Headgear is a must during sparring and amateur boxing competition. But which one is best?
One way to determine which style you may like is to try out the communal headgear that's already in the gym. Yes, that means the headgear that has already been sweated in and bled in by others. The communal headgear probably smells, too. No one said that boxing is a neat and clean sport. Luckily, you might be able to test some out before everyone who doesn't have their own headgear starts using them for sparring purposes.
Mouth guard headgear has a bar across the bottom that protects the mouth and the chin (to an extent).
Noseguard headgear has a bar across to protect the nose. Notice there's not much protection of the chin.
Some go for full face coverage in headgear, but most complain about the ability to see well when they have this type on. Some coaches and boxers don't believe that this type of headgear is effective. I saw a sparring session end barely before it started because one boxer didn't want to spar the other boxer who was wearing full face headgear.
This is open faced headgear. There are no cheek protectors.
This is an example of headgear for the Masters Division (boxers aged 35 years and older). This type of headgear is usually very heavily padded. Some boxers have reported that it is difficult to see using this headgear, but test it out for yourself.
Always remember that the purpose of headgear is to lessen the amount of cuts and bruises the wearer may receive. I've seen people agree to spar for the first time because they believe headgear is like a superhero's costume. Headgear will NOT prevent anyone from being knocked out. Only dilligent practicing of footwork, slipping punches, sticking and moving, ducking, etc., will help to avoid that scenario.
I would not advise going to the nearest local sporting goods store to purchase headgear. My experience with such stores is that they carry limited amounts of boxing equipment, and they seldom carry top of the line, brand-name items. If they do have headgear to buy, it's usually the kind on the low end of the cost scale. You don't have to spend an arm and a leg, but it's not wise to go to cheap on headgear, either. It pays to go for the best protection possible. It's better to buy from a known, reputable dealer of boxing equipment, such as Ringside, Everlast, or Title.
The headgear should fit snugly, but not so tight that it causes migrains. The last thing a boxer needs to have headgear slipping around. Whether that happens during sparring or a regular match, slipping headgear opens a boxer up to injury. During a match, time is wasted when a boxer has to be sent to the corner so their coach can readjust the headgear. When the boxer tries to readjust it themselves during sparring or a match, their focus is not on what punches the other boxer is throwing at that moment.
Velcro may be quicker to close up, but in the long run, Velcro wears out. It's better to buy headgear that laces up in the back, and has a chin buckle.
Whether you plan to compete or not, check to see if the headgear has the USA Boxing Certification tag on it. That's usually a sign that you're getting some decent headgear.
Headgear should be cleaned, or at least wiped out after each use. If it's not taken care of, the inside of the headgear will stay moist from sweat. Use mild soap or spray with something like Fabreeze and let it dry. Some people use hair dryers to dry the inside, but put the setting on low. If you have a hook in the house, hang the headgear up on that to help dry it.
Gotta have gloves to go with the headgear!
Please be mindful of head injuries.