Do Kettlebells Need A Rubber Or Vinyl Coating?

You might notice there are kettlebells without and with a rubber coating on the outside. Do you need this or can you save money by skipping it? Keep reading to find out.

Do kettlebells need a rubber coating? No. While there are some benefits to having a rubber coating (looks, floor protection), for most people it’s better to get a simple cast iron kettlebell. If the cast iron kettlebell is of sufficient quality, it’ll last longer, look better longer and be more comfortable to use.

Want to find out more about the coating of a kettlebell and what’s right for you? Keep reading to find out. Or just get my recommended ones by clicking here.

Types of kettlebells

The shape of all kettlebells is roughly the same. A cannonball shape with a flat bottom and two handles sticking out at the top. The handles curve back and meet each other so you can hold them easily with two hands.

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Besides coming in different weights, there are roughly two different types of kettlebells; 1: Bare cast iron. 2: Covered in something softer like vinyl, rubber or something else.

Those two types is what this post is about. Is it necessary to have that coating or are you better off without it? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both types and then analyze what’s best for you.

Kettlebells are used for specific exercises that can be very effective in building a better physique and cardio health. Both types can be used for all types of exercises although there might be small differences in practicality.

Looking for a well priced kettlebell? Click here to find my favorite and why.

What’s kettlebell coating good for?

What are the pros and cons of having a kettlebell that’s coated with something soft? There are a few things that come into play.

  • Looks. Many people prefer the look of coated kettlebells. They look a bit friendlier and many people think they’re more comfortable to use. That might not be completely accurate but more on that later. Many commercial gyms will go for covered kettlebells since they make the place look more colorful and vibrant which is attractive to many of their customers.
  • For home use, this doesn’t matter as much. Also, a coating can crack and peel over time, making them look worse. For a home gym I personally want things to be functional and last long. A cast iron barbell is better for that purpose.
  • Comfort of use. You might think that steel that’s covered in something soft, is more comfortable to use that bare steel. This isn’t necessarily the case however. There are different kettlebell exercises you can do.
  • Usually you’ll just touch the handles. There are a few exercises where the kettlebell actually touches your skin. Now when that happens, it’s important that the surface of the kettlebell doesn’t hurt or stick to your skin. This is the biggest drawback of covered kettlebells.
  • The rubber or vinyl can stick to your skin and this is uncomfortable when you try to slide it. This doesn’t happen on all the exercises but it happens often enough to be an important factor in your decision. Now on the other hand if you’ve got a bare steel kettlebell, it has to be of sufficient quality and finish for it to feel comfortable.
  • Badly finished steel can have some sharp edges and burrs. That’s only with the cheapest of the cheap kettlebells though. The best option is a high quality cast iron kettlebell possibly with a matte powder coating.
  • Quality and finish. Sometimes, a rubber coating can be used to cover up a bad quality product. While a rubber or vinyl costs money to make, this can be offset by cheaper casting and materials for the actual kettlebell. A cast iron kettlebell that looks good without any cover, is certain to be of decent quality. With a cover, you don’t really know.
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  • Protection. Most people assume that a cover will make the kettlebell last longer and protects your floor as well. There is some truth in that. However, if you think that means you can drop the kettlebell repeatedly, that’s not the case. You’ll still have to lower it down carefully.
  • The coating can get damaged and peel off over time. At that point you’re just left with a normal kettlebell. How long that takes really depends on the quality and how you treat it. Without a coating, you’ll have to have a mat or some kind of protection under the location where you use your kettlebells to prevent damage.

To summarize;

Pros of vinyl coated kettlebells;

  • Looks good
  • Protects your floor

Cons of vinyl coated kettlebells;

  • Can be uncomfortable on the skin
  • Doesn’t allow you to drop the kettlebells on the floor since you will still cause damage over time
  • Coating can crack and peel over time

Looking for a well priced kettlebell with coating? Click here to find my favorite and why.

Which type of kettlebell is best for you?

So what’s best for you? That depends how important the pros and cons listed above are.

For most people that buy kettlebells to use at home, it will come down to one important thing; do you want to put down something that protects the floor everytime you use the kettlebells? This can be a yoga mat, floor mat, etc. Anything you can put it down on safely will do the trick. Even a piece of cardboard will work in a pinch.

Of course if you’ve got a fully equipped home gym with gym flooring, this is not a concern, it’s there already. But if you’re working out in a living room or another place you don’t usually use for workouts, this can be a factor. If having to put down some floor protection is likely to be going to stop you from using the kettlebells, get the ones with coating.

In general, a cast iron kettlebell without coating will be better since it’s more comfortable to use and last longer. This does require the kettlebell to be of good quality and be finished well enough to not have any sharp edges and burrs that can hurt you.

Looking for a good cast iron kettlebell for a good price? Check out this Yes4All kettlebell. 35lbs. is a good weight for many men. 18 lbs. is more suitable for women.

There isn’t much difference in price between the two types. It’s more about the overall quality (and some branding as well). Both types of kettlebell can be bought for $1.80 to $2 per pound with lighter ones being a bit more expensive per pound.

If you want to know more about what you can expect to pay for a kettlebell, click here.

Related questions

Can you use a kettlebell as a dumbbell. Yes, in most cases you could use a kettlebell as a dumbbell. For most exercises it’s possible although not as comfortable. However, using a kettlebell for its intended purpose can be more effective than using them as dumbbells.

Can kettlebells provide an effective workout? Yes, kettlebells are some of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can have at home. You can do many different types of workout with them. Depending on the workout you can focus more on cardio or muscle building.


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to I've been going to the gym for about 15 years and am now looking to build my own. In the process I've learned many things I'd like to share with you.

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