Engage Fundamentals Compression Vale Tudo Shorts Review
Engage is an Australian Fight Wear, Fight Gear, Activewear and Apparel brand. Engage has a high focus on visuals, with their equipment often featuring bold colours, designs and styles not frequently seen in the fight gear industry.
About the shorts
Engage are a brand who generally aren’t shy about colourful, in-your-face visuals. If however, like me, you’re often keener on something a little more understated, then the fundamentals line is probably more up your street.
It’s clear Engage have put their focus more on practicality than visuals here, which is great if functionality is your main priority.
In terms of Sizes, Engage have gone above and beyond, offering a choice of seven sizes from XS and 3XL.
As mentioned already, simplicity is at the core of this design. As a result there’s only one colour option available – black.
The design that Engage has used for these shorts is really quite interesting though – instead of just plastering their logo on it, they’ve gone one step further and literally listed out the specs of the shorts. In theory it sounds like a pretty strange decision – it’s not as if your grappling partners are going to fancy a read while you’ve got them in a triangle choke.
Despite it being easy to mock, I have to admit it does look pretty cool, and certainly unique. The grey Waistband and very slightly lighter black on the mesh panel helps add some quiet definition against the black of the shorts, and the tiny splashes of orange in the design adds another subtle dimension to the look, and helps make them a perfect match for Engage’s E-Series equipment. I worry a little about parts of the design peeling off over time because of the way they’re printed, although I’ve seen no evidence of this happening in my time using them so far.
So the Fundamentals Vale Tudo shorts are obviously designed for grappling, meaning the materials used are important to ensuring the shorts don’t get shredded up too quickly. Engage have chosen to use their ‘E-Tech’ 4-Way fabric, which feels pretty sturdy, but at the same time as flexible and lightweight as we would hope. One thing I did notice with these compared to other compression shorts is that the material feels very slightly smoother to the touch. That has nothing to do with how they are to use, but definitely makes them feel a little more ‘premium’.
Perhaps the most surprising claim Engage make is that the shorts have 50+ UV protection (not including the mesh panels). Not sure how useful that fact will be (certainly not useful for the FQ team here in cloudy old England), but if you’re out training in the sun all day then it’s good to know you’re safe.
Something that you might not spot from the pictures is that the complete underside and inside leg areas on these shorts is actually a double-layered breathable mesh. This is to help stop you overheating, and seem to do the job well. The fact it’s double layered means it feels just as sturdy as the rest of the shorts, and means it doesn’t feel any different on the skin. Everything’s secured with flatlock reinforced seams, which all sit flat on the skin. The only seams which don’t seem to sit flat are at the bottom rim of the legs – for some reason there seems to be a raised ridge on this section and I’m not entirely sure why.
My personal favourite feature however is the silicon grip on the inside of the waist band. ‘Gripping’ waistbands is nothing new – we’ve seen this time and time again. The difference here though is that Engage have increased the width of the two silicon bars that line the waist, and it seems to have made a genuine difference. The grip the shorts have is superb, and I can’t fault them in that respect.
We’ve said it before, but the key to success when buying compression shorts is getting the right fit. You need to get something that fits closely without being restrictive. They also need to be flexible. After all, a solid training session could include running, squatting exersizes, stand-up fighting or grappling (depending on what you’re wearing them for). Personally I’ve found these were well suited to everything I put them through, and were still comfortable even when pushing the limits of my own flexibility through stretching and a spot of yoga.
A problem I have with a lot of compression shorts is that many of them tend to feel very tight and restrictive around the groin, which can be uncomfortable when you’re wearing them for any moderate amount of time. Engage’s option feels surprisingly spacious around there though – perhaps helped by the mesh panelling underneath.
Length-wise these end up sitting at almost the same length as the Engage Fundamentals MMA Grappling Shorts, which makes them ideal for wearing underneath as a base layer. Obviously the sturdy design means these could also be worn as just regular vale tudo shorts without anything over the top.
So at the time of writing these shorts come to £40 (working out at $51 USD or $74.95 AUD). I’m not going to pretend that’s cheap, because there are definitely lower cost options out of there, however they are a well constructed pair of shorts, and the mesh and waist grip are a step up from your typical compression/grappling shorts. If you’re looking to have your entire kitbag filled with matching fightwear and equipment, then this range might just be one of the best choices out there.
Looking to buy these?
+ Superb waistband grip
+ Mesh panels work well
+ Plenty of matching equipment available
We don’t like
– Raised seams on bottom of the leg (unlike the rest of the stitching)
– No choice of colours
– Design may not appeal to everyone
This graphic is to illustrate the areas this product excels in, and is not intended for direct comparison to other reviews.