Gear Review: KontrolFreek Icon Performance Gaming Apparel

Disclosure: Product samples were given to VGBlogger.com for review consideration by KontrolFreek.

KontrolFreek’s bread and butter is its line of premium thumbstick grips, which we’ve been reviewing and recommending for a while now. But over the past couple of years the company has been steadily broadening its product offerings to things like controller grips and skins, charging cables, and cleaning kits. This year the brand further evolves with a new line of performance apparel built for hardcore gamers and eSports competitors, the quality of which lives up to the superior standards of everything KontrolFreek produces.

Right now the apparel line features two products: the Icon Performance Gaming Hoodie and the Icon Performance Gaming Shorts. Each piece is tailored to the needs of a gamer, starting first and foremost with what KontrolFreek terms DRYV technology. This DRYV fabric technology, which consists of an inner layer to wick away moisture coming from the body combined with an outer layer that absorbs moisture from the surface, is implemented as lining for the pocket and hood interiors of the hoodie, as well as side panels on the shorts. For gamers, these DRYV patches serve as absorbers to quickly dry off sweaty or wet hands stemming from a long, intense gaming session or perhaps even from, say, grabbing a cup or soda can damp from condensation. They’re like having small hand towels built right into your clothes. Brilliant!

If you ask me, the hoodie and shorts are worth having for the DRYV tech alone, but both offer a number of other gamer-oriented perks. The pockets, for starters, are all oversized, each large enough to comfortably hold a gaming mouse or even an entire Xbox or DualShock controller, fully concealed. Additionally for the shorts, having the DRYV on the sides means that the pockets are positioned directly on the front of the thighs. When seated this makes it easier to get access to something that may be in your pocket, like a phone or wallet, whereas with most pants and shorts getting into the pockets, which generally open at the hips, isn’t as easy from a seated position without first leaning over or shimmying around so you can squeeze your hand inside. I don’t know if this was intended by the KontrolFreek designs or a happy accident, but it works out for the best all the same.

Specific to the hoodie, the capacity of the hood itself is slightly enlarged to better accommodate headsets without restricting peripheral vision. Personally I would have liked the hood to be maybe even a little wider, because the fit can still be tight when I’m using a bulkier pair of over-ear headphones. But it still comes out ahead of the average hoodie in this area. When fully zipped up, there’s a little flap of fabric that the zipper pull slots into, covering it up for a cleaner look and so that the pull isn’t dangling at the neck to potentially get snagged on a hanging headset wire. Lastly, the sleeves are honed in with what KontrolFreek calls motion-pleated elbows, which tapers the material at the elbows for an optimal length that’s taught yet smooth flowing so you can freely mouse away. I can totally speak to the benefits here, because the main thing that has routinely annoyed me with many hoodies I’ve worn over the years is having sleeves that are too baggy at the elbows, too long and overextended at the wrist, or both, leaving a lot of excess sleeve fabric to flap around or slid down over the hands. Other than to wash my hands, I’ve never had to pull up or tug at the sleeves out of discomfort, which is not something I can say about the other hoodies hanging in my closet right now.

Both the shorts and the hoodie are extremely comfortable and, at least for my XL size, hug the body with a perfect fit that’s form fitting without being too snug. The weight of the fabric also hits the sweet spot for maintaining a comfortable body temperature. The fabric is lightweight and breathable in all the right places so that it’s not overly hot to wear at mild temperatures, and yet it’s just heavy enough to keep warm in a cool room or when the weather is chilly outside. I’ve worn the hoodie through some cold winter days earlier in the year as well as some high 70s / low 80s days here so far this spring, and it’s kept me comfortable under both conditions. When it’s a bit nippy, the DRYV pockets actually work pretty well as hand warmers too. On the interior, the sleeves are lined with a soft, thin layer of a microfiber type of material. The body of the hoodie is lined entirely with mesh, while a flap cut into the back allows air to breath around you like a built-in ventilation system.

In terms of style, both articles are sleek and minimalistic, neither really trying to make any grand gamer fashion statement. The hoodie’s a straightforward glossy black material (which also happens to be water resistant; small amounts of liquid just bead up and wipe away) with a KontrolFreek patch over the left side of the chest and a small, rubberized KontrolFreek branded nameplate stitched onto the back, where the flap that drapes over the vent is located. The knee-length shorts, which I would best compare to something you’d wear for a game of basketball, come in a matching all-black motif, but are also available in white complemented by DRYV panels in charcoal and mesh side panels in black. I’ve got the white shorts, but I’m definitely sold on getting the black ones for a second pair.

Concerning maintenance, the hoodie and shorts wash well using cold water and a low tumble dry. The DRYV panels do, however, get somewhat nappy with little fuzz balls after repeated hand wiping, washing, and drying, so I am mildly concerned about the longevity of the material’s absorbent powers and softness. Though after about four months of wear and tear so far they are holding up beautifully.

Pricing on the KontrolFreek gaming apparel doesn’t break the bank either. The hoodies sells for $65.99 and the shorts retail at $35.99, which is certainly pricier than generic sportswear you can find off the rack at the local department store, but more than reasonable for a premium branded product. Unfortunately at the moment the hoodie appears to be sold out (I’ll see if I can find out if/when more will be in stock, and post an update if I hear anything), but the shorts are readily available in sizes ranging from small to XXL.

Buy From: KontrolFreek

Disclosure: Product was provided for review by the manufacturer.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles.

Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere.

Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn’t mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!