Product Review: Datsusara Gear Bag Mini
Datsusara gear bags are made of military-style hemp canvas and originally designed specifically for the MMA athlete. The founder, Chris S. Odell, was frustrated that he wasn’t able to find exactly what he was looking for to accommodate his martial arts training and decided to make it himself. The goal at Datsusara is “to make truly functional, high quality gear."
Why hemp? Datsusara’s well-researched blog post, Hemp Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gis 101, describes the benefits of using hemp in a jiu jitsu gi in detail. A lot of the reasons it’s great for a gi are the same reasons it’s great for a gear bag. Hemp is anti-microbial, which eliminates fungal and bacteria growth, so if your bag gets a little nasty after one session the germs won’t get onto the clean gear you bring to your next class. It’s also four times stronger than cotton. It’s the strongest natural fiber in the world.
Hemp is much more environmentally friendly than other materials, as well. The crop does not deplete the soil, grows faster, and requires little or no pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or synthetic fertilizers. Additionally, the same parcel of land will produce two or three times more usable material than other crops.
- Body made of 100% 19oz hemp canvas
- Size total 10"H x 18"W x 9"D (25x46x23cm), capacity 1,620 cu. in. (26.5L)
- Main compartment 10"H x 13.4"W x 9"D (25x34x23cm)
- Zip end pockets 10"H x 2.4"W x 9"D (25x6x23cm)
- Top side zip pocket 4"H x 5"W x 2"D (11x13x5cm)
- Lower left Velcro pocket 3"H x 5"W x 2"D (8x13x5cm)
- Front right side Velcro pocket 8"H x 6"W x 2"D (20x15x5cm)
- 1000D polyester reinforced bottom panel, water resistant
- Front top sides PALS webbing, compatible with Bag Accessory Straps (sold separately)
- Mesh end pockets that will fit up to four water bottles, towels, etc.
- Neoprene padded handles and detachable, adjustable shoulder strap
- Removable Velcro logo and Velcro name tape patch area
- YKK® self-healing zippers
- Includes Nasty Bag Mini for wet/soiled gear separation, 17"H x 12.5"W (44x32 cm)
Looking through the features listed on the website, I wondered what a “self-healing” zipper was. Turns out if the zipper splits apart from internal pressure, the teeth will rejoin if you slide the pull back to the start. I also looked up PALS webbing, which stands for Pouch Attachment Ladder System. It was designed for use in the military to attach pouches to bigger bags and in the Mini, it provides the option of attaching Bag Accessory Straps to attach shin pads or towels or whatever you can tie into the straps. The Mini isn’t long enough to hold something like a yoga mat, so it’s a great feature for those activities. Why wasn't a bag like this one thought of before? Even the Nasty Bag Mini included with the bag is awesome. I can fit two classes worth of sweaty clothes in it and it keeps the wetness contained.
Other details that stood out for me when using the bag were the handles. The shoulder strap has a rubberized pad for traction on your shoulder and it’s adjustable at both ends to keep the pad centered. The handle used to carry the bag by hand is padded with Neoprene and keeps the individual straps from coming apart and prevents them from digging into your hand when the bag is heavy.
The only issue I’ve had with the Mini is that little holes have appeared in one of the mesh pockets on the side. The holes haven’t expanded since I noticed them, though, and I strongly suspect that my boyfriend’s cat chewed the mesh rather than it being a wear and tear issue.
Style and Function
I’ve been using lululemon bags for BJJ gear for the past few years. I love the clean, fresh look of lululemon gear and although I was intrigued when I heard of the Datsusara line, I wasn’t sure how I would like using something that looked so masculine. Since I switched to the Mini for this review, I haven’t looked back. The lululemon bag is sitting in a corner in my spare room, still holding all of the junk I didn’t need for class but carried around all of the time because it could hold more than I needed.
I’ve been using the Mini since January and I truly do feel this is the best bag for BJJ. The design provides ideal storage of everything I need in my training. To prove it, I made a video of how I’ve organized my gear in the different compartments. (Although unfortunately, I’ve mispronounced "Datsusara" the whole time.) Keep in mind if your gear is larger than size F0, there are two larger sizes of bags to choose from.
Datsusara sent the Mini for me to review, so I didn’t have the typical customer service experience. I did check out the shipping prices and for Canada, they start at $36.30, and for the United States they start at $15.05. Datsusara accepts credit cards, PayPal, and BitCoin as methods of payment.
I love what Datsusara says in the "About Us" section of their website:
This gear is not for everyone. It’s not essential gear, but you’ll discover it’s the gear that you’ve always wanted. If you’re tired of “making do” with what’s on the market Datsusara is for you. The Datsusara lifestyle means spending more of your time doing the things you love to do, and Datsusara is here to supply the gear.
I’m tired of trying to make random gear work for BJJ. This bag is a little more expensive than that nylon gear bag at the sporting goods store, but it’s perfect for the BJJ lifestyle. And because they’ve thought of everything, it can be used in any sport.
Follow Datsusara on Facebook and Twitter and visit their website to see everything they have to offer. If you check them out on Facebook, you may see what I just saw: Datsusara is offering a 5% discount to all Facebook fans, just use code FBFAN-5 at checkout.
The Datsusara Gear Bag Mini is available to pre-order for $79.95 at DSGear.com. Shipment is expected to be April 30, 2014.