Horsehair has been used as padding in boxing gloves for decades. It is environmentally friendly and durable. On the negative side it compresses, and gloves can lose shape over time, although you can work the padding around through the covering to redistribute it. Horsehair padded gloves are regarded as “puncher’s gloves” and allow you to hit with force, but they're not as kind to your hands as foam padding.
Foam is now the most common padding in training gloves. Polyurethane foam, latex foam and PVC foam are used in different ratios according to the type of glove. Foam blends do not compress, and they hold their shape well. Foam padding is cheap to produce and keeps the price of gloves low. Foam-padded gloves provide good protection for the hands, which is why they have become so common.
Blended Horsehair and Foam Padding
When foam started being used as padding for boxing gloves, they tended to be padded with either just horsehair or just foam. Now many professional fighting gloves have a combination of horsehair and foam padding. Some have horsehair on the knuckle side and foam on the back of the hand, while others have an outer layer of foam and an inner layer of horsehair. These gloves can be quite expensive and are scientifically designed, often with air vents that help with shock absorption.
Selecting Boxing Gloves
When choosing gloves, the padding should not be the main decider in your selection. Choose gloves that are comfortable and fit well. Protecting your hands is very important, and for general training you might find foam works best for you. The newer gel padding is becoming common but gives less protection than foam and breaks down more quickly. Buy gloves that are well-made and research your choice in user reviews before you buy.