I’m a tall and lanky guy. As such, finding a nice fitting gi is harder than chipping a diamond in a snowstorm. In fact, the only brand that I’ve found to be very fitting was from Keiko Raca…at least until now. I’ll state the pros and cons of the Inverted Gear White Panda 2.0 up front to save you the time and to allow you to read in more detail as needed. Training time is valuable after all:
- Seems light-weight (even for 550 gram pearl weave)
- Minimalist design (if you like that)
- Hidden pocket
- Free bag!
- Accurate sizing
- Pandas aren’t for everyone, the logo is “unique”
- You more than likely will ditch the bag
- minimalist design (if you don’t like that)
First Impression: This is the White Panda 2.0 directly out of the bag. The first impression hit me before I even opened it…upon taking it from the mailman it seemed very light. So much so, that I automatically assumed that part of it was missing and I’d get to write a customer service review sooner than later.
I quickly opened the package and found not only a complete gi (A3 Slim), but also a very nice bag included which instantly set a positive outlook. The bag itself is very cool, complete with drawstring and made with gi material. It’s big enough to fit your folded gi into with no issues, but far from the size you’d need to “stuff and go” and be on your way. Which brings me to my second point; the bag in true manufacturer fashion threw their design up on it. This can be either good or bad depending on the image you want to project. The giant panda – as cool at it is – brings the threat of jokes, so I gave it to my wife who loves it…I guess you could call that a “win-win situation”.
THE JACKET: I threw on the jacket as it comes out of the package to find what the initial fit was. The white panda sizing chart has my size (6’2, 195lbs) as an A3, which fits 5’11” – 6’2″ and 195-225lbs, OR an A3 Tall/Slim which fits 6’1″-6’4″ and 190-230lbs. Obviously I was on the lower end of the A3 Tall/Slim so I decided on that option because of my general gi-ordering rule. That general rule is to order on the lower-size of the spectrum with the intention of being able to shrink it to its utmost ability which will allow me to machine dry after rolls instead of hang dry. Again, personal preference and yours may be different. Here is the arm length on me straight out of the box:
A little lengthy, but anyone that has ordered a gi will know that this is a familiar sight. The wingspan of the jacket prior to washing and drying was 71 1/2″. I dried the gi in ten-minute increments and tried it on each time. As expected (very pleasantly I might add), the gi shrunk up to exactly where I wanted it after a full 50 minute drying session. I dried it twice to ensure that this was the maximum shrinkage I would get on it and it seemed to be dead on. The wingspan after washing shrunk to 67 1/2″ for a total of 4″ lost in total wingspan. After shrinking it to its maximum, it fits as some would say, “like a glove”:
The before an after measurements can be seen here in my crudely drawn picture of the gi top. Please save all insulting art-comments until the end.
In case that’s a little hard to read, the total shrink you get from a full machine-drying session is:
Cuff – 6 3/4″ to 6 1/2″ (-1/4″)
Wingspan – 71 1/2 to 67 1/2 ” (-4″)
Total length – 34 1/4 to 32 1/4″ (-2″)
Waist – 26″ to 24 1/2″ (-1 1/2″)
Although the one major area is the wingspan, it really is the only area of concern. While the other areas DO shrink, in my case it wasn’t enough to set off any alarms. The jacket still fit my slim build after the dry as it did coming out of the package. The length shrunk a good 2″, but because of the “tall” option in the order, it was lengthy in the first place. It’s safe to say that the skirt length seemed to be proportional to the arm length – once the arms fit, the skirt length crawled right to where it was supposed to be. Judging by the quality of the gi, I have my doubts that this was an accident…everything just seems to come together like you would expect.
Speaking of which, the design – which is very basic at first glance – is very good where any art exists. The logo of the inverted panda is on both shoulders and is about 4″ x 4″ (this is an estimate) on each. It’s a very high quality stitch that is put together to completion, meaning that there are no straggling lines or strings and it has a very complete and solid look.
Besides the pandas on the sleeves, I was very impressed by the “hidden” pandas throughout. there is a logo on the neckline, one on the base of the left lapel, and a line of pandas that border the inside of the cuffs and the base of the skirt. While writing that out makes it seem excessive, it’s quite the opposite. The attention to detail of the pattern and the cleanliness of the finish gives a touch of flare in an otherwise basic gi.
Pulling along the inside of the sleeves and the inside of the skirt I found the stitching to be very well done. There were no weak points, no wrinkles, and the design is done in a fun pattern. This looks like a design that would last well into the life expectancy of a gi and after 4 classes and rolls in it, it still looks brand new. I know that’s a very small test window, but hey, I’ve seen stuff fall apart after far less than 4 rolls….and you’re getting hugged by over 20 hidden pandas – so there’s that.
THE PANTS: I’ll spare you my horrid drawing skills and just list the before and after measurements for the pants and get that out of the way:
- Waist – 44″ (undone as much as possible)
- Inseam – 33″
- Outseam – 43″
- Cuff – 9″
- Waist – 42 1/2″
- Inseam – 31 1/4
- Outseam – 39 3/3
- Cuff – 9″
The gi pants were a little long for me out of the package, but as with the rest of the gi, it shrunk up to a perfect fit along with the jacket. I would suggest to dry the pants and jacket at the same time and interval and you’ll more than likely get everything where you want it in one shot.
The pants come with a drawstring that feels more like paracord than anything I’ve seen and is internal in the back. It exposes on the hips and comes through 8 loops on the front – 4 of which are doubled-up and two extra-thick loops all of which are very secure. There are however a couple of things that turned me off of the pants.
The drawstring again is made up of something similar to paracord. Upon initial inspection, I noticed the ends are burned to keep the string from fraying out or splicing which is common practice for paracord. This gi however, wasn’t completely melted on the end. I rectified this by grabbing a lighter and holding it on the end of the cord for about 3 seconds – boom, problem fixed. This could have been an anomaly on my gi however. I have a hard time believing that the quality of this gi suddenly dropped when it came to a 3 second job.
The second thing wrong with the pants is the likelihood of the string pulling into the back of the pants…this area is internal and could put you in that situation where you lose one end of your drawstring in your pants and it can drive you nuts trying to get it out. A quickly tied knot at each end of the drawstring will prevent that from ever happening though.
Now for the good part of the pants; the inverted panda 2.0 gi comes with something that in my opinion is a fantastic option. On the front of the pants, just off-center, there is a pocket big enough for a mouthguard, i.d. card or whatever you may want to carry that is no bigger than a deck of cards. This is a very good addition to keep a little more focused in tournaments…the less you have to worry about the better, amiright?! Also, the pants are very comfortable. The crotch strays from the straight cotton material as you see in pants, and is replaced with gi top material. I was somewhat apprehensive about this addition, but it works nicely.
OVERALL: As expected, I ordered on the smaller end of the chart and got a gi that fit me perfectly after I went through the whole drying cycle. At 550 grams, it feels lighter than it should, doesn’t sweat you out and comes with that all-to-rare minimalistic BJJ gi design. The sizing chart on this brand is amazing as it provides you with not only the basic “A1, A2, A3 etc” sizes, but throws in the all too orphaned “in-betweeners” by providing “husky”, “tall”, and “slim” subcategories – amazing.
The only negatives were found on the pants and those are very easily rectified. Other symptoms you may encounter is the logo – it’s a panda…while the kids class will think you’re cute and adorable, you may or may not get some razzing from your buddies or jokes about panda bears (insert your own here, I have none at the moment).
The manufacturer says that the logo is to promote technique and friendliness, but also to show that BJJ practitioners can turn into a beast if need be. Basically they’re saying because you do BJJ, technique trumps strength and if needed, we’ll go all beast-mode on someone…at least that’s what I got from it. That being said, for the price, quality and overall happiness with gi, I’ll take a panda or two on the arm.
4.5/5 Buy yours here: $130