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Guide: How to Choose Boxing Hand Wraps

Guide: How to Choose Boxing Hand Wraps

17th Apr 2017

No matter what type of boxing you do, it’s important to wear hand wraps and tape to protect and support your wrist and knuckles. Typically, they are strips of cloth wrapped around your hands and fastened with tape, which you apply before you put on your gloves. Wrapped correctly, they ensure you’re as safe as possible to punch.

Do they actually work? The simple answer is yes; the extra support protects your small bones and tendons when they take pressure from contact and direct hits by better distributing the shock. Not only that, they protect the skin from tearing and reduce your risk of strains. Down time from injury is therefore reduced.

To ensure you have the correct wraps and that you are wearing them in the most protective way, here’s our ultimate guide to hand wraps:

  • When to wear hand wraps
  • How to choose the right type and length
  • How to wrap your hands for boxing
  • What to wear with hand wraps
  • Pricing and recommended products

When to wear hand wraps

You should be wearing hand wraps whenever you train and essentially, any time you’re using the full force of your punch or training up to this. You should be diligent to protect your wrists when:

  • Gym training
  • Sparring with a partner
  • Any and all boxing fights (officials check)

It’s also good practise to wear them when training solo, for example shadow boxing, as it helps you know the feel of your hands and what is most comfortable for you. This is incredibly helpful when it comes to bouts. Another benefit is that you can train with enough confidence to hit full force, without having to worry about injuries. This gets you in the habit and makes for a better boxer.

If you haven’t been wrapping your hands and think you may have an injury, plan to see your doctor as soon as possible; the health of your hands is essential to your training.

How to choose the right type and length

Selecting your hand wrap type and length is an essential first step and will help you remain comfortable and be capable of completing repeated hits, especially when doing bag work. Generally, most boxers will use cloth wraps which are a good standard choice, whereas tape and gauze wraps are the lightest and widely available option.

So, what type is right for you?

Type Pros Cons
Tape & Gauze - Most protective
- Lightest option
- Athletic standard tape and gauze
- Variable sizes
- Take more time to wrap
- May require a person to assist you
- Cannot be reused
Reusable Cloth - Resusable
- Wide variety available
- Cost efficient
- Variable sizes
Can’t use velcro fastening if reusing
Elastic bandage
'Mexican style'
- Stretch to conform to your hand shape
- Do not loosen during a workout
- Breathable
Some boxers may find it too thick – personal preference

IMPORTANT. For all amateur level bouts you can only use certain types/lengths. ALL boxers must wear Crepe type bandages or AIBA approved wraps when competing. A bandage must not be longer than 4.5 metres and not shorter than 2.5 metres. The bandage should be 5.7cm (2 in.) wide. NO OTHER KIND OF BANDAGES MAY BE USED. The use of any kind of tapes, rubber or adhesive plaster as bandages, is strictly forbidden. A single strap of adhesive must not exceed 7.6 cms (3 in.) long in length and 2.5 cms (1 in.) wide, but in no case to exceed 5cm width may be used on the upper wrist to secure the bandages.

Tape and gauze

Favoured by professional boxers, it’s a popular choice to wrap your hands with gauze and then secure with a range of different tapes, such as gaffa tape. It can take a while to master the technique, so it’s recommended to have someone assist you early on. It’s known as being the lightest and most protective way to wrap your hands, so is ultimately worth the effort.

Reusable cloth

These are good standard wraps and are available from a number of top brands, such as Everlast, and come in a variety of different lengths and colour options. Cloth wraps are between 180 and 210 inches long and generally, the more protection you want, the longer you want the cloth so you have more material to wrap your hands.

For solo training and shadow boxing, opt for shorter lengths and the same goes if you have smaller hands. For sparring and for boxers with larger hands, choose longer lengths.

Elastic bandage ‘Mexican style’

Elastic hand wraps offer more stretch than reusable cloth, which means they are moveable and conform to your hands as they perform boxing moves. They don’t loosen as you bout or workout. Again, it’s down to personal preference which type of wrap you use; try both and see which helps your performance. As with cloth wraps, they’re durable but don’t last quite as long.

Length and width

As the variety of wraps and tapes come in a range of lengths, it’s important to know how much you need. A lot of this is down to trial and error but as a general rule of thumb, the larger your hands, the more cloth you will need to adequately wrap your hands securely.

In addition to length, you should also consider width. 2 inches is standard for a wrap width but you can find brands offering thinner or thicker widths. It is all down to personal preference rather than results. If you fasten with velcro, wider wraps will provide you with more grip.

Fastening materials

The vast majority of cloth and mexican style wraps are bought with the velcro fastening attached and are easy to use and durable. Velcro fastenings are considered as the most practical option and you can find a wide range of glove wrist and hand wraps where it’s built into the design. If however, you buy your own cloth without a completed fastening, it can damage and tear the material.

In addition to velcro, tape is a common fastening – see tape and gauze hand wraps in the table above. Tapes have serrated edges and strong adhesives, can be torn by and can be bought to 10m long.

Another option are hook and loop fastenings. We stock them as they allow you to get a longer life out of you’re wraps, meaning you save money in the long run.

Gel wraps?

You may also have heard of gel wraps, which aren’t actually wraps. They look and feel quite different and the main benefit is they are much quicker to use and they slip on like gloves. They support the knuckles well, don’t cover the fingers and many boxers have found they offer less wrist protection than their cloth counterparts.

The main reason to choose gel wraps is for convenience and practicality, especially as they can cost more than double that of cloth wraps. They’re worth being aware of on the chance they suit you and your training schedule. 

How to wrap your hands for boxing

As a standard hygiene practice, wash your hands and dry carefully before starting the process of wrapping.

How to wrap

There are several different methods to hand wrapping, depending on how tight you want it and whether you’re comfortable wrapping between each finger. Here is a step by step guide to a standard hand wrapping:

  1. With your dominant hand, pick up your hand wrap material.
  2. With the palm of your other hand facing down (away from you), spread your fingers fully and place your thumb on the hand wrap. Loop the material around to secure it in place.
  3. Take the cloth and wrap it around your wrist until you feel tightness, which will roughly be after three wraps. Check that it isn’t restricting your circulation.
  4. Repeat your wrap of the thumb, followed by the wrist, at least three more times until secure.
  5. Now, start to wrap the knuckles from right to left across the palm three times, as tightly as comfortable, with your fingers still spread apart.
  6. Afterwards, bring back around the wrist and loop around.
  7. Now, bring the wrap between your middle and ring finger and wrap across the palm, then bring back over the top of the thumb.
  8. From this position, wrap around the knuckles once again, then bring around your wrist for a final loop.
  9. Finish by securing your fastening (most likely velcro).

It’s useful to think of the wrap as a figure of eight pattern as you work from the palm between the fingers. This is otherwise known as a ribbon pattern.

Video Guide

We recommend viewing this video guide for beginners, available on YouTube, to better visualise how to wrap your hands. It’s produced by the team at Everlast.

We also recommend reading this text guide from ABAE here.

After use/Cleaning

Check the wrap for any tears before rolling up and putting in the washing machine on a standard wash. Invest in a mesh bag to put the wraps in so they don’t get caught or tangled in the machine. Leave out to dry before using again.

What to wear with hand wraps

Hand wraps can be worn with boxing gloves, MMA gloves and sparring gloves, as well as wrist straps and additional padding. It’s essential when buying your gloves that you try them on with your standard hand wraps. This way you get a real context for how they fit and how comfortable they ultimately are. Check out our guide on buying boxing gloves here.

There are no restrictions as to the type of gloves you can wear when you’ve wrapped your hands and as we’ve established, for safety you should always be wearing hand wraps with gloves.

Pricing and recommended products

We recommend you choose a top brand for your chosen type of hand wraps and pick a larger length if you feel you need more protection, or have a number of fights coming up where you will be testing your hands and strength.

A good price for a standard hand wrap with velcro fastening would be around £5 and it’s good practise to buy multiple hand wraps so you always have a clean, quality pair to use. Even, for example, simply when your other pairs are in the wash.

As most brands offer a range of colours and styles, you can’t go wrong by choosing wraps from the following:

  • Pro Box
  • Adidas (competition approved)
  • Ringside
  • Bytomic
  • Exigo
  • Sandee
  • BBE

For regular bouts, these wraps provide heavy duty protection and comfort so you can concentrate on the task at hand. The colourful range from Lonsdale, click here, have good elasticity and hook and loop fastenings for longer life.

Have you got any advice to share with the Boxfit UK community? Leave as a comment below and let us know what’s worked for you and what you’d recommend.

Note: all prices subject to change. All correct at time of posting.