If you’ve trained in a muay thai gym then you know how important good thai pads are for training. They are an essential tool for the developing striker. Even the top pros still do a lot of padwork every session, sometimes multiple sessions a day.
The best muay thai pads for most people are the Fairtex Curved MMA Muay Thai Pads. If you’re in a rush go ahead and check those out. Read the post below for a detailed breakdown into what helped us decide.
In this Article
What are Thai Pads?
If you don’t already know what thai pads are they are a padded training tool for nak muay (thai boxing practitioners). You also see them used a lot in kickboxing and MMA.
Thai pads, also known as kick pads, are thick, rectangular pads worn on the forearms of your padholder. They absorb the impact of your kicks, punches, knees, and elbow strikes while you train. Thai pads protect your trainer while also letting you practice your technique.
In addition to taking strikes, your padholder can use the pads to strike back at you, forcing you to dodge, block, and counter strike.
Why You Need Thai Pads
As I mentioned earlier, thai pads help you practice strikes, dodging, blocking, and countering. In the hands of a good pad holder, doing padwork also helps you with movement, timing, ring control, and distance control.
They are an essential training tool that all fighters need to practice. Pads allow you to simulate fighting while minimizing damage to your sparring partners. This means that you can do more reps. More reps means more training. And more training means you’ll get better faster.
For training at home, thai pads come second only to the heavy bag. If you don’t already have a bag then read our guide on the best heavy bags for muay thai.
If you already have a bag or don’t have enough room for a bag and stand and you have a training partner then you need to get thai pads.
How to Choose Thai Pads
With so many different pads coming to the market you’ll need to know what makes pads good.
Curved VS Straight
Kick pads come in either curved or straight. Gear makers introduced curved pads fairly recently and they’ve been getting more and more popular.
See traditional, straight pads eventually get a curve in them from taking repeated kicks. Curved pads speed up the breaking in period by coming pre-curved from the factory.
The benefit of having a curve is that it allows you to catch kicks better. They let you kick from different angles and are better for beginners just starting out.
The size, thickness, and weight also need to be considered when buying thai pads.
The heavier your pads are, the harder they are to hold up for long training sessions. If the pads are too heavy the pad holder might slowly start holding them lower and lower. This hurts both the holder and the kicker. The kicker practices sloppier technique and will get less from the session. The holder might drop their hands at the wrong time and get hit in the face.
Pads that are too light are also detrimental to your training. If the pads are too light the holder might get injured. This means no more training for either of you.
You need to find the right size pads based on your height and weight.
Quality is another factor. You want your pads to take a beating and last a while. Good quality brands make highly durable products that will last a long time. Genuine leather is superior to synthetic material but will cost more and require some maintenance.
Best Thai Pads:
- High quality
- Curved design
- Hook and loop
- Extra thick and long sizes
These Fairtex kick pads are made of premium leather and they are the cream of the crop. Fairtex is a thai brand that started in the 1950s. They’ve been in the game for a long time and are known for making high-quality gear. I’ve had my pair for over four years and they take a good beating.
The KPLC2 also has the desired curve that will make it easier to consistently kick and dig into with your shins. This is good for both the striker and the pad holder. Speaking of easier to kick, these pads come with targets to help visualize and aim your strikes.
The padding is thick and dense, but not too heavy. The material will protect your forearms when holding. The tops are also filled with softer material so the holder can throw jabs and feints for the kicker to parry, slip, and counter. The idea is that if the kicker gets hit with the soft padding then it won’t hurt as much.
Another great thing about the Fairtex pads is that they each come with two hook and loop velcro straps. I usually like to keep the forearm strap a little loose and the wrist strap tight. With these pads, you have the option.
If you’re not pro or doing private sessions then it’s likely that you’ll have to switch pads with a partner. Velcro is better than buckles as it makes it easier to take the pads on and off.
There are different sizes depending on your needs:
- Small (KPLC1) – Length: 12.25″ x Width: 8″ x Thickness: 2.75″, Weight: 2.15 lbs – Only has one strap, but is good for children, youth, punching, smaller adults
- Standard (KPLC2) – Length: 15″ x Width: 8″ x Thickness: 3″, Weight: 3 lbs – Good for average sized adults
- Extra Thick (KPLC3) – Length: 15″ x Width: 8″ x Thickness: 3.5″, Weight: 3.6 lbs – Good for training with strong kickers, heavyweights
- Extra Long (KPLC4) – Length: 20″ x Width: 8″ x Thickness: 3″, Weight: 5 lbs – Good for training with tall fighters with long shins
The one downside is that they cost so much. If you have the money or if you see them on sale, then cop them ASAP. If your wallet is hurting, scroll down to see our budget picks.
Another downside is that even with the curve, they come a little stiff from the factory. This is not a deal-breaker, but it’ll take some rounds to break them in.
- High quality
- Thick Padding
The curved pads from Twins Special are also pretty damn good. Like Fairtex, Twins is a legit, premium-priced brand straight from Thailand. They last forever and you see them in every muay thai gym for a reason.
The Twins are thicker than the Fairtex. They’re dense and take a lot of the impact from kicks. Under the straps, there is padding for your forearms. It’s that density, extra padding, and quality leather that make these harder to break in.
Twins thai pads sizes:
- Small – Length: 13″ x Width: 7″ x Thickness: 2.5″
- Medium – Length: 14.5″ x Width: 7.5″ x Thickness: 3.5″
- Large – Length: 16″ x Width: 8″ x Thickness: 4″
Best Budget Pads:
- Not curved
Nak muay on a tight budget will appreciate these Contender thai pads. Contender is an economy brand, but the quality is decent for the price.
That said these pads will not last forever. Some users have noted that the stitching will eventually rip. The synthetic vinyl material won’t last as long as genuine leather, so be warned.
The hook and loop fasteners make it easy to put these on and take them off. They’ll stay put when working the pads. They only come in one size and are a little long.
The Contender pads are also not curved. They’re the blocky, classic style of pads so you will need to break them in. There’s also the risk of your strikes missing and glancing off.
Overall, it’s a good deal in terms of bang for your buck.
- Length: 16.5″ x Width: 7.5 x Thickness: 3 inches, Weight: 3.9 lbs
Which pads you buy is going to depend on your situation. If you want good quality then I recommend going with the Fairtex pads or the Twins if you can find them. Otherwise, if you need something quick to get started then consider the Contender pads.