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Beginner asks what to do with sweaty clothes, cooking clothe

Backpacking and camping basics and other general trip planning discussion for the uninitiated. Use this forum to learn where to look for the information you need, and to ask questions, related to the beginner basics of backpacking and camping, including technique and best practices.
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Re: Beginner asks what to do with sweaty clothes, cooking clothe

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:43 pm

Why would you take off your sweaty clothes and then go on a day hike in different clothes, just to get them sweaty too? I wear one set of hiking clothes all day. I jump in the lake/stream at the end of EVERY day, and rinse out my hiking shirt (NO soap), every day. A good hiking shirt should dry in less than an hour in the Sierra. I even leave the shirt out overnight to dry. I also rinse out one pair or socks each day (I take 3 pair total). It is really no big deal (in the Sierra in summer) to start out in the morning with a still wet shirt. It will dry quickly on your body. I wash my hiking pants about every 5th day. They also, are very quick drying.

I use the small dry "sudsing" facial wipes, AWAY from the stream, to wash my face and hands each night, to get rid of fish/food smells and dirt. Once the small amount of soap is out of these wipes, I leave them out to dry and they make good snot rags or TP if needed. I carry out ALL my TP and any other garbage in a large zip bag. If I am in bear country (say grizzly) I will then use an OP (odor proof) bag for my garbage.

I DO NOT EVER wear my hiking clothes inside my sleeping bag. I have a very expensive down bag and want to avoid washing it as much as possible. Also, after doing coastal hiking in poison oak, I would never introduce poison oak oils to the inside of my sleeping bag. I wrap my hiking pants up, inside out, so that any nasties on them do not get onto other clothing. All clothing not worn at night go inside my sleeping bag stuff sack to become my pillow at night. If conditions are such that I do not want to wash socks (say days of rain ahead) I put the smelly socks inside a plastic bag, and then into my "pillow".

At some point, your shoes may become really foul smelling. This happened to me my last trip. It was so bad that I had to tie them up inside a large plastic bag (the one I use inside my pack for waterproofing) and put them at the foot of my tent. Do not set boots or shoes outside the tent in the vestibule - they are too critical an item to take a chance on rodants chewing them. You could hang them high in a tree if they become too stinky. At the point of becoming this stinky, the shoes usually get tossed in my garbage at home and I have to buy new shoes.

I think good personal hygiene is well worth the effort and temporary discomfort of the icy water. I have been on very long trips, out one summer for 100 days; 35,35,30 duration trips only to go to town to resupply twice. It really makes a difference in my morale to stay clean. I wash my hair once every 8 days, and when I do that, I do like Almost There suggested - very tedious, 200 feet away, burry gray water. Another part of good hygiene is keeping hands healthy - I usually take some special cream to hydrate hands and wear garden gloves when using my trekking poles. Cleanliness is a big part of good hygiene and good hygiene is critical in staying healthy, and becoming unhealthy often is the maker or breaker of big mountaineering expeditions. I would not blow it off as only "cosmetic".

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Re: Beginner asks what to do with sweaty clothes, cooking clothe

Postby Fly Guy Dave » Sat Jul 27, 2013 3:32 pm

The only place I've been hyper-vigilant about bear scent is on a kayaking trip down the east side Admiralty Island in Alaska. The Tlingit word for Admiralty is "fortress of the bears" and yes, we did take every precaution: non scented deodorant, cooking below the tide line, hanging our food HIGH (coastal browns can't climb trees) and having a set of clothes that we cooked in and then we hung with the food. Yes, we did see tons of bears, but they left us alone. That level of precaution was warranted there, but in the Sierras I think you'll be fine.

The place I've seen tons of bears in the Sierra is at Whitney Portal. They were all OVER that place!
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Re: Beginner asks what to do with sweaty clothes, cooking clothe

Postby kd6swa » Thu Aug 01, 2013 6:36 pm

I'Ve been stomping around the Mountains and Desert and used some Hot Springs and Hot tubs like this to get cleaned up.

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Hot Springs copy.jpg
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Re: Beginner asks what to do with sweaty clothes, cooking clothe

Postby maiathebee » Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:43 pm

Agreed with mav and WD above.

Daytime hiking clothes get changed out of and aired out overnight (socks especially). I have a warm down bag and I often sleep just in my undies, but on cooler nights I don my wool baselayer. I also hike in a lightweight merino wool tshirt (Icebreaker brand) and have found that it is very good at naturally avoiding absorbing odors.

Like WD, no matter how long the trip, in summer my clothing system is:

Hiking attire (I wear the same thing each day):
-lightweight merino wool tshirt
-technical nylon pants that zip off into shorts
-lightweight wool sock liners
-midweight wool hiking socks

Sleeping attire (can be cold baselayer if conditions turn foul):
-midweight merino wool long-sleeved shirt
-midweight merino wool bottoms

-Marmot "wind shirt" (superlight hooded wind shell)
-Marmot PreCip rain shell
-heavyweight merino wool quarter zip sweater (looking to upgrade to a down vest maybe?)

I tend to splash-bathe every evening, or swim if the weather allows. I rinse out my wool hiking shirt about every other day.

On the last mile of a recent four day trip, a day-hiker caught me checking my watch (I had a shuttle to time) and said "hey, you shouldn't be checking your watch so early in your trip!" We chatted and she said that my partner and I looked especially clean and she had no idea that we were four days in the backcountry!

Caveat is that I am always very careful about getting too wet and/or cold. If conditions look bad (rain), I set up my tent and get inside until the threat has passed. I also keep my down bag in a dry bag just to be safe, and I only take it out when I am completely set up at my camp for the night.

Keep in mind that hygiene is extremely important in the backcountry and many episodes of illness occur due to your "comrades" not washing properly. Be sure to offer to help your hiking friends rinse their hands well after they answer nature's call, and be careful about how you deal with your TP trash in relation to your food!
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Re: Beginner asks what to do with sweaty clothes, cooking clothe

Postby sparky » Thu Aug 01, 2013 8:37 pm

On a side note about bathing, many people I hike with just don't want to get into cold water to get clean. It makes me feel like a million bucks. Not only do you get clean, but even just short time in ice cold water will wash away tired or sore muscles. A bath in ice cold water also seems to really amp up your senses and seems to be a sort of mood enhancer. It makes me feel REALLY good, happy, and positive after an ice cold dip. Drying off in the warm sun after a cold dip is just the bees knees :)

So wash your clothes and yourself, it just feels so right.
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Re: Beginner asks what to do with sweaty clothes, cooking clothe

Postby SweetSierra » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:38 am

Like others here have said, I carry only one set of hiking clothes and wear them every day. I've been told dirt adheres to me ;). After the first few hours on the trail, my hiking clothes are no longer pristine and the most I do is shake them out and hang them up. I also wear a set of clean bed clothes that I keep in a plastic bag in my backpack (along with my down bag). They are a winter weight long underwear top and bottom.

After I set up my camp, I fill up a 2.5 liter container and go far from any lake or stream and wash with a biodegradable soap. I use very little soap and with one container I can wash up sufficiently. I don't wash my hair until I'm back home, usually. Often I just rinse it with water or dunk my head in a lake.
As others have said, no need to worry about Sierra bears and clothing. The deer will go for your urine at a nearby tree but at least in my experience they haven't chewed on my sweaty pack or boots.
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Re: Beginner asks what to do with sweaty clothes, cooking clothe

Postby Ikan Mas » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:24 pm

Speaking of critters chewing up clothes, I was at Hamilton Lake a week ago in Sequoia. Watched a deer chew up a dirty towel and come back for another after dark. Didn't seem to be interested in our urine. Puzzled as to what flavor they were after.
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Re: Beginner asks what to do with sweaty clothes, cooking clothe

Postby Jimr » Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:48 am

Normally, I too, stuff them all into a stuff sack, wrap my down jacket around it and tie my flannel around that for a nice comfy (if not smelly) pillow. I wash clothes on longer trips over 5 days. When they get too smelly to bring into the tent, I usually stand them up against a rock and break starch the next day. Sometimes, a good frost will air them out nicely
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