I love hemp clothes. They’re unbelievably comfortable and seem to resist all my attempts to make them stink while hiking, camping or traveling. Unfortunately, the U.S. government still prohibits commercial hemp growth for the moment – I suspect this is ultimately because the cotton industry and its lobbyists can’t handle the thought of any textile competing with its interests … and I suspect the same people are behind the flat-out lies that equate hemp and marijuana (which is a subject for a different blogger to tackle). I wonder what the hemp farmers among our founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson would say about this.
Bottom line: You can get hemp clothes in the United States, but they’re made from foreign-grown crops. And I get my hands on them as often as possible. Here’s what I’ve learned about the various brands of hemp clothing I’ve tried … and FYI, everything I have is a hemp/cotton blend.
ONNO Hemp T-shirts
I wore one of my ONNO hemp t-shirts for 36 hours. During that time, I hiked, pooped in the wild, chopped wood, made fires, dunked myself in a river … the list goes on. When I emerged back into civilization, I was coated in dirt. When I jumped in the shower, the water soon ran brown.
But that ONNO shirt didn’t have a trace of nasty odor. Apparently, hemp clothing has antibacterial properties, much like bamboo (which I also love). I found my ONNO t-shirts at a store in Prescott, Ariz., called Man At Leisure. I bought one, wore it, loved it, went back to Prescott and bought two more … the staff there is also incredibly nice; somehow, they remembered me from my months-earlier visit. If you can’t get an ONNO hemp t-shirt at Man At Leisure, get one somewhere.
The downside? It’ll make you hate almost all your other t-shirts. I seriously dare anyone out there to make a better hemp t-shirt.
I went on an online hemp hunt for women’s clothing. My wife was wicked-jealous of my ONNO shirt. I stumbled across INI Cooperative’s Escargo pants (Oh, and here’s what I got for the wife, if you’re curious). The problem is, I’m pretty sure they’re discontinuing these pants. That’s a shame because they’re on the verge of awesome.
I picked up two pairs half-off the normal price starting with a 34-inch waist. These run small, I can tell you for certain. Not just in the waist, either. If squats and deadlifts are part of your workout routine, the INI Escargo pants will feel hipster-tight in your legs. I ordered the 36-inch pair in camouflage hoping they would be just-right. They are in the waist, but the range of movement in the legs is still not what I’d want for outdoor use.
On the plus side, the hemp-cotton ripstock fabric is unbelievably soft. The zipper is serious quality, and there’s a well-placed cell phone pocket on the right thigh. I’d love to see INI bring these back using dudes who do lower-body exercises and eat steaks as fit models rather than Ichabod Crane vegans. So close to being a gold-standard example of hemp clothing.
I also picked up an INI Cooperative hemp button-down shirt called the Cole Slaw (don’t ask me to explain that name). I ordered my usual extra-large size … and it’s a perfect fit in length. But I have to assume INI has a customer in mind who hates lifting weights. This shirt is really tight in the shoulders. It’s also going to require a bit more washing too soften up. But it looks cool as hell, which counts for something.
REI Hemp Shirt (Discontinued)
Oh, REI … what have you done? You made me my original hemp clothing in the form of these button-down shirts, and then you took them away. Oh, well, I still have like four of them.
You probably missed out on these. They were perfect for my casual workplace as well as nights out. They are practically indestructible aside from buttons popping off occasionally. I have the very first one I ever bought, and it does not look worse for wear at all.
Royal Robbins Green Jean
My pair of hemp-blend Royal Robbins pants are grey, but the model is called the Green Jean because of all the recycled bits in them. And they fit perfectly, feel great and look pretty darn good.
If I’m gonna complain about anything, it’s this: How ‘bout a nice pocket somewhere to stash a smart phone? My INI pants have them, as do my Kuhl pants. There’s really no reason for anyone to make pants missing this feature.
Now, these pants are meant more for urbane, civilized duty. I won’t take these to my next Aboriginal Living Skills School course or on my next camping trip. Great for work, excellent for the brewery … but I can’t see treating them too mean.