Friday, July 30, 2010

Water-Filled Heavy Punching Bags - Buyer Guide

In the market for a new heavy bag, in particular one filled with water rather than foam or fiber and sand, it was immensely difficult to find much good information about water-filled heavy bags. Websites which sell the bags provide a small write-up with some overall information and dimensions, but don't tell the buyer what the bag is like compared to a typical heavy bag.

I would like to make an attempt to provide some of the missing information in this blog entry for others who are interested in water-filled heavy bags, and are having trouble finding information on them. Granted, one way to compare different types of bags is to try them out. Unfortunately, I don't go to a gym, and there aren't any major retailers in the area who have boxing equipment.

First of all, there are two different types of water-filled heavy bags: water only, and water and foam. A bag filled with only water contains a sturdy, warranty guaranteed rubber bladder to hold the water, and covering it is a strong nylon coated canvas material. A foam/water bag has a bladder to hold the water surrounded by a layer of firm foam, which is then contained in nylon coated canvas. There are variations to these designs. Different foam/water bags will have different thicknesses of foam, usually 2-3". Water and foam/water bags both vary in the maximum weight they can contain in water. Typically it will range from 100-170Lbs. total weight, the empty bag weighing around 20Lbs. This is one benefit of ordering a water-filled heavy bag online; they ship empty, so the shipping charges are much, much less than the shipping for a pre-filled bag. Different bag designs also vary the length of the bag from top to bottom, and the width of the bag in diameter. Most water bags are shorter than a typical heavy bag, and also narrower. The heavier the bag, the longer it will be in order to accommodate a larger bladder to hold more water. Most water bags seem to be 13" in diameter, compared to the usual 14" of a standard heavy bag. This difference is minute, and is barely noticeable once the bag is filled with water and spreads out a little.

The majority of water-filled heavy bags available by such manufacturers as Title, Ringside, Fighting Sports, Combat Sports International, Everlast and Century follow the basic design I outlined above. There are others available that may vary slightly, however will follow the same basic principles. One water bag is quite different; Ringside's Tsunami Water Heavy Bag. They claim to have developed a dual bladder system which changes the way the bag reacts to punches. I haven't used these, but they look very different than other bags - not only because they come in bright colors - the outer material of the bag appears to be rubber-like, judging from photos.

There are different types of water bags in terms of hanging bags and standing bags. I am mainly focusing on hanging bags here simply because they are the type of bag I was looking for. All the same principles apply to standing bags, except they come with a stand that has to be filled with sand to weigh it down and prevent it from moving. I have heard that these types of bags tend to creep along the floor during intense use, although I have no personal experience. From my understanding, the floor creep can be suppressed if placing the bag on carpet, or wedging it in a corner, however I have no experience with these bags.

Water bags are different in other ways from standard heavy bags when they are being hit and used. A water bag will displace more of the energy it takes from a hit than a standard heavy bag will. This means that the bag tends to swing less. This is not necessarily a bad thing. As many others have noted, if you're looking for bag swing, that's what a double end bag is for. Water bags are acclaimed to be much easier on the user's joints, tendons and hands. There is a consistent density throughout a water bag, unlike some standard heavy bags which can harden at the bottom and soften at the top after extended use. Cheaper standard heavy bags may also contain heavy duty plastic bags filled with sand, and sometimes they wind up being on the outside of the bag. If the user hits one of these they could really hurt their hand. Water bags alleviate a lot of these issues. However, a water bag is not as dense as some hard-packed standard bags. This will probably not be a problem for the typical home user, as a water bag is probably going to be as dense or denser than a standard bag of the same price after extended use.

Some people seem worried, and even convinced that a water bag is a guaranteed wet floor. Some have had this problem actually happen. For the most part, it appears to be a very rare occurrence. Modern water bags are sealed up using modern technology to ensure that a leak is an extremely unlikely event. Just in case, most water bags have a 10 year warranty on the bladder, so if it leaks, the bag will be replaced. I've heard it's a good idea to let 2-3 inches worth of the water in the top of the bladder out after filling it completely to allow for some room for the water to move when hitting the bag.

When setting up my water bag I ran into a couple of difficulties. The first was filling the bladder. Most water bags, including mine, have a small rigid hose extruding from the top with a screw off cap. This hose resembles a typical garden water hose, and has threading which a garden hose can be screwed into. My bag was being setup indoors, and I don't have a hose, so I decided to be patient and pour water from a container into the opening until the bag was full. This, however, was not as effective as I anticipated. I was able to fill the bladder up to about 75% full, but when putting more water in, it welled up in the rigid hose and was ready to overflow. After moving the bag around a little, lying it down and rolling it, hitting it a little, I was able to pour some more water in. I did this numerous times until the bag was nearly full. I suspect that the filling hose extends down into the bladder below the top of the bladder which makes simply pouring water into it very difficult to fill it. If possible, it would be better to fill the bladder with a hose. This would, however, require the user to have to unscrew the hose after about every 1/3rd to allow some of the excess air to escape and allow more water into the bladder. The latter technique I haven't tried, but this is what I have heard.
I finally did get a hose to top up the bag, and got a faucet adapter which allowed me to connect it to my kitchen sink. See this article for some very well written  advise on connecting a hose to your kitchen sink. This worked very well - after everything was connected, I simply turned on the tap and let the water flow into the bladder until it seemed to be full because the tap made a slightly different noise. After the bladder is full, just unscrew the hose from the tap (not the bag) and let the excess water flow into the sink. This is where it gets tricky. It seems that once water has started to flow through the hose out of the bag, it acts as a siphon and draws all the water out of the bag. By bending the hose to stop the flow of water, I was able to let out just enough water so that when unscrewing the hose from the top of the bag, no more excess flowed out. It would definitely be easier to fill the bag outside, or perhaps in a bathtub, but that would mean moving it while it is full, and weighing 100lbs or more.

The other problem I am facing is due to the fact that I don't hang from the ceiling but rather from a heavy bag stand. The problem is that with the long chains, the bag hangs too low from the stand to be very functional. I have come up with a very simple construction of a rig to hang the bag directly under the hook of the stand without causing any inward-crushing force on the top of the bag, such as shortening the chains would result in. Due to some interest from a reader I've taken some photos of the rig. The bungee cord is there to prevent the filling tube from rubbing against the board.

If you're looking online for a good water heavy bag, I don't want to recommend one, because I haven't used them all. I would recommend finding a site that you like, that ships to your area for a decent price, and maybe even has the item you want on sale. Some of the sites I have found to carry good water bags are as follows.

  • Title MMA - Title, Fighting Sports and Century water bags here.
  • Elite MMA -Ringside Tsunami bags and water bags as well as Everlast's Hydrostrike here.
  • Ringside -Ringside's water bags and Tsunami bags as well as Everlast's Hydrostrike found here.
  • Title Boxing -Title, Fighting Sports, Everlast and Century water bags here.
  • Everlast - Only Everlast's Hydrostrike water/foam bag here.
  • Combat Sports - CSI and Everlast water bags found here.
  • Fighting Sports - Fighting Sports, Title, Everlast and Century water bags available here.
  • Boxing Depot - Some Ringside water bags here, including the Tsunami.

I believe that covers it. If I have missed anything, please let me know. Finally, I have some images of the various heavy bags commonly carried by the sites I have visited for a visual comparison. Thanks for reading.

Title Water Heavy Bag 60lbs

Title LiquiShock Foam-Water Heavy Bag 100-180lbs

Title LiquiShock Water Heavy Bag 140-160lbs

Century Hydrocore Water Bag 70-100lbs

Combat Sports Water-Foam Heavybag 130lbs

Ringside Water Filled Heavybag 130lbs

Ringside Water Filled Heavybag 150lbs

Everlast Hydrostrike Water-Foam Heavy Bag 120lbs

Everlast Hydrostrike Water Heavy Bag 100-150lbs

Fighting Sports Water-Foam Heavy Bag 100-140lbs

Ringside Water-Foam Heavybag 170lbs

Ringside Water-Foam Heavybag 100lbs

Ringside Water-Foam Heavybag 130lbs

Tsunami Water Bag 50lbs

Tsunami Water Bag 65lbs

Tsunami Water Bag 80lbs

Tsunami Water Bag 105lbs

Tsunami Water Bag 150lbs


  1. Thanks for the heads up. The pictures are cool too! I have one which I made myself and it's made up of soil. So far it's lasting beyond the wear and tear but looks like I need a new one though. :p

    Punching Bags century wavemaster XXL original bob xl

  2. Thanks, very interesting read. One question: Do you think it is possible to partially fill a bag so that you get a lower weight bag at times and a full weight bag other times?


  3. Anonymous said...

    Thanks, very interesting read. One question: Do you think it is possible to partially fill a bag so that you get a lower weight bag at times and a full weight bag other times?

    Some manufacturers claim that is a benefit of their water bags - being able to modify the amount of water in the bladder and therefore the weight of the bag. I haven't tried this but I'm skeptical it would be very effective due to the lack of resistance in the unfilled, upper portions. Unless you're only working the bottom of the bag (youths, a bag hanging very high, etc.) I don't think it would feel very good hitting the empty part of the bladder. Again, I haven't tried this.

  4. Great points on the water bags! Thanks. So, what is the trick to not having the bag hang so low on the home stand?
    Thanks again,

  5. Anonymous said...

    Great points on the water bags! Thanks. So, what is the trick to not having the bag hang so low on the home stand?
    Thanks again,

    Glad you liked the post, Jay. I devised a method of hanging the bag directly from the D-Rings on the top of the bag rather than from the chains that it normally hangs off of. All it took was a piece of 12" by 12" plywood about an inch thick with some eye bolts and washers added to it. One eye bolt in the center for the hook on the stand, and four in the corners for the D-Rings on the heavy bag. I had to also use some the unscrew-able chain links between the eye bolts on the board and the D-Rings on the bag to close the distance there. Using this rig, the bag hangs about 6" below the hook on the stand. Using the regular chain, the bag hangs about 22" below the hook on the stand. It was a simple solution that made the difference between the new water bag I got being unusable and being usable. I'll add a picture to the post for a better look.

  6. Thanks for the pix. That's a great idea! Seems like a lot of work. I'm looking a an Everlast Hydro Strike heavy bag. Is it worth all of the work for a water bag?

  7. Anonymous said...

    Thanks for the pix. That's a great idea! Seems like a lot of work. I'm looking a an Everlast Hydro Strike heavy bag. Is it worth all of the work for a water bag?

    I really like my water bag. Previously I had a cheap Century bag filled with cloth scraps and sand bags. It was terrible - I repacked it more times than I can count because the material kept shifting. My primary reason for a water bag is that it will never need to be repacked. If you are going to get a heavy bag, just make sure it isn't one of those cheap ones. A water bag is also cheaper than some of the higher quality leather bags and such. It's really up to you - if you can afford it, get a top notch leather bag, otherwise you might want to get something like a water bag. There is of course always the problem of hanging, for any type of bag. If you have to hang from the ceiling, get a spring to hang from to reduce the amount of shaking you put on your walls and ceiling. You could also consider a wall mounted hanger.

  8. I purchased an Everlast heavy bag/speed bag stand and will put it together this week. I was going to get a 100 lbs. water bag so it wouldn't swing so much and would be easy on the joints. I'm probably willing to pay $200 for a bag. I used to have a cheap bag also that I hung in the garage, but I will never make that mistake again either. It just settled too quickly in the bottom part and was solid as a rock.

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  10. I ordered the "Fighting Sports ShockWave Foam & Water Heavy Bag - 140 lb." a little over a month ago from Title Boxing. It has been hanging in my garage for about three weeks filled, with only a little use so far. This last weekend it started leaking from the bottom and is now almost empty - I know it won't hold water now. Not certain I want it now, even if there is a 10 warrantee on the bladder. I just called to exchange this for a different heavy bag, and was told I had to ship the old one back first and I would only get a credit for it - problem was how do I find a box to shipt it back with so I just took the 'free' bladder replacement instead. Reading the above post, I may have inadvertently caused the bladder to burst because I filled it ALL the way.and did not leave extra room in the bladder. Guess I hit too hard with my super-human strength (just kidding) and made it pop!

  11. Has anyone encountered a POWAIR bag with a very small hose on top (one half inch rubber hose with small opening). How does one fill this bag?

    1. Sorry, I'm not sure. Never heard of that brand. The hose does not have any type of receptacle / threading? Maybe some type of fitting is required, or could be jerry-rigged.

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  13. Hello
    I want to buy a water bag but what type shall i buy only want to spend about 100 or less.
    Also i am nealry 18 and am mainly going to use the bag for taekwondo practice ( kicking) so which type of bag shall i buy.

    1. You probably want a long-hanging Taekwondo bag to accomodate all variety of kicks - high and low - but I don't believe those come in a water filled variety.

  14. Thanks for the info. Very helpful. Just wondering if a lot has changed since you wrote this because as I have been searching recently the only bag with a 10 year warranty is Title (and it is no long available on Amazon and had only 4 reviews)? Everlast offers 3 years and Century only offers 90 days. Many of the other brands I am now seeing (Ringside, MaxMMA, etc) don't even advertise their warranties. Trying to get a clue as to whether risk getting one or just go with a Soft Fill Heavy Bag? Thanks

    1. To be honest, I'm not even sure what would have changed, and this was written quite a few years ago. The general information here should hold true, but specifics; not so much. If I were you, I would consider a few questions before deciding: 1) where are you hanging it 2) what are you using it for (taekwondo / kicks) 3) do you need it

      1) If you can, hang it in a garage or basement, from the ceiling - way better option than from a stand, or a free-standing bag. But this comes with it's own problems - mainly, mounting. You need a secure point to hang it from, and even then heavy use can cause vibrations. For example, if you hang it from the floor of the basement, people might feel it / hear it in the rooms above. This can be somewhat negated with a bag spring (just a big spring you put between the mount-point and the bag-chain)

      2) Definitely get the bag you need to use, so if you are practicing taekwondo and need to practice high and low kicks, get a proper taekwondo bag and don't worry about water filled.

      3) a better option, if you can swing it, is to use bags at a gym / studio where they have multiple varieties, lots of room, padded floors, etc. etc. and you can straight-up avoid all these hassles. That being said, it is awesome to have a bag at home you can make use of for short stretches or whenever you feel like it.


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