When we last wrote about 8000Kicks (seen here). That pair of shoes, they were leaning quite heavily into the relationship and association between hemp and marijuana. It’s a clever tie-in, sure, but really, the brand is more about the versatile hemp fiber. We’ve been spending time with a pair of the 8000Kicks Explorer V2, and are ready to deliver a verdict.
What are they?
At their core, we’d consider the 8000Kicks Explorer V2 to be a dressy casual sneaker. Sure, you could jog in these through the airport, but these are for everyday comfort and looks, not for active training. While there are a variety of colorways available, we think the two-tone beige/green lends to the dressier approach, evoking a saddle shoe. Not that you’d put these with a suit, but against a pair of khakis or crisp jeans, they’ll look the part.
What do we like about them?
When it comes to a dressier sneaker, you’ve got all manner of choices out there. So, why consider the 8000Kicks Explorer V2, which is a brand that you may not have heard of? Well, first and foremost, it’s that use of hemp. That’s a super-sustainable material that has less impact on the environment, but also manages to be a tougher fiber than just about any other natural one. On the shoes, this gives things a subtle textured look that you just can’t find with other textile sneakers.
The uppers are not the only place the eco-friendly materials appear. The insoles also leverage hemp, and then there are the soles. Yes, they are a type of plastic, but here it’s a bio-plastic. For them, they’ve collaborated with another company to come up with a foam sole that also leverages algae in the composition, making them a bit more friendly to the environment.
There is on other thing about the 8000Kicks Explorer V2 that we really liked, and it’s a feature that is not readily apparent. Looking at that nice woven hemp, you might be thinking that these are going to be great until you get caught in a rainstorm, right? Turns out, the shoes are waterproof. This is done in two different ways. First, you’ve got a waterproof membrane as part of the upper, and then you’ve also got a bio-wax coating applied, helping keep the water from even getting to the membrane. This also helps keep the shoes looking nice and clean, as it’ll resist any sort of liquid spills, as well as keeping dust from settling in.
What’s it like wearing them?
Once you get past the novelty of the materials (at least, they were novel to me), the 8000Kicks Explorer V2 feel like just about any other pair of sneakers. We will note that, if you’re not used to shoes with waterproof membranes, they will fit a little snugger than you might expect from a textile-based sneaker. That’s just due to the space that membrane takes up. In our experience, though, you get used to it, and it does not impact the flexibility of the shoe whatsoever. You will find them a little less breathable than, say, a fully synthetic knit that isn’t waterproof, but they worked just fine in my testing, and my feet stayed dry.
I’ve worn them across a variety of scenarios – walks at the park, running errands, and even at a local “barn dance” out in the suburbs (think of old-timey called line dances to a guitar and fiddle), and they were great. If I wanted something that didn’t scream “hey, these are athletic shoes) but still wanted it to be casual, these are the ones I reached for.
Do we recommend them?
As we mentioned at the outset, there are no shortage of choices for you when it comes to dressy sneakers. So, why choose the 8000Kicks Explorer V2 over any of the others? For one, it’s going to be if you’re focused on the impact your apparel choices have on the environment (if you check out the product pages, you’ll see the details of how much they’re reducing their impact). Second, if you like the idea of waterproof sneakers so you’re ready, whatever the weather, there you have it. Finally, these are a great option for someone who likes the comfort of sneakers, but don’t want their shoes to be a billboard for whatever brand they happen to be wearing. There are eight different colorways of the 8000Kicks Explorer V2, all going for $129. If that’s not the style for you, they do have two other shoe profiles available as well (and even a third, in the women’s styles). So, even if you’re just curious about what these shoes are all about – and their hemp-driven mission – they’ll be worth taking a look at. 8000kicks.com
Details from 8000Kicks
The Explorer is the first-ever model of hemp shoes developed by 8000Kicks. It was designed and engineered in Portugal to achieve the most sustainable, durable and comfortable sneaker ever built. Minimalist, yet stylish enough to fit every occasion, indoors or outdoors.
- ⚖️ Only 240g | 0.50lb
- 💪 Durable Hemp fibers
- 💦 Waterproof (PFC Free)
- 🍁 World’s 1st Hemp Insoles
- 🌱 Algae Bloom soles
- ✅ 100% vegan
- 🏃 Versatile design