How To Pick The Right Muay Thai Shorts

How To Pick The Right Muay Thai Shorts - Muay Thailand
Muay Thai shorts are incredibly distinct and, besides kickboxing, are rarely seen in any other sport or martial art setting. They are specifically designed for Muay Thai practitioners and are built with materials that enable ventilation, comfort and heat dissipation. The most common construction features satin and an elasticated waistband (how many rows in the waistband varies but 5-8 is common). Some shorts are made of nylon or microfiber which make for a unique feel and texture. Design wise, they can feature all manner of designs and colours with each brand having their own variations.
Since 2010, there has been an explosion in the variety of Muay Thai shorts and the number of different manufacturers, leading to the creation of Muay Thai shorts for every style and desire. Different brands have their own collections and the variety of colours and level of flamboyancy varies between brands and their individual collections, making it easier for fighters to find the perfect style for them in recent years.
Given their particular design and construction, it's unlikely you'll wear Muay Thai shorts for anything but Muay Thai and kickboxing (although kickboxers often prefer much longer legs than what's typical on Muay Thai shorts). They aren't suitable for MMA as they aren't snug fitting enough and some shorts feature embossed sections or tassels which would be unsuitable for grappling.


Types of Muay Thai short

There are quite a few different ways that brands describe their Muay Thai shorts. Whether it be, slim cut, retro, traditional or standard. All of these refer to the cut and shape. It can be confusing as their product imagery may not clearly distinguish the differences. Here's how we categorise them:

  • Traditional Thai Boxing Shorts: These are the most common shorts nowadays. They have 6 or 8 strap waistbands, are short in length and feature a wider leg opening.
  • Slim Cut Shorts: Also referred to as "retro", "tailored fit" or "slimline", these shorts are more narrow and fitted, kind of like slim or athletic fit t-shirts.
  • Standard shorts: They are unlikely to be labelled as such, but if there is no mention of traditional, retro or slim cut, it would be reasonable to assume they are just the "standard". In reality, these can fit into any of the other categories as it's all about cut and fit. Look closely at the descriptions, sizing and waistband size to understand how they will fit and look.

It then comes down to materials. The majority of shorts are satin and can include some additional materials for embellishments. For instance, Primo Fightwear and PRYDE often use a combination of microfiber, satin and nylon to make their intricate details. Boon, SKS Empire and Fairtex have a wide range of 100% satin shorts. While the materials won't typically impact fit (unless they are 100% nylon, in which case they will have a slightly different fit and texture), they will impact durability and maintenance. This Muay Thai shorts guide provides full details on caring for all types of Muay Thai shorts.


Muay Thai fighter kicking heavy bag



Things to consider

Waist & length size

There's not really uniform sizing when it comes to the waist and length of shorts. Different manufacturers have different standards and different styles of shorts influence the length of them. In depth guidance on sizing and fit from some of the most popular brands can be found here.

Waist wise, avoid relying on the S,M,L etc. categories as if the manufacturer is Thai, those sizes correspond to the S,M,L etc. average of Thai people, who are different in size to those in Europe, USA and Africa. Therefore, look for the exact waist size in inches. Be mindful too that when shorts state they are 32” for example, they may actually fit more like 30-31” and will grow out into 32” inches with wear.

Length wise, it can be difficult to determine without seeing and feeling the shorts up close. Again, you should look closely at the size charts for this. Style often influences the length of the shorts the most. Retro style and those with side cut vents are often shorter than the others, although this isn't guaranteed. It really just comes down to personal preference here. Although it's worthwhile noting that shorts ride when kicking and kneeing, so if you have shorter shorts, its quite possible that your underwear will end up on show when striking. If your shorts are longer, you can always roll up one side (common practice when fighters want to show off their most powerful striking leg) to make them shorter.



Fit relates to various aspects of the shorts, namely the waistband, the seam that bridges the back to the front and goes underneath your groin, and the space within each leg hole. Again, these aspects can be difficult to determine without seeing the shorts up close and trying them on. Use a measuring tape to accurately measure your dimensions before referring to individual size charts.

It's also a matter of preference and certain brands have different fits as their standard. Some people like shorts to ride high with a tight waistband, as it minimises movement of the shorts. Others prefer a looser fit so they don't feel restricted. Either way, you'll come to understand your preference the more different types of shorts you wear. Yet you should think about what type you prefer and then narrow down choices accordingly.


Three different measuring tapes


What are some common misconceptions about choosing the right size for Muay Thai shorts?

Many people mistakenly believe that Muay Thai shorts should fit tightly, but they are designed to allow for fluid movement, so a slightly looser fit is actually better. Snug is a good description but this is subjective. So consider whatever is enables freedom of movement without being uncomfortable or prone to falling down. Additionally, some think the waistband should be tight, when in fact, it should comfortably secure the shorts without digging into the skin.



As Muay Thai shorts are the only required apparel in Muay Thai, they are a useful form of expression alongside your Muay Thai style. If you're only really interested in comfort and fit, this may not be something you need to consider – although that in a way is an expression of yourself and your requirements. There are countless different colours available on Muay Thai shorts and it's not uncommon for shorts to feature designs made up of many different colours and shades.

You need to consider colours when washing your shorts. All shorts should be washed either by hand or machine with cold water and never tumble dried. However, the colours can impact this method slightly. Avoid washing black or brightly coloured shorts with white laundry as, although the cold water should mitigate the risk, there's a chance of transfer. When it comes to washing shorts, hand-wraps, training towel etc., it's worthwhile doing it all together, at once, without other laundry.



Muay Thai shorts are the only mandatory bit of apparel when competing and are the chief way practitioners can express their personality and artistic preferences outside of their striking style and technical ability.

While designs and colours will be key points to consider when making a purchase, it's important to first think about size and fit, as they will dictate your comfort levels. If you're uncomfortable in your chosen shorts, it doesn't matter how good they look as you'll struggle to strike as well as you could and you'll constantly be readjusting them. Get to know the different brands and their sizing/measurements. You can then find similar brands (with similar fit standards) and enjoy the shorts that they provide, safe in the knowledge that you're happy with the comfort that brand provides (as long as they then don't change their sizing and measurements).

When you're sure of the pefect fit, pick the Muay Thai shorts you like the look and feel of. Don't think you only need one pair either. Often people buy multiple pairs and you can even have specific pairs for specific types of training. For example, if you have sessions that are specifically geared towards cardio work, you may want looser shorts. Likewise, if you have sparring sessions and you have a particular attitude towards your sparring that day, you can wear your Thai-sized shorts which reflect that. Overall, picking the right size for your Muay Thai shorts is crucial for comfort and performance. Remember to consult size charts and keep in mind that Thai sizes may differ from Western standards. With the right fit, you can have multiple pairs for different types of training and feel confident and comfortable in your Muay Thai gear.