For the past 12 years, I have been a member of the Eddie Bauer family of guides and athletes as an expedition kayaker. In between trips around the world, from the arctic to the equator, my home base is not only my sanctuary for rest and rejuvenation but also my headquarters for training and planning for the next river mission. I have called Missoula, Montana home for the last 5 years. While the winters here are relatively mild (I have paddled in the Clark Fork River every month of our winter), now it is mid-summer with temps in the 90s, punctuated by the occasional days in the low 100s. And so shorts and short sleeve shirts are the only clothing on my mind. So I was so Eddie Bauer’s new Hemplify line of clothing seemed to show up at the perfect time.
I find shorts to be one of the hardest pieces of clothing for proper fit: too loose and baggy, too tight and restrictive, too heavy, etc. So when I opened a box containing Eddie Bauer’s new Hemplify shorts and the mediums slid on perfectly to my 32 waist with a drawstring to snug I was so stoked. Riding comfortably on my waist the shorts fell down to 2.5 or 3 inches above my knee cap. The nice pastel Green Tea color and very lightweight fabric made me feel like getting active and putting these shorts to the ultimate test: morning yoga! With a little chill in the air, I slid on the Hemplify short sleeve button up and started my routine.
Halfway through I moved into the garden for some sunshine vibes. Shoulder stand, plow, pigeon, dogs, half-lotus there were no restrictions in the shorts… incredible! Even the button-up shirt performed well. To be honest, an EB performance T-shirt is still my go-to for full mobility and comfort in my routine, but I can’t wait to continue using the Hemplify shorts for my summer routine. At the bottom of the box, I found the Hemplify pants, and although I didn’t do the whole routine in the pants, my initial impression is that I felt like a well-fitted suave AF martial artist. They have the same comfy elastic waist with the lovely hemp drawstring. Cat/ cow, cocktails, and chilling in the park would all be money in these pants even and especially on hot days where I want to keep the sun off my skin. Whatever rating system you want me to use, pick the maxim for fit… brilliant.
After the yoga session, I was pretty convinced that these shorts and shirts would be good to go for any mid-summer activity. But I still needed to sweat, move, and train to complete the test. So I grabbed my trusty Morrelli and Melvin 14-foot carbon SUP for a tour up river. I had this board since my days living in Chico, CA on the Sacramento river. It’s there that I found upstream attainment on a Stand Up Paddleboard to be one of the best high cardio, low impact workouts. It turns an otherwise boring stretch of mellow river (from an extreme kayakers perspective), into a maze of tricky currents and challenging paddling. 15 minutes in I am sweating my butt off as tourists in innertubes zip by in the other direction looking at me with some confusion. It’s 90 degrees and I am headed in the wrong direction. But the great thing about paddling upstream is that the return trip is a breeze. Instead of getting sweat-soaked, my shorts and long sleeve Hemplify clothes seem to be drying in real-time. The light color seems to reflect, not soak up the sun’s heat. What is this wondrous fabric?
My first experience with Hemp was over 23 years ago in a little shop in Santa Monica, CA. The proprietor touted all the virtues of hemp. “You can make fuel out of it. It requires little to no pesticides, a stark contrast to cotton. It’s stronger, more breathable, lighter, provides better insulation,” what she described was a miracle fabric. But there had to be a catch, which I quickly realized when I looked at the price tag and started looking for a quick exit. But I was so curious about all that she had told me that I bought the only item I could afford… a 5-dollar postcard. It’s a caricature of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria sails emblazoned with a hemp leaf to make a point. Up until the late 1800’s rigging, cargo nets, fishing nets, anchor ropes, shrouds, flags, sealants, and sailors’ clothing was made of hemp. In fact, each of Columbus’s ships carried over 80 tons of hemp products.
Of course, synthetics and “Reefer Madness” was soon to exclude hemp from our markets. And until recently, all legal hemp fabric was imported and extremely expensive. Now it’s literally growing like weeds in many states (pun intended) and that has made the price go way down. As for all the claims of ultra strength; resistance to wear, mold and decay; and other antimicrobial properties, I’ll check back in a few months after wearing the sh*t out of these clothes. I really don’t envision the need to wear much else for the rest of the summer.
Do you need to Hemplify?
Honestly, I had no idea that I needed to revisit Hemp clothing until the Eddie Bauer box of Hemplify showed up on my doorstep. But now I will be heading to Secret Seconds here in Missoula to donate a few pairs of shorts and shirts that frankly aren’t as comfortable, don’t fit as well, and are synthetic. I am so proud of Eddie Bauer for continuing to innovate and evolve with design, diversity, and their extremely well-executed Hemplify line of clothing.
Stookesberry has been the expedition instigator for more than 132 first descents on sections of Class V or Class VI rivers in 36 countries. A talented filmmaker and visual storyteller, he won a Best Adventure Film award at the Banff Film Festival for his 2011 film Kadoma and received critical acclaim for Walled In.