Hand wraps are NOT optional for boxers. It is true that wearing them will not always prevent injury to your hands. I, and several other fighters that I’ve known, have broken hands, fingers, or wrist bones even with proper wrapping, tape, and/or gloves. However, these injuries were not as severe or as crippling as they would have been without the wraps. They also didn’t happen as often. Injuries from not wrapping can range from a broken finger to a severed artery. Wrap your hands. Wrap. Your. Hands. WRAP YOUR HANDS.
Two Types of Wraps
Hand wraps are probably the most individualized aspect of boxing gear, with competition outfits being the only exception. The first decision to make is which kind you'd like to wear. A lot of serious boxers have moved to the gel glove hand wraps pictured above in the last few years. These are extremely easy and fast to slip on, and with the extra wrap material around the glove found in the Ringside brand, you can still make your all important X's across the top of the hand to protect those extremely delicate bones on the tops of your hands that are so prone to shattering. The gel padding on the tops of the knuckles is a much simpler way to get that extra protection for those who are used to piling wraps on top of their knuckles, like I am. The only real downsides that I have seen to these wraps is making sure that you replace them often enough when the gel gets worn out (and noticing before damage happens), and cleaning them is harder than the other wraps. They have been out for a few years now and are used by serious boxers every day.
The other type of wraps are more traditional, and are what I personally use because my equipment gets so dirty and I'm lazy about cleaning it, and because I'm stubborn and very slow to change over. These are very similar to ACE bandages, and will feel closer to the way your hands are taped during competition (another reason that I have stuck with them: even the slightest changes in the way my gear feels throws me for a bit of a loop on competition day). There are several kinds, which we'll get into below.
Lengths, Styles, and Brands Oh My!
As far as brands go, I'm partial to Ringside. The feel of the wrap material tends to be more consistent than other brands. I cannot stand by that promise as it seems like every time I order new wraps they're made of a slightly different material. TITLE is the other brand that I would say is close to Ringside's quality, but they are often a little stiffer and less stretchy, so I stick to Ringside whenever I have enough time to order online--which is the biggest plus side to purchasing TITLE: you can run into any TITLE boxing place and they all sell hand wraps inside. All other brands have to be ordered online.
I know you may be saying to yourself, "TITLE isn't the only place I can buy them! Dick's and even Walmart has those Everlast ones in their stores!" Yes. They do carry 108" regular hand wraps. These are not what you want unless you are a child with very small hands. I have child-sized woman hands and they are too short for me. They also have no stretch to them because they aren't Mexican Style handwraps. When you're looking to purchase handwraps, you want to make sure that they stretch like an ACE bandage, and that they're 180". I have recently seen some of these 180" in those stores that used to carry the 108" exclusively, but they still aren't made from the all-important stretchy materials. There are also "Elastic" Mexican style--these are thinner and more stretchy. They feel great, but are not quite supportive enough for my taste.
As long as you've got your 180" and it's Mexican Style, you will eventually find the brand that you feel offers the most protection and comfort for you. Since everyone has their own special way of wrapping their hands, there's a brand out there that works best with each of those styles. Make sure to check out our hand wrapping video here if you're a beginner trying to buy your first sets of equipment.
Lastly, the importance of flair and personal style! No matter what you have in mind for a special print or color, I guarantee you can find it in at least one of the brands! Don't settle for "Plain Jane" in this area unless that is your signature style!
TITLE Print Mexican Style Hand wraps 180"
TITLE Elastic Mexican Hand Wrap, 180"
TITLE Classic Limited Gel-X Glove Wraps
Ringside Mexican Style Training Boxing Hand Wraps
Ringside APEX Hand Wraps
Ringside Gel Shock Training Boxing Hand Wraps-120"
Time to wash your wraps?
Ever wondered the best way to wash hand wraps? Put them in a mesh bag and throw them into the washing machine. I recommend witching between two pairs of wraps for a week if you practice 5 days a week, then washing them each week. I always throw mine in the drier too, but if you are especially sensitive to smell then I would lay them out to air dry instead of using the drier heat. It has a tendency to bake in the sweat smell after a while! You can wash them every time you wear them using the mesh bag if you've had an especially sweaty practice or have extremely sensitive smell or skin, but know that this will wear your Velcro out very quickly. The best bag to use for just one or two pairs of wraps? Those mesh bags they sell for safely washing bras!
3-Pack of Premium Bra Wash Bags for Delicates - Double-Wall Protection Laundry Bags