Sneaking in as the last post of the month, the F.O.M. (Freedom Of Movement) hemp shirt from Duluth Trading is a worthy way to wrap up April. This was originally intended to run on April 20th, but that wouldn’t have provided enough time for a truly comprehensive review.
Known for their Ballroom jeans with the crouch gusset (they really need to market them to the fixed gear crowd), Duluth Trading makes clothes for the working man, yet is hip enough to offer some really nice shirts in a durable blend of 55% hemp, 45% organic cotton. The result is a shirt that’s got a slightly heavy, linen-like feel and texture, yet is soft and breathable. Details include a handy sleeve inside the left pocket to hide your pen or pencil, so as not to give away your geekiness. It also provides for a cleaner look. The right pocket has a similar sleeve, sized for a small phone, but then your shirt doesn’t hang right. A quick once-over showed that the stitching throughout is straight, tight, and free of loose threads. Definitely a quality shirt. But the real feature that interested me (other than the hemp construction) is the Freedom of Movement Armpit Gussets. I was curious to see how that improved the function of the shirt during higher activity levels. It was kind of the “make or break” as to whether it’s just a nice hemp shirt, or one that could be recommended as outdoor wear.
With that in mind, I threw it on, grabbed a football, and headed to a local park with Ms. Outsider. Although basketball is her sport, she can throw a mean spiral with a Nerf football. After a half hour or so of throwing, running, and catching, I was satisfied that the shirt really does allow for a noticeable amount of extra movement in the arms. Of course, that may depend on the size of your guns. I’m a stocky guy, so it really makes a difference for me. And despite the very weak breeze, I was still fairly cool too. Thinking that this would be a great shirt for travel, I wore it on a recent trip to San Antonio. On arrival, Texas was about 30 degrees warmer than Utah was when I left, and quite a bit more humid. But I was still comfortable. Perhaps a bit less comfortable when I walked into a banquet wearing my hemp shirt and a pair of jeans, only to realize everyone else was in a suit or dress. It’s definitely a casual shirt, or office casual at best, but still got me a few compliments from my overdressed peers. My third day out in the shirt, I wore it for a morning walk along San Antonio’s famed Riverwalk. It was a bit cool, and rather misty, but the shirt never felt weighed down with moisture. Pure cotton would probably have soaked up a bit more, and not been quite as comfortable.
I’m pretty sold on the blend and the design. Working for a software company during the week, plaid is our official color. And the F.O.M. shirt fit right in, but with more of an outdoorsy feel. While it’s hard to feel rugged surrounded by computers, this is definitely the shirt for someone who heads outside after work. Whether that means walking the dogs, playing with the kids, or some yard work, this would be my first choice, especially given the added durability (it’s three times stronger than cotton!) hemp lends to it. Although they may have been designed for hard work, the Freedom of Movement Armpit Gussets make this shirt ideal for playing hard too. Duluth Trading offers their shirts cut with a generous amount of room, but provides actual measurements, making getting the right size on the first try quite simple. That’s appreciated, since I’m one of those guys that is either a large or XL, depending on the brand. If there’s a downside to this shirt, it would be that current color options are limited to Fern, Burnt Orange, and Military Brown Plaid. duluthtrading.com