It’s on! Four pairs of grappling shorts enter, one pair leaves. I recently tested shorts from Jaco, Sprawl, Revgear, and ClinchGear. Let’s see which ones are hottest!
These are the first pair I tested. They feature four-way, sweat-wicking stretch material and a neat little pocket in the lower thigh to store your mouthguard. These are thoughtful and innovative features. Also unique to these shorts is the waistband. According the product page, the Resurgence shorts feature a “Patent-pending compression waist-tightening system that can be tightened without creating ‘scrunching or cinching’ around the waist while providing a comfortable, no-slip fit.” Sounds impressive! What this entails is an open waistband with a drawstring that cinches through flaps at the hips and in the back. It took me a little while to figure out that the flaps are supposed to stay inside the shorts. (They look like you’re wearing Depends unless you tuck them in.) The flap material is gummy and keeps the shorts in place and your shirt or rashguard tucked in. There’s also a pouch at the front in which you hide the tied drawstring. Complicated, yes. But effective? Despite the special design, they do “scrunch” quite a bit–at least on me. I read that these shorts run small, so I ordered a size up. They fit comfortably in the legs, seat, and crotch, but maybe there’s a little extra material at the waist.
The next pair I wore were by Sprawl. I reviewed a pair of their Gi-Flex pants a few months ago and liked them a lot. These shorts are essentially the same–kind of like cutoff jeans with out the fringes. (My wife tells me they’re out of style.) The Fusions look a lot better than that, and their four-way stretch fabric is said to be fungus and blood resistant. I don’t plan on training in a landfill anytime soon, but I guess that’s a plus. Sprawl did a great job with their Channel Lock waistband. Like the Gi-Flex pants, you Velcro the fly and waist closed, and the drawstring holds everything in place. A tacky material rings the waist and keeps your top tucked in. I wish they made pants like this when I was in middle school: they would have spared me years of embarrassment. I roll with some pretty aggressive leg lock guys, and, while I tap a lot, I’ve yet to be pantsed.
These shorts by Revgear wear pretty well. They feel like a regular pair of soccer shorts and are made of two-way stretch material. There’s a lot to a name, and, all things considered, these fight shorts are pretty Spartan. They have a mouthguard pocket by the waistband, but, other than that, they’re no frills, which I like. The one slight difference these shorts have compared to others is the way they close. The Velcro waist and fly fasten, and then a piece of fabric that “locks” the whole band closes like a little door. It seems superfluous to me, and the drawstring loves sticking to it. I can also imagine this flap wearing out and hanging open with age. It would probably also happen with weight gain–like when your pants pop open after too much barbeque.
These short were the last I tried, and they were provided by the folks over at MMAHQ. (If you haven’t checked out their site yet, you definitely should for great daily deals. These shorts went for $28!) Like the Spartans, these fight shorts are made of two-way stretch material and have an inner pocket for your mouthpiece. They have a long strip of Super Stretch paneling on each leg to provide flexibility for guard work and kicking. Most other shorts have a slit up the side. For example, the Jaco Resurgence shorts have a 5″ cut that reminds me of Muay Thai trunks. So Clinch Gear’s MMA shorts are comfy without revealing too much thigh, which may be important depending on what gym you train at. The waist system is totally different than the other shorts: there’s no drawstring! Instead, the Double Grip waistband is all Velcro; it cinches by pulling the extra-long closure tighter and folding another Velcro piece over the top. This system worked better than I thought it would–especially after wrestling with the Jaco’s weirdness. Overall, these shorts are solid and the sublimated graphics will never peel off. You may wish they would, however; the design is very busy and may not be for everyone’s taste. The gold and burgundy color scheme prompted my wife to wish me a good Quidditch match as I left for jiu-jitsu class–again, that may be a plus where you roll.
The Best Around
So which pair is the best? It can be argued that most MMA/grappling shorts are pretty much equal. As long as they cover your ass and don’t come off too easily, they function as expected. I held out on buying shorts for a long time due to this mentality. I did get tired of ripping my basketball shorts and repeatedly retying them while rolling. So a few pairs of shorts may became a good investment.
What I found is that it all comes down to the waistband. If the shorts are easy to close and stay put, then you’re golden. So here’s my ranking from best to worst, judging primarily the comfort and security at the waist.
While I considered durability and style as well, the Sprawl Fusion-S had the snuggest fit. You’d need the jaws of life to take them off without unfastening the fly and untying the drawstring.
I like the basic black look of Revgear Spartan shorts better than any other pair, but the screwy hinge by the belly button may prove to be annoying.
Hendo’s Clinch Gear shorts are light and strong; I’d like them better with a standard waist system.
The material used to make the Resurgence shorts is super stretchy and seems made to last. I just can’t get the waist to work right. Again, it may be me, but they’re too bunchy to be completely comfortable.
Thanks for reading. I hope the review is helpful to you. Let’s hear some feedback on these shorts if you’ve tried them, or post any other recommended pairs that you have.