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Do you have a hard time keeping your wrists in place while lifting? Or worse, do you experience wrist pain after workouts? If you’re not using wrist wraps, this could be the culprit. Because wrist wraps cast the joint in place, they prevent sprains and overuse injuries.
Today, I’ll compare two of the best models on the market: Gangsta Wraps vs. SBD Wraps.
So are the Gangsta Wraps or SBD wraps better? The Gangsta Wraps are better for lifting weights (click for Today’s price on Amazon). Not only are they sturdier, allowing the wrist to stay in place better, but they also have better durability, which prevents wear and tear. SBD wraps, on the other hand, tend to wear out and fray in less than a year. So you’ll eventually have to replace them.
Ready to unfold the rest of the differences? Let’s get going!
Before delving into the details, let’s quickly highlight some introductory information about these wrist wraps.
Gangsta Wrist Wraps
The Gangsta wraps are among the most famous gear of Mark Bell Sling Shot. If you’re unfamiliar, Mark Bell is one of the most widely acclaimed powerlifters and strongmen. He decided to found a company where he can “make the world a better place to lift!”
As dreamy as it may sound, Mark Bell’s products do make a difference. The fact that the Gangsta wraps can be used as elbow and knee straps is no mean feat.
- Superior durability
- High versatility
- Attractive colors
- Rock-solid support
- A bit expensive
- They don’t come in a flexible version
Despite having an office in the US, SBD makes all of its gear in Yorkshire, England. This county, in particular, is well-known for having authentic craftsmanship due to its Roman and Viking heritage.
- They come in flexible and stiff versions
- Broader velcro straps
- They come in a short version for injury rehab
- Not the best durability
- Have only two color schemes
Detailed Face-To-Face Comparison
Now that we’ve covered the basics, we can start discussing the actual differences.
Material and Design
Starting by addressing the fundamental construction differences will help us understand what each model has to offer.
The Gangsta wraps’ core features a firm 1-ply elastic fabric that provides lots of traction and support. On top, there’s a polyester fabric weaved in what seems to be a hopsack pattern.
If you’re unfamiliar, the hopsack weave is what you often see in hand-made baskets. The interlacing fibers manifest a prominent, rugged finish that adds a bit of a unique personality.
The most common version is covered in blue fabric with two black stripes and red velcro pads.
Just like the Gangsta, the SBD wrist wraps have a 1-ply elastic fabric underneath a polyester cover. There’s nothing special about the texture, though. It’s the same plain weave that you can find on sturdy duffle bags.
The original SBD wraps come with a red/black scheme. However, SBD recently released a new line that it calls “Eclipse”. These wraps have a white fabric with black velcro pads, which goes along well with the lunar eclipse concept.
The Winner: Gangsta Wraps
Since the basic construction is similar, there’s no significant difference that makes a model noticeably superior over the other. However, I absolutely love Gangsta’s texture. Having that rough surface gives better traction on your skin.
When you come to think of it, that texture can also give firmer support. How? Well, as you fold more layers, the ups and downs of each surface will lock the wraps in place.
And although the color isn’t something that you should base your decision upon, it’s always nice to wear what matches your style. That’s not necessarily feasible with SBD since it only offers two schemes.
Although all brands use pretty much the same type of elastic fibers, the final stiffness of the wraps varies according to the fabric density. Let’s see how the two wraps compare on this matter.
Mark Bell used a highly dense arrangement of elastics to create the Gangsta wraps. If you try to stretch them with your hands, they won’t extend beyond half an inch or less.
The SBD wrist wraps come in two versions: flexible and stiff. Like I said earlier, both variants share the same construction; they only differ in the used amount of elastics.
The stiff version supplies nearly the same support of the Gangsta wraps. The flexible ones can stretch for up to 3 inches. Nevertheless, they still provide sufficient bracing when fully wrapped.
To promote user-friendliness, SBD adds a subtle visual difference between the two versions: The flexible version has black edges, while the stiff version has a solid scheme. This applies to both the original and Eclipse models.
The Winner: SBD Wraps
Choosing between flexible and stiff wraps comes down to your personal preference and, more importantly, workout nature.
Naturally, the impeccable support of stiff wraps will help you lift heavier weights without worrying about injuries. But of course, they’ll feel much more strangulating than their flexible counterparts.
I prefer using the flexible version for day-to-day workouts since I can keep them on between repetitions with little to no irritation. I also own a stiff version, but I primarily use it for competitions.
Does this mean that the Gangsta wraps are too stiff for everyday use? Well, the matter of comfort is strikingly relative. I’ve seen many novice lifters using the SBD wraps without having any complaints.
If you want to know more about how wrist wraps can help you, then check out my article on Wrist Wrap Benefits.
Length and Sizing
In this section, we’ll see the available sizes of each model and which one you should pick.
Mark Bell produces two sizes: 20” and 36”. These sizes don’t factor in the velcro strap, meaning that they only denote the elastic part.
SBD releases three sizes: small (15.7”), medium (23.6”), and large (39”). At first glance, you might think that SBD provides larger sizes than Mark Bell, but that’s not the case; these sizes are bigger because they include the velcro straps, which roughly measure 3”.
Which Size Should You Pick?
Most lifters will perform the best with 20” wraps. This length is ideal because it provides enough stability without being too uncomfortable. That makes it versatile enough for the dynamic workouts of weightlifting and CrossFit.
Lifters with beefy forearms should obviously opt for 36” wraps to have enough material to wrap around their wrists. And of course, the higher elastic content will let you perform more reps with heavier weights.
12” wraps aren’t that common among powerlifters. Their limited support won’t be enough for workouts that actively flex or extend your wrists. But if you’ve recently suffered an injury, you can wear them to safely perform your everyday activities.
Still can’t decide? I’ve covered this topic in a separate article, detailing the ins and outs of each size. So make sure to give it a look!
Despite being a small detail, the difference in the thumb loop design is actually one of the most key elements of this comparison.
Mark Bell sews the thumb loops over the entire width of the Gangsta Wraps. In other words, the loops don’t stick outside the boundaries of the wraps.
What difference does this make? Well, when you pull the wraps against your thumb, the loops won’t stretch that much. Traditional loops, on the other hand, expand way too much — you might even pull the wrap entirely off your wrist, thereby making the wrapping process unduly annoying.
Unfortunately, SBD chose to implement the traditional design, entailing the previously mentioned flaw. Many lifters have even reported that the loops stretch way longer than usual.
The Winner: Gangsta Wraps
The ingenious design of the Gangsta wraps easily wins this round. It’s not only about easier wrapping, though; this design improves the versatility to a whole new level.
For instance, you can slide the wrap through the thumb loop to make a circle. After passing your arm through that circle, you can use the Gangsta wrist wraps as equally-efficient elbow wraps. And with the same trick, you can also use them as knee wraps.
On the contrary, the restricted orientation of SBD wrist wraps can’t be utilized on any joints but the wrists. What’s more, these wraps aren’t interchangeable, meaning that you can’t wear the left-hand wrap on your right hand, and vice versa. Staying mindful of this fact every time you wear them on is undoubtedly bothersome.
Both wraps feature velcro closure, which is the gold standard for most wrist wraps. There are, however, some minor differences that you should know.
The first noticeable difference is in the velcro width. On the Gangsta, the velcro occupies almost half the wrap, meaning that it measures around 1.5”. SBD provides a bit more security by letting the velcro cover around 2”.
Does that mean that SBD wraps win this round? Not exactly. If you look really close, you’ll see that SBD sews the velcro pad with single stitching. Mark Bell, on the contrary, goes the extra mile by adding two rows of sturdy stitching.
As you might imagine, this subtle difference makes a world of difference in long-term durability. Many lifters have reported that the velcro pads of SBD may pop off whenever you crank the wraps down to the full tightness.
Speaking of durability, I’ve seen negative reviews criticizing the flimsy build of the SBD’s thumb loops. They may start fraying and losing tightness after only one year of moderate use.
There’s a specific way you should wrap your wrists to get the greatest performance. Check out my article on How To Use Wrist Wraps.
Approval for Competitions
Ever thought about competing in a professional powerlifting competition? If so, you should already know that you won’t be allowed on the platform unless you’re wearing approved gear. Despite being relatively small, the wrist wraps are included in these regulations.
Here are the required specifications, as listed by the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF).
- The wrist wraps should feature a 1-ply elastic fabric.
- They could be covered with cotton, polyester, or both.
- The overall wraps should be capped at 39” in length and 3” in width.
- When wrapped, they must not cover more than 4.75” of your wrists.
- With your arm pointing downward, the wraps shouldn’t extend beyond 10 cm above or 2 cm below the center of the wrist joint.
- You can’t wear wrist wraps and sweatbands together.
- You must tuck the thumb loops underneath the wraps before lifting.
In Summary, What’s Unique About Those Wraps?
To recap, here are the things that make each model stand out.
- Non-directional thumb loops: Since the loops span over the whole wrap width, you can use the Gangsta wraps to support your elbows and knees.
- Double-stitched velcro: Mark Bell ensures impeccable durability by adding two rows of rugged stitching over the velcro pads and straps.
- Color variety: Through the official website, you can order the Gangsta wraps in seven different colors. This should be ideal for folks who like to reflect their personality on their gear.
- Variable stiffness: You can find two versions of the SBD wraps: flexible and stiff. This is beneficial for novice lifters who may not appreciate the excessive firmness of the stiff models.
- Available in a small size: Although they’re not ideal for powerlifting, 12-inch wraps will be your best bet if you’re recovering from a recent injury.
- Wider velcro: With the broader hook and loop fasteners, these wraps supposedly achieve higher levels of support, as long as the velcro is intact.
The Final Word
As it turns out, the Gangsta wrist wraps tick more boxes than their SBD counterparts. Nevertheless, I wanted to end my Gangsta wraps vs. SBD wraps duel by quickly summarizing their best uses.
Use Gangsta wraps if:
- You want impeccable versatility.
- You care about durability.
- You want stiffer support.
- You like to showcase your style through your gear.
Use SBD wraps if:
- You’re recovering from a wrist injury (get the 12-inch wraps).
- You think the Gangsta is too stiff.
- You won’t mind frayings in the thumb loops.
- You like English products.
If you want something to use in official competitions, pick either one; both are approved by IPF, USAPL, and USPA.
Do you fancy more options? Take a look at my list of the 8 best wrist wraps for powerlifting in 2020!