Ring to Cage IR-81 Headgear Review

9.5/10 (Expert Score)
Product is rated as #2 in category Headgear

Ring to Cage has yet again come out with a product that is capable of replacing Winning. After the success of the C17s comes the new R2C IR-81, also known as the R2C Japanese Style Headgear. This headgear is the company’s take on Winning’s FG2900.

Full Ring To Cage IR-81 Headgear Review

Protection and Padding

Just like Winning’s, this headgear uses a layered padding. The outermost layer being a more firm foam while the inner layer is softer in order for it to shape to the user’s head. The layers work very well together as almost any and all shock is absorbed by the headgear. There is also additional padding on the forehead, similar to Winning’s, almost like a pillow which just adds to the shock absorbency. The padding around the ears is also more firm than the FG2900’s which means it’s more difficult to bottom out, this of course adds to the protection that the IR-81 offers. The inner soft layer also feels slightly more firm than Winning’s while wearing it which again means it can take some real shock.

Ring To Cage IR-81 Headgear Review

Overall everything was protected very well besides the back of the head. One of the few cons of this headgear is the lack of back padding but it’s specifically meant for Boxing so just like the FG2900 it’s not a deal breaker. I was never worried about taking a hard shot and I also never ended up with any headaches, any cuts, or any bruises after using this thing.

Like I said the padding definitely does its job and the overall shape of the headgear helps to cover almost every important part of the head. The protection it offers is almost exactly like Winning’s. To add an extra opinion, one of my sparring partners actually felt, “safer,” in this than in a face saver due to the IR-81 hugging his face so well. That sense of security was there as soon as he clipped on the headgear.

One thing to mention though, I did find that it was easier to punch through the cheeks on this headgear than on the FG2900. While the, “hug,” around the face that these headgears provide is utilized by both, It seems as though the IR-81 doesn’t do as good of a job at shaping to the face as the FG2900. I found punches could go through the cheeks and to the nose or mouth slightly easier on the IR-81.

The cheeks seem to be the exact same size as the FG2900’s and the IR-81 also hugs and covers the face very well. The cause of this I think might actually come from the packaging. On the right, “eye,” of my headgear there is a small bump and that ever so slight defect causes the right cheek to lift off a little at the very end when wearing it. The left cheek on the other hand sits perfectly on my face.

I’ve seen other IR-81s with this, “issue,” and while it’s not a deal breaker it’s definitely unnecessary and more annoying than anything. Again though the protection this headgear offers is almost unmatched especially for the price. The lift of the right cheek isn’t dramatic at all, it’s a slight lift but that helps punches go through. The good thing about the cheeks though are that they are very thick and also come close to the nose.

By the time the punch goes through the cheeks have already absorbed most of the sting. You’ll have a hard time finding a headgear that protects better than this monster. Also take into consideration that this is not a facesaver and that means it should not be expected to protect as well as a facesaver. While I am judging the cheeks a little I am by no means trying to criticize the protection. Even when punches go through the cheeks do their job and absorb most of the impact. Bottom line the IR-81 has excellent protection.

Comfort and Vision

As stated before one of the purposes of the soft inner padding is to shape to the head. This provides excellent comfort. While I did mention that the inner layer was slightly more firm than the FG2900’s it’s not extremely noticeable. The only reason I noticed is because Winning is my go to headgear but when I had other people try it out they barely felt a difference. The IR-81 is the most comfortable stock headgear I’ve used. That, “hug,” it provides is incredible. For those that have never worn an FG2900 or a replica let me try to explain that feeling.

As soon as you put this headgear on and clip it together, the inner padding molds to your face instantly almost like a memory foam. The cheeks then come close to the nose and it feels as though they almost curl towards your face. Even your ears fit perfectly inside the ear guards with the bar right across them. The overall shape and the soft padding combine together to make simply ridiculous comfort.

The vision of the IR-81 is top of the line. The headgear obstructs nothing and you can see everything almost like you weren’t wearing a headgear. Not once was I hit because the IR-81 blinded me, never. The cheeks sit perfectly below the eyes and the corners of the eyes aren’t blocked by anything which means the peripheral vision is not hindered at all. Amazing vision and great comfort together make an enjoyable combination.

Quality and Durability

The quality of the IR-81 is excellent. Just like the C17’s this headgear is a work horse type of gear. It’s made out of very durable leather. While it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing leather it definitely still looks good and it performs even better. This headgear is meant for hard work, hard sparring, it’ll withstand any kind of punishment you put it through for years and years.

Quality is on par with the C17s, clean stitching, no big errors, nothing unappealing. Ring to Cage definitely made a piece of gear that goes perfectly with their C17s. Like I mentioned though the packaging could deform the headgear a little but it’s no big deal, just a slight blemish so small that many haven’t noticed it on mine until I point it out. Great construction, excellent durability, impeccable quality, the IR-81 delivers for sure.


The design is of course the best out there, as Ring to Cage tried to replicate the FG2900. They came very close too as the IR-81 is more of a replica than the C17s are to Winning gloves. Even so though there are noticeable changes. The overall quality and construction isn’t on par with Winning but that’s not exactly a con because in my opinion nothing matches Winning when it comes to that. The size of the IR-81 also seems to be slightly, ever so slightly smaller than the FG2900. Maybe my eyes are failing me but I believe the IR-81 is slightly more compact which is a plus for sure. The vision of the IR-81 also seems to be more narrow than the FG2900 but as I mentioned the vision is incredible.

The design is amazing though, to sum it all up nothing beats a FG2900-like design. The cheeks serve the purpose of protecting the face. The cheeks and forehead form a shield to protect the eyes, everything works so well together in this design that there really is almost no con besides the lack of back padding. The quick clip is also the ideal closure in my opinion. So simple and also provides a true fit. Clip it on and off quickly, no need to mess around with it too much like a buckle closure and it also doesn’t stick to clothing like a velcro closure.

One thing I did find strange was that while the headgear is linerless, as it’s full leather on leather construction. The bar that goes across the ear actually does have a liner! The only part of the headgear that has a liner is that small bar on both ears. No big deal whatsoever but something I noticed and found odd. So odd that I actually went back and checked my FG2900 and some replicas just to make sure that they didn’t have this small liner. Again though, not an issue just strange I suppose, I don’t quite see the purpose.

The Cost

The greatest thing about the IR-81, just like the C17s, this headgear goes for around $100 (at the time of this review). To put that into perspective as to how good that price is, you can either buy one FG2900 or you can buy one IR-81 AND a pair of C17s for around $200 and some change. Absolutely incredible price and definitely justifiable. Another thing to take into consideration is that you have a better chance of getting an IR-81 on sale than you do getting a FG2900.


The sizing of the IR-81 is practically the same as the FG2900. It comes in two sizes, medium for anything up to 22.5in and large for anything over 23in. My head measures in at 23.5in and the large fits perfectly. The headgear also weighs in at 12.5oz which is excellent considering it feels like nothing once you put it on. Very light which is excellent as it doesn’t weigh you down when using head movement.

Pros & Cons

9.5 Total Score
Ring To Cage IR-81 Headgear

In this price range you won't find a better headgear than the IR-81. This headgear has become part of my top 3 favorite and most used headgears of all time. The Ring to Cage IR-81 will not disappoint.

Protection & Padding
Comfort & Vision
  • Protection
  • Padding
  • Construction
  • Quality
  • Durability
  • Price
  • Quick Clip
  • Vision
  • Fit
  • Full Leather
  • Weight
  • Linerless
  • Potential of packaging defect
  • No back/side padding
User Rating: Be the first one!

Lobo purchased this Ring to Cage headgear himself for the full price. This did not influence the outcome of this review.

Ring to Cage IR-81 Headgear Review
Ring to Cage IR-81 Headgear Review
Show full profile Lobo Reviewer

Lobo is an enthusiastic gear tester and reviewer. He has been a student of combat sports since 2011.

  1. Thank You for such an in-depth review.
    I just wanted to point out that I was just looking on Amazon – planning on buy this head gear and noticed that they come in 2 additional colors for those of you that are interested; 1) black & gold 2) black & silver.

    The “Amazon Link” on this page will bring you to the link with the 3 color options.

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