product review: Datsusara pro gear bag

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Mixed martial artists are constantly looking for quality gear. Whether it be new gloves, shorts, or pads (and the list goes on), fighters keep their eyes out for the next product that will help take training to the next level in terms of protection, durability, or a lighter weight product. There are as many different reasons as there are fighters. The number of companies that produce gear for MMA seems to grow everyday and these companies, looking to capitalize on the growing success of MMA, release new products on a regular basis.

Since I started managing fighters, I have come across products from a number of different companies. Some good, some bad. Despite all the products that I have seen, one particular area has always been lacking, and it is an important one – gear bags. Whether it be construction, size, or quality, I had trouble finding a gear bag that would live up to my expectations – until I came across Datsusara.


Datsusara is a Japanese phrase meaning “to leave the salaried/corporate worker’s life”. Chris K. Odell founded Datsusara in 2007 because, as an avid sports participant (in Mixed Martial Arts), he couldn’t find gear that met his needs. Datsusara has a singular goal, to make truly functional, high quality gear.

I came across Datsusara on Facebook, and then visited their website at – after exchanging a few emails with founder Chris Odell, I received a Pro Gear Bag, Light Battlepack, and the Kanji T-shirt. This review focuses on my experience with the Pro Gear Bag, and my review of the Battlepack (which I carried all around the 2012 Arnold Sports Expo) and t-shirt will be posted soon.

One of the first things that caught my attention about Datsusara is that a number of their products utilize hemp as opposed to cotton, vinyl or other traditional materials. Why hemp? Datsusara offers the following four reasons: 1) Strong – 4 x stronger than cotton; 2) Anti-microbial; 3) Porous and Breathable, and; 4) Environmentally friendly.

I was most interested in the first three, particularly the strength factor. Many of the bags I have run across have been great starting out, but when you load them up the structural integrity suffers, particularly the area where the shoulder strap connects to the bag. I have taken my pro gear bag to numerous events over the past month and have no problems with it at all. Part of this is due to the placement of the shoulder strap on the bag. Whereas most bags attach the shoulder straps on exact opposite sides of the bag, the DS pro gear bag staggers them more towards opposite ends on each side, which makes the bag more comfortable to carry and lighten the stress that is put on the shoulder strap as well.

The Datsusara pro gear bag - picture from

I am not a fighter, but I have already gotten a lot of great use out of this bag. As a manager, I attend as many events as I can where my fighters are competing. For any of you who may have attended an event with a fighter, you probably already know what I am getting at – people forget things. After the first event I attended with one of my fighters, I decided to put together an emergency pack of sorts, in case someone forgot something. Previously, I was carrying all of my stuff in a bag made by a popular MMA clothing and gear company, and while the bag performed fairly well, the shoulder strap came loose from the bag after just a couple events, and it always seemed like I didn’t have enough room.

I have not had those problems with the DS pro gear bag. I gave the bag its first test run at a regional event, and had no problems with it whatsoever. To get an idea how much you can fit in a DS pro gear bag, visit I stocked my bag with the following:

– 2 pairs of 16 oz boxing gloves
– 1 pair of mma gloves
– 1 set of regular focus mitts
– 1 set of micro mitts
– 1 set of thai pads
– 5 pairs of handwraps
– A corner bag – which is basically a small tool bag where I keep gauze, tape, scissors, an ice pack, q-tips, and vaseline.
– 2 pairs of shorts
– 5 corner towels
– The Datsusara polyester “nasty bag” (more on this below).

After putting all that in the bag, all of the outer front pockets and mesh side pockets were completely empty, and there was still room for more gear in the main compartment and both side compartments, .

Another interesting facet of the bag was the insert in the bottom of the bag. This insert is a large flat piece that covered the entire bottom of the bag – not unlike what you may see in other large gear bags, but this one is thicker and more durable than any I have previously seen. It provides a lot of support for the bottom of the bag and also helps the bag keep its shape when you are carrying it stocked full with gear.

Lastly, each Datsusara bag comes with a polyester “nasty bag” for “wet gear separation”. This bag is a simply a drawstring bag, but the polyester construction makes it a much sturdier than any drawstring packs I have seen before, and it is large enough to easily hold any wet clothes that most fighters and other people training would use in a normal workout.

I have been using the pro gear bag for over a month now and I have to give it an A+ in terms of durability and performance. While it is true that I have not put the wear and tear on it that a fighter would, I have taken it with me to a number of fights, tossed it around and unpacked and repacked it many times, and used it to carry all of my clothes and some gear to the 2012 Arnold Sports Expo. At no point has it shown any weakness, and the shoulder strap has held up the entire time.

Although the price ($99.95) is higher than many bags you will see on the market, the bag is definitely worth the money. Due to the solid construction and ton of space, this is a bag that can easily see years of thorough use.

For more information on this and the other products Datsusara has to offer, visit and follow them on Twitter, @DSgear.

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