Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gals' Gis: Black Eagle Predadora vs. Gameness Ladies' Feather

I love that manufacturers have been listening and making a variety of "ladies' fit" gis.  Especially for curvy gals, it can be frustrating trying to find a gi that feels good.  If you're looking for a lightweight competition gi that is still sturdy enough for daily training, these are two great options.  Women of any shape will like them both, but the Predadora suits curvier ladies better than the Gameness.  The Predadora shrinks less, too, but I liked them both.

As you know, I'm sponsored by Black Eagle, who make the Predadora, the ladies' version of the Predator. Gameness also offered me a gi recently so I could consider their products and service.

I've had a Gameness Pearl weave, size A1, for almost as long as I've been training, and it's just too bad I didn't write a review of it earlier. I will say that even though I custom dyed it, I didn't end up wearing it once I had plenty of other options, because it didn't fit so hot and because the twill pants were pretty icky when wet with sweat. [Maybe I'll write a review, minus shrinkage stats?]

So, I agreed to try out the Gameness ladies' gi and literally 24 hours later the Feather arrived at my doorstep. I brought it and the Predadora with me to Las Vegas for the holidays and wanted to give you my opinions on them both.

Unlike most of my gi reviews, I've only worn the Gameness Feather five times, all while training here at Drysdale's academy. I feel like that's enough to have a useful opinion about it, so here we go.

Gameness Feather

Stats: 475g pearl weave top, rubber collar, lightweight ripstop pants. F3 size weighs 2.9 lbs. Available in white and violet on the Gameness site for $155-165.

Previously reviewed by Michelle Welti.

Measurements:  I ignored the label instructions and attempt to shrink the heck out of it.  Although I'm short enough for the F2 size, I'm round enough for the F3-- currently, 5'2" tall, >140lbs, 36-28-39.  Here's the size chart from Gameness' website.

Size Height Weight
F1 4’9″ – 5′ 85 lbs. – 100 lbs.
F2 5′ – 5’4″ 100 lbs. – 120 lbs.
F3 5’3″ – 5’6″ 115 lbs. – 145 lbs.
F4 5’6″ – 5’9″ 140 lbs. – 170 lbs.
F5 5’8″ – 6′ 165 lbs. – 200 lbs.

First measurement is straight out of the bag; second is after 6 wears and 5 washes and dries on the hottest settings.


Front top of shoulder to hem at bottom:  27.5" / 26.125"
Chest width under arms: 18.25" / 17.75"
Arm length (under arm): 21" / 18.75"
Cuff: 5.75" / 5.25"

Waist: 20" / 20"
Leg length, outside, waist to cuff: 35.25" / 33.25"
Cuff: 9.25" / 9"
Rise, front: 13.25" / 11.5"
Rise, rear: 15.5" / 13.75"

As you can see, it does shrink a bit, so take that into consideration when you wash and dry.

General impressions: The gi top has a nice weave to it- the inside-facing side of the material is smoother than the outside and feels comfortable.  The hem tape is the standard Gameness label stuff.  Here's the shoulder patch.

The front lapel has the standard Gameness banner.

There seems to be an excess of material in the back of the jacket-- perhaps because I am short-waisted.  But I like the length of the skirt.

 The sleeves fit nicely-- slim and trim, but IBJJF legal.

Before and after shrinking, the pants were a little snug especially around my bottom and thighs, but welcome to my life; on a lady who carried her weight elsewhere they'd be better.  These photos taken after class, so you can see that like many, the gi stretches out a bit-- it gets poochey knees and more room for movement although the derriere is always on the tight side.

 The gi jacket is tapered in the torso, but not enough to keep the front from "belling" outwards from the waist up.

The pants are a huge improvement over the old twill ones, which were thick and rather stiff, especially when wet.  The ripstop is crisp and light.  If you airdry them, they are a little more "starchy" feeling.  One drawback is the two-belt-loop thing that's become a pet peeve for me.  Once you've rolled a while, the string creeps up at the sides and tends to cut into your hips a bit.

(Don't laugh at my in-laws' guestroom bedspread.)
In general, it's a very well made gi.  I could only find one stitching error-- a spot at the bottom of one leg, where the double layer over the knee ends.  Nothing that seemed more than cosmetic.

Reinforcement inside the crotch with double seams.

And reinforcement of the vent in the jacket skirt.

A really nice touch is the different height of the rear and front rise in the pants.  No plumbers' crack and you're not going to have the high-waisted feel in the front, or the saggy crotch halfway to your knees.

Sadly, I didn't bring a third gi for collar-thickness comparison shots.  If you demand a super-thick collar a la HCK, you will be disappointed.  They're both on the average side.

Overall, I like the gi.  I'll have to wear it more and keep updating as my experiences grow (and my derriere shrinks.)  I am pretty much at my highest weight ever so I expect the fit to improve, and with it my happiness (with the gi and generally speaking.)

Black Eagle's Predadora:

Stats: "Ultra light" pearl weave top and ultra light ripstop pants.  I have the F3 and it weighs 2.75lbs (just .15lb more than my Vulkan Ultralight.)

Previously reviewed on Sherdog... and of course by MegJitsu who helped develop it.  

Available for US$102 on Black Eagle's site and $15 shipping to the US, or US$115 at Budovideos, but at the time of posting, the F2, F3 and F4 were out of stock.

Note:  you can buy the jacket and pants separately to mix-and-match sizes, which is nice.

Measurements: For reference, again I'm 5'2" and >140lbs.

Here's the size chart on the Black Eagle website--

                     size   CM     height              age         body weight
000 110 UNDER 3' 8" 4-5 yrs 45lbs 20.5Kg
00 120 3' 9" to 4' 2" 6-7 yrs 60lbs 27.0Kg
0 130 4' 3" to 4' 5" 8-9 yrs 80lbs 36.5Kg
1 140 4' 6" to 4' 9" 10-11 yrs 100lbs 45.5Kg
2 150 4' 10" to 5' 2" 12-13 yrs 120lbs 54.5Kg
3 160 5' 3" to 5' 5" Small 140lbs 63.5Kg
4 170 5' 6" to 5' 9" Medium 175lbs 79.5Kg
5 180 5' 10" to 6' 1" Large 185lbs 84.0Kg
6 190 6' 2" to 6' 5" X Large 200lbs 91.0Kg
7 200 6' 6" UP XX Large 225lbs 102.0Kg

Budovideos shares this size guide:
Height - Weight (lbs)
4'9"-5'0" - 85-100 - F-1
5'0"-5'4" - 100-120 - F2
5'3"-5'6" - 115-145 - F-3
5'5"-5'9" - 140-170 - F-4

Black Eagle gives the same special treatment to the Predadora fabric they've given to the Predator.  "Sanforized - Guaranteed never to shrink out of fit (still allow for an initial shrinkage of around 1%-2%) [and] Mercerised - Increases the strength of the fibres and further protects from shrinkage."

Here's my shrinkage results, with hot water washes and hot machine drying.

[need to insert measurements]

Overall:  My favorite gi so far, because of the fit and, to a lesser extent, the fabric.  I finally have a pair of gi pants that doesn't make me feel fat nor like I'm wearing a tent-diaper when I put them on, and no matter how much I weigh, the pants don't restrict my mobility.

I know once I get back down to my normal training weight, much less my competition weight, this won't be such an issue.  But this gi is one less excuse to not go train.  I know non-jiu jitsu people won't go to the gym because they are ashamed of how they look.  They think they'll just walk in their neighborhood until they lose a little weight and feel better about themselves, before going to the gym.  We can predict how well that works.  At the moment, post-holidays, post-eating everything my inlaws put in front of me, post-time off this summer for my knee, I can't afford any excuses not to train.  These pants feel fantastic.  They're not tight across the rear and are comfortable around my thighs. 

The pants shrunk a bit in length after the first wash/dry but no more.  They're just about as short as I'd care to wear them.  I wouldn't want them shorter, but they are IBJJF legal.

Six belt loops, evenly spaced across the front, make me happy.  The double layer of fabric over the knees starts mid-thigh and ends mid-shin.

I like the color scheme.  I am a bit tired of pink and lavender and flowers and butterflies.  This is a simple turquoise-and-silver scheme (the embroidered eagle on the shoulder is silvery grey.)  I don't need feminine on my gi, to be honest.

Maybe you can't tell from this photo, but the fit on the jacket is another plus.  It's really slim in the torso and would be tight under the arms if it were any smaller.  The benefit of this is that the jacket stays put around your body even if the belt comes untied.  The skirt is on the shorter side and good luck to people trying to wrap your lapels under your arms, behind your head, etc.  The shorter lapels and skirt take some getting used to if you're accustomed to a baggy male-fit gi and normally have miles of gi available to wrap people up. 

See what I mean about the fit?  The fabric really follows the contours of your body around the shoulderblades, the torso, the waist, and under your arms.  Not a lot of extra in the arms themselves either.  IBJJF legal and no more.

The fabric itself is quite soft and thin; not as thin-feeling as the Vulkan Ultralight, but definitely thinner than the Atama Mundial #9, the Koral MKM, the Fenom, and the Fuji.  It's as thin as the Feather, but softer/smoother to the hand.  Also, it seems to stay a bright white even in the knees and on the back, which I believe is a result of either mercerization or sanforization.

The word Predadora appears in 3 places on the gi top-- both shoulders and the back of the skirt.  The embroidery is super-tight and smooth, inside and out, which is to be expected from a company like Black Eagle which offers custom embroidery on all kinds of gear.  Here's the inside of the skirt.  (Sorry for the white bands on the photo, I screwed up the image manipulation and didn't feel upset enough about it to redo it.)
The gi is reinforced in all the standard places-- here's the interior vent on the jacket skirt...

There were some defects though.  I was told by Steve at Black Eagle that they're using a different sewing/assembly system for the gis going out now because of some quality complaints, but I decided just to live with it or fix mine myself with a needle and thread.  

Hard to photograph, but this shows how the second layer of fabric over one knee was a little larger than the pants underneath, resulting in a permanent fold or wrinkle about an inch long.  Didn't affect the feel or function, but worth noting.

Another sewing problem could lead to a durability issue.  The folded-over entrance to the channel in which the belt runs was not sewn together.  Not a problem now but maybe in months or a year, more stitching could come loose, and that's a place where you will get wear and tear.  It was a simple fix with a needle and thread, or I could have gotten a seamstress to do it for a couple bones.  But as I mentioned, Steve reports that this issue has been resolved by switching who does their sewing. 

Ultimately, despite these problems, I give the gi an A.  I love having a lightweight gi that stands up to intense training and has thicker collars than the Vulkan Ultralight.  I love the soft hand of the fabric and I especially appreciate the pants, with room for the junk without being a flappy diaper.

Looking forward to trying the Black Eagle Raptora soon....


Marie said...

Great post! I did the original Sherdog review, so I have not too much more to add - but to say that I am also really happy that women's gis are becoming more en vogue and less "Fuji Pink". I actually gifted the blue version of this gi to a BJJ newbie for the holidays.

My Christmakkah gift from the inlaws was the new Fushida CompLS in black/purple. It's in the was right now so I can get the shrinkage measurements, and then it goes on its maiden voyage tomorrow...

Jay B said...

I have never been able to get a Gameness Gi to fit me propery, but everyone else I know that has one loves it. As far as the BE... that color combo is S I C K. Maybe I can buy two Predadoras and sew them together to fit me :)

Anonymous said...

thanks for the review. looks like i'm going to give the predador a shot. thanks.

Megan said...

Women's gis that go up to 6' glad to see it.