Gear Review: Luta MMA Performance Rash Guard

I love rashies. For no-gi grappling, shirtless does not appeal to me, and loose t-shirts get in the way. For gi grappling, my experience is that most gis don’t feel good on bare skin. I wear rash guards when I work out, too; they have this magical effect of making me look and feel more buff than I actually am.

As much as I’m pro-rash guard, it’s surprising that I’ve never stepped outside of the Under Armour / generic brand arena. I own a couple of rash guards from our club (just OK) and the rash guard that came with the first-generation Origin Genesis (also just OK), but never made an effort to acquire a rashie specifically engineered for the sport.

When I got the Luta rash guard from Aaron at MartialArtsSupplies.com, I doubted that there could really be anything all that different about it. Turns out, there is. And now that I know what else is out there, I’ll not likely be going back.

I liked the Luta so much that it accompanied me on a journey around the Caribbean earlier this month. The stylish black and yellow added to my already considerable sexiness as I zip-lined and cave-tubed through the jungles of Belize in January.

(Click on any photo to view the photos as a slideshow.)


luta + hardhat = sexy

luta front

Notice the tapered shoulders.

Overview

Here is what the Luta MMA Performance Rash Guard purportedly offers (from the LUTA website):

  • Super lightweight polyester and elastane knitted fabric (175g/m2) that is robust yet breathable with 4 way stretch for both compression and comfort.
  • Quick drying fabric for a cool touch effect.
  • Six panel construction and raglan sleeve for complete freedom of movement.
  • Antibacterial airtex under arm panels for additional ventilation and freshness.
  • Ultra strength, performance flatlock seams for added durability.
  • Serves well as a technical multipurpose undergarment or training top.

I’ll spend a little time on each of these points, plus a couple of things I noticed on my own.

Lightweight

This rashie is indeed lightweight. Indeed, the first two things I noticed when removing it from the bag were the feather-light weight and the soft texture. Whereas my other rashies have an almost plasticky texture and sheen to them, the Luta looks and feels more natural to the touch. It’s soft and thin and breathable and hugs the skin pleasantly.

Compression-wise, it follows the figure nicely (more on the tapered shoulders later) but is not quite as constricting as my other compression garments.

Quick-drying

This definitely dries out faster than my other rash guards as well. There have been a couple of times when I wanted to wear it just after a wash, and a few minutes in a dryer virtually dried it completely. It’s also great at wicking the moisture away from the body.

Freedom of movement

The cut on the Luta is slightly different from your standard t-shirt layout. Rather than shoulders and sleeves that taper ever so slightly down from the neck, there is a strong taper along the shoulders and down the sleeves. Because the fabric is wonderfully stretchy, the result is almost like a second skin across the shoulders and back. It doesn’t effect comfort negatively at all. In fact, I actually agree that this makes the range of motion in the shoulders and chest (the places it really counts) feel extremely natural, almost as if there were no garment there.
Here’s another quick look at the taper on the shoulders and arms:

luta front

Notice the tapered shoulders.

I have no idea what the six-panel construction is all about, other than that the rash guard is a little Frankensteined together, so to speak. Which leads to the next point.

Under-arm antibacterial airtex

The panels under the arms are more of a mesh weave and purportedly work to fight bacteria. This may be true, but I’m not convinced it’s really that important of a feature. The open weave added a nice degree of coolness, but realistically people don’t just sweat under the arms. There was enough of sweat soaked into the rest of the rashie during each training session to make up for the anti-bacterial armpits and necessitate a thorough washing.

under-arm mesh

The under-arm airtex

In fact, I’m split on the under arm panels. Part of me really liked the added ventilation, but another part of me was annoyed that instead of one seam going up my side, there were now two seams, and I could actually feel them a little. I think I would prefer non-ventilated and a single seam. I wasn’t ever bothered by the extra seam while rolling, nor did it cause me to want to stop wearing the Luta – but still, if I had my ‘druthers I would probably eliminate it.

Flatlock seams

See previous section. They look pretty sweet with their yellow-on-black, but having two seams going up my sides rather than just one took a little getting used to. That said, I still prefer the Luta to any other rash guard I own.

flatlock seams

Flatlock seams

Use as an undergarment or training top

I wore beneath a gi and in no-gi situations. I loved it in both cases, but particularly for no-gi because it is so light, breathable and nimble…and because it looks so good.

Branding

The Luta logo is printed on in plastisol, a less common choice in the age of sublimation printing. Still, I have been wearing it for over two months and have not seen any cracking or aging of the print. I’m neutral on this point – if it were a large print I’d probably knock off a few points for using plastisol but it hasn’t negatively impacted the look or feel of this product at all.

logo

Luta logo in plastisol

you are the final ingredient...

Luta ingredients

Recommendation

Isn’t it great when things don’t go exactly as you plan, but turn out fantastic just the same? I originally planned to review a Scramble rash guard. The Luta was sent to me because the ever-popular Scramble was not available. But I couldn’t be happier with my acquisition. The Luta is on a completely different level than any other rash guard I own and is a pleasure to wear, even considering the extra seams for the side ventilation.

But is it worth the price? That all depends on your tastes. At over $60, the Luta is certainly more expensive than a generic athletic rash guard. If you really don’t care what you wear as long as it covers you, then don’t spend the money. If you are really picky about quality and willing to spend the extra, definitely give the Luta a shot. My conclusion is that it is what it claims to be: a high-performance rash guard, and there is indeed a difference between it and a generic athletic rash guard. And of course, thanks to Aaron at MartialArtsSupplies.com for providing the gear for review (the link will take you to the Luta page). The folks there are a pleasure to work with and I’d recommend their site to anyone.

more luta in the jungle...

Just testing the under-arm airtex anti-bacterial weave...

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Discussion

  1. Jamie chimed in:

    Pleased you appreciate the LUTA rashie ! Just to advise about the six panel construction – this means that the main body of the garment (excluding collar) is made from six individual panels sewn together rather than a typical three you find on a regular tee. This allows for greater freedom of movement and a better fit.

    Team LUTA.

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