows it to withstand heavy bag training at different temperatures. Most MMA fighters and professionally trained boxers opt for cowhide leather gloves because of their superior comfort and longevity. You must pay attention to the thickness of the leather used in these gloves, as they will be the primary determinant for durability. The main drawback related to the cowhide leather gloves besides their high cost is their maintenance.

2. Buffalo leather

The common perception about buffalo leather is that it comes second to cowhide leather boxing gloves. However, contrary to this popular opinion, buffalo leather has a higher quality. The reason why people always consider it next to cowhide leather is that it’s more coarse and doesn’t feel as smooth as the cowhide leather gloves. It is full-grain leather that is highly durable and provides for a rich boxing glove. It is considered excellent for heavy bag workouts using boxing gloves. The only drawbacks associated with buffalo leather gloves are their prices and maintenance. If you are someone who is looking for a highly durable premium leather glove, this should be your go-to option.

3. Goatskin leather

The third leather-based material that is popular among boxing gloves manufacturers is goatskin leather. The goatskin leather is comparatively thinner than both buffalo leather and cowhide leather. However, it is very soft to wear and more comfortable than most buffalo and cowhide leather. The presence of a special protein in these gloves makes them more durable than both cowhide and buffalo leather gloves. Its water-resistant trait also makes it a good fit for sparring. Given that it’s waterproof, you don’t have to work extra hard on its maintenances. The only drawback here is its price, which is quite high even for real leather-based gloves. Also, genuine goatskin leather gloves can be hard to find in the market.

4. Vinyl

Vinyl is one of the most popular synthetic based materials that is used to create professional boxing gloves. The adoption of Vinyl in the production of gloves became mainstream after its breakthrough in the market, as it was cheaper than the alternatives, easy to produce and maintain. Vinyl based gloves are good for training purposes but aren’t quite durable as compared to leather-based gloves. They also offer a different feel when it comes to sparring and isn’t the best choice to sustain frequent heavy bag workouts. One of the major drawbacks of using Vinyl based gloves is that it develops an odour when used for a longer period. This is a common drawback in most synthetic gloves that are available in the market. If you are in your initial training days, then you can opt for Vinyl boxing gloves as they are cheaper and easier to maintain in addition to being eco-friendly.

5. Polyurethane (PU)

Most modern-age MMA and boxing gloves use Polyurethane (PU) which is also a synthetic material like Vinyl. It differs from Vinyl based gloves when it comes to flexibility and durability. It can handle frequent heavy bag workouts better than Vinyl gloves, which are also less flexible. The PU gloves also offer a better look and feel when compared to leather boxing gloves. Depending on the quality and cost of the Polyurethane gloves, they can be very light and a good fit for sparring or heavy bag work. There are various types of PU gloves that one can choose, depending on their requirements and budget. Like Vinyl gloves, these are also easy to maintain but can develop an unpleasant odour when used frequently for a longer time.

6. Microfibre

The newest synthetic based material that is being extensively used in a wide range of protective gear is Microfibre. It has a whole lot to offer when compared with the traditional synthetic glove or leather-based gloves. Microfibers offer much more breathability as compared to PU or Vinyl. This helps to overcome one of the major drawbacks that are evident in synthetic based gloves, i.e., the unpleasant odour. It offers good ventilation and is more durable than any other synthetic based gloves available in the contemporary. However, Microfibre based boxing gloves can be expensive and a bit difficult to maintain.

Final words

Which one is a better choice among the leather and synthetic gloves that are available in the market? Well, the answer to this question is highly subjective and requires evaluation of one’s needs, budget, and skills. As we have seen earlier, both synthetic and leather-based gloves have their pros and cons. In general, leather gloves are more durable and odour free than synthetic gloves. However, the synthetic ones are easier to maintain and also cost less. The advent of Microfibre gloves has made synthetic gloves more lucrative to people, given their dynamic properties.


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