Datsusara has been a staple on the gear market for years with their gear bags being hailed by many as a standard of quality. Their use of hemp fabrics sets them apart from their competition, and they have tied themselves to the sub only movement by sponsoring EBI to bring them a level of exposure and popularity that few companies in our small insular world possess. They sent over one of their hemp combat gis for review, and we reviewed it over the course of 5 months. How does it compare to its cotton counterparts?
This Gi was submitted to me free of charge (by way of gireviews.net) for review. I have never done any work with or for Datsusara.
In an unusual turn of events many of the original photos taken of this gi when it was new were lost so photos taken in the gi for fit demonstration were mostly re-shot at the end of the review period
Datsusara has been around for many years now and is probably best known for its hemp bags. They claim that the hemp fabric is antimicrobial and tougher than cotton fabrics.
I personally first heard of Datsusara when I was just getting back into jiu-jitsu, and bought one of their battlepack pros as a blue belt, also when I misplaced by belt as a blue belt I picked up one of their belts. Also I have a duffle bag from them as well as their “Joe Rogan Utility Belt” fanny pack. To be honest the fanny pack is my favorite product of those 4 items that I’ve mentioned.
I say all this to say that I am and have been a fan of Datsusara for a while so when I heard I was going to get a hemp gi from them for review I was pretty excited.
The gi arrived with a sticker and a tag. I noticed fresh out the bag that the fabric was odd (not necessarily in a bad way, I’ll get more into this later.) I also noticed that after the first couple of washes the fabric started to fade to grey, this prompted me to push the review out a bit to see if there would be any issues with durability.
I’m 6’1, 195. The best fit for me is usually an A2L. Datsusara doesn’t offer an A2L so I went with an A3. The A3 fit me like most A3’s, not too big, but certainly not tailored to my preferences. The fit was never an issue with this gi though, It was fine throughout the review period.
This gi has a super simple design: plain black gi, black stitching, black hemp twill trim and pants, a few circular black and white logos throughout but otherwise unmarked.
Where the gi gets interesting is its fabric. Hemp ages differently from anything I’ve ever seen. It gets dull and grey but somehow remains shiny. It’s weird. I like it.
Another thing I noticed about the hemp was that in the form of a pearl weave it almost had the consistency of a mesh, it was see-through albeit a bit rough but always breathable. The fabric of both the top and the pants was consistently stiff. It almost felt like when fabric has a static charge through it. I never got used to this but it never caused me any problems.
All of this to say: hemp fabric is literally like nothing I’ve ever worn. It wasn’t bad or good necessarily just DIFFERENT. Also the claims of antimicrobial properties seemed to hold true for this gi as it never stank, and I left it sweaty for a few days a couple of times to see what would happen.
Datsusara went with a minimalist approach in designing this gi. The 580 GSM jacket has two round Datsusara emblem patches, one on the left arm and one between the shoulder blades. That’s it. That’s the design.
The EVA foam collar is covered with black hemp twill and all of the trim and seamtape is the same hemp twill. That’s the design.
The stitching was the only area where quality could have been improved a bit. I found that some of the stitching on the gi gradually came undone over the course of the review period. This might be because the stitching has a hard time holding the hemp fibers. This didn’t cause any catastrophic failure.
If the jacket was simple yet odd the pants are stark and bizarre! The heavy hemp twill pants have a single patch (rather than an embroidery) featuring the same crest but with Datsusara’s namesake written on them.
Datsusara went with a normal tied off stretchy rope/4 loop closure for the pants.
This fabric felt like something otherworldly. I can’t accurately describe the pants as anything other than slippery weighted nylon that’s somehow breathable. They were remarkable.
I just want to be clear I really liked this gi and its pants, but wearing it was a weird experience.
The fabric of the gi top is simultaneously rough on the outside and soft on the inside. The pants have a weird weight to them but are extremely slippery. Rolling in this gi was fun because it’s a pain to grip and it’s very breathable. However the odd stiffness of the fabric took a lot of getting used to as it flows similarly to ripstop. I enjoyed training in this gi and absolutely would wear it to compete in.
Datsusara has carved an interesting niche for themselves in the market as THE hemp gear company. Other companies out there may make hemp gis, but Datsusara only makes hemp gis and thus holds hemp lovers’ attention. If you like the look of this gi I highly recommend getting one at www.dsgear.com. They also have other nifty hemp products and accessories for your hemp pleasure.