Working out in the outdoors has to be one of the most natural ways to train. You’re in the fresh air and in the sunlight which feels so much better than exercising in a cramped, dingy gym or basement. If you’re training on a heavy bag outside, then you’re really getting the best of both Worlds.
Working out on a heavy bag is an excellent form of exercise. It develops coordination, speed, strength, as well as developing your cardio-vascular endurance. It’s also a great stress reliever. I find that after a hard day’s work, there’s nothing better than pounding out your frustration on a heavy bag.
It’s also a very cheap form of exercise. Once you’ve invested in the initial cost of a bag, the means to hang it and a decent pair of gloves to protect your hands, you’re all set to have hours of fun.
I’ve installed dozens of bags for friends and family over the years, some of which have been outside. I’ve outlined the ones which I think are the best outdoor punching bags.
Can punching bags be left outside?
Before I go too far, I just want to add a few words of caution. Anything left outside will degrade quicker than if it were kept indoors.
Outside, the heavy bag is subject to the elements. When the sun’s shining, the UV rays will be affecting the surface of the bag. Overtime the pattern on the bag will fade and, given long enough, the fabric will break down.
When it’s raining, the damp will try to penetrate the surface of the bag. It will try to work its way into any hole or gap in the outer fabric. If you’re not careful the bag can eventually begin to rot.
There are ways to protect your bag, and I’ll discuss these in a bit, but for now, be prepared that your heavy bag won’t last forever if it’s kept outside.
Personally, I think it’s a risk worth taking. It’s far more likely that you’ll use the bag if it’s permanently mounted in place, rather than having to try to lift it up and clip it in position each time you want to train. What’s better: a pristine bag that’s never used, or a well worn bag that’s been used to chisel your body to rock hard perfection?
Outdoor punching bag setup
Personally, I don’t do anything fancy when it comes to protecting my own outdoor heavy bag.
Heavy bag cover
When I’ve finished my workout, I get a large tarpaulin and wrap the bag, covering the chains as well. Note that I’m not worried about the chains rusting, I select rust proof chains; it’s more to try and make it as waterproof as possible. This ensures that rain can’t penetrate from the top and work its way down.
I secure the tarp in place with several bungee cords going round the bag itself and the chains.
The tarpaulin will now take the brunt of any UV rays that it’s exposed to and will provide a layer of protection against the rain. If you live in a cold area, it will also protect the bag from frost. Although if it gets too cold, I’d be minded to bring the bag indoors; it’s no fun training in the freezing cold.
Alternatively, there are special boxing bag covers that you can purchase such as the one here on Amazon.
The best outdoor punching bag
There are loads of punching bags on the market but very few are suitable for hanging up outside. The material that the bag is made from is not waterproof enough to withstand the elements. They would simply end up rotting away.
Weatherproof punching bag
Personally, I really like the RDX’s Zero Impact G-Core training bag. It’s really well made using Maya hide leather, resulting in a highly durable bag. I believe it’s about $100 but you can see the exact price on Amazon here.
It comes with rust proof steel chains to use to hang the bag up with. It’s also supplied with good quality bag gloves.
The RDX website says that the G-Core twinned layer is “waterproof & can be used outside”.
I believe it comes in two sizes – 4ft and 5ft. Personally I’d always go with the larger bag: it’ll have more weight to it, meaning less swing and it can be used for low kicks as well, resulting in a complete workout.
Where to hang an outdoor punch bag?
I’ve written previously about how to hang a heavy bag from a tree but there are other options available.
Outdoor heavy bag stand
I personally like using a heavy bag stand such as the one here on Amazon.
This one is actually height adjustable and can actually fold up when not in use. I prefer to keep my stand fixed in place all the time in my garden. It means that I can use my heavy bag whenever I feel like it without having to waste time setting it up.
I find that this makes it much more likely that I’ll actually use it.
It’s made from steel covered in a black powder coat finish. I don’t believe it’s specifically designed to be left outside but there is a trick I use to make it a bit more resistant to the elements.
I’m a keen dinghy sailor and am used to seeing dinghy trolleys being eaten away by rust. This is because they are frequently exposed to salt water as they are immersed in water when launching and retrieving the dinghy itself.
What has this got to do with hanging a heavy bag I hear you ask!
Well I’m used to applying a resistant lanolin layer to the trolley. Lanolin is a natural product made from sheep’s wool and is highly water resistant. I’ve covered my heavy bag stand with a layer of a lanolin containing product (you can see it here on Amazon – make sure you read the instructions). You’ll need to re-apply it periodically but I believe it will help my stand last longer stood outside.
Again, I know that I’ll eventually have to replace both the stand and heavy bag from leaving it outside sooner than I would if I trained indoors. However, for me the joy of feeling the cool breeze and sun on my face as I train outweighs the negatives I’ve mentioned.
If you don’t want to hang your heavy bag then there are other options….
Heavy duty free standing punch bag
You can use a free standing heavy bag. I like this one, which you can see here on Amazon.
It’s nice and tall, standing at 6’4” and the plastic base can be filled with 270 pounds of either water or sand. I’ve unleashed all my fury on these type of bag and they just take it. They don’t skid around like some of the cheaper bags out there.
When I fill these types of bag with water, I always add a cup of bleach in with it so that algae or bacteria doesn’t start to grow in it.
I like the extra height of these bags as it allows you to practise low and high kicks as well as your normal array of punches.
This bag isn’t specifically designed to be kept outdoors but it is largely made of tough plastic.
Because it’s freestanding and doesn’t have chains in the way, it’s also super easy to cover with a large tarpaulin – a couple of bungees to hold it in place and you have a very simple but highly usable bit of kit.
Again, it won’t last as long outdoors as it will indoors, but, in my opinion, you’ll get a lot more enjoyment from training outside.
If you do want to move it, say into your garage, then I find if you tilt the bag onto the edge of its base, you can roll it into the position you want. You don’t want to try lifting the thing when it’s full of water.
Human shaped punching bags
If you want a more realistic looking opponent, then you cannot go wrong in investing in, the now famous, Century Bob XL – which you can see on Amazon here.
This is an anatomically correct upper torso made from a kind of ‘softish’ durable rubber. It makes for a very realistic target.
The one problem I find with standing heavy bags is that it’s very difficult to practise upper cuts. This is because you’re punching against a smooth, vertical surface. Typically you’d need a different type of bag to practise these types of strike.
With a Century BOB, you have a chin waiting to be upper cut! It’s a really good way of improving your punching accuracy. With a heavy bag it can be all too easy just to hit it as hard as you possibly can. That’s fine for a general workout and you’ll certainly burn some calories, but if you want to get better at punching, then you’ll also need to work on your accuracy.
Again the base can be filled with 270 lbs of water or sand, so when you hit it, it’s really not going to go anywhere.
It’s also really good for practising self defense type moves such as grabbing the head as you elbow strike with your other arm. In short, it provides a much more realistic fighting experience.
Another feature I like is the ability to adjust the height from 60” to 82” tall. You can therefore practise against a range of different ‘opponents’. This all helps build up your fighting muscle memory and, again, improves your striking accuracy.
There are also tailor made outdoor covers for this type of human shaped punching bag, such as the one here on Amazon. This means it can be kept outdoors and be kept dry in its own waterproof coat.
Hopefully, I’ve outlined a number of options for you to consider when it comes to choosing the best outdoor punching bag. It really is worth the investment; there really is nothing like training outdoors.