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What to Fill a Punching Bag With? A Comprehensive Guide


This is a complete guide to choosing the right punching bag filler.

By the tail end of this in-depth guide, you’ll learn the following:

We’ve even thrown in a step-by-step  Do It Yourself (DIY) guide on how to fill a punch bag at home.

  • Common materials used for punching bag filling
  • Which boxing bag filler is ideal for your type of bag
  • Benefits of filling a punching bag yourself 
  • Where to buy punching bag filling material online

So, if you’re ready to go “all in” with punching bag filling, this playbook is for you.

Let’s dive right in.

We’ll start by answering the fundamental question. 

Why Should I Buy an Empty Punching Bag? 

Here are the benefits of purchasing an empty punching bag and filling it yourself:

It Is Cost-Effective

An empty punching bag is often less expensive than its pre-filled counterpart. 

A SOTF Unfilled Punching Bag, for instance, goes for about thirty bucks on Amazon compared to a Ringside Filled Bag that sells for over two hundred dollars.

This lower initial cost can make a significant difference, especially if you are just getting started with boxing or operating on a tight budget.

You Can Customize the Firmness

Filling a boxing bag gives you complete control over its firmness and weight. In addition, it allows you to customize the bag’s resistance based on your skill level, strength, and training needs. 

And if you’re a beginner, you can adjust the firmness as you get accustomed to your training regimen.

Ease of Transportation

An empty punching bag is much easier to transport than a pre-filled one.

Plus, if you need to move your training space or relocate, all you need to do is to empty the bag, making it lighter and easier to handle.

Speaking of transportation, an empty punching bag is cheaper to ship.

It Increases Your Bag’s Reliability

You can ensure punching bag filling material is appropriately distributed and evenly compacted when you do it on your own. 

Moreover, DIY box bag filling allows you to replace or add more material as needed, prolonging the bag’s longevity.

While purchasing an empty punching bag offers many advantages, the key to reaping these benefits lies in knowing what to fill a punching bag with and how to do it correctly.

Common Punching Bag Filling Material

Punching bag filler falls into two broad categories:

1. Hard Fill Material

A boxing bag filled with hard material offers high resistance. As a result, the punch bag is  denser and more stable.

Hard punching bag filling is ideal for more experienced fighters or those looking to improve their strength and power. 

Hard fill material is great for a heavy punching bag.  Common options include:

  • Sand: A sand filled punching bag offers high resistance and is perfect for developing punching power. 

However, sand can settle at the bottom of the bag over time, making it stiff and potentially leading to injuries. Besides, stuffing your punching bag with sand only can cause it to rupture due to excessive weight.

To avoid this, fill your bag with small layers of sand in the middle and clothes or fabric on the outside. 

This approach not only mitigates the risk of injuries but also ensures a gratifying “snap” sound with every punch.

  • Sawdust: While it is not as hard as sand, sawdust provides a firm feel to the bag. 

Like sand, you can combine sawdust with small fabric pieces to maintain a weight that won’t be too strenuous for your bag’s outer shell.

 2. Soft Fill Material

Soft punching bag filler offers less resistance and a softer impact. 

Common options include:

  • Shredded Fabric or Rags: Fabric offers the cheapest way to fill a punching bag while reducing the risk of injury.
  • Foam: Punching bag foam is great if you are a beginner looking for even resistance and a softer impact. 
  • Air: Used primarily in speed and double-end bags, air offers less resistance than other materials. On the flip side, it requires regular inflation to maintain firmness.
  • Water: Water-filled bags offer a unique feel that simulates hitting a real opponent. Water allows easy weight adjustment but requires a durable outer shell to prevent leaks.

 Soft fill material is excellent for small, lighter punching bags.

The best practice when filling a punching bag is to do it layer by layer. In addition, ensure you apply enough compaction to give your bag a uniform look and feel. You can use a thick broom or piece of wood for compression.

DIY Guide: How to Fill a Punching Bag at Home

Note: For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on sawdust, sand, and fabric as the materials of choice for filling a boxing bag. 

Why? …. because they’re some of the most readily available and require less filling technique. 

That said, filling an empty punching bag can take hours, so allocate enough time to complete the process.

As a rule of thumb, start filling a boxing bag with the casing on the ground and the lid off. That way, you can easily stuff what is inside a punching bag and leverage the ground for compaction.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to go about it. 

Step 1: Choose Your Filling Material

Choose a suitable filling material based on your skill level, training goals, and type of punching bag. You can use one or a combination of several punching bag filling materials.

As stated, material like sand and sawdust offers high resistance and is ideal for heavy bag filling.

In contrast, materials like foam or shredded fabric are gentler on the hands and excellent for a soft punching bag.

Step 2: Prep Your Filling

Cut the stuffing into small pieces if you’ve chosen fabric or clothing. For sand or sawdust, make sure it is dry to avoid any potential for mold growth.

Step 3: Begin the Filling Process

First, open your punching bag. As stated, it’d be best to place your bag on the ground, even if it’s a hanging type.

Start stuffing the material in layers. If you’re using a combination, such as sand and fabric, alternate them to ensure an even mix.

Step 4: Pack Each Layer Down

Compress the filling after each layer.

The idea is to ensure that you fill your bag evenly and tightly. A loosely sand-filled punching bag, for instance, can result in uneven density and potential for injuries.

Continue adding filler material and compressing it until your boxing bag is nearly full. Leave a bit of room at the top for closure.

Step 5: Seal and Test Your Bag

Seal your punch bag once you’ve filled it to the desired level. Most bags have a zipper or laces at the top. Make sure it’s securely closed to prevent the stuffing from spilling out.

Then, give the bag a few punches and kicks to test it out. It should feel firm but not too hard. If it feels too soft or lumpy, you may need to add more material or compact it further.

Step 6: Conduct Routine Maintenance

Over time, what’s inside a filing bag may settle, making it feel harder, especially at the bottom.

If this happens, empty the bag and repeat the filling process. Also, regularly check the bag for leaks or tears, especially if it’s water or sand-filled.

Side Note: Safety comes first. So, if you are not confident about filling the punching bag yourself, consider seeking professional help.

Where to Buy Punching Bag Filling Material Online

You can purchase punching bag filler from various online retailers. Some popular options include:

  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Local sport store
  • Alibaba, etc

Remember to ensure the filling material is compatible with your punching bag type.


Whether you prefer the sand’s firm resistance, the foam’s softer impact, or the unique feel of a water-filled bag, you want to ensure that your chosen material aligns with your training objectives and skill level.

By customizing your punching bag with the appropriate filling, you can optimize your training sessions to improve your strength, speed, technique, and overall boxing performance.

Furthermore, understanding the proper method of filling your bag and performing regular maintenance can extend its lifespan, allowing you to enjoy your training session. 

One more thing, always prioritize your safety when training.

Happy boxing!

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