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The Best BJJ Headgear and Ear Guards for BJJ Training in 2024

Interested in the best bjj headgear or ear guards for jiu jitsu?

Maybe your ears are starting to get sensitive, and you’re worried about cauliflower ear or maybe your ears already have signs of cauliflower ear, but you don’t want them to get worse.

Well we took a look at the most popular headgear for bjj and wrestling and compiled a full list and guide on some commonly asked questions about bjj headgear.

Best BJJ Head Gear and Ear Guards – At a Glance

Best Overall Winner: Cliff Kleen with chin cup*

Most Convenient Wrestling Style: Adidas Response

Best Softer Style: Matman


If you are new to wearing headgear (like I was) you may find it restrictive or that the chinstrap may dig into your neck. If this is the case, we recommend using a chin cup or going with softer fabric headgear like the one from ROAR .

BrandCliff KleenAdidasMatmanRoar
Our Rating4.5/54.75/54.75/54/5
Standout QualityDurableComfortPerfect for BJJAffordable
Biggest ConDifficult to adjust and needs chinstrapCan be bulky for BJJChin strap can dig into chin/neckDurability
Price Range$$$$$$$
ReviewLink to ReviewLink to ReviewLink to ReviewLink to Review
Comparing our most recommended headgear*

Best Headgear for BJJ – Full List

1. The Classic: Cliff Keen

Main Takeaway: If you wrestled in high school or college, the Cliff Keen headgear may be a familiar option for you when training Brazilian jiu jitsu. However, for those who didn’t wrestle, the thicker, harder foam around the ears may take a while to get used to and may be a bit uncomfortable in bjj training.

We also strongly recommend buying a chin cup if you do decide to go with Cliff Keen (without it – the headgear can be pretty uncomfortable.

ProsCons
Solid protectionPretty difficult to adjust (but only needs to be done once)
Stays Put
Easy to clean

2. Adidas Response Headgear

Main Takeaway: The biggest pro of this head gear is that it comes with a chin cup. Plus it is button snap (instead of straps). If you want harder shell headgear that comes these features it’s a great option.

ProsCons
Comes with chin strap*Not mainly designed for BJJ
Button snap chin strapMay be difficult to adjust initially
Fully adjustableLarger

3. Best Soft Style: Matman

Main Takeaway: If you are looking for a decent mix of harder wrestling style head gear with the softer, fabric ones made for bjj, matman is a great option. These are pretty comfortable and are slightly better in terms of quality when compared to other soft headgear like those from Roar or Gold BJJ. Again, softer headgear is generally preferred for Brazilian jiu jitsu.

ProsCons
Not bulky (when compared with harder shell ear guards)May provide less protection
Comfortable paddingMay run small
Easy to adjustchin strap digs into neck/chin*

4. Affordable Soft Style: Roar Wrestling Ear Guard

Main Takeaway: Affordable, simple, no frills headgear for bjj that doesn’t get in the way of training and isn’t overly uncomfortable for you or your training partners.

The reason why the ROAR headgear is rated above the Gold BJJ headgear is that I found the cushion on the chin strap to be slightly more comfortable. All other factors are pretty comparable.

ProsCons
AffordableCan get a bit hot
Pretty secureMay not be as durable as others
Doesn’t affect hearingCan be slightly difficult to insert velcro chin strap in
Great alternative to tradition wrestling headgear

While other headgear with harder shells (like those made specifically for wrestling like those from Cliff Kleen) do offer more protection, I’ve found them to be more uncomfortable for training Brazilian jiu jitsu – specifically when defending strangles like triangles or guillotines (plus I’m sure my training partners found it uncomfortable when I would use head pressure when passing).


5. Gold BJJ Headgear

Main Takeaway: I felt when testing Gold BJJ headgear that it offered protection without being too uncomfortable (for me or my training partners) and, overall, didn’t get in the way of training.

ProsCons
Designed especially for BJJDoesn’t offer as much protection as those with harder shells
Easy to adjust
Has reinforced stitching in straps

6. Cliff Keen EF66 Fusion

Main Takeaway: If you like the Cliff Keen Signature but prefer smaller headgear and don’t want to deal with the plastic straps, the Cliff Keen Fusion is a good option. It uses velcro straps and has slightly smaller foam padding for the ears

ProsCons
Easy to adjustMay need to be frequently adjusted
Smaller foam sizes
Pretty great fit

7. Keen F5 Tornado Headgear

Main Takeaway: These are basically a harder shell version of the Cliff Keen Signature headgear. With that comes more protection, better airflow but can definitely be uncomfortable for training partners. For these reasons, they aren’t really recommended for bjj training.

ProsCons
Good airflowMight be an inconvenience to a sparring partner
Easy to adjustOn the more expensive end
Good sound qualityHarder shells
More comfortable than Classic Cliff Keen headgear

8. ASICS Restrained Earguard

Main Takeaway: The Asics ear guard uses velcro instead of plastic straps and stays pretty secure on your head. However, the ear inserts may be a bit hard for Brazilian jiu jitsu.

ProsCons
Stays putStraps may be itchy to some
Easy to adjustVelcro may wear out over time
Padded chin strap
Lightweight and breathable
Bit more affordable than others

Why You Can Trust This List

This headgear list is compiled after our 11+ hours of research of recommendations and reviews of headgear for jiu jitsu and wrestling. We also went out and bought, tried, and tested the head gear on this list to provide a full, honest review of each (see images of me wearing and training in different headgear throughout this post!)

What Is the Best Headgear for Jiu-Jitsu?

What is the best headgear for jiu-jitsu?

The best headgear for jiu jitsu is one that:

  • provides padded for your head/ears
  • can be securely fitted to your head
  • is comfortable to wear
  • doesn’t limit your hearing
  • ultimately, it should go unnoticed during training.

Our recommendation for the best head gear for jiu jitsu is: Headgear by Roar

But of course, there’s more to that. A headgear must also be of good quality combined with comfort. It should have enough padding yet allows good airflow. 

Training headgear requires a reliable closing system that keeps it in place while not being too loose or tight.

Advantages of Wearing Headgear for BJJ 

Wearing a headgear when practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) may have the following advantages:

  1. Extra Protection – wearing protective headgear may also assist in promoting safety in training. It helps prevent or minimize the risk of sustaining significant injuries to the head.
  2. Prevents Ear Injury – a condition known as cauliflower ear, caused by repeated trauma to the ear, is one of the injuries one may avoid by wearing protective headgear.
  3. Better Focus – practitioners will be better able to concentrate on the procedures being taught and performed or on their opponents alone if they wear protective headgear.
  4. Boosts Confidence – if you feel more secure wearing protective gear for your head while training, you can gain confidence in executing the techniques and improving your performance.

Disadvantages of Wearing Headgear for BJJ 

Though head gear have many relevant benefits, they can also have their downsides, especially for people who will use them for the first time. 

Some possible disadvantages of using headgear when practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) are as follows:

  1. May Restrict Range of Movements – some types of headgear or the wrong way of adjusting how tight it goes can make it hard to move or turn your head while training.
  2. Can Cause More Sweating – because of this potential discomfort, you may need to take more frequent pauses to remove it and wipe off your sweat or replace it.
  3. Additional Weight – other headgear may add significant weight to your head, making it difficult and may cause pain or inconvenience when training.
  4. Reduced Visibility – some styles of headgear may also limit your side or peripheral vision.

Ear Protection and Martial Arts

Ear protection is an essential element of martial arts, as it can help protect your ears from injuries or even permanent hearing damage.

Whether you’re just starting out in martial arts or a seasoned fighter, it’s important to make sure you have the right ear protection.

There are several types of headgear available that provide varying levels of protection, but all of them share certain core features such as

  • adjustable straps
  • high-density foam padding

It’s important to not only choose a headgear that fits comfortably, but also one that offers adequate coverage for the sides and back of your ears.

Additionally, make sure the material used is breathable and comfortable enough for long training sessions.

How to Wear Headgear for BJJ

When Should You Consider Wearing Headgear?

Practitioners should consider wearing headgear when concerned with ear-related injuries such as cauliflower or feel their ears becoming sensitive and possibly developing an ear injury. 

Having that thought and feeling might distract and fear you from developing and executing proper techniques, so it would be good to wear one. 

Also, using headgear while training or competing in BJJ is strongly recommended if you have a history of ear injuries or have ever had an ear injury.

How to Keep Your Headgear from Moving

For some Headgear like those from Cliff Kleen, you may need to buy a separate chin strap to keep it in place better. This is very common from my experience wearing them and that of my training partners. Plus it will feel less like the headgear is choking you during training.

Your headgear should fit snugly but not be too restrictive. It really should be kept from moving when grappling. Don’t be discouraged – it will take time to get it to fit exactly right, but you should not notice it is there once it does.

How Do I Choose a Headgear

Choosing a headgear would depend on your preference and definition of comfort, good appearance, and what purpose it will serve you.

Nonetheless, when it comes to selecting a headgear for BJJ, there are a few things that you may want to take into consideration, including the following:

Quality

Try to choose headgear that is both well-made and long-lasting. Check the stitching carefully to guarantee that it can withstand your usage, whether often or regularly.

Protection

Since protecting the head and face from injury is the fundamental function of headgear, this should be the primary focus of your concern when selecting one.

It would help if you looked for headgear with sufficient cushioning that ultimately covers your head and face.

Cleanliness 

During training, a headgear will likely get sweaty and dirty; thus, you should look for an easy product to clean and maintain. For example, can it be thrown in the washer or does it have to be cleaned by hand?

Comfort

It would help if you had headgear that won’t bother you even after prolonged use. Check to see whether the headgear is made of breathable material.

Ensure that the helmet fits comfortably and does not hinder your senses, such as hearing and sight.

Durability

In most cases, the decision boils down to two options: hard plastic or soft and padded.

Either way, you should go for a headpiece constructed to endure and withstand the rigors of high-intensity exercise and training. And try to choose headgear with significantly reinforced stitching.

Material

Try to get protective headgear that won’t break down under the pressure of practice and competition. Several types of headgear are also produced using leather and synthetic materials like polyester nylon.

Always consider how the fabric will feel on your skin.

Straps

Look for headgear that has straps that can be adjusted and that is made of sturdy material. It guarantees the fit is secure and comfortable even in heavy training.

Style

Although this is a matter of your preference, consider the kind or style of headgear you should get.

Try to choose a headgear that covers the front, sides, and back of the head. During the workout, this will give complete protection.

It also comes with soft and hard ear guard shells, the soft type being more comfortable and the hard type as better on protection. 

Weight

When we wear headgear, most of us want lightweight gear. However, as in most settings, anything that weighs more also gives a higher level of protection.

But it is not enough to consider how much the helmet weighs; you must also think about how comfortable it will be to wear for long periods.

Sound 

It’s essential to remember that different types of headgear might reduce sound.

It would be best if you had headgear that effectively protects but does not disrupt your hearing that much. You should still be able to hear well when wearing one. 

Cost

Because the cost of headgear may range widely, it is crucial to consider your budget before making a purchase. 

But also remember that it’s worth considering the option of getting high-quality headgear.

Note: it is also good to consult your trainer or coach on which headgear would serve you best. They may have some specific suggestions.

The Best BJJ Headgear and Ear Guards for Training in 2024 – Conclusion

We’ve done quite a bit of research on this post and over 10 different types of headgear.

For those who are new to wearing headgear we recommend going with a softer model like those from ROAR, Gold BJJ, or Matman.

However, if you have a wrestling background, you may prefer to go with a harder model like those from Cliff Keen, but we always recommend using a chin cup for more comfort.

Thanks for reading and see you in the next one! – Zack

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Is the Best Headgear for Jiu-Jitsu?

Our recommendations for the bets headgear for jiu jitsu are Roar headgear and Cliff Keen Signature headgear with chin cup.

While choosing a headgear for your training will be strongly influenced by preference, we felt these were the most comfortable and offered a solid amount of protection.


Will Headgear Limit Hearing Ability?

BJJ headgear is designed to protect your ears from the pressure created by grappling and prevent cauliflower ear, but many grapplers are also concerned about hearing.

The answer is yes, but only slightly.

BJJ headgear does muffle sound or can cause a bit of an echo., which means that you won’t be able to hear as clearly as you would without it.

However, it won’t totally cut off outside noise; the newer designs with vents in the plastic shells still allow some sound to come through. You should still be able to hear your coach’s instructions and your opponents’ verbal taps when wearing BJJ headgear.

If you are concerned with lack of hearing we recommend considering some of the soft shell models like those from Gold BJJ or Matman.


How Do You Take Care of and Clean your Headgear?

Here are some tips for maintaining and cleaning your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu headgear:

  1. After each usage, give your headwear a hand wash with warm water and mild soap.
  2. Dry headgear. Drying it through excessive twisting may harm materials or cause it to lose form. Instead, you should squeeze the water out gently and let it air dry.
  3. Always be sure to store your headgea properly – keep it in dry or cool storage and avoid placing it in a humid place.

Should You Wear a Mouth Guard with your BJJ Headgear?

While its not required to wear a mouth guard for bjj its definitely recommended.

A mouth guard will protect your teeth and jaw from unexpected impacts and unintentional moves. It can also help to reduce the risk of concussion or injury if you take a hard hit during sparring or rolling.


What Is the Most Protective Headgear?

The most effective protective headgear is the kind that fits excellently to your head and provides just the appropriate amount of padding. It should be wrapped around your ears entirely on both the left and right sides without moving, despite how heavy the training would be. 


Should You Buy a Soft Shell or Hard Shell Headgear?

In general, we recommend going with a soft shell headgear for bjj – it’s simply more comfortable for you and your training partners while still offering some decent protection.