If you are going to start boxing at a club with a view to fighting in the future and having to spar, then choosing a headguard is a very important decision you will have to make.
There are two main styles of head gear, the first is the open face head guard and the second is the face saver head guard which will have an aluminium bar running across the face and protecting your nose.
Which one you choose is dependant upon your goals. If you are looking to compete in future then you will probably prefer the open face headguard because these are used in white collar events and most amateur competitions, so by practising or sparring with this headguard it means there is not a huge adjustment to the actual fight itself because you are wearing the same kind of headguard in both scenarios.
If your main goal with boxing is to enjoy it as a hobby then you would be better off choosing the face saver headguard. This is because I see little point in taking shots to the face and nose if you do not want to compete, you are much better served by protecting your face fully when you are sparring and enjoying the extra protection a face saver headguard provides.
Open face headguards are great choices because they offer better visibility and are generally very light weighted which means you can box more freely. They do not offer as much protection as face saver headguards which are quite bulky but offer less visibility. The visibility and size of a face saver is a concern for me in my experience. The face saver can be large due to its extra padding which means you will be hit with shots you wouldn’t normally be hit with. You can get around this by investing a better quality face saver headguard, such as the ones made by Cleto Reyes, Twins and Winning, these are smaller and lighter than the standard face savers yet still provide enough protection to the nose and head. The visibility is quite poor with the majority of face saver headguards which is troubling because you can lose sight of punches, especially uppercuts and the punch you don’t see coming is usually the punch which hurts the most. Thankfully the extra padding somewhat compensates for this, it is very unlikely you can take a painful shot to the head wearing a face saver headguard because of the amount of padding it holds. If you are new to sparring then face saver headguards also make a good choice because you will get hit often as you get used to fighting in the ring so having the protection of a face saver is reassuring.
Open face headguards whilst not offering the same protection are great choices because there is less of an adjustment when fighting in events or fighting without headguards. A common problem I have found with open faced headguards though, depending on the material of the inside of the headguard, is sweat dripping down into your eyes whilst sparring. You’ll want to make sure you have a look at the material inside the headguard and make sure this is not the case else it can become quite off putting having sweat drip down your eyes whilst trying to fight your opponent off at the same time.
I actually use both types and this is what I would recommend. There are times I have used the open faced headguard and times I have used the face saver, other times I do not use a headguard. It all depends on who your opponent is and what your goal is when stepping inside the ring for sparring. If you plan on competing then face savers make a good addition because you don’t want to get cut or bruised in sparring in the lead up to a fight, so wearing the face saver headguard offers almost a guarantee that you won’t suffer any sort of facial injury that would cause a set back to your fight.
Below are a few choices for you to consider, all of these headguards I have either worn myself or they have been used by boxers training in the same gym as me.
The RDX Leather Face Saver Headguard offers a lot of protection but poor visibility. This is the cheaper option. It will do the job and is a good quality build making it great value for money. Makes a good choice for those new to sparring.
This is one of the open faced head guards I use. It is very light weight which is great and the visibility is good. Make sure you get the right size as it is larger than I expected. Be wary of the sweat dripping down into your eyes if you do end up with one too big for you.
I’m a big fan of the Adidas open face headguards, good protection, good visibility, good looking and light weight. A little on the expensive side but when it comes to protecting your head you are better off with choosing one more expensive than one on the cheaper end.
Boxing Coach Strength and Conditioning Coach Boxing Writer for the Ringside Report Boxing Author of: (Available for download on Amazon) The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit! Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle