Kingz Kimonos (the brand made and sold by Fighters Market in Canada) improve on their first batch of gi models with their V2 models; the 420 (black) and the 450 (navy). Although initially the two models may appear to be very similar, after extensive rolling, I found that they were actually two very different gis. This review compares and contrasts the two models.
I have previously done freelance artwork for Kingz Kimonos. I have had no input into the design of these review products.
Available from: Fighters Market
Price: 450 Comp V2 in navy - $149.95, 420 Light V2 in black - $139.95
More information: Kingz Kimonos Facebook page.
Noteworthy: Both are available in 'L' long sizes and 'H' heavy sizes.
Kingz Kimonos made a huge splash on the BJJ scene roughly this time last year. It seemed at one point they were everywhere - billboards at every tournament, sponsoring every major fighter, adverts in every magazine. When their extensive range of debut gis were launched, it seemed almost every major blogger and gear reviewer got hold of a model to test out. In February 2012 I published my own review of the first batch of Kingz Kimonos - the 420 and 550 models. I thought they were both very well made and well fitting gis that represented good value for money. I slightly preferred the 420 as it was lighter than the 550. I'll be honest though, neither gis were models I could fall in love with, they were simply good gis at a good price. These new batch of Kingz gis however are a much improved offering, would their updated tweaks and lick of fresh designwork edge me towards a gi I could really love? Let's see...
(first unit as new, second after three warm washes, size in cm, weight in Kg)
420 Light V2 450 Comp V2
A: 165/164 168/163
B: 75/76 78/77
C: 56/57 58/57
D: 16/16 16/15
E: 49/48 49/47
F: 98/96 104/100
G: 22/22 22/21
Jacket 1.0 1.1
Trousers 0.4 0.6
Both gis sent to me were size A1L. I didn't have a problem with the sizing of the first version of Kingz gis but the owner advised me to opt for the A1L due to my longer arm length. He was correct to do so as the jackets in both fitted me well, if ever so slightly larger than I am used to. The wingspans of both, at 164/163 cm are a tad longer than my current rotation gis (Tatami Estilo purple and Shoyoroll Count Koma) but only by a small margin. It's far preferable to my usual A1 bugbear - the curse of the stubby arms.
The trousers however, at over 100 cm long for the 450 are arguably a tad too long for my dimensions. One thing that was also very weird was that the 420 pants had a much shorter gusset height compared to the 450. The 420 trousers ended up feeling incredibly tight around my groin. More about that in the rolling performance.(*see update at bottom too)
Weights for both gis are at the lighter end of the range for pearl weave gis. The 420, weighing only 1.4Kg for a size A1L is very good if weight cutting is of prime importance. The 450, at 1.7Kg is still pretty light on average.
Both the 420 and the 450 are pearlweave cotton jackets. The numerals represent 'weight' in gsm of fabric. One might initially assume that there isn't much to separate the 420 from the 450 and by and large, in terms of pure weight there isn't that big a difference (0.1Kg difference if you must quibble). But the way both these jackets hang feel very different - like they were made by two difference companies. More about that later in the rolling performance.
The navy coloured 450 V2 has logos directly embroidered onto the shoulders and sleeves. The black coloured 420 is mostly decorated with woven patches - which I assume was chosen because they are lighter in weight. The navy seems to be cut from a different pattern to the black gi - this is noticeable if one observes the area where the chest seam joins onto the lower 'skirt' portion of the jacket. The navy gi seam front panel joins a lot lower than the black gi. It reminds me a lot of the way the Shoyoroll and the Competidor are cut. Most gis I have tested tend to follow the pattern cut exhibited by the black gi.
The collar of the 450 feels a lot thicker than the 420. I didn't take a side by side photo but the difference is very obvious to the touch. The lapels of the 450 are covered with twill cotton and the 420 is covered with ripstop. The former suffered from patchy fading a lot more than the latter. More about the fading issue later.
Enjoyably, the new V2 versions of the Kingz gis continue the superbly comfortable cuff taping as per the version one gis. The woven branded seam tape is neatly tucked in to avoid rough scratchy edges and on the 450, there appears to be additional canvas reinforcing tape under the woven tape. The 450 sleeve ends feel a lot more solid and sturdy than the lighter 420 model. In both models, the colours chosen, albeit only a minor aesthetic detail, are a nice choice, particularly the dark yellow on navy.
So far the 450 exhibits a number of very good extra value reinforcements compared to the 420 but oddly, this does not appear to include the armpit region. The navy gi omits the usual extra patch of fabric found around the armpit of most gis - even the lightweight 420 includes armpit reinforcements so it's a strange omission. However I have never had a gi split in this area so maybe it is simply not needed. In all other jacket areas, notably the side vent split, reinforcements are as per standard.
The 420 makes one concession to the lack of embroidery with a single crown motif on the back behind the neckline.
Despite the variation in cut between the 420 and 450 jackets, overall the height, width, sleeve etc dimensions were almost identical. The trousers however are a completely different story. As the stats data above suggest, the 420 is a degree shorter than the 450. It is also a lot shorter in the gusset height (the distance from the waist to the base of the crotch panel). The difference is visibly obvious from the photos below but is more marked when wearing the two models, I found the 420 to be very restrictive and tight in the groin area. The 450 on the other hand was very baggy in this region.
The differences don't end there. The 450 is made from twill cotton, it is reasonably heavy duty without feeling heavyweight. The 420 is a very thin and light ripstop cotton. Both have a double lined knee region that stops just below the knee cap. The 450 is tied together with a chunky rope drawstring fed through a total of 6 cord loops while the 420 has a flat material tie that is fed through only four cord loops. I found that the flat tie cord was more fiddly to tie together and to take apart compared with the easier to use rope string.
In both models the ankle openings are reinforced with material and six rows of stitching (as shown below) but the 450 includes and extra layer of branded tape.
I tested both gis over a period of 5 weeks. Even before rolling, they felt physically like two very different gis. The jackets fitted me pretty well overall - the extra long dimensions of the A1L being a good choice for skinny light dudes with long arms like me. But something not apparent in the size dimension stats was that the 420 seemed to feel baggier on my body compared to the 450. There seemed to be a lot more 'give' under the arms and around the torso of the 420 than with the 450 - the latter felt more fitted on my body under the arms and upper torso. I enjoyed the lightness of the 420 as it reminded me a lot of my very old once-favourite gi - the Vulkan Pro Lite. What surprised me however was that the 450, although on paper only a wee bit heavier than the 420, felt a good deal sturdier and more solid once worn in the class. I must admit I much preferred the crisper feel of the 450 pearlweave over the more pyjama-like 420 - an interesting reversal of opinion compared to my review of the original version one Kingz gis.
But it was the performance of the trousers where I felt the differences were most apparent. The 420 ripstop material is a refreshingly light and comfortable material. But the over-restrictive space in the groin area was a real problem for me when rolling. It was simply not comfortable. The 450 pants had almost the opposite problem - the gusset panel was very generous in this region and the trouser length remained stubbornly longer than I am normally used to, despite repeated washes. But given the choice between the two, I would happily wear the 450 pants over the 420 ones.
If it was not for the branding, I would swear these were two different gis from two different companies. The navy coloured 450 is cut very differently to the black coloured 420. The collar is a lot thicker on the former and the latter's trouser sizing are completely different. It's a shame because I felt the 420 jacket was damn near as good an ultra light gi as one could buy - easily rivalling anything made by big name brands like Vulkan or Koral. And I must give props to the trouser material - a nice lightweight ripstop that felt very comfortable to wear. The navy gi jacket was wonderful for training in. It's tough and sturdy but not too heavy. The navy colour fades in a patchy sort of way but that to me only adds to the appeal. I really enjoyed the application of dark yellow and white graphics on the navy background and the jacket fit is pretty much spot on for me. The trousers are a tad too long and baggy for me, but the softness and comfort value of good old fashioned twill is a good choice as far as my preferences go.
Weight cutting is never an issue for me at comps so I wouldn't necessarily opt for the 420 as my first choice gi. Having sampled both, I actually just prefer the 450 anyway as it feels great and looks great. However if a good quality rival to established ultra light brands is your concern, the 420 should certainly be in your radar.
Kingz Kimonos have an incredibly wide range of new and old gi models, gi colours, mens and ladies fits and now, gi half sizes. Scanning over the Fighters Market website, the myriad of choices can be quite perplexing at times. Hopefully this review can offer a differentiation between two of the more popular models that they offer.
19th December 2012
I was notified by the owner of Kingz Kimonos that the pants for the 420 Light in some sizes were made wrongly by the factory, including the size A1L send to me. The company has now rectified the error with a new batch of trousers. If anyone has similar miniature gusset sized trousers with their A1L, email Fighters Market and they should be able to resolve the issue.