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Thread: Hiker Funk Rant

  1. #1
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    Default Hiker Funk Rant

    Maybe I've been spoiled living with running hot and cold water and flushing toilets but I have little tolerance for overwhelming hiker funk to include the scent of my own musk.

    Now don't get me wrong, in the military I've experienced and accumulated hiker funk that would make a skunk envious but I try tried to mitigate it whenever possible.

    Some hikers appear to consider Super-funk a badge of honor...I just don't get it.

    While hiking the AT I see no reason for folks to hop into the shelter stinking to Hi-Heaven. For crying out loud drag a wash cloth across your backside, pits and nether regions. I'll add to that you can carry 1/2 ounce of tree oil and add a few drops to your washing water to keep the bacteria count down. If you're concerned about gram counting then shave your exceptionally long beard, trim your pit and nether region hair, you'll lose some grams and reduce your bacteria count and stinkability.

    OK...just my two cents

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    Wanna-be hiker trash Sarcasm the elf's Avatar
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    Lots of first time hikers, typically thrus, seem to revel in their terrible hygiene. Every year there are also large scale outbreaks of Norovirus and reports of hikers dealing with staph infections severe enough to put their hike at risk. I highly doubt this is mere coincidence.
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  3. #3

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    In fairness to thrus everywhere, it’s gear too, not just armpits and crotches. Deet and sweat soak into packs, clothing, quilts, etc... not really ok to assume it’s their lack of hygiene or whatnot.

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    Some types of clothes react to sweat in an "odorous" way, more so than others. Polyester seems to be the worst. Wool is almost non-odorous in my experience. Point being, your clothes will still stink after you wash yourself off.

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    It's not the body, it's the clothes (shirts) and the backpack. These two items soak up a lot of sweat and start to stink after awhile. I always change into a "clean" non-hiking shirt before hitch hiking or going into a business. Not a lot you can do about the pack.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  6. #6

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    The longest I went without a bath was 76 days when I was living in my tipi during the winter. 0F temps will automatically curtail any attempts at bathing, sponge baths, or hair and scalp washings in a nearby creek. In fact, it's been proven by Swedish/Finnish outdoorsmen that not bathing off body oils in severe cold keeps you warmer.

    My solution for you Wordstew would be to avoid AT shelters at all costs---a rule I follow to the letter. Another solution would be to do all your extensive backpacking during the winter. Carry a tent and call it your home. Backpack trails with no box shelters and get on more remote trails ergo less people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    It's not the body, it's the clothes (shirts) and the backpack.
    It's the body too. Sniff your armpits next time you shower after your shirt has contracted a case of the funk (which it got from your body, btw).

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    This isn't helping my shelter phobia.

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    Shelter phobia is a good thing. Wrap your arms around it and squeeze!
    " Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. "

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    It's not the body, it's the clothes (shirts) and the backpack. . .
    With my experience, I'd say it's safe to say it's pretty much everything that stinks. And yes, synthetic shirts are probably the biggest contributors.

    I've always found it quite enjoyable to try and bath, often with just water and to regularly rinse out my shirt along the trail, preferable mid day so there is time for things to dry, or in the evenings after a long hot day where I can get the trail crud off my body and sleep better. I've gone at least a couple of weeks without a shower in cooler weather and didn't think I was or anyone else in my party was particularly stinky. I've also bathed more than once a day along hot dirty trails because it felt good and I didn't have to smell myself.

    In the end, I agree with the OP in that stinking isn't anything to take pride in. Although, sometimes a little stink is just the cost of living, so get over it.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  11. #11
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    At a lunch break at a picnic table at an AT shelter somewhere in New England, a horribly filth hiker came in to a chorus of greetings from friends. He proclaimed proudly that he hadn't bathed since PA, and that he was fighting an intestinal bug. I packed up immediately and got out off there, while his buddies were shaking his hand. They would probably blame the drinking water on whatever pestilence they caught from him.

    But yeah, during the hot Eastern summer, my pack alone smelled very bad at resupply stops, even though I frequently washed everything. I was pumping out sweat in quantities to soak my pants down to my knees, and I normally don't sweat like that. But I could not imagine not bathing and laundering whenever possible. Skin problems have stopped many hikes. Many don't realize that the skin is the body's largest organ and it's important to care for it.

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    When you been wearing the same clothes everyday for 2 weeks without washing in hot sweaty weather, they gets a bit funky.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  13. #13

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    Bunch a filthy hippy’s...go put your butt up to a water fall once and awhile

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    It's really special scent when tinged with a little bit of urine and an old beer. Eau de homeless.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    It's really special scent when tinged with a little bit of urine and an old beer. Eau de homeless.
    ...and soup encrusted beards, which isn’t a terrible look for a dude, but the lady’s, C’mon!

  16. #16

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    Amen to original post!

    I try to pick up hiker hitchhikers when I am doing my section hikes so they can do their resupplies or just get to town. All are a bit wiffy, one was so rank I swear my car stunk for 2 days! I didn’t have the heart to throw him out at initial contact, but I should have. Febreeze and 2 days of windows open was needed. I travel with a farty dog and am no snowflake, but this stink was overwhelming.

    I know that certain metabolic disorders can have distinctive smells, also food choice can alter body odor as the skin is an excretory organ along with liver, kidneys and lungs. Perhaps this young man was ill. Some homeless people with fecal and urine incontainance who do not change their clothes can smell this bad , these poor souls are often mentally ill.

    i know we are last to “smell our own smell” but some folk’s funk I just don’t get.

    I use marino wool and try to wipe down every evening so I can live with my personal stink. My dog cleans her butt every evening without reminding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kestral View Post
    Amen to original post!

    Some homeless people with fecal and urine incontainance who do not change their clothes can smell this bad , these poor souls are often mentally ill.

    i know we are last to “smell our own smell” but some folk’s funk I just don’t get.

    .
    A lot of skid row homeless drunks will piss themself when they're passed out or something and that's part of their stank . For everyone else, a dribble here and a dribble there starts to add up after a week or two.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  18. #18
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    Default Good rant and good thread

    I agree. As I'm getting older my tolerance for my own funk and filth has gone down. That's why I typically try to hit town every few days if possible to get cleaned up. I have come to really hate stinking and feeling dirty. It's tough to get truly clean out in the woods unless you just flat out submerse yourself in a stream or lake. And not to get too detailed, but being a hairy male makes things even worse.

    To address the funk of others, I will also do as others in this thread have stated and stay clear of super foul smelling hikers. That's a potential petri dish of nasty bacteria going on there.
    JMT - 2013

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by wordstew View Post
    Maybe I've been spoiled living with running hot and cold water and flushing toilets but I have little tolerance for overwhelming hiker funk to include the scent of my own musk.

    Now don't get me wrong, in the military I've experienced and accumulated hiker funk that would make a skunk envious but I try tried to mitigate it whenever possible.

    Some hikers appear to consider Super-funk a badge of honor...I just don't get it.

    While hiking the AT I see no reason for folks to hop into the shelter stinking to Hi-Heaven. For crying out loud drag a wash cloth across your backside, pits and nether regions. I'll add to that you can carry 1/2 ounce of tree oil and add a few drops to your washing water to keep the bacteria count down. If you're concerned about gram counting then shave your exceptionally long beard, trim your pit and nether region hair, you'll lose some grams and reduce your bacteria count and stinkability.

    OK...just my two cents
    I resemble this!

    And I agree with a post below, the stink is mostly clothes. Wearing merino wool helps a lot, I find, though stinky hikers (including myself) are really no bother to me.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Berserker View Post
    That's why I typically try to hit town every few days if possible to get cleaned up.
    I can't imagine breaking up my long backpacking trips by hitting a town every few days just because of funk and personal stank. In fact I go out hiking to avoid roads and towns and civilians and folding money etc. The longer the better.

    I long ago got used to going long periods of time without bathing---it's all part of the outdoor life, especially in winter. What's the priority---Living outdoors or relieving Funk? ALWAYS LIVING OUTDOORS.

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