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It's time to Hemplify! An Eddie Bauer review

By: Ben Stookesberry + Save to a List

Presented by Eddie Bauer.

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 five 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 90’s, punctuated by the occasional days in the low 100’s. Shorts and short sleeve shirts are the only clothing on my mind. Eddie Bauer's new Hemplify line of clothing seemed to show up at the perfect time.

A close-up of a person in a button-up and shorts. They are tying the drawstring on their shorts.
Ben is wearing the 8" Eddie Bauer Hemplify Men's Shorts. Image by Cheyenne Rogers.

Fit

I find shorts one of the hardest pieces of clothing to find a 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 (with a drawstring!) I was so stoked. Riding comfortably on my waist, the shorts extend 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, down-dog, 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 was 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 when I want to keep the sun off my skin. Whatever rating system you want me to use, pick the max for fit... brilliant.

Person in a white button-up tee and light pink shorts carrying a standup paddleboard out of a shed.
Ben is wearing an Eddie Bauer Hemplify Long-Sleeve Shirt. Image by Cheyenne Rogers.

Function

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. I grabbed my trusty Morrelli and Melvin 14-foot carbon SUP for a tour up river. I've 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 kayaker's perspective) into a maze of tricky currents and challenging paddling. 

Fifteen minutes in, I am sweating my butt off as tourists in inner-tubes 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?

A postcard of a wooden ship with hemp leaves on the masts.
The postcard Ben purchased after learning about hemp. Photo by Cheyenne Rogers

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 1800s, 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” soon excluded 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.

Feature image by Cheyenne Rogers.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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