8000Kicks Review: Eco-Friendly Shoes Made with Hemp Canvas

Please Don’t Smoke Our Shoes: A Review of the Waterproof Hemp Shoes From 8000Kicks

by Christina De La Rocha

Making the world a better place by buying the right pair of shoes is an order far too tall to be true. But it is true that the manufacturing of some shoes is far harder on the world than others. 8000Kicks aims to bring you those other shoes, the ones that aren’t so hard on the world. At least, that is, if what you’re looking for are a crisp-looking pair of waterproof sneakers.

Our 8000Kicks Review

grey shoed feet on grass with leaves
The Explorer V2 for Men Beige and Green observed in its natural habitat.

Hemp Canvas

8000Kick’s sneakers are made from materials that fall on the environmentally friendlier side of things.

The outer layers of the shoes’ uppers are made with hemp canvas instead of the cotton, leather, or synthetic materials more generally featured in sneakers. Some environmentally friendly advantages of using hemp over cotton, for instance, for making coarse, durable fabrics like canvas are that hemp needs notably less water and fertilizer than cotton plants do.

Also, because the hemp plants can be planted so close together, shading the ground, you don’t need to use chemicals to eradicate weeds from the fields. Growing hemp also helps to sequester carbon in the soils, keeping some carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, never mind the carbon footprint of raising cattle, preparing leather for shoes requires a lot of toxic chemicals and, when done carelessly, has a serious environmental impact. And common synthetic materials used in sneakers—like nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and Lycra/Spandex—are plastics produced by the petroleum industry.

Other Sustainable Materials

Another environmentally friendlier feature of 8000kicks’ shoes upon this Earth is that some of their sneakers have soles made out of recycled rubber and the rest of them have soles made out of Rise.

This material, formerly known as Bloom Foam, is made by removing harmful algal blooms caused by excessive nutrients in lakes and rivers, mixing the harvested algae with certain chemicals, and heating the mix to produce a ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam suitable for use in footwear.

In case you’re wondering what EVA is, look no further than a pair of Crocs, which are made entirely of EVA. Ordinarily, EVA is produced from petrochemical precursors. So, while a plastic is still a plastic, at least this one is helping to clean up waters clogged with algae rather than supporting the petroleum industry.

8000kicks’ shoes’ waterproofing consists of two features, a waterproof outer coating and a waterproof membrane is sandwiched inside the two layers of hemp canvas that the upper portion of the shoes is constructed from.

How environmentally angelic these waterproofing features are is harder to say, as their details are a trade secret. At least, however, they are free from perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) such as Teflon and other perfluoroalkoxy alkanes (PFAs).

That is a big deal! But, still, if you don’t know what the waterproofing is made from, you can’t fully judge it.

On With The Shoes

So, that’s the background. Now on to the shoes themselves. I’ve been giving a pair of women’s Explorer V2 shoes a test run (although, no, I have not gone running in them) and now I’m hear to tell you how it went.

hand holding black shoe with white sole
The Explorer V2 for Women Black and White freshly unboxed.

Taking them out of the box, my first impression was that they look neat, sharp, and well-made. The same is true for the men’s version of the shoe (see the photo at the very top of the page). These sneakers are not too heavy and not too light. Also, their overall shape is bang on trend with what “the younger people” around here are wearing these days.

My first impression upon putting them on was that these are not cold weather shoes. I don’t think I’ll be wearing them outdoors once it goes below freezing here! But the toe box is nice and wide—which is definitely not something you can say about many women’s shoes. The sole is not as springy as you might expect from some sneakers, but it’s comfortable and it feels durable. Indeed, the whole shoe feels durable, like it will last for considerably longer than a typical sneaker (check back with me in a couple of years).

Happily, these first impressions have held up over the couple of weeks I’ve been wearing the shoes.

The Waterproofing Test

But now we have arrived at the point where I must confess my initial skepticism about the waterproofing. I live in a damp, rainy, muddy, messy part of the north German countryside. 8000kicks is based in warm, sunny, dry Portugal. How could they possibly have any idea what these shoes would have to go through around here!? I bet there are days when it rains more in a day here than it does in parts of Portugal all year.

marshy wetlands with bare and slender trees
The sort of local conditions I could have put the shoes through.

I almost felt sorry for the poor shoes. Did they deserve was I was going to put them through? Between my feelings of pity and the fact that the shoes are so neat and clean looking, it took a while before I took them outside to face the great outdoors. Even then, as their first test, I took them on an outing more noble than the mud, puddles, and manure of the local footpaths between wheat and oilseed fields here.

wide graasy fields with some patches of trees, wetlands, and a highway
A view (from the tower of the church where Martin Luther nailed up his theses) of the Elbe River and the flood meadows on either side of it.

I walked them through the high, wet grass of the flood meadow of the Elbe River and the waters of the river itself.

A distant tower behind a lake and trees
Approaching the waters of the Elbe. Note the tower of the All Saints’ Church on the other side.

But then the kid gloves came off. Reader, I did my worst. I didn’t just walk through a mile of wet grass to get to the edge of the Elbe. I walked into the river and stood there for a while.

A foot in a black shoe standing in water
Putting the waterproofing to the ultimate test.

And the shoes just laughed at me. This was NOTHING! Did I call that a test of their waterproofing? Pah! Surely, I could do better. So I walked them the mile back over that grass wet enough for giant, man-eating earthworms to be happily underway.

The black shoe standing beside a straightened earthworm
Okay, no, they’re not really maneaters. But, still, look at the size of these monsters!

When I got back to homebase, my feet will still dry. Even the fabric of the shoes was still dry. Which impressed me because the day before I’d done the walk in my hiking boots and, even without wandering into the river, I’d come back home with soaked shoes, socks, and toes. Score one for 8000kicks!

Final Thoughts

All in all, I have to say: I like these shoes! They look nice, they’re well made out of durable, reasonably sustainable materials, they’re comfortable, and they really do seem to be waterproof. If you’re in need of a new sneaker, there’s definitely far worse things you could do for yourself and the world than buy a pair of these.