How do you keep Clean in the Backcountry?

How do you prepare for the rigorous physical requirements of high elevation adventure? Strength and endurance are key, but are only part of a more complex equation. How do you prepare for changes in altitude, exposure, diet, etc.? How do you mentally prepare? Learn from others and share what you know about training in advance for outdoor adventures.
User avatar
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1115
Joined: Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:13 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: California

Re: How do you keep Clean in the Backcountry?

Post by Harlen » Tue Dec 15, 2020 11:00 am


User avatar
Topix Addict
Posts: 3062
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Silicon Valley

Re: How do you keep Clean in the Backcountry?

Post by SSSdave » Wed Dec 16, 2020 11:23 am

On the earlier maverick 8 page thread, 2. Usually jump in a lake if it temps aren't to cold.
Only the following minority were solid 2's. They can backpack with me anytime haha (:
Page 2: LMBSGV, Carne_DelMuerto
Page 4:SSSdave
Page 5: Snow Nymph, stevet, Sierra Maclure, Oubliet

Page 4:
by SSSdave » Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:58 pm
Hah! Knew I would be the only 2. While backpacking we almost always jump in a pond, lake, or stream unless it is really cold outside. We are infamous for getting into cold water and there is a way to do it without pain. See I strongly dislike getting into my sleeping bag grubby. Oh, of course have done so but dislike it. So nice feeling clean. When winter snow backpacking or desert backpacking of course there is no washing option.
Post by SSSdave » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:56 am

The Other Tom wrote:

SSSdave wrote:
.....and there is a way to do it without pain.

Can you enlighten us on your method ?

Hmmm, I've posted about getting into cool water on web boards for years so some here have probably heard this before. The conventional mindset for most backpackers who venture into our mountains during summer where water is often always cool or cold is they must endure being grubby, sticky, stinky their whole trip. Suggestions they ought jump in a pond, lake, or stream is usually met with a grimmacing facial expression and then something like..."its too COLD!" There are many that have never ever dipped into cool water. Most water in the mountains during summer is cool but not cold. Only when water is coming right out of snowy sources is it likely to be really cold below 40F degrees. I often carry a small thermometer with me and am amused checking lake and stream temps. There is a world of difference between 35F and 45F.

The key to getting into cool or cold water is staying in so briefly that the cold water does not have enough time to cool down to one's big bones where nerves are. Ever step knee deep into cold water like say on our Pacific beaches? For about 15 seconds it feels cold but then maybe 20 to 30 seconds later, suddenly one's knees cave forward as pain down deep in the bones sets in. Many are quick to jump out back to shore at that point. So what we do is get in and move around cleaning off with our hands etc as fast as we can and about 10 seconds later jump back out like a scared jack rabbit. Yeah we are in really really briefly. Never use soap in such places. When we do use soap say to wash something greasy off like fish it is well up on shore.

The next problem is one will be cold after jumping out because the water will evaporate while one dries off. Thus one had best do this when the sun is out and shining down on nicely dark boulder or bedrock next to a stream. Yeah quickly commune with that nice sun warmed rock. Sometimes a breeze may be blowing and if so one might jump in at a place out of the main breeze. Of course a towel or dry cotton t-shirt etc can be used to dry off more quickly. I'll sometimes jump in at dusk and after jumping out run into my prepared for tent where I quickly dry off atop a plastic sheet, put on thermals, then get in the down bag.

At other times there is the issue of mosquitoes. As soon as one gets all wet, few mosquitoes will actually land. The main problem is squeeters biting while taking off clothes before getting in and then after one gets out and starts drying off. Be fast undressing. Then afterward best to run into one's prepared tent haha. Believe me, I''ve done this in really bad squeeter areas without getting bit. And 10 seonds in cool water even without soap will make one will feel immensely clean.

Another issue is choice of where to take a dip. Shallow bedrock ponds can be reasonable even at alpine elevations in midday sun. Lakes are almost always warmer than streams coming from snowfields. Streams below big lakes are always moderated. Again a thermometer is useful

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests