Know your weave.
Before you buy your next gi, take a minute to get to know about the various types of weaves available so you know what kind of a gi you’re going to end up with! You may have seen gis described as having ‘Pearl’, ‘Gold’, or ‘Ripstop’ weave followed by a number rating like ‘350gsm’. For all gis, their fabric weight will generally ranges from 350gsm (Grams Per Square Meter) to over 1000gsm of 100% cotton. This rating refers to the density of the fabric that they are made out of. Below is a breakdown of all the different kinds of weaves most commonly used in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi industry:
Single Weave: Single weave Gis are generally what your first student gi will be made out of. They tend to be the lightest and therefore least expensive of the weaves. These gis are great for hot weather training but can wear out faster as they are thinner and loosely woven. They can also be easier for an opponent to grab because of the thinner material. So while these gis are great for summer and beginner training, they are not recommended for heavy trainers or for competition. These gis range in weight between 300–550gsm.
Double Weaves: Double weaves are the doubling of single weaves. They are twice as dense with twice as much fabric per square meter. They are heavy material that with last a long time and their thickness makes it harder for opponents to grip easily. Because these are a tighter woven fabric they will retain heat, and if you intend to use them for competition they will add extra weight to your total weigh-in amount. This weave can also be more abrasive to your skin.
Gold Weave: The Gold weave gi is a hybrid between the double and single weaves. The next step in their evolution. Gold weave has the lightness of the single weave and the durability of a double weave. It was the standard for competition gis before other weaves such as Pearl and Ripstop came along. These gis range in weight between 650–1050gsm.
Pearl weave: Pearl weave gis are now the most popular weave for competition gis. The pearl weave is the lightest gi allowed in competition but they are still durable. Their weave is light enough to allow air to pass through. It can be recognized by its tight weave that make the fabric looks like tiny pearls or bumps. These gis are often comparable in price to single weave but tend to last a bit longer.
Ripstop Gi: This weave began to become popular in the mid 2000’s. Though there are gis that have materials other than cotton or cotton and another material woven together to make the ripstop weave, they are not, on the whole, IBJJF legal. Ripstop is the thinnest and lightest of the Gi weaves. Originally just a weave for pants, a jacket variant weave of ripstop has also been developed recently. Pants can still be seen to have the highly recognizable ripstop square pattern created by one set of thicker stitching woven through in a grid over the smaller stitching. One of the main advantages of ripstop besides it ultra lightness is that is designed to stop rips and tears before they spread through the weave. This paper thin material is very easy for an opponent to hold but can become slippery through a training session and as it is so tightly woven that it does not breath. These gis are great for packing for travel training and some summer training situations. If you are thinking of competing but are at the top of a weight division rip stop gis can be your answer but makes sure the ripstop gi you get clearly states it is IBJJF legal.
Cotton Drill: This weave is a flat, strong, and heavy weave of diagonal ribs used traditionally for gi pants only and not for jackets. This was the most popular pant material till ripstop pants came along. These pants do tend to last a long while but when they begin to fray or get a hole they can rip very easily often ruining the whole pair of pants. These pants can range greatly in gsm as they are used for everything from Karate uniforms to BJJ gis.