Time on the mats is like nothing else. The heat, the atmosphere, everything is great until you start getting cauliflower ears. It might look cool outside of the gym, but you will regret not wearing headgear when your ears become like solid rocks.
Cauliflower ears might be a badge of honor to some, but it could have serious negative effects on your health: hearing loss, ringing, ear, ear explosion. So it might look cool in the beginning, but you might want to consider the long-term health effects of not having ear protection.
Rest assured, though, we’ve done the research, and in this article, we go through some of the best headgear on the market to protect your ears and wrestle with nothing holding you back.
Top Picks for the Best Headgear
Best Wrestling Headgear Reviewed
After months of trial and error, experimenting with different wrestling headgear, we bring you the most thorough and best wrestling headgear review that you will ever need.
Cliff Keen f5 Tornado Headgear – Great For Competition
- Patented "Air Vent System" technology
- 80% greater audible sound technology
- Power tab on-the-fly strapping system
The Cliff Keen F5 Tornado headgear is made of high-quality foam that covers the ear cups. What’s surprising is that you can easily hear through the headgear without any issues, which makes them great for competition since you need to hear the coach’s instructions in a crowded room.
The fit is excellent, as any youth athlete or adult can wear it. The four straps system makes the headgear fit nicely, with two on the top of the head and two on the back of the head. They’re also very easy to wash, all you need is disinfectant wipes, and you’re good to go!
The headgear is also suitable for BJJ if you’re training with high-level grapplers. One drawback would be that the headgear makes it hard to shake out of triangles! But it’s one of the best headgear for use in BJJ we’ve found yet.
Many wrestling headgear reviews advise against using wrestling headgear for BJJ, but we think it’s a mistake. Take the Cliff Keen F5 Tornado: they fit great and offer proper protection. In short, you can wear them in any grappling setting. We would argue that since BJJ doesn’t carry the same intensity of training as wrestling, the Cliff keen f5 tornado wouldn’t be an issue.
- 4 Strap System
The new Cliff Keen E58 is the latest signature 4-strap head guard based on the revolutionary design of the original foam E41 that Cliff Keen patented nearly 50 years ago.
Similar to the original, the E58 has VNF foam, which helps reduce friction on the mat. It’s fully adjustable to fit youth sizes. If you’re planning on buying a headguard for your son, the Cliff Keen E58 is a no-brainer.
The Cliff Keen E58 is among the most durable and best wrestling headgear out there. Why is that? Cliff Keen was an American coach who worked as the head coach of the University of Michigan collegiate wrestling team from 1925 to 1970. He had founded Cliff Keen Athletic to sell his invention of the wrestling headgear. Furthermore, he turned the company into the largest wrestling provider in the United States. This makes more sense that they hold the highest quality standard to this day when wrestling headgear. So if you want some durable wrestling headgear to last you years, the E58 is the way to go.
Adidas Response Earguard – Most Comfortable
- Injection Molded Internal Plastic Ear Cap
- Soft Padding, Foam Covering
- Undeniable Protection
Adidas’s Response Earguard gets the win for the most comfortable ear guard on the market. It’s designed with a soft chin cup and a crown strap holder. The Adidas wrestling headgear provides top-notch security on the mats.
The Adidas ear guard was designed to fit all sizes, from children to adults. The comfort it provides is due to its light weight: it makes it easy to adjust and prevents any unnecessary pressure on the head and neck.
It has a 4-strap designed for a better customizable fit. The ear guard has an internal ear cup to ensure optimal ear protection. The soft foam covers the inside of the ear guard for better shock absorption. A lot of headgear doesn’t have good foam inside, which can be pretty uncomfortable, especially when your ears are being crushed by pressure in practice.
The lightweight nature of the Adidas headgear and the snug 4-strap system makes it comfortable to wear. Adding to that the internal foam of the headgear, you can rely on it to ease hard impacts on the ear. Overall, Adidas is one of the best headgear out there if you’re looking for comfort.
- Injection molded LDPE shell
- Injection molded EVA ear pad
ASICS has been knocking it out of the park with headgear lately. You get a chin strap and two slot holders, which keep them together, removing any unnecessary movement of the headgear. You have two straps on top of your head and two straps holding the back of your head: this is set up to prevent the headgear from moving in any direction while wrestling.
The colors and overall comfortable design make this headgear an eye-pleaser: this is where style meets function.
ASICS are also machine washable, so there is no need to Google special instructions on washing your wrestling headgear.
Designs are a feature that some don’t like to overlook when it comes to headgear; ASICS delivers: the molded foaming designed with those ear cups helps reduce friction, making it easier on the athlete’s ears.
Venum Wrestling Headgear – Best for Hard Training
- Made Of Neoprene For Better Comfort And Agility
- Three Way Enclosure System Provides A Perfect Fit And Allows You To Adjust The Size
- High Density Foam Ensures Your Ears Will Be Protected While Using This Product
The Venum grappling ear guard provides some additional features that are up to par with its high price. Most ear guards are made of plastic, so they’re usually cheaper, but the Venum ear guard is made of neoprene fabric, which provides an excellent cushion and a grip on the ears.
It comes with injection-molded shells great for ear protection, preventing any hard impacts and rubbing on the mats. The fabric quality of the ear guard makes it hard to damage during hard training, not to mention the comfort it provides. The Venum ear guards also much easier to wash; you can throw them in the washing machine and not worry about them deteriorating.
Overall the Venum headgear is great for veterans of grappling, and it offers all the qualities expected for ear protection. The fit is excellent, the headgear is made of good materials to last in hard training sessions, but the price is too high. If pricing isn’t an issue for you, then the Venum headgear is definitely worth the investment.
Matman Adult Headgear – Best Value
- PROTECTED: Prevent unsightly cauliflower ear with the easiest to adjust, most comfortable, and...
- EASY TO ADJUST: Our specially designed straps allows you to find your perfect fit without...
- CLEAN & DURABLE: Don’t let the Ultrasoft Neoprene throw you, our headgear can stand up to the...
The Matman headgear is a cheaper version of the Venum headgear if you’re on a budget.
It’s made in the USA, one of the biggest hubs for wrestling sports, so it makes sense that it would cater to all wrestlers’ needs. The headgear is made of soft neoprene fabric, making it breathable and anti-microbial: the headgear allows for good moisture absorption, especially when you’re on the mats sweating.
It offers a 2-strap system and velcro straps to provide a more comfortable experience during your wrestling practice. Those straps are easily adjustable to fit any size. It has an inner ear cup paired with an outer cup: comfort and protection combined as one feature ideal for cauliflower ears prevention.
The Matman’s Ultrasoft molded foaming and the anti-microbial fabric is undoubtedly an upgrade to its competitors on this list: it lets your ears breathe and doesn’t hinder your hearing while in wrestling practice. The value is balanced: you get decent headgear for a price more affordable than other headgear on the market.
- PEACE OF MIND: Prevent UGLY cauliflower ear with the easiest to adjust, most comfortable, and...
- PROTECTION: Train and fight with more intensity knowing your ears are protected. Our hard EVA...
- EASY TO ADJUST: Our New Design allows you to fine tune your fit without removing your headgear...
It’s a hybrid model in terms of design, borrowing from the classic plastic headgear designs while staying true to the good neoprene fabric that some of its competitors offer. To prevent cauliflower ears, you need to let your ears breathe and provide them with protection.
The hard EVA ear guards will withstand the rough training, protecting your head and ears from the usually rubbing of the wrestling mats. The velcro strap of the headgear is also placed on the back to avoid any discomfort when you’re wrestling.
The chin strap of the Adapt wrestling headgear is made of triple-stitched velcro, adding durability to one of the most vulnerable areas in wrestling headgear. Some wrestling headgear tends to have tough cups, but it sometimes hinders the athlete from hearing adequately. However, with the Adapt headgear, the ear cups are aired out by three holes that don’t hinder your hearing.
The Adapt headgear offers are slightly different in design and functionality compared to other headgear in the market. The soft ear padding deviates from the traditional plastic ear cups: hearing is not affected with this one. Ear cups tend to be tight sometimes when they’re made out of plastic, especially when it’s low-quality headgear.
The adapt strap design stands out with extra strong stitching ensuring the wrestler’s safety and comfort. Adapt headgear ticks off innovation, making it one of the safest headgear out there.
- Sleek-profiled ear cups, providing enough room and protection for your ears to fit comfortably
- The Fusion Headgear adjusts properly and snuggly in seconds with the “On-The-Fly” Strapping...
- Soft, yet protective closed cell FOAM, based on the revolutionary design of Cliff Keen’s...
The Cliff Keen EF66 comes with a blended design between the old-school headgear designs and the modern headgear designs.
The design doesn’t hinder its functionality either: the ear cups have enough space to preserve and fit your ear without any problems. The ear cups are made of soft, enclosed cell foam, just like its old-school Cliff Keen designs.
One can easily clean the headgear by wiping it with disinfectant soap and water or antibacterial wipes, making it easier to re-use safely. This wrestling headgear is furnished with a strap at the top of the head and a sturdy chin strap so that it doesn’t slide off if you had hard wrestling practice.
The Cliff Keen EF66 is at the top of the competition when it comes to quality wrestling headgear. With a spaced-out ear guard and a double strap system, it ensures comfort and safety. It doesn’t prevent the wrestler from hearing properly. Hearing is crucial, especially when the trainer is giving instructions during practice or wrestling competition.
- High levels of protection for the ears whilst grappling
- One Size Fits ALL
- Hardened ear cups
The Playwell ear guard might be on the lower end in terms of quality than other wrestling headgear, but for jiu-jitsu, this one is perfect. This is because Brazilian jiu-jitsu doesn’t have the same explosive pace as wrestling, so any headgear usually stays put. The Playwell headgear is affordable compared to the other headgear on this list, so if you’re a jiu-jitsu athlete, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a decent one.
The hardened ear cups will prevent you from getting a cauliflower ear: the foam padding all over the headgear is compartmentalized to ensure proper ear protection. You can also use them for other sports such as mixed martial arts.
Although the Playwell ear guard might not be the best in quality wrestling headgear, it will do just fine for any jiu-jitsu or mixed martial arts athlete. The compartmentalized padding all over the headgear is worthy to note, because here it doesn’t just guard your ears, but your forehead as well.
- Designed to be the most comfortable head guard on the market with the softness of neoprene...
- The depth is 1 1/4 inches compared to 1 inch for most ear guards. It is ideal if the wrestler...
- Soft padding inside and out, for comfort and easy-to-adjust hook and loop closure straps
The Matman Wrestling headgear is made for youth wrestlers who want to find a cheap wrestling headgear that still provides protection and avoids cauliflower ears. It’s made of soft neoprene foam to shield your head and ears.
The good thing about the Matman wrestling headgear is its thickness: the depth is 1 1/4 inches compared to most headgear that is usually about 1 inch thick. The chin strap is a hook and loop closure system that makes for easily adjustable headgear.
The Matman headgear also has ventilation holes, helping to cool off your head as well as allowing you to hear your coach’s instructions. The Matman fits well into any head and allows for proper training.
The Matman headgear does just enough to compete with the other headgear on this list. Its classical and simplistic design does not trump its function. It will certainly do the job of preventing you from getting a wrestling ear, with its soft padding and thick ear cups.
- 🌏★★★Ear Guards Wrestling Krav Maga Judo UFC
- 🌏★★★Velcro Fastening
- 🌏★★★Plastic Ear Cups
Wrestling headgear comes in all shapes and sizes, but not all are made equal; some are more effective than others. However, the Shihan headgear is very low profile, so if you’re on a small budget and want something to keep the ball rolling, it’s the right choice for you. Yes, it’s not the best out there, but you need affordable headgear that saves you the trouble of getting cauliflower ear.
The fit is comfortable as it is equipped with a velcro strap that will ensure a proper fit around the head. The ear cups are made of plastic ensuring protection.
It’s great for wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and even boxing; they’re very firm. The only issue might be with the velcro wearing out over time. The headgear is by no means then end-all-be-all, but it will get you through at least 3 to 4 months of training.
When it comes to wrestling headgear, some of us are looking for a quick-fix because we don’t have the budget. Shihan wrestling headgear still gets the job done with proper ear protection, snug fit, and comfort. Unfortunately, it doesn’t perform as well as its competitors since it’s not up to par with their quality.
Best Wrestling Headgear – 2021 Buyer’s Guide
You might be asking yourself, what is the best wrestling headgear for wrestling? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. Headgear features vary from one brand to another, so that’s why we break down to you the main ones to be on the lookout for. But first, let’s discuss cauliflower ears.
What are Cauliflower Ears?
Cauliflower ear, also known as perichondrial hematoma or wrestler’s ear, is swelling of the ears after a hard impact. It is often due to the blood pooling out of the cartilage in between the skin.
Some of the common symptoms of cauliflower ear are ringing in the ear, headache, and blurred vision. Since there’s no treatment for it other than draining, the best way to protect yourself from cauliflower ear is by wearing wrestling headgear.
How Do I Take Care of My Cauliflower Ear?
Usually, some guy in the gym can drain your ear with an insulin needle. While it’s recommended to consult a doctor and drain your ear in a sterile environment, there isn’t really all that much that can go wrong. Be aware though, the risks outweigh the rewards if something goes wrong.
Optionally, after draining, you can wrap a band-aid around it, let it rest for a few days before you head back to practice.
You can also treat cauliflower ears early on by icing them for 15 minutes periods during the day. This will help reduce the swelling and prevent further complications.
We recommend you get hard-shell headgear with velcro straps if you’re starting in wrestling. Velcro straps, however, can wear out a little faster than other types of straps.
The other type of headgear that is time tested is the classic vinyl-straps headgear: these have been around for a long time, they’re very durable and provide a snug fit. The downside of these types of headgear is that it could take some time to adjust the side because the vinyl straps are firmly attached to the hard shells of the headgear.
You will notice that some headgear comes with a chin strap, and others come with a chin cup: there’s no difference between them; it’s just a matter of preference. Some people prefer a chin cup because it’s not as irritating as a chin strap.
You’ve got two types of headgear found online: the hard shell headgear and the foam-covered headgear.
If you’re wrestling in high school or college, then it’s advisable to go with the hard shell headgear. These types of headgear are great for wrestling because it protects your head from all the hand fighting and head control in the sport. When shooting for leg takedowns, you’re exposing your ear against your opponent’s thigh, repeat this over time, and your ears will turn into cauliflower ears.
For Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the soft foam headgear is more than enough since there isn’t as much pinning and takedowns as in wrestling. However, if your ears swell up badly, you could benefit from having a pair of hardened cups headgear just for better protection to an already swollen ear.
Size and Weight
Usually, the hard-shell headgear comes in as heavier because of the fabric it is made of: vinyl, plastic, and other stiff material. On the other hand, the softly padded headgear tends to be lighter and easier to use.
The sizing of wrestling headgear depends on each brand and model: the headgear with vinyl straps is usually harder to adjust because you need to hook your fingers inside the cup to adjust the size.
How to know if the headgear fits? Well, it should be snug and not move around much while still providing you with comfort. The headgear should fit correctly, and you should pull all the straps to make it stable. Some of the hard-cups headgear does take some time to adjust, though, but you won’t have to worry about it once it’s done.
Price is always a question to keep in mind when buying wrestling headgear; most of the time, the higher the price, the better the quality. With that being said, it’s not always the case since we’ve provided you with some good examples of suitable headgear that won’t break the bank. A good wrestling headgear will cost you around 40 to 60 bucks; anything above that is overkill.
When looking for good headgear, your number one priority is protection, and then comfort comes in second: you want to find a headgear that provides both, if possible.
To clean your headgear, you can spray it with disinfectant, then wash it in the sink with dish soap and water, leaving it to dry. You can even use alcohol mixed with water to kill off any bacteria permanently, don’t use a product too strong to affect the headgear’s foam.
Now that you’re aware of the different aspects of wrestling headgear, we hope you can move on and choose the best wrestling headgear that suits your needs, whether you’re a jiu-jitsu athlete or a wrestling athlete.
Does Wrestling Headgear Prevent a Concussion?
Most wrestling headgear does not protect against concussions; that’s because they’re not meant to protect your head. Wrestling headgear is designed to protect your ears from the constant wear and tear of hard impacts and rubbing against the mats.
When Should I Start Wearing Headgear?
You should start wearing the headgear if your ears feel sore post-training. Having a good pair of headgear is also advisable if you train multiple days a week. If your ear swells up, you should drain it first, then put your headgear on for your next training session.
Some people think a cauliflower ear will make you look tough, but in reality, a highly degraded cauliflower ear can damage your ears permanently. Also, if you work a desk job, or if you need to look presentable for your job, it would be wise to use headgear to avoid any issues at work.
Do You Have To Wear Headgear in Wrestling?
Yes, especially for the youth, because they have sensitive ears, wrestling headgear is a requirement in competitions either way. They help prevent cauliflower ears which can be a pain to manage once they appear. They also offer protection for the head and jaw since wrestling is part of combat sports.