In an ideal world, combat sports enthusiasts would have access to top-quality hanging punching bags in their own home. In the real world, however, for many people, free standing punching bags are the only feasible option for home use. Renters are often strictly forbidden from attaching anything to their walls and homeowners (particularly condo owners) may find that few of their walls are strong enough to support even the lighter bags, which can make it impossible to find a practical location for them.
Even though we’ve yet to find a free standing punching bag which is quite as good as a hanging punching bag, we’re happy to be able to tell you that they have improved a lot over the years. In particular, the best freestanding punching bags are more stable and offer a greater range of movement than ever before. We’d say they were definitely suitable for anyone up to intermediate level in combat sports and even more serious fighters will find them worth the space they need.
Best Freestanding Punching Bag - What To Look Out For:
Be realistic about the weight you need
You may have heard the phrase “punching above your weight” used as a compliment, well, in real life, there’s nothing to be gained by punching a bag, which is too heavy for you, in fact you increase your risk of injury. At the same time, you need to make sure your free standing punching bag is heavy enough to give you a good workout.
Resistance is a bit like balance, it’s hard to describe accurately but you soon work out whether or not it’s there. Basically resistance is a measure of how a bag reacts when you hit it, if you like it’s how hard it hits you back. Some bags are quite dense (hydro bags in particular) while others have more bounce. Which one is best for you depends on your taste and your training requirements.
Swing versus drift
Swing is the other part of what happens when you hit a punching bag. Just like when you hit a real human, a good punching bag will “go with the blow” and react to the force of your body. This trains you to anticipate how a real opponent will react.
Drift is a little different. Drift is what happens when you hit a bag hard enough to make it move across the floor. If you’re a heavy hitter, then a certain level of drift is almost inevitable, but if there’s too much drift then you either need more weight or a better bag.
These days vinyl is probably the most popular choice for punching bags and has a lot to be said for it. It’s more affordable than leather (and vegetarian friendly), durable, flexible and hygienic (since it’s so easy to clean). Vinyl can be tough on gloves and kick pads, but all in all, it’s still a great material.
Canvas is still a fairly popular choice for punching bags, but while it looks good and feels good, it’s nowhere near as robust or as easy to clean as vinyl.
Leather has more going for it than classic looks and “old-school” style. It has the most realistic feel to it and is softer than vinyl, which means gloves and kick pads last longer. It’s also fairly easy to clean and maintain. The downside with leather is that it has a price premium over vinyl and it’s a matter of opinion and taste whether or not this is justified.
One of the big differences between free standing punching bags and hanging punching bags is that there is generally two kinds of filler involved. There is the filling for the bag itself and the filling for the base. The former is what you hit, the latter is what keeps the bag in one place.
In terms of the bag, there are four main types of filling in common use today: hard fibre, soft fibre, foam and water. As their names suggest hard and soft fibres give completely different feelings when you hit them. Hard fibres are best for those with some experience and soft fibres for beginners. How foam reacts depends on its quality but good foam will be both hard and springy. Water is simply hard and many people consider it to be the most realistic representation of hitting a human.
For the base you have water or sand. Water has the advantage of being much easier to get in and out of a base, but if you buy a poor-quality bag (or fail to treat a good-quality bag with reasonable respect) you run the risk of it springing a leak. Sand can be much more of a pain to get into a base, but it eliminates the concern over leakage.
A quick note on buying used punching bags
Buying a used punching bag can be a great way to score a bargain, but obviously you need to be a bit careful. Ideally you should see the original proof of purchase and be able to inspect the item for completeness, repairs and damage before you hand over your money. We’d be wary of buying free standing punching bags over the internet from private sellers (as opposed to reputable online vendors).
If you choose to buy a new bag, we’d strongly recommend you keep your purchase details (digital form is fine) and all the packaging etc. so that you get the best possible price for it if you decide to sell it on to someone else.
A review of the best freestanding punching bag
We’ve covered everything from entry level/fitness punching bags to pro-level bags so if you’re in the market for a free standing punching bags, we think we’ll have a good option for you here.
Century BOB XL with Base Unit
We have to be honest and admit we still find the look of Bob rather funny, but this is still one serious piece of kit and even though it’s priced accordingly, we think it’s worth it.
Basically Bob, (who looks nothing like a punching bag) is intended for accurate combat training. Regular Bob is just a head and torso, but we recommend Bob XL as it has the upper legs as well and therefore offers more training options.
Bob can weigh up to 270 pounds and can hold his punches like a champ. When you knock him to an angle, he’ll bounce back every time. If you hit him hard enough, he will move across the room, but then so will a real opponent and you’ll have to move with them. Bob has a really tough (plastisol) body, so good gloves are a must when training with him.
In short, if you’re training seriously (or you’re simply big and heavy), then Bob could be your ideal training partner.
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Century Original Wavemaster
The Century Original Wavemaster is often thought of as the perfect training bag for children due to the fact that it is height adjustable, going from 47" to 68" in 3" Increments. You can also adjust the weight, increasing it up to 250 pounds as your child grows both vertically and in strength.
Having said that, it would be a mistake to think of the Century Original Wavemaster as “just” a child’s bag. It’s more than up to use by adults too, which makes it a great choice in homes where it’s going to be shared, particularly since it’s easy to fill and, if necessary unfill.
As its name suggests, this punching bag can be filled with water and that’s certainly what Century is known for, but this punching bag can also be filled with sand and some people prefer the different feel this gives.
Overall, the Century Original Wavemaster is a good “workhorse” bag, which offers compelling value for money.
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Century Wavemaster XXL Training Bag
Unlike the previous Century punching bag, the Century Wavemaster XXL Training Bag is definitely not a child’s punching bag. In fact, it’s one of the longest bags out there at 69", supporting up to 270 pounds in weight and a heavy weight contender to the title of "best freestanding punching bag".
To clear up what appears to be a common point of confusion, the 18" diameter refers to the bag itself, the base is 28" and low profile, which makes it very stable. It’s worth noting that the base is made of robust plastic and doesn’t have any padding, so users have to be tall enough to be able to kick above it. This is easy enough for adults and older children but may be a bit much for very young ones, however, they’re not the target market for this punching bag in any case.
The combination of vinyl cover plus foam lining plus low-profile plastic base does mean that this punching bag can make quite a bit of noise if you use it on a hard floor, particularly if you’re giving it the sort of punishment which is going to make the punching bag bend frequently so that the bag hits the base. The way to deal with this is to put something soft under the bag. Anti-slip mats are great but even old towels will do the job.
Overall, this is a really good, versatile bag, which can stand up to regular beatings.back to menu ↑
Century Versys Fight Simulator (with 10184B Base)
The Century Versys Fight Simulator (with 10184B Base) is a bit like our first pick, Bob, in that it’s intended to be an all-round fight trainer (or simulator), rather than a heavy bag as such. It’s intended to be a hybrid between a punching bag and a grappling dummy. As such it’s really meant for people training for combat sports rather than people who simply want a good cardio workout.
We’ve heard of people using this bag as a sort of semi-freestanding bag in that they use the top handles to run bungee cords from the top of the bag to the ceiling to assist the bag’s recovery after really heavy hits. In this situation, the ceiling isn’t taking the main weight as such, it’s just helping out the base on the odd occasion.
In short, if you’re simply looking for a punching bag to give you a good overall workout then the Century Versys Fight Simulator (with 10184B Base) is far more than you need, unless you are very tall, in which case you may benefit from the fact that this bag is far longer than most in order to give those in fight training a greater strike range.
By contrast, if you are training for combat sports, then the Century Versys Fight Simulator (with 10184B Base). Up to intermediate it will probably give you everything you need and even advanced users will probably find it a useful complement to the equipment they have at their gym.
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Everlast Omniflex Free Standing Heavy Bag
The Everlast Omniflex Free Standing Heavy Bag ticks all the boxes you would expect from Everlast. It’s affordable, height adjustable (59" to 67"), weight adjustable (up to 130 pounds) and good quality.
There’s a Nevatear outer lining for durability and ease of cleaning together with an omniflex neck, which provides plenty of movement at the top and hence helps to keep the base still. Speaking of the base, it’s low profile, which again aids stability and also makes it feasible to use the bag for kicking and knee striking as well as punching. There is a foam inner layer to help protect your hands and feet as you do so.
We do have to say we, personally, really like the physical appearance of this bag and we’d be happy to put it in a living room where it would be highly visible.
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Everlast PowerCore Freestanding Heavy Bag
We’re less sold on the appearance of the Everlast PowerCore Freestanding Heavy Bag and in all honesty if we had it in our living room, we’d be inclined to put it behind a screen, but we have to acknowledge that it would be worth it.
As always with Everlast, this is an affordable piece of equipment with a lot to offer. It’s height adjustable (from 52" to 65"), weight adjustable (up to 250 pounds) and has been made to take a lot of punishment. Like the previous punching bag, it has a Nevatear lining with foam inside. Unlike the previous punching bag, it has a base which is compact but not at all low profile. In this case, that’s absolutely fine since the two punching bags are made for completely different uses.
The Everlast Omniflex Free Standing Heavy Bag is all about encouraging speed and hence reflexes. The Everlast PowerCore Freestanding Heavy Bag by contrast is all about strength, hence the difference in maximum weight. You could use them on their own or in combination, according to your needs, tastes and training plans.
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Ringside Elite Free-Standing Boxing MMA Fitness Workout Training Kicking Punching Heavy Bag
Before you read any more of this review, you better be clear about the fact that the Ringside Elite Free-Standing Boxing MMA Fitness Workout Training Kicking Punching Heavy Bag will take up a fair bit of space in the average room. The base is a substantial 32" in diameter with the bag itself being 17" and the whole unit is a pretty massive 6’4” long, of which the actual bag comprises 5’1”. In keeping with its size, it holds an impressive 270 pounds of weight.
If you have the space and budget, however, the Ringside Elite Free-Standing Boxing MMA Fitness Workout Training Kicking Punching Heavy Bag is one mighty punching bag. It has a leather outer with a foam lining for outstanding robustness and shock absorption. The bag itself sits on top of an 11” foam collar. This can be removed to allow the bag more freedom of movement for certain drills.
The rest of that 6’4” in height is taken up by a 10” plastic base, which is going nowhere. Even the strongest fighters are not going to be sending this punching bag sliding around the room.
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Ringside Fitness Reflex Bag
Right at the other end of the scale, we have the Ringside Fitness Reflex Bag, which appeals to us because it looks just like the punching bags we had when we were children.
Looks can be deceiving however, although it’s in nothing like the same league as the Ringside Elite Free-Standing Boxing MMA Fitness Workout Training Kicking Punching Heavy Bag the Ringside Fitness Reflex Bag is still a very decent little punching bag for beginners or those who just want a good cardio workout for an affordable price.
In terms of performance, what we really like about this punching bag is that it’s so easy to adjust the height from 49" to 69". The base tank will hold up to 125 pounds of water or 240 pounds of sand, either way, it’s enough to keep it in place for light sparring and fitness work. Those starting out in combat sports may be pleasantly surprised by how freely the bag moves and how well it mimics a real opponent.
The covering is described as “synthetic leather”, which we assume means vinyl, in any case it’s robust and easy to clean. Obviously, any punching bag this compact is going to have a small striking surface and this is clearly a punching bag rather than an all-around combat bag, but essentially the Ringside Fitness Reflex Bag aims at a very specific target market and hits the spot nicely.