An ultra light model from one of the most familiar names in the fightwear business. Manto's pearlweave gi jacket has a roomy cut and the rip stop trousers are the most comfortable trousers of their kind I have ever tested. Some small niggles aside, this is an extremely good, feather light gi for competition, hot weather or just regular training.
Manto are well known for producing creative and colourful fightwear but for many years they seem only to have produced one gi model. At the end of last year, they made a headlong charge into the BJJ gi market with the release of three new models: Manto Select (budget model), Manto 3.0 (bling model) and this model, the (ultra light) Manto Evolution. I must admit I did kinda fancy the colourful patches and embroidery of their 3.0 standard model, but as I will discuss, the other aspects of the Evolution model more than make up for its lack of bling.
|Out the bag: A-Gi jacket, B-trousers, C- extra rope|
|Click for bigger picture|
Fabric, cut, weight and shrinkage
The gi top is a light weight pearl weave fabric while the trousers are a light weight ripstop fabric. The cut is very roomy and as the stats above show, it barely shrunk AT ALL!
The whole gi weighs in at a touch just over 1.3Kg for an A1, making this gi comparable to many of the lightest gis on the market, notably the Tatami fightwear Zero G, Grab & Pull Ripstop, Koral Light and Vulkan Ultra Light models.
Other Manto BJJ gis have bright and colourful patches. Not so the Evolution. It is stripped of unnecessary adornments with just an embroidered sleeve logo and some tags. They are discrete and minimal which a lot of people like. My guess is that too many patches = too much unnecessary weight.
The collar is of a fairly standard BJJ gi thickness and the foam/rubber core is covered with ripstop fabric. My sample did emit a chemically 'new' odour - even after several washes - which I found a bit distracting. After half a dozen washes however, the odour was much less evident.
|A: ripstop collar|
The sleeve lengths on this A1 were perfect for me. I have very long arms for a small guy so the roomy cut of the Manto Evolution made this ideal for me. The tape used to reinforce the cuffs however were a bit scratchy and every now and then irritated me during training. Other gis use cotton or cotton mix tape which is far comfier.
I can't disguise my delight at finally wearing rip-stop that feels super comfortable. Previous ripstop trousers have felt thick, waxy, impermeable to heat and sweat, and basically quite unpleasant to wear. Not these babies. Manto have crafted a pair of trousers so delicately thin and silk-like, it genuinely feels like I am wearing my night time PJs. In fact, I might actually wear them as PJ bottoms.
|A: rope drawstring, B:ripstop fabric|
The extreme thinness of the material might prove to be a weakness some day, but so far, it has not ripped nor shown any signs of wear, or tear. The cord drawstring is a bit cheap though. The likes of Tatami Fightwear's Estilo model and the K2 Premier gi both have amazingly robust and quality rope drawstrings. The Manto Evolution's rope drawstring is thin and more akin to a child's shoelaces - I wonder if that is why the gis ship with an extra drawstring? I think a thicker, more robust quality drawstring would enhance longevity without much added weight.
|A: triple stitch vertical seam, B: double stitched ankles, C: reinforcement tape|
Trouser reinforcements are as expected for BJJ pants. Triple stitching along vertical seams and extra tape around the ankles, but no extra gusset reinforcements, which is a key stress area (most gis add a patch of material here for extra strength - see photo below). Clearly all these measures are designed to ensure the trousers remain incredibly light weight, but possibly at a cost to durability.
|Lack of extra reinforcement (circled)|
|Grab & Pull ripstop trousers. NOTE: extra reinforced gusset join|
Fit, Comfort, Rolling Performance & Discussion
For me, the measure of a really good gi is that it is one of the first gis I throw into the gym bag as I rush out the door to go to training. The Manto Evolution is such a delight to wear that it is definitely in my rotation of gis (surprisingly only a few favourites ever make it into my exclusive rotation when I am not reviewing a gi). I love the fact that it is so incredibly light and yet I love the fact that the jacket is a sturdy pearl weave fabric (compared to rip stop fabric). I love the fact that it is pretty roomy for an A1 - with nice long sleeves for my weird body shape and I love the silky smooth ultra light trousers. Rolling in this gi was an effortless experience - it hardly felt like I was wearing anything..
|A: ripstop covered side vent, B: jacket base tape|
The Manto Evolution is definitely one of the better ultra light gis on the market. Attempting to shave as much weight off a uniform while still maintaining comfort, functionality and durability must be a challenge for any gi maker and Manto seem to have done a great job. Without a doubt this gi is extremely light and comfortable to wear but I think if Manto can just tweak the cuff tape, add a decent drawstring, add a bit more reinforcement to the pants and use a different (slightly less stinky) collar foam then they will have the PERFECT ultra light gi. For now, I guess it remains just a damned GOOD ultra light gi.
The Manto Evolution can be purchased from:
18th April 2011 - This gi has been updated into a white model with new collars, thicker weave jacket and couple new styling elements. Check it out here:
The code meerkatsu will give 10% off all products from the Manto eu site. Expiry date unknown.
Credit & Disclaimer
My thanks to Manto Europe for the chance to be the exclusive first time reviewer for this gi. I am not sponsored by any company nor do I endorse any one brand. If you like this review and found it useful, please feel free to comment below and inform the vendor about Meerkatsu when purchasing a gi. Ta!