20 May 2015

Review: Tatami Fightwear 'Onyx' backpack

Stylish and super practical backpack designed to carry a full gi and nogi set along with accessories and all the accoutrement necessary for a day out travelling to training or a competition. The bag was very comfortable to carry even when loaded with heavy items, I found however, the material was a bit too plasticky compared to my usual backpack (Datsusara Battlepack Mini) and the lack of a water bottle holder to be a major omission. Overall however, great value for money and thoughtfully designed backpack.

Available to buy from the Tatami Fightwear website here.
Price £39.50 (roughly $62USD)

Tatami Fightwear are no stranger to bags. For as long as I can recall, they've always held a line of large holdalls, but this, the Onyx, is their first dedicated BJJ backpack as far as I know. And it's a really snazzy looking piece of kit with a million little pockets and compartments - enough to carry all sorts of the kind of crap you normally bring to BJJ class or away on a trip to a seminar or comp. But will it usurp my Datsusara Battlepack Mini as my favourite never-leave-home-without-it backpack?

Essentials details
This backpack is loaded with features:

  • Waterproof material
  • Over 10 compartments and pockets including a dedicated laptop/tablet section
  • Lower lumbar support 
  • Two sets of straps, waist and chest.
  • Chunky zippers
  • Measures 46cm tall, 36cm wide, roughly - it's sort of squishy so exact measurements are crude.

Some close-up photographs:

The carrying straps are wide, comfy and well secured.

The main inner compartment is voluminous and features a handy laptop/tablet pocket.

The secondary main compartment is very handy for paperwork, books, wallet, keys etc plus also includes mini pockets for smaller easy to lose items.

Side pockets are handy and easy to reach.

Chunky zippers throughout

This bit on the back is intended as the place to put that sweaty post-training belt

Lower lumbar support - a handy little lump and wicking fabric.

The curving shoulder straps help with the comfort factor.

Carrying capacity
This little bag, not much bigger than a small laptop bag can carry a lot of gear. See the photo below:

1. Gi jacket and pants
2. Rashguard
3. Belt
4. Nogi shorts
5. Sweatshirt top
6. Tablet
7. Spare t-shirt
8. Camera
9. Pencil case
10. Keys
11. Kindle
12. Mobile phone
13. [I forgot to label on photo] Moleskine sketchbook
14. [I forgot to photograph it] Sports goggles

This is the collective crap I normally bring to me on a regular training session. I might not bring the sweatshirt on a hot day, instead it would be a towel. I always bring gi and nogi gear with me in case my instructor changes plans prior to class starting. No, I don't wear a groin guard nor do I carry a gumshield.

Basically, if you include all the stuff I have to bring to last me throughout the day travelling to work and then from work to BJJ class, it's a fair amount of stuff. When stuffed all into the Onyx backpack, it looks like this:-

Onyx versus Battlepack Mini
I love the Onyx, it's so well thought out. As seen above, it can carry [almost] everything I need when travelling to work and then on to BJJ class after. But there's a big omission - somewhere to put my water bottle. To some, it's a minor annoyance, to me, it's something I really rely on. This is where the Datsusara Battlepack Mini excels. I would much rather have two generously large side pockets (as on the Mini) than three teeny tiny side pockets (as on the Onyx) - see photo below for the water bottle holder:

But the Battlepack Mini is not waterproof. I have to use a raincover when it rains. That's a major hassle. The Onyx however, is happily shower proof. Still, it beats a Tesco supermarket bag!

If I had more time and inclination, I would probably do a better side by side, carry for carry comparison, but based on my experience with both, I'd say the Onyx can carry more things than the Datsusara, mainly because of that bigger secondary front compartment.

I'm also assuming the interior lining of the Onyx is not a den for microbes to fester - with Datsusara gives you a nasty bag and in any case, the hemp fibres have an alleged antimicrobial property. Still, I wouldn't leave any post-sweaty clothing item folded up and stored inside any bag for too long.

There are many pros and cons in the versus battle between these two items. I think its a close call and if money were not the deciding factor, I'd still prefer to go with my Datsusara Mini mainly because the material is nicer (though not waterproof) and it has two side compartments that are specifically preferable for my needs (glasses case and water bottle). Having said that, price IS a major concern when it comes to bags and when you factor in the fact that the Onyx is £39.50 and the Datsusara Battlepack Mini is around £70 in the UK ($85 direct from the Datsusara website)...roughly double, then for sheer value for money, the Onyx is a brilliant product and perfect for the travelling jiu jitsu student.


About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.



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