Two years ago, I left my 9 to 5 corporate job to take a career break and travel the world with my husband. Our goal was to explore less-visited places and to do a long trip travelling overland as much as possible. We travelled over 25,000 kilometres by bus, minivan, car, train, and boat, across Europe, Africa, and Asia andstayed in locals’ homes, hitchhiked with locals, and ate in local restaurants, hoping to learn as much as possible about different people and cultures.
We backpacked and travelled as light as possible over 18 months, carrying only a 10 kilogram backpack each. So it was important that we could cram as many durable, reliable, and versatile clothes in that pack, to use over and over again. One of my biggest frustrations with my backpack was finding good clothes that are actually made to last through travel, which made me realise two things in particularly about the clothes I has been buying:
- Fashion in Western countries is centred around Fast Fashion: clothes that are made quickly and cheaply, but that consumers quickly throw out. While in developing countries we visited, people owned less and kept their clothes for much longer.
- It was difficult for me to find clothing for my trip that was durable and versatile enough to endure long-term travel: holding up to both the heat and the cold, strenuous outdoor activities and also long travel days, and still being feminine and fashionable and comfortable.
It seems it is not just me that struggles with finding good travel clothes. The questions I get over and over about my travels are always related to packing.
What shall I pack?
How many shirts shall I bring?
What shoes shall I take?
How big should my bag be?
What is a good bag?
How can I pack less?
It seems people really struggle to know what to pack, how to find good products and clothes that are suitable for travel, and how to pack light. Believe me – after travelling to over 90 countries I am still adjusting things in my backpack, and finding new and better products often. The travel and backpacking industry has boomed in the last few years, and brands are now beginning to come up with new or altered products which are more suitable for travellers.
Whilst travelling, I found that the only clothing options were sporty and durable but unfashionable hiking clothes, or more fashionable but lower quality and less durable clothes from “fast fashion” high street brands. Most clothes are made from cotton or synthetic materials, which can get wet quickly in hot and humid conditions, and body odours seem to cling to them. Some of my clothes smelt so bad after time, and I couldn’t wash them clean anymore! I began to research this more, and also realised how bad lots of our clothing is for the environment.
For instance, it takes 2,700 litres of water to produce 1 cotton t-shirt! That is almost 3 years of drinking water for the average person. And nowadays, so much clothing is only worn a few times and then thrown out.
So I decided to make it my mission to go out and find fabric which was going to be good for travelling in, but also that is more environmentally friendly. I looked into all different kinds of fabric, and none of them ever ticked all of the boxes, until I found a fabric from a plant called hemp.
Make sure you read How To Be a Better Traveller (And Person) to learn more about being environmentally friendly when travelling.
The Benefits of Hemp Clothing
Hemp is amazing because it is very sustainable and easy to grow. It is a plant which grows naturally needing no fertilisers or pesticides, is fast growing, and uses less water.
So it ticked all the boxes in terms of being environmentally friendly, but even better was that it also naturally has all of the qualities I want from my travel clothes, such as:
- UV Protection
- Anti-Microbial / Anti-Odor
- Durable – Much Stronger than Cotton.
- Gets softer the more you wash it
- Easy Care
I’ll explain to you now a bit more about why these benefits make hemp so great to travel in.
1. UV Protection
Yes, hemp will naturally protect your skin from the bad UV rays from the sun.
Hemp is antimicrobial, which means that it is resistant to bacteria growth. The wonderful benefit of this in clothing is pretty magical – It means that it is naturally odour resistant, so that you can wear your shirts for longer, without smelling! This means not only less washing, but you can pack less shirts in your bag as you can wear them for longer.
Hemp is the strongest natural fibre on the planet – at least 3 times stronger than cotton. So if you’re buying clothes made out of Hemp – you know they are durable, and are going to last through your trip!
4. Gets Softer The More You Wash It
YES! Believe it or not, hemp is known to get softer, every time you wash it! Unlike cotton and most other fabrics used in clothing, which get less comfy over time, and get stiffer in the wash. So by the end of your trip, your emp shirt will be even more comfy than when you started!
5. Moisture Wicking
Hemp fabric is moisture wicking, helping to pull the sweat away from the skin, to help keep you dry when it’s hot and humid out.
Hemp is a breathable fabric, so it will help keep you ventilated and feeling fresh when you are in hotter conditions
7. Easy To Care For
Hemp fabric can be washed in the washing machine, so it’s easy to care for when on the road. It’s not wrinkle free (usually fabrics that are, have been treated with a horrible chemical called Formaldehyde), but definitely is less prone to wrinkling than some other fabrics. If you have it in a bag or suitcase – just hang it up for a bit and the wrinkles drop out pretty easily. I personally just put mine straight on and have never found it to look wrinkled after an hour.
I found some companies working with hemp, and had a shirt made, which I wore for 3 months around South East Asia on buses, boats, tuk-tuks, trains, and planes, and knew I instantly knew I had found the perfect fabric for travel. I could wear the t-shirt for days without it smelling, and it kept me feeling fresh. It is also super comfy, and extremely durable – I’ve slept in it on buses, thrown it in my backpack, and worn it for days in a row, and it’s still like new.
Hemp is still a relatively new fabric being used in clothing, so you can’t find it everywhere, or in any fast fashion outlets, but I think we will be seeing it used much more, especially in travel clothing. Check out the link in bio for more info.
Thanks for reading guys, and I hope this will help you with packing for your next adventure.
Author: I’m Hannah, a nature-loving, tea-drinking, off-the-beaten path exploring Brit, living in Australia. I have a passion for planet Earth and travelling to see as much of it as possible. I have travelled to 92 countries so far, and would one day love to visit every country in the world. Travel to me is all about immersing yourself into other people’s culture and spending time getting to meet new people that you wouldn’t often get to cross paths with when at home. My favourite thing to do in every country to have tea with locals, and share stories. My favourite countries to travel to include Japan, New Zealand, Iraqi Kurdistan, Pakistan, Peru, and Uganda.
You can check out more about me, my travel tips, and hemp clothing on my website www.hemptonapparel.com