Martial arts apparel and gear company Datsusara was founded in 2007 by Christopher Odell, a man with a clear goal: “Datsusara gear is manufactured to be as strong and versatile as military gear, while incorporating the most functional textiles nature has to offer.” His life philosophy is also represented by the company name, which is a translation of the Japanese phrase “to leave the salaried/corporate worker’s life.” Those are some big green checkmarks, but the ultimate test is how the equipment performs in the world and on the mat.
The Datsusara catalogue features a Brazilian jiu-jitsu gi, fight shorts, and an array of backpacks, bags, and accessories. Everything is made of natural, environmentally friendly fibers like hemp and bamboo. Datsusara gear has been gaining lots of attention recently, as evidenced by many of the items being sold out at the time of publishing. This review covers Datsusara’s hemp fight shorts.
Straight out of the bag, these shorts stood out for two reasons: a) clean, minimalist design, and b) hemp canvas fabric.
The style of these shorts will be boring to some, but will appeal to those becoming weary of the increasingly logotastic Brazilian jiu-jitsu gear market. The shorts all black with two white embroidered logos (left quad and lumbar area) and the company name in black on the front waistband. Clean and simple. I’m a huge fan.
The hemp canvas material is unique in an industry dominated by synthetics, but the rest of the construction features are standard. Double stitching throughout with triple stitching up the butt and down the sides. The double-layered waistband fastens with velcro and is reinforced with a flap similar to that used by Clinch Gear. An interior drawstring is a last line of defense against extra-enthusiastic tugs at your waistband. There’s a 6.5″ side vent, so wear more than a cup under these or risk flashing your training partners.
These shorts were slightly big on me and were given the shrink test: twice through the hot water wash and dry cycle. See the chart below for results.
On The Mat
Due to a recent injury I’ve been putting these to the test as much on a yoga mat as on the jiu-jitsu mats and they feel great for both. The hemp canvas material – lighter than might be expected – is comfortable and breathable. Hemp fiber doesn’t stretch, so Datsusara made the legs roomy and my stocky quads have no problem throughout the range of motion required for BJJ or my Supple Leopard stretching routine.
The standard fight short formula of nylon and stretch panels is tested and proven, but hemp could become a strong contender – especially if the antimicrobial claims prove true. My hyperactive cooling system will put this to the test over the coming months. As an added bonus, the environmental benefit of using hemp – a plant that produces a higher yield than cotton using minimal water and without pesticide or fertilizer – will appeal to anyone concerned about what kind of planet we’re leaving for future generations.