Thoughts

Product Analysis: Grappz Version 3.0

One of the most popular posts I’ve ever made was my original review of Grappz.  At the time I was taping my fingers almost every class, and that was the problem.  Sometimes I just didn’t have enough time or patience to carefully tape every finger, or any fingers.  The result was stiff and achy joints.  My goal was to find something that was easy.  At the time a product called Exoligamentz looked like the most promising choice.  However…they weren’t yet in production.  Undeterred, I contacted them directly and told them I’d be more than happy to beta test anything, even suggesting that I’d pay for a prototype.  That may have been wishful thinking on my part, and the product was never released for sale.  Ok, so struck out on that front…but whats this?  Another company releasing BJJ gloves?  And so I ordered my first pair of Grappz.

Then I managed to lose them within about a week of getting them.

By the time I lost them I had been converted.  No more tearing narrow strips of tape.  No more sore fingers from forgetting to tape.  This was the solution I wanted: an easy alternative to tape.

But there is always a catch.

The first generation of Grappz were flimsy things.  The fabric stretched out fairly quickly and the stitching was extremely prone to becoming unraveled.  This meant that over time my Grappz became held together primarily by red thread that I added myself.

After a going through a pair (not the first pair that I lost) I emailed the company and mentioned where I thought the product could be improved.  I didn’t really expect to hear anything back, or if so I expected it to be a canned message telling me that I was a valued customer or some other non-reply.  Instead I received a message from the owner that a new version was coming out which fixed most of the problems.  Not only that, but as soon as the new version came out he sent me a pair.  They were demonstrably better than the first generation, better stitching, better silicone grippy surfaces, better fabric.

Since then there have been incremental improvements to Grappz.  Generally the changes have been for the better, although once the sizes were changed and it was confusing getting the same size I had always purchased and finding that they didn’t fit at all.

Today I received the newest generation of Grappz.  I call it version 3.0.  What they call it, I have no idea, but its definitely as big a departure from version 2 as 2 was from 1.

V3 on the left, V2 on the right

The most obvious change is branding.  Where before the silicone gripping surfaces were diamonds (and before that just straight lines) they are now the stylized ‘Z’ from their logo.  Does it make any functional improvement?  Probably not.  But it does make the gloves look more professional.  The logo on the back of the glove is also larger.  Frankly the logo is rarely visible when I’m wearing them because it gets covered up by my gi sleeves or even by some of my longer sleeved rash guards.

The fabric feels very similar, perhaps the tiniest bit smoother [Grappz tells me that it is thicker, but without a micrometer I couldn’t tell you].  But that could just be because I was comparing them to a pair that has received a lot of love and abuse.  The fit on the V3’s is marginally tighter, but this could very easily be the result of comparing a brand new pair to a more weathered pair.  There is now stitching running vertically along the finger sleeves, perhaps to keep the two layers of fabric (the sleeves are doubled over) from moving indepedently.

Where there are dramatic changes (hopefully for the better!) is the stitching.  While the v2’s stitching has never pulled for me, it’s a very heavy weight, fairly rough feeling thread.  The V3’s stitching is much flatter and smoother.  It almost appears as though the fabric was fused and then this remarkably flat weave was applied on top.  If it can replicate the long-term durability of the V2 stitching then it will be a significant improvement.

V2 stitching close up. Click image for larger full size view.
V3 stitching detail

After I get a couple of weeks of wear on these I’ll update this post with comments on longevity.

Disclaimer: I received these Grappz for free from the manufacturer, but with no conditions such as writing this review (favorable or otherwise) beyond reporting back to them about how I liked the fit and changes.  The opinions are my own!

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