Cute branding help this gi model stand out above the crowd. Superb construction, copious additions and attention to details help make this gi an impressive debut offering from Inverted Gear. The A1s in-between size however was probably a touch too big for me.
I first spotted the panda graphic on Facebook a few months back and was curious to find out more. Something about it immediately appealed - the cuddly but inexpressive panda playfully inverting itself in readiness for upside-downy-jiu jitsu is a brilliant mascot...my only wish was that I should have thought of it myself!
I also like the mission statement on the website, "We are not for the tough guys."
But does a 'soft guy' image mean the gi would be soft and limp?
Size, Weight and other Stats
Size in centimetres, first figure new, second after three 40 degree washes, air dried.
A: 171 / 170
B: 74 / 73
C: 56 / 56
D: 16 / 16
E: 101 / 99
F: 52 / 50
Jacket weight: 1.1Kg
Trouser weight: 0.6Kg
Compared to even the biggest of A1 gis from other brands, the sleeve wingspan of the A1s is very long. The other in-betweeny sizes I have reviewed, Shoyoroll Count and Bull Terrier New Star (162cm and 157cm respectively) are much shorter by a magnitude. The trouser lengths are much more in line with what I expect a model in between A1 and A2 to be. The very minimal shrinkage was impressive! Weighing in at a total of 1.7Kg, it's not too heavy either.
The Inverted Gear Panda gi jacket is made from pearlweave cotton fabric. Listed at 550gsm in weight, it's a sturdy piece of cloth designed for everyday training, rather than weight cutting tournament use.
As the 550gsm would indicate, the fabric feels 'weighty' and durable but not necessarily heavy. The collar (below) is the standard foam core covered by ripstop cotton.
The inverted panda graphic is embroidered directly onto the upper sleeves. It's very eye-catching despite being quite small.
The panda graphic is further repeated on the tape used to line the inside of the cuffs. In fact the cuffs are reinforced with the panda tape PLUS a layer of ripstop material. It's an impressively sturdy design and I very much doubt this portion of the gi will suffer wear and tear compared to brands without reinforcing tape. Happily, the woven panda tape is tucked over so no scratchy edges - something I have found to be incredibly annoying (and cheap) with other gis.
More ripstop material is used to cover the side vents plus, as you can see below, more panda branded tape reinforces the lower jacket hem.
Inverted Gear's size charts reflect the increasingly popular trend for gear companies to offer in between sizes. My sample was the A1S - bigger than an A1, not quite as wide or long as the A2.
Teardrop shaped patch of gi material reinforces the armpit. Like a doofus, I neglected to photograph the very important extra band of tape used to reinforce the upper torso section with the lower portion. But you can see the stitching running from centre middle to the far left on the photo below. Again, a very impressive level of additional strength in a zone of comparative weakness.
Inverted Gear's dedication to high quality and attention to detail continues with the trousers. A good not too spongy rope drawstring cord is held in place by no less and EIGHT belt loops. Two of those loops are very wide - helping to maintain the rope in its position.
The trousers are made from ripstop cotton. It is a measure of how ripstop has progressed since the first few companies that utilised this fabric. A few years back, many users noted how ripstop trousers would feel 'waxy', thick and quite uncomfortable. This is certainly NOT the case with the Inverted Gear trousers. The ripstop material used here is light and flexibly malleable.
The photo above shows how the crotch gusset is made from pearlweave gi material. Presumably used as it is a stronger fabric to use in this high stress zone. Triple row stitching binds these parts together.
A closer detail of the first belt loops. The extra width of this loop helps keep the rope drawstring in position and prevent it riding up.
The panda gi throws in a nice little surprise - a pocket, tucked inside the front of the trousers. I imagine it would be handy to store a gumshield or ID card. A simple overlap covers the pocket to prevent the contents from falling out. It's a wonderfully well thought out little touch that most other companies won't bother with.
Rolling performance and conclusions
The construction quality of this gi is beyond doubt. It's an extremely sturdy, yet still comfortably well balanced uniform. But, as you can probably see from the photos here (and backed up by the stats), the A1s size was just too long even for my ape-like long arms and legs. The torso length and width was good though. My arms did feel swamped by the sleeve lengths. I would be interested to compare this with their normal A1.
Despite the arm lengths, the fit and cut of this gi is very good. It's not too baggy and not too tight. If I wanted to tweak it and make it perfect, I would probably pay for a tailor to shorten the arms - though the multiple layers of reinforcing tape might prove cumbersome to remove and re-affix.
Rolling in the gi I felt hampered by the sleeves and the pants could probably do with being shorter, although they did not affect my movement too much. The 550gsm 'weight' of the gi did not mean it felt too heavy, the weight felt fine during several weeks of training and testing.
Overall I'm pretty pleased with this effort from Inverted Gear. The quality of materials and great little additional touches along with a very attractive price point ($135) means that the panda gi is fantastic value for money. It would be nice if Inverted Gear posted more a detailed size chart, including sleeve wingspan lengths and trouser lengths. In my opinion, the old model of weight v height comparison is too narrow for a large percentage of the population.
For further information:
Review by BJJ Gear Junkie: http://www.bjjgearjunkie.com/gear-reviews/post/inverted-gear-white-panda-gi