Washing Clothes while Backpacking
You don't want to carry ten pounds of clothes when
backpacking. In fact, for us lightweight backpackers, anything more
than a few pounds is too much. This means washing clothes on the
trail at some point. Here are some tips on how to do it right.
Here's the easy solution for short backpacking
trips, those that are three days or less: just don't wash your
clothes. That is, unless they really need it. In that case proceed
to the next paragraph.
Try to make your backpacking clothes less stinky.
In other words, don't sweat too much. Actually this is a good idea
for another reason. If you get your clothing wet with sweat, later
you may have a problem staying warm. It cools dramatically at night
in the mountains and desert, for example, and the evaporative effect
from your damp clothing can chill you dangerously at times.
The best plan, then, is to remove layers before
you start to sweat. You can also prevent sweaty feet - and therefore
stinky socks - by applying antiperspirant to the bottoms of your
feet for several days before you go backpacking. Letting clothing
air out on tree branches in camp can remove some odors as well.
Of course at some point, especially on the longer
backpacking trips, you will need to wash your clothes. Detergent,
however, is bad for streams and lakes. If you feel you absolutely
must use it, follow these guidelines:
- Carry the clothes and water away from the stream
or lake (200 feet).
- Get the clothes just wet enough to lather them
up with detergent.
- Add soap, scrub and then squeeze out as much
detergent and water as you can.
- Slowly pour rinse water over them, stopping when
they are wet enough, and squeezing more detergent and water out of
- Repeat this until they are sufficiently rinsed.
It is better for the environment and simpler too,
if you just avoid using detergent. To do this, you can follow the
above guidelines without detergent. You can also swim in a lake or
stream with your clothes on to wash them. Do this just before the
heat of the day, so they will dry on you as you hike. Avoid doing
this in small ponds that may be affected by the soap, deodorant and
such that inevitably washes off your body.
Socks and small pieces of clothing can be hung on
your pack to dry as you hike. In camp, you can hang clothes on
spruce trees to help impart a better odor to them. If your clothing
supply is limited when backpacking (isn't it always?), wash it
early, so you'll be able to dry it before the cold night comes.
Shake the clothing and fluff it up once dry. It will insulate better
this way, keeping you warmer.
Copyright Steve Gillman. To get the ebook "Ultralight Backpacking
Secrets (And Wilderness Survival Tips)" for FREE, as well as photos,
gear recommendations, and a new wilderness survival section, visit:
The Ultralight Backpacking Site: http://www.The-Ultralight-Site.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Steven_Gillman
Like this article? You may also
enjoy: Hiking Shoes- Light
& Cheap by Steve Gillman, Do Walking Sticks
Conserve Energy by Steve Gillman and
Recipes by Steve Gillman