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  1. #1
    John B's Avatar
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    Default Let's keep it clean, y'all

    I disagree with the notion that if you hike for multiple days, you will necessarily smell like a pig farm on a rainy day.

    Attached is a pic of my hiking sink (a cut-down 1-gallon plastic jug), a 2 oz bottle of hand sanitizer that I fill with Dr. Bronner's soap, and a cut-down Japanese nylon scrub cloth, which, if used with enough pressure, will take chrome off a Buick. I guesstimate the entire kit weighs maybe 3oz (with a full bottle of soap). And if you haven't used Dr. Bronner's before, a couple of drops goes a looooooong way.

    At the end of each day, I use these three to take something of a bath and to scrub out whatever clothes need to be scrubbed. While it's far from perfect, it helps greatly to keep down the reek and stench. Not pictured is a travel-sized stick of Dial 48 hr. deodorant, which is the heavy item in my arsenal (maybe 2 oz?).

    To round things out, also not shown is a travel-size tooth brush, small tube of paste, and the tiny freebie spools of floss that dentists invariably give out for with every visit.

    I've read some who say that hiker funk is just part of God's little plan and one gets used to it as time goes by, but I don't want to get used to it and take measures to stay as clean as I can. So if you're happy smelling like a baby diaper left in a dumpster for week during the summer, enjoy yourself, but if not, you may want to try one or more of my kit items.
    20190826_184548_resized.jpg

  2. #2
    Wanna-be hiker trash
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    I’m with you, but for me it’s primarily about hygiene and smelling better is just a nice side effect. I carry a small sponge and a tiny dropper of DR. Bronner’s and Every night before going to sleep I so a quick wipedown of all areas that are prone to chafing making sure to use a liberal amount of water. This washes away both the salt crystals and bacteria that are responsible for most chafing symptoms. The difference in chafing has been night and day since I began doing this.
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  3. #3
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    Sounds like a good idea for the chafing but the way I see it is the more natural I smell (the worse I smell) the more wildlife wants nothing to do with my stinky self in my tent. Start adding scents to your hygiene and your defeating the purpose of keeping your smellables away from your tent. Maybe that soap is scentless but if so I can't imagine it works good for long, especially on hot days when you sweat like I do. Also once your pack soaks in that stink your gonna smell after 20 minutes no matter what you do.

    There's some things in life that you just can't smell good doing
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  4. #4

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    Washing off the sweat helps me sleep better and protects my sleeping bag and pad.

    The best bath is when no one is around. I hang my jimmyjam water hauler from a limb, add a drop of soap, and get a good bath. It’s much better than a few swipes from a baby wipe while hunched down inside my tent.

  5. #5

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    The chafing is a big problem for me. Definitely will give this a try.

    There is a trend to go natural with no soap or deodorant.

    https://health.usnews.com/health-new...giene-products

    (No, I donít do this)

  6. #6
    Wanna-be hiker trash
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    Quote Originally Posted by swatsullivan View Post
    The chafing is a big problem for me. Definitely will give this a try.

    There is a trend to go natural with no soap or deodorant.

    https://health.usnews.com/health-new...giene-products

    (No, I don’t do this)
    This is not for the faint of heart, but a very effective tip I picked up from some bushcrafters is to wipe down any chafe prone or mildly chaffed areas with purell to kill the bacteria and to further wipe away the salts and oils. It’s a frankly unpleasant process but I’ve found it greatly helps to reduce chafing.
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  7. #7
    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    I'm with the OP, and I discovered on my first week on the trail a good shower was priceless in terms of rebounding after a long day hiking.

    My rig is a couple feet of clear tubing(1/2" ID) and a Dromedary shower nozzle on a 6L Dromedary bag. I heat 1 qt. of water to boiling from the bag and pour it back in which gets the creek water up around 100 deg.

    If privacy is an issue(to protect innocents from the spectacle of a naked 70 yo man) I rig my ground cloth between a couple trees. The only other issue is finding a good place to stand that does not result in a mud pit, i've used rocks but now carry a 3'sq. piece of Tyvek and try to place it on sloping ground to minimize the mess. The Tyvek is easy to clean and dries quickly so its perfect without being too slick like polycro etc.

    My next improvement will be some kind of rig to allow rigging the ground cloth in a circle so anywhere I can hang the Dromedary I can also hang the privacy curtain under it. Looking at coiled plastic tubing and inflatable solutions.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    Washing off the sweat helps me sleep better and protects my sleeping bag and pad.

    The best bath is when no one is around. I hang my jimmyjam water hauler from a limb, add a drop of soap, and get a good bath. Itís much better than a few swipes from a baby wipe while hunched down inside my tent.
    Iím with you. I use a bandanna as a wash cloth and bronners. This gets all of the salts and oils off of my skin. I wash clothing (underwear and socks) in a gallon ziplock.


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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by John B View Post
    I disagree with the notion that if you hike for multiple days, you will necessarily smell like a pig farm on a rainy day.

    Attached is a pic of my hiking sink (a cut-down 1-gallon plastic jug), a 2 oz bottle of hand sanitizer that I fill with Dr. Bronner's soap, and a cut-down Japanese nylon scrub cloth, which, if used with enough pressure, will take chrome off a Buick. I guesstimate the entire kit weighs maybe 3oz (with a full bottle of soap). And if you haven't used Dr. Bronner's before, a couple of drops goes a looooooong way.

    At the end of each day, I use these three to take something of a bath and to scrub out whatever clothes need to be scrubbed. While it's far from perfect, it helps greatly to keep down the reek and stench. Not pictured is a travel-sized stick of Dial 48 hr. deodorant, which is the heavy item in my arsenal (maybe 2 oz?).

    To round things out, also not shown is a travel-size tooth brush, small tube of paste, and the tiny freebie spools of floss that dentists invariably give out for with every visit.

    I've read some who say that hiker funk is just part of God's little plan and one gets used to it as time goes by, but I don't want to get used to it and take measures to stay as clean as I can. So if you're happy smelling like a baby diaper left in a dumpster for week during the summer, enjoy yourself, but if not, you may want to try one or more of my kit items.
    20190826_184548_resized.jpg

    I concur with all of the above. I’ve moved from a cut down gallon milk bottle to just a gallon sized freezer baggie. I heat up too much water to rehydrate my dinner and use the excess to clean up with. Other times it’s a cold water wash up.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
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  10. #10
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    Do you wash your clothes and pack, too, though? I clean up every night with a baby wipe and sometimes a little water bottle "shower" if it's warm enough, and change into my sleeping clothes, so I feel decently clean at night, but in the morning, I just have to put my stinky hiking outfit back on, and strap on my pack that absorbs sweat day after day. Depending on the time of day and circumstances, sometimes I'll do a baby wipe bath and change to my "clean" sleeping clothes for the hitch into town to be hopefully less offensive to the driver and/or my fellow restaurant patrons if I'm grabbing food somewhere before getting to the motel/hostel. But honestly, it's the pack that smells the worst. You can mock others for the hiker funk all you want, but I'm guessing when you hitch into town after a week on trail and your pack is in their car, your ride is still rolling their windows down
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hike Hopeful
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  11. #11
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    when will humans realize that smelling like humans is humane? stink? no way. "mountain meadows floral" scent stink? yes way.

    pheromones!

  12. #12
    John B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KnightErrant View Post
    Do you wash your clothes and pack, too, though?... it's the pack that smells the worst....
    As a point of clarification, I am not and have never been a thru hiker. I'm sure that the longer the trip, the more difficult to keep stuff clean. In a good year, I get out 7-10 days in the spring and 7-10 days in the fall to section. After each trip, I clean my pack with soap and a garden hose, then dry in the sun. My pack doesn't stink, and it's the same pack (Osprey Aether 65) that I've had when I started in 2006.

    As some others have mentioned, I wash out underwear and shirt by using a 1-gl ziplock bag and hang on the nearest tree limb at night. When at a hostel, I use the washing machines.

    The result is that while I'm not cleaned up enough for non-trail life, still I'm not hiking down the trail smelling like a dumpster.

    But HYOH. I just prefer to try to keep as clean as possible. If it's seen as excessive and unnecessary, well, that's ok with me, too.
    Last edited by John B; 08-27-2019 at 08:51. Reason: hopefully to add clarity

  13. #13
    Wanna-be hiker trash
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    Quote Originally Posted by cliffordbarnabus View Post
    when will humans realize that smelling like humans is humane? stink? no way. "mountain meadows floral" scent stink? yes way.

    pheromones!
    Every notice that wild animals also spend considerable time grooming themselves?
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  14. #14
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    I heat my water in black garbage bag in the sun when possible.

  15. #15

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    It's been interesting to read some other folks viewpoint on the issue of hygiene. My personal habits, thought processes, general outlook etc. were all fully formed in a pre-internet world. I grew up in a hunting/outdoors family, participated in Boy Scouts of America and did military service in the US Army before the You Tube age. Don't get me wrong. I love the internet and all the access to information it provides. What I find perplexing is the pervasiveness of "trends" that get accepted as "conventional wisdom". Just because everyone is doing it doesn't mean it's necessarily right, or wrong, it just means a lot of people are doing it.
    The longest I ever went without a proper shower was during my military service. My personal record is twenty one days. During that twenty one days I remained clean shaven enough to get a proper seal on a gas mask, I kept my face, neck, armpits, and......"down south", clean and free of salts and general funk. This was managed with cold water, a wash cloth and hand soap. I wasn't clean enough at the end of twenty one days to sit down at a starred restaurant, but neither was I unhygienic.
    To each his own, or more specifically, HYOH. If being funky helps you hike an extra mile I say go for it. My pack will continue to haul hygiene basics because it weighs less than the amount of coffee I carry, I believe cleanliness is directly linked to a broad range of health issues, and if I don't make the effort I feel like I've let myself down.
    "I love the unimproved works of God" Horace Kephart 1862-1931

  16. #16
    Registered User kestral's Avatar
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    Like this thread.

    There really is no need to go totally feral on a hike when it comes to hygiene, and proper hygiene not only will make you more comfortable and more socially acceptable but it does help greatly in preventing problems that make one miserable, and can shorten a hike.

    In addition to above comments, I would add foot care as very important, with a wipe down nightly, and maybe a dusting of foot powder with anti fungal properties like zesorb , carried it a 1 gallon ziplock (to prevent dusting the entire neighborhood) as a worthy addition.

    As as an older woman, I just feel better with clean hair, privates, mouth, fingernails, and pits. I don’t want to have the “old lady crotch smell” that I hear referred to in the medical facility I work at. It doesn’t take that much to stay clean, and if you do have a persistent foul odor, or rash/ irritation, wherever it’s at, it is likely an infection (yeast, bacteria,other) than can usually be treated with more aggressive hygiene, maybe OTC treatments, and if this fails maybe might need a clinic for antibiotics.

    You are are always the last to smell your own stink.

    Hike on my less stinky brethren!

  17. #17
    Registered User Christoph's Avatar
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    On my thru and multiple sections, I always carry a cloth handkerchief to scrub down with (mostly for chaffing in "the" area) and use a drop of liquid soap of some sort (usually Suave shampoo). For clothes, I put them in a large Ziploc, add water, and a drop of soap. Wash by squeezing, shaking, kneading for about 5 minutes. Dump the water and repeat without soap to rinse. Hang on my pack to dry while hiking. This works pretty well between town days and keeps the funk off. The pack is another story though, with mine being an internal (frame removed) that fits tight to my back (no room to breath, sweat to dissipate). I just wash it in town on long hauls.
    - Trail name: Thumper

  18. #18
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    I carry a cutoff milk jug and wash up at the end of the day for all the good reasons noted above.

    The worst of the smell can be avoided by wearing merino instead of synthetics. A merino shirt will smell better after 4 days than a synthetic shirt smells after 4 hours - the difference is dramatic. Yes, you will smell, but you smell like a human, not a bacteriological experiment.

  19. #19
    John B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadeye View Post
    .... The worst of the smell can be avoided by wearing merino instead of synthetics. A merino shirt will smell better after 4 days than a synthetic shirt smells after 4 hours - the difference is dramatic. Yes, you will smell, but you smell like a human, not a bacteriological experiment.
    I've read about merino but I didn't buy any because I assumed it would be difficult to clean. Yes/no? Can you wash merino in a machine along with other clothes? What about drying? Surely you can't toss in a dryer, can you? Do you have to use Woolite or another detergent made specifically for wool?
    I have SmartWool socks and treat them as I would any other pair of socks, but I just assumed it was a gimicky name?
    So what's the story on, say, a merino wool shirt?

  20. #20
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    Dr Bronners peppermint. etc can act also as a deodorant

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