Full Review: Over the last seven years, I've worn and reviewed lots of gis. In that time, numerous new companies have emerged, sending their designs to Pakistan and China to produce yet another gi with slightly different colours, logos and patches. That's potentially of interest if you enjoy fashion and have a wardrobe full of Shoyoroll, but I have never been a fan of trends or having lots of bling on my gi.
Founder Chris Martinez provides an explanation over on the research and development page of the Phalanx site:
If you’ve trained Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for a while, you probably know the jacket and pants we roll in have barely evolved (especially the pants). However, its no-gi counterpart, the grappling/fight shorts, have come a long way since simple cotton athletic shorts. I’ve always found that odd. There is plenty of room for improvement. So, I decided to improve the gi, mostly because I wanted something better to roll in, but I also welcomed the engineering challenge. I wanted something that maintained the general look of the traditional gi, but improved on the many flaws and pointless attributes while adding style.
technical overview, with a breakdown of the various trouser features. Rather than pulling a drawstring through a series of loops, Phalanx FC gi pants have a thick elastic waistband (the only other gi pants I've seen that use one is the Sprawl GiFlex). The drawstring emerges from that waistband, in order to secure the First Lieutenant trousers in place.
That has the advantage of trousers which are already supported by the elastic with the drawstring just there to hold it in place. The elastic is tight enough that the trousers will sit on your hips without pulling the drawstring tight. Nevertheless, you will of course want to secure them by the drawstring, as your trousers are definitely going to be yanked around during the average class.
flattened wire coathanger, but I'm not certain the same method would work with these. Then again, if it is just a drawstring sitting alongside the elastic, it should be possible to insert a replacement in one opening, then pull it around the waist to exit the other.
Another shift is that the 1st Lt trousers have a high back waist. The idea is that if you bend over in the Phalanx gi pants, they won't slip down your backside. The reason Martinez gives in his description is that in jiu jitsu we are often bent at the hips, because our legs are bent most of the time. That is also why the Phalanx FC gi trousers have what Martinez calls an 'articulated knee', by which he means a knee which is sewn with a curve rather than straight. If the structure of the trousers already have an inbuilt bend, that is meant to make it more pleasant to wear when the material is bent further around your legs.
Flow Pro Series 2.0 and Fenom Lotus trousers, the difference in length is obvious. Initially I thought that the Phalanx gusset also had extra reinforcements on the two main corners, but turning the other trousers inside-out, I could see that the Fenom pants had them too. The Flow did not, but presumably that was to save weight.
The Phalanx FC trousers feel relatively heavy if you're used to ripstop. They're made of brushed cotton, which Google tells me just means the cotton has been scrubbed to remove excess lint and fibers. It's soft and the added thickness should also mean the Phalanx gi pants have increased durability. The extra material by the knee is in keeping with most other gi pants, in that this reinforcement does not extend all the way down the leg. That means that when you are sat on your heels, such as when in somebody's closed guard, the reinforcement only just covers the kneecap. According to the website, there is triple-stitching both inside and outside the gi pants.
I could not confirm the Phalanx gi trousers being especially superior in terms of staying on my hips when compared to my normal gi trousers, though they were no worse either. Occasionally they felt like they were loosening, but because of that elastic they couldn't fall down even if they did loosen. Mostly that's just psychological, as like to feel that my trousers are tightly fastened. I slightly miss having the loops to put the drawstring through so it feels secure, but that's more than mitigated by the way the drawstring is tucked away in its own sheath. I much prefer that to the loops, because you don't end up with a huge bow that dangles down and gets caught.
Kneeling on the floor was better padded, due to the thicker, softer material. The gusset meant I didn't experience any tightening of the fabric around my legs, which can occasionally happen with other trousers. The length of the First Lieutenant pants is perfect: not too short making them into pedal pushers, but not too long where you're tripping over it. I would rate these as around the same comfort level as my Kingz gi pants, which are the other gi trousers that have stood out in my seven years of training so far.
The Phalanx FC gi jacket is 550gsm, making it heavy by modern standards (back in the day, a 'heavy' gi was often upwards of 900gsm, but times have changed). Like the trousers, the First Lieutenant jacket has dark grey contrast stitching, with some little touches like the black side vent reinforcements. The main bit of bling is the large red lion head on the front of the jacket. Inside you'll find an intricate printed illustration on the label, fitting with the Ancient Greek military theme, while on the bottom of the label there's a Roman style symbol (looking like the familiar Roman standards emblazoned with SPQR). That continues in the rest of the Phalanx range, with products called things like 'Hoplite', although there are also the less Ancient Greek 'Icon' and 'Alloy' rash guards.
There is an official size chart with a variety of measurements, though it does emphasise that those figures are an approximation. When I measured my A1 1st Lt, it was 79cm from the shoulder to the bottom of the jacket and 150cm from cuff to cuff, while the trousers were 94cm long. The jacket is pre-shrunk, so there wasn't much shrinkage after several washes at 30 degrees celsius then air-drying. The cuff to cuff wingspan reduced to 147cm, the shoulder to hem went to 76cm while the trousers stayed fairly steady at 93cm.
If your jacket does shrink a lot, then from what I was told by a training partner in the US, the customer service at Phalanx is very good. When I visited the Fabio Santos academy in June, a gentleman roughly my size was also wearing a Phalanx 1st Lt (but in black). He said that he initially went with the A1 but it shrunk too much for him to wear. He mentioned this to Martinez at Phalanx, who immediately sent him a replacement A2 First Lieutenant gi jacket.
here for $55.