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Washing Clothes In The Backcountry

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Re: Washing Clothes In The Backcountry

Postby SNOOOOW » Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:23 pm

I like this topic for some reason lol. I typically have 2 of everything if going out for 1 or more nights. 1 (thin)shirt/pants/socks/underwear for day use and 1 (thick l/s)shirt/pants/socks/thermals for camp use. I almost always will jump into a lake or stream when I have decided on where to camp for the night. Nothing beats a backcountry swim after a big day with your pack on. During my swim I will "wash" all my clothes which does not include soap but just a good rinse and wring and rinse and wring. No matter how many days I am out I only bring 2 sets as I am trying to cut pack weight more every summer. Back at the car I have my sandals and a clean pair of shorts and chonies and a shirt. If the weather is not ideal and I don't think my socks will dry then I do not wash them that afternoon but will wash everything else including my hat. :drinkers:
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Re: Washing Clothes In The Backcountry

Postby Lumbergh21 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:36 am

If I'm going out for more than 1 or 2 nights, I'll bring a 2nd pair of boxers, a pair of lightweight shorts, and two pairs of socks in addition to the clothes I have on and a base layer that I typically only wear in camp. The socks get rotated and one pair rinsed at least once every day. Shirt and pants also get rinsed out once per day if possible, alternating back and forth between the two long sleeved shirts and the pants and shorts. I can't deny that I've done some free-ballin' and it is quite enjoyable actually. I may stop bringing that second pair of underwear. Keeping clean or at least relatively clean socks are a must. I always rinse my socks and clean my feet daily, even when water isn't as plentiful as in the Sierra. If it's the only lake or stream I'll be seeing that day, the socks are getting rinsed whatever time of day it is. I never use soap in the back country though.
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Re: Washing Clothes In The Backcountry

Postby neil d » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:09 pm

Hiking shirt, tee shirt for camp, 1x poly pants, 1x cotton shorts, 2x undies, 3x socks. I'll wash as needed, especially socks. No soap. So great how quickly laundry dries in the sierras!

WD, that is a really cool 'washing machine' idea for the bear can! Never thought of that. Should I ever feel the need to use soap, I will try that!
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Re: Washing Clothes In The Backcountry

Postby rlown » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:16 pm

neil d wrote:WD, that is a really cool 'washing machine' idea for the bear can! Never thought of that. Should I ever feel the need to use soap, I will try that!


What do you do with your food if you empty your bear can during washing?
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Re: Washing Clothes In The Backcountry

Postby wildhiker » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:09 am

I always plan to wash some clothes on a longer trip and make sure I have some extras to wear while washing the main items! I've always carried a lightweight (4 oz) plastic tub for washing clothes and dishes and myself. I drill holes in the corners and use some short pieces of cord to tie it onto the back of my pack. Looks dorky (as my kids would say) but works great. I can dip the tub in the lake and carry it far away into the woods for washing. I do use some "camp suds" (supposedly biodegradable) - also use that as shampoo and general soap for washing hands, etc. I bring a piece of lightweight cord (about 20 feet) for general purposes including tying things to the pack, replacing broken shoelaces, etc., and also to make a clothesline. I carry 6 wooden clothespins (I tried the lighter plastic ones, but they break). Clothes dry quite fast when hung on a line in the sun and breeze.

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Re: Washing Clothes In The Backcountry

Postby CAMERONM » Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:44 am

During the summer in the Sierra I only take an extra pair of socks. Everything else can be wash-and-wear while you walk. Well socks can too, but walking with dry feet is always nicer, and at bedtime I like putting on dry socks. It also helps that I wash myself morning and night, and jump into water whenever I can.
For stubbornly dirty stuff, I found that a one-gallon ziplock bag holds water just fine. I rinse the item once, put it in the ziplock with water a little bit of Bonners, and let it marinate in the sun on its side like a watery pillow. Items get much cleaner this way.
I used to favor patagonia capilene shirts, but went back to a larger traditional shirt instead. I find that it is nearly impossible to stop the capilene from eventually gaining a smell under the arms, but with a loose shirt where there is not direct contact between the shirt and the underarms, just washing my underarms a few times a day completely manages the problem.
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Re: Washing Clothes In The Backcountry

Postby oldhikerQ » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:08 am

For walking, I bring 2 pr underwear and 2 pr hiking socks, along with 1 lightweight synthetic t and a long sleeve button up. Hiking shorts too.
Underwear, socks and t washed daily, weather permitting. Dry on a branch or boulder while making dinner. Swap for dry socks next morning, giving washed ones extra time to dry if necessary. If t shirt is damp the next morning, body heat finishes drying process in short order. Long sleeve shirt may be washed if there is a layover day. Hiking shorts usually not washed during a 1 week trip. I have clean camp clothes (long pants and LS midweight top) to wear at the end of each day.
YMMV
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Re: Washing Clothes In The Backcountry

Postby Lumbergh21 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:44 am

rlown wrote:
neil d wrote:WD, that is a really cool 'washing machine' idea for the bear can! Never thought of that. Should I ever feel the need to use soap, I will try that!


What do you do with your food if you empty your bear can during washing?


I washed my clothes in my bear canister once, while hiking the JMT, the day before heading into MTR for my resupply. There wasn't much food to remove. I just didn't find the payoff worth the effort, and haven't used my bear canister for washing clothes since.
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Re: Washing Clothes In The Backcountry

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:41 am

We tried the bear can as clothes washer. Washed, then rinsed, rinsed, rinsed, rinsed, rinsed - played soccer with that thing all over the place, changed out the water at least six times... not worth it. The clothes still stank and the dirt's absence temporary. Doing a daily wash of the body with wet wipes or water does the most good, but eventually, you just stink. Embrace the goat smell - it's backpacking.
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Re: Washing Clothes In The Backcountry

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:50 am

Synthetic material holds the stink more than naturals, such as cotton or wool. I use cotton for my next-to-skin layer while hiking. I find that drying in the sunshine does the most to get rid of stink. The bear-can washer is more used to get out dirt. I just put the food on the ground while I wash. Obviously, I do not do this if I think there are bears around. And this level of washing is only needed on longer trips.

There is stink, and there is STINK! I have picked up backpackers hitching back to their cars, who from stink as well as obvious dirt, have not washed at all on their trips. I can honestly see why most drivers will not pick them up! If I plan to hitch, before I get out on the road, I go to the nearest stream and wash up. Daily washing keeps the level if stink down to a tolerable level.
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