Lately we have been under a heat wave here in Southern Ontario. With the temperatures hitting 36°C (96.8°F) it has made training sticky and uncomfortable. All of my current gi's are heavy (550-750 gram) which poses a problem in this heat. I am a long time fan of heavy gi's. I like how difficult they are for my opponent to grip. They keep me warm during classes in the cold Canadian winter, and they are, in my opinion, generally better constructed. In this heat however, perhaps it was time for a change.
I needed a light weight gi. With the entire gi industry moving towards lighter and lighter gi's then I thought "I must be missing out on something". The thought of flowing and moving effortlessly without the hindrance of 6 pounds of cotton on me in this heat sounded great. A quick search around "teh interwebs" brought me to Gorilla Fight Gear's "Hitman". It's a 100% ripstop cotton "ultralight gi". Just what I need for rolling in the hot weather..
Gorilla Fight Gear is a Canadian company based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.They sell a diverse line of BJJ and striking gear, all with a "primate" theme. I already have another gi from their line- the 2009 "Silverback" model in blue (to match my eyes...sigh)
I contacted Mike at Gorilla, and ordered an A4 Hitman. The gi is available in both black and white. I decided on the white, since it has that old school bad-ass flair to it. The Hitman sells for $89.00 off the website with a Canada Post Flat Shipping Rate of $9.95 to Ontario. Throw in roughly 13 bucks for Ontario taxes and it tops out at just north of $110... gi in hand.
The gi came neatly wrapped a.few days after ordering it. I feverishly ripped into the packaging and found three large zip-lock bags, each containing a different article of clothing. The package contained 1) a ripstop top 2) a pair of ripstop pants and 3) what I would consider a premium white belt.
My initial impression of the gi as I unfolded it was "This thing can't be strong enough". It feels as light as a linen shirt. I don't want to give the impression that it felt shoddy or poorly constructed, it is simply incredibly light. I knew in the coming training sessions, that some savage would be yanking and pulling my 240lb frame around by this light fabric. How much could it take before failure?
Also, I have seen a few "ultra light gi's stretch their sleeves to the point of looking ridiculous (*cough* cough* Koral Light *cough*). After a few roll sessions, the Koral is completely stretched out and looks like a hand-me-down from someones older brother. I had reservations about this being a common theme with the light/super light gi's, and so I was eager to test the "Hitman" to see if this was an issue.
I gathered the top and bottom up and headed to the scale (where I work we have a scale that will measure to a 10th of a gram). I rolled the top and bottom up and began weighing them individually. The top weighed in at exactly 598 grams (1.31 pounds) and the pants weighed in at 491.6 grams (1.08 pounds). At 2.38 pounds, the Hitman is a very light gi!
Overall the top is well made with the appropriate re-enforcements placed at all the stress points. As I examined the stitching, I noticed a few area's where the stitching wasn't as "tight" as I would have liked it. This isn't traditionally an issue, as I have seen this before and it generally tightens up after a wash or two. Still, it is something to note (see the closeup of the sleeve cuff). Each major seam I examined was triple stitched with a contrasting grey-ish thread. It adds a nice subtle styling touch and helps to break up the white.
|Sleeve Cuff. Note the stitching.|
The Hitman has a one piece back with no seams or stitching of any kind. I have never found any back seams to be a problem during rolling, though some people complain about it. The shoulders are re-enforced with a second layer of rip stop fabric (shown below). While trying to take the photo, I realized that the super light material this gi is made of tends to wrinkle excessively. I could care less, but it might matter to some.
|The Gorilla patch with the stylized blackbelt logo. There is an identical patch on the upper right thigh of the pants|
|Close Up Of The Embroidery On The Left Arm.|
|A Shot Of The Inside Label|
To give you an idea of scale, each of these side vents (or whatever you call them) are 6" long.
|Side Vent Re-enforcement|
The armpit are is well re-enforced with the industry standard "eye" shaped patch. No new broken ground here
The collar is incredibly thick for a gi this light. It is around a half inch thick and seems to be foam rubber filled. Wearing it for the first time and I get the feeling of having a large "rope" hanging around my neck. I am not sure if it will help my opponent with chokes or control, though I do wish it was a little thinner for a gi this light.
The pants of the Hitman seem to be made of the same cotton ripstop as the top, I personally think the pants felt a little heavier than the top material, though maybe I'm just imagining things.
Each leg has a a second layer of fabric reaching from just below the crotch of the pants to the ankle. I have seen a few different companies only double up a small patch on the knee's and not take into consideration the realities that rarely do the pants stay in one place. I am glad Gorilla has identified this and extended the knee patch considerably. Another great feature of these pants is the 5 drawstring loops (belt loops?) it is a nice touch that stops any bunching of the pants in the front when cinching them tight.
|5 (Count 'em) Belt Loops!|
|Close Up Of the Belt Loops, Again Rip Stop Material.|
Curiously with a gi as feature laden as this, they didn't go with a elastic round drawstring. Instead they went with a contrasting grey ripstop drawstring. I am a big fan of the round elastic style as I find they rarely come loose or get tangled, though this drawstring posed no problems tying or untying.
|The Flat Drawstrings|
Rounding out the review of the pants is to highlight all of the re-enforcements. Much like with the top, no real new ground was broken, though there is an interesting doubling up of fabric over the butt crack of the pants (below) The rest of the re-enforcements are your typical run of the mill.
Ahhh... the belt.. it holds your gi closed, it denotes rank...it...it...well, I guess that's it... This one is one of the better ones I have seen that come packaged with a gi. It is thick and soft with a large black bar for promotional stripes. This is a area some companies will skimp on by sending a glorified shoelace for a white belt. Gorilla has stepped up to the plate and thrown in a premium one. Awesome.
This gi is extremely light, and therefore cool during rolling sessions. I felt light and unrestricted with a real feeling of being able to "flow". The best way to describe rolling in this gi is: You feel like your rolling No-Gi, but with a gi on".
Being as light as it is, the ripstop material is easy for your opponent to grab onto and establish strong firm grips.With that said, the material handled all the yanks, pulls, and pokes, my training partners could throw at it without a hiccup. In fact, my initial worries that it would stretch during rolling like some other light gi's I had seen were quickly dismissed. The "Hitman" didn't stretch at all...it did the opposite.. it shrank.
It shrank you ask?.. Well...I guess the combination of being soaked with sweat, being 100% cotton, and the high temperatures that day caused the gi to shrink. I feel it shrank in the same way it would after being put through a warm water washing machine. Overall the shrinking was minimal and was mostly isolated to the sleeves and the pant length. (See the measurement chart below). After washing this gi, I observed it shrink ever-so-slightly again, and all of the "loose" stitching I wrote about earlier had tightened up considerably.
There is a certain amount of exhibitionism in wearing a gi this light as when it is waterlogged with sweat the material becomes semi-translucent, especially when stretched taught against the skin. It is not to say it is "see through" but I definitely noticed the black compression shorts I wear, peaking through. If your the type of person who wears nothing under your kimono, then first; stay away from me, and second; maybe this isn't the gi for you.
The gi has a subtle style to it that doesn't feel flashy or in-your-face. Both times I have trained in it, my training partners have comments of "Wow, so light!, and "Nice looking gi". After rolling, it seems plenty strong enough with none of my training partners "going easy" on it. After training, I washed it and left it out to dry. 5 hours later (sitting under a ceiling fan) it was dry. At around $110 bucks (shipped) to get one of your very own, there doesn't seem to be too many better deals out there. Couple that with Gorilla's great return policy, and it is "win-win"
Overall, I feel it fits perfectly into it's niche.It's perfect as a hot weather gi, and rolls up tight as a travel gi. It wouldn't be my primary training gi, but makes a useful addition to any gentle art student's closet.
Oh... and our cats must approve of it, as all four of them couldn't resist using it as a bed.. :)
This review represents my own opinions. I am not an expert by any means in cotton, garment construction, or fabric stress. I am just a regular BJJ student who loves Jiu Jitsu. I consider myself as independent and impartial as one can get. I am not sponsored by Gorilla, though I did receive this gi free of charge for the purposes of reviewing it.. If you have any questions about this review, please comment below or email me at lifevsjiujitsu@gmail(dot)com. I hope you enjoyed the large detailed photos I included; it is something I think many reviews are lacking. Thanks for reading.