How do you 'bathe' while hiking / backpacking ??

4:27 a.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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I often wonder (?) what might be the most-practical, and expedient way to keep oneself relatively clean and effectively odor-free, without access to hot water or showers, while hiking and/or backpacking.

 

The longest I have been away from hot-water and shower facilities, was about 10-days, while hiking the AT in Maine, during mid-October.   Temps were down around freezing overnight, to about 55-degrees F during daytime hours.

My 'system' consisted of using alcohol-gel hand-sanitizer (convenient in small plastic containers, and kept warm in pockets of clothing, or with me in the sleeping-bag), and some of those 'flushable / disposable baby-wipes'.   I would strip-off top and bottom clothing (separately, not at same time), and 'bird-bath' myself.  Following that, I would apply underarm deodorant (unscented "Tom's", or "Trader Joe's").    Wipes were put into ZipLoc baggies for later proper disposal.   BTW -- the flushable baby-wipes saw some 'latrine duty'.   I also use RV toilet-tissue, which degrades very rapidly.  So, 'leave-no-trace' was observed.

This 'system' worked OK ... but, I'm curious as to a better, or more effective 'system', short of full-fledged showering with something like those solar-heated black-plastic, hanging showers.

 

What say you, trailspacers ???

 

r2

7:00 a.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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I use denatured alcohol and a coffee filter. If near fresh water I splash it on me using no soaps, or deodorant. I hike alone most the time.

7:54 a.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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I find washing trail dust off on a daily basis, makes me feel great around camp.  I even wash up while snow camping, but do draw the line when temps are so cold you shiver just exposing skin to the air.

If it is warm, there is little ceremony.  First I find a good stance, consisting of a rock to sit on, and a flat rock to stand on.  I get my clean underwear and camp clothes I wish to wear, and place them with my wash articles next to my cleaninig station.  If it is warm, I just fill a pot with water, grab my terry wash cloth, and wash, starting head down.  I squirt a little Castle “biodegradable” soap onto the cloth, pour some water onto it and wash a section of my body.  I then take a terry hand towel, pour some water onto one end of it and use that to remove the soap residue.  If the air chills me, I use the dry portion of the towel to dry off.  The wet portion of the towel is wringed out, rewetted, and wringed again to make it fresh.  I repeat this procedure onthe next section of skin.  Typically I wash in four stages: head and neck; torso; below waist to mid calf; finishing with my feet.  If it is brisk, I heat the water.  If it is cold I wash in my tent, using a second pot to collect the dirty water wrung from the towels.  As the “bath” progresses, I may place clean clothes back on the washed body parts to reduce discomfort.  I know this sounds obsessive to some, but it makes me feel like a million dollars afterwards.

Ed

9:15 a.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Sorry to be so banal but I just use soap and water with a washcloth and use my cookpot as a sink.  I fling the grey water onto the bushes and rocks.  The other option of course is a good swim.  If you can't strip nakled in the middle of nowhere, where can you? (Note to remember, if you hear a huge splash and swimming someplace in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, its best you don't go peekin').

My combat veteran friends swear by baby wipes, allowed to dry out then rehydrated prior to use. 

9:53 a.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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most of the time it's weekend trips for me

so i wait to shower until i get home.  kinda a pig i guess.......

10:34 a.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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The only thing I worry about are hands and face, primarily just to keep the threat of illness at bay.  Normally for shorter trips I will use disposable wipes and pack them out, longer trips get the biodegradable soap and water treatment.  The rest of me can wait until I get back home, of course my wife would prefer another approach.

11:47 a.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Unscented wipes. I have used them on multi-day trips/hunting trips and it works. Eventually you are gonna have to hit the water though. After the wipes I rinse with a wet hand towel. The wipes work very well imho.

12:29 p.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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A washcloth, baking soda, hot water. 

2:50 p.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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I use liquid soap, washcloth, and since I always stay near creeks, streams, and rivers - I keep myself clean that way. I will wash more often in Spring, Summer, and Fall. But in Winter I tend to wash when needed (as long as the weather is no colder than freezing temps).

I keep towelettes handy as well to spot wash.

I did see that someone had said they used Denatured Alcohol. Isn't that a bit dangerous due to the methanol content and toxicity level?

3:19 p.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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I dont know. But basicly juat my hands and face every now and again. I like cuping water in my hand and just rinsing myself. Like I said I hike alone. A plus for the alcohol is that it will kill anything it touches. (germs). If I'm wrong I would like to hear.

7:05 p.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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OK --  Here's the deal with alcohol:   Do not use.  I came-up with something much better: 

  I developed this solution / combination for my Mother, who recently passed at age 93.   She had Alzheimer's Disease, and I cared for her at home for the last 5-years of her life.   We (home health-care aides, nurses, and I) needed to bathe her regularlyBetween regular in-tub / shower baths, this is what we used (my home-brew 'concoction') --


I combined 3 parts "Thayer's" alcohol-free toner Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera ( about $9 per 12 fl.oz. bottle at Home Foods)   ... with  1 part generic Aloe Vera gel.   Mixture ( 3 : 1 ) can be varied, to suit.

"Thayer's" offers this Witch-Hazel in lavender, and citrus scented varieties.

This slightly thicker-than-water solution can be put into any plastic container with a lid, or lid with a snap-open/shut spout to squirt onto a wipe or cloth.

I also used this solution to re-hydrate wipes in the packaged plastic containers (as they come from the store) when the wipes start getting a little dry, due to evaporation.

Nurses and home health-care aides were impressed.   They even said they began to use it at home, themselves, and on other patients.

I turned-on my former-yf (wife) and a g/f  on to this, as an added solution to a container of flushable wipes in the bathroom.   I just spritzed some of the solution into the plastic container to provide additional wetness.   The ladies used these soaked, flushable wipes to clean and freshen their 'shnookies', following a pee.  I use it on my 'nether-parts', as well.

I hear they spread "the News" far-and-wide to their friends.

Anyhow ... this is the way to go.   No sting (alcohol-free), and is a mild astringent.   You can gargle or clean your teeth with it, also.

 

r2

 

Maybe I should patent this (?).   Free advice from Dr. Robert, to my Trailspace friends.

7:25 p.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Yes, 10+ days was also my longest while racing and at the end of the event my GF gave me a quick kiss and then stood back, obviously I must have smelt a little.

My choice for cleanliness while adventuring is a small texture pack towel/cloth and a tiny bottle of wilderness wash or similar.  Along with finding a camp site near a clean creek or a hose along the way makes a big change to wipe down with water, then wipe with soap, then rinse off.  If by a creek then it does become a longer more bath like wash.

No deodorant, no towelettes or baby wipes as all this is too heavy and too bulky.

8:45 p.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Bath, but I took my yearly bath last year?

I usually just use a bandana soaked in the water nearby.

Then as my mother used to say who grew up on the Praire of Kansas, I wash down as far as possible, up as far as possible, then wash possible...

9:50 p.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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On my trips, I typically just use sanitizing wet wipes. They kill bacteria, which is what causes odor, and clean off sweat and grime making me feel a little better. When this is done, I use a decent amount of baby powder on the areas that tend to be more prone to sweat and odor. This not only makes me smell good, but it dries me out and feels great.

 

Of course, if the wipes aren't biodegradable and contain chemicals that kill bacteria, I pack them out.

12:02 a.m. on April 16, 2011 (EDT)
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Mikemorrow:

Denaturing alcohol does not chemically alter the ethanol molecule. Rather, the ethanol is mixed with other chemicals to form an undrinkable mixture. Part of the additives is methanol, which is poisonous. Methanol can be absorbed into the skin and in larger amounts - cause health problems.

I would presume that you are trying to multi-use your equipment and/ or items that you pack and carry. I can see where you would like to minimize weight that way.

A possible alternative would be to switch to 70-90% Isopropyl alcohol for burning fuel in your Alcohol Stove(s) and for minor cleansing, it wouldn't be toxic to you.

But like all chemicals there is a built in danger to excess. Here is an excerpt for Isopropyl alcohol:

Like many organic solvents, long term application to the skin can cause defatting.  Defatting is caused from the exposure of human skin to a chemical substance, including alcoholsdetergents, and chemical solvents.

Defatting is a medical term that describes the chemical dissolving of dermal lipids, from the skin, on contact with defatting agents. This can result in water loss from the affected area and cause the whitening and drying of the skin which can result in cracking, secondary infection and chemical irritant contact dermatitis

4:20 a.m. on April 16, 2011 (EDT)
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I like to keep clean; I sleep a lot better.  In summertime if there is a lake or creek I'll go for a swim and along with, rinse all my clothes.  With less water, or colder temps I'll collect a pot of water and use a washcloth size packtowel to sponge off.

8:15 a.m. on April 16, 2011 (EDT)
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Learned something today. I had figured that it could be harmful. I'll see if I can find 90% Isopropyl alcohol for my fuel. And use it spearingly for germ control.

Thanks

8:38 a.m. on April 16, 2011 (EDT)
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I'm with Gary...go out to the wood when it rain and wash myself with the dishes...:)

A bit of a wash when I'm near a stream or a lake if it's not too cold. Spend 6 weeks without a hot shower and only one dip in a lake, I don't think I smelled  too bad and there were no side effects...that shower was great!

9:23 p.m. on April 16, 2011 (EDT)
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Yeah what the hell, don't bother if you are only out for a week or so.  If you have to bathe, do it in the rain, nekkid, preferably off trail and with some bio-friendly soap.  Check out the products from "Seventh Generation", they are a newer company out of Burlington VT.  Good stuff....

No need to bathe. 

7:16 a.m. on April 17, 2011 (EDT)
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Mikemorrow:

Denaturing alcohol does not chemically alter the ethanol molecule. Rather, the ethanol is mixed with other chemicals to form an undrinkable mixture. Part of the additives is methanol, which is poisonous. Methanol can be absorbed into the skin and in larger amounts - cause health problems.

I would presume that you are trying to multi-use your equipment and/ or items that you pack and carry. I can see where you would like to minimize weight that way.

A possible alternative would be to switch to 70-90% Isopropyl alcohol for burning fuel in your Alcohol Stove(s) and for minor cleansing, it wouldn't be toxic to you.

But like all chemicals there is a built in danger to excess. Here is an excerpt for Isopropyl alcohol:

Like many organic solvents, long term application to the skin can cause defatting.  Defatting is caused from the exposure of human skin to a chemical substance, including alcoholsdetergents, and chemical solvents.

Defatting is a medical term that describes the chemical dissolving of dermal lipids, from the skin, on contact with defatting agents. This can result in water loss from the affected area and cause the whitening and drying of the skin which can result in cracking, secondary infection and chemical irritant contact dermatitis

 

 

These are good reasons, all-the-more, to try my 'home-brew', as I posted above.

 

Witch Hazel and Aloe Vera are all natural.   I used NO petroleum-based, or synthetic products.

 

 

 

Yogi Robert

11:51 a.m. on April 17, 2011 (EDT)
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Robert Rowe:

Does your "homebrew" allow for it being used as an alcohol stove fuel to cook with and hygiene agent?

12:33 p.m. on April 17, 2011 (EDT)
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My approach is more or less like what WhoMeWorry described, if I'm "car camping", or Jeep camping, etc when I tend to have plenty of water, a washcloth, etc.  If I'm backpacking, I like to find a lake, or a river (brrrr) to take a dip, and "wash" there, not using any soap though of course.  It doesn't get me truly "clean" but it's still refreshing.

If I go in cold weather, well then, I just stay dirty :)... though I tend to be less visibly dirty anyway since there isn't as much trail dust as during the hot/dry summer.

5:38 p.m. on April 17, 2011 (EDT)
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No, my 'home-brew' has NO ALCOHOL, nor any petroleum-based products.

Hence; non-flammable.   Any bacteria-reduction?   Probably; but could not quantify it.

Yogi Robert

12:57 a.m. on April 25, 2011 (EDT)
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For the ladies, it is VITAL to wash/rinse as often as possible, especially to get sweat and grime belly button down. Depending on how warm it is, getting in the water, or using a thorough spit bath is pretty important.

But those baby-wipes, etc work well when it's cold. Ladies want to avoid PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease) from unclean conditions in the field, and NOBODY wants to fuss with yeast problems.

People forget that any one of us can get Jock-itch about anywhere on our bodies where it is warm and moist, so taking away sweat, grime, and skin cells, and getting areas dry will do a great deal to not foment those sort of heath issues.

Castile soap and pan of water, a good lake or stream, baby wipes, or "homebrew" -- as long as you get clean, they work!

Be careful with overuse of alcohol based products as they can dry the skin, make it sensitive, and cause chafing or other problems.

2:36 a.m. on April 25, 2011 (EDT)
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I take extra fuel and use it if needed or use a solar still (read dark trash bag with a gallon of water in it) and wash and rinse every day as completely as possible.  I use the same soap I use at home and I carry the Mitchum with me for both pits and feet. I even shave every other day or so.

If you do this just before the sun sets...it is not too bad but high in the Winds or Sierra it does cool off pretty quick at 10000 ft at dusk. Some nice dry Ibex wool makes things a lot better.

Longest time out is 14 days...mostly limited by food caches and carry weight...or work.

9:52 a.m. on April 26, 2011 (EDT)
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Just learned something that might be applicable here ....

Was chatting with a lad that hiked in Europe and Africa last year.   He said he learned something (which he passed on to me) from some hikers there:  Before going out on their treks (multi-day affairs), they shaved their armpits.  The 'idea' is that hair holds moisture (perspiration) and hence -- a place for bacteria to proliferate, producing odor.

Hmmm ....

Yogi Robt

7:00 a.m. on April 30, 2011 (EDT)
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  • I have a siimple, cheap way to keep clean. I have modified the solar shower idea. I carry a 1 or 1/2 gallon milk bottle painted black. Drill small holes in the cap(carry in a seperate pocket). Just fill it with water and set it in the sun for a few hours and you have a warm shower. I hang it on the outside of my pack so it doesn't get crushed. I can take a shower and feel very clean with about 1/2 gallon of water.
5:50 a.m. on May 1, 2011 (EDT)
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  • I have a siimple, cheap way to keep clean. I have modified the solar shower idea. I carry a 1 or 1/2 gallon milk bottle painted black. Drill small holes in the cap(carry in a seperate pocket). Just fill it with water and set it in the sun for a few hours and you have a warm shower. I hang it on the outside of my pack so it doesn't get crushed. I can take a shower and feel very clean with about 1/2 gallon of water.  

__________________________________________________________-

Good idea.

BTW -- If you want a completely black jug, without having to paint a plastic  milk bottle, one can use a thoroughly cleaned  Texaco-branded one gallon oil jug.

Yogi Robt

 

3:26 p.m. on May 1, 2011 (EDT)
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Robert, I also shave and it does help with sweating. Also prevents staining your shirts if  you sweat a lot. I also use soap gel with scrub (i.e. Axe Shock). All  you need is a little water, soap gel, wash cloth, and a microfiber towel. I do not bother to rinse soap off. The scrub gives you a cool fresh feeling right away. Takes less then fives minutes to wash yourself. Also, using an antiperspirant on your chest will help with sweating.

7:45 a.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
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Daniel ~~

You folks on the Continent have a 'leg up' on us in the USA, with your knowledge, relative to hiking and trekking.  

Have been doing it far longer than we have. 

I appreciate these kinds of 'tips'.

Regards, Yogi Robt

4:39 p.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
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For the seriously discerning weight bearing masochistic backpacker, I bring You the ultimate in on the trial showering "The Lodi Hot Tap SC Instant propane Shower".


zodi-stove1.jpg

 

Weighing in at a hefty 15 lbs w/ battery, it pumps out 360 gph w 40 showers in between recharges.

 


DSC03723.jpg

Now this is comfort ;-}>

8:21 p.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
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It's really educational for me to read all you guys' posts here, which are very informative, to say the least.

Don't mean to be a party crusher here, however I feel compulsive to ask: 

Are there any tips or tricks to find water sources that you guys less likely visited with these activities described here? hehe....  :) 

11:46 p.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
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Read above (several posts back), regarding "black jugs" used as solar-stills.

Yogi Robt

4:12 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks Robert, I enjoyed hiking and fishing when I lived in Northern California for two years. The rest of my life has been in Europe associated with the armed forces in one capacity or another. I would love to visit some of the North American areas I read about on this site. Yet, I know I would be a newbie trekking in Utah or the Grand Canyon. I would make mistakes. Just as I have seen tourist backpackers or climbers in the Swiss Alps being flown out to the nearest hospital. I always joke that:Just because you have climbed a few walls does not mean you can tackle the Matterhorn! Or, evening in my local area, having to feed someone's kids my extra rations because they were not prepared and lost. That is why this website is excellent. It has taught me a lot if I ever took a trip to the States. For example, bears! I have learned so much about bears. The members from this site are very informative, and some are very funny.

You are correct about Germans and hiking. People of all ages are on the trails on the weekends. There are clubs and Volksmarching is a national past time. On the weekends, I just park my car somewhere that starts a trail in the woods and I just start walking. The area I am in is famous for endless trails of various terrains. I do not have to pay a permit or "national park" fees. Everything is free and so is enjoying nature. I also hike in surrounding countries like France, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland. The Italian Alps a few times too. You meet fascinating people and experience cultures and sites that are thousands of years old. The funny thing is that no matter where I go, I always run into Germans. They are everywhere!!

Nepal, All I need is a little water to wet my wash cloth. I just dry the gel scrub off my body with a microfiber towel. A small bottle of water can last for a number of days for this purpose. Ask the locals about trails with water sources and take advantage of water when you come across (refill your bathing water bottle). Geo maps will also point out water sources. Download such maps to your GPS if you have one. There are also survival methods of finding small amounts of water in various terrains-but that can be a whole other thread of discussion...

5:34 p.m. on May 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I use a empty 1 gal ziplock bag with hot water I boil luke warm.I use my bandana as a wash cloth and 2 drops of Dr Bonners..Thats really all you need on a long hike...At the end of the week I grab a shower and really get the funk off..I brought the 1 gal and reuse it thru my whole trip...It's worth it..You can also wash socks etc..

11:51 a.m. on May 4, 2011 (EDT)
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I didn't read all the posts. But I use 3 methods. Method 1 is just some hot water and bandanna and doing a quick wipedown everyday or as needed. Method 2, the same as denis daly above, hot water, bandanna, and a drop or 2 of dr. bronners soap I prefer the peppermint variety. Dr. B works great as a soap, shampoo, and toothpaste. I use it for everything. And lastly method 3 is used if I am trying to conserve soap or just dont have any. Mix a little wood ash in with your hot water and wash with that. Wood ash and water makes lye which is the main ingredient in shampoos etc. It works great but is fairly harsh, so go light on the wood ash until you get the ratio right. It however does a good job of getting rid of the grimy/oiliness.

As far as washing clothes I prefer the nalgene method. I take a 1L nalgene bottle, stuff a pair or two of socks, underwear etc in it and fill about 3/4 of the way with hot water (doesn't have to be hot water)and add about 2 drops of Dr. B soap. Shake hard to mix well and then i attach it to the outside of my pack with a biner. And through the course of hiking during the day it acts like a washing machine with all of the agitation and it really does a great job of washing clothing. Then just rinse and dry. You can also just do it by hand shaking it for awhile for a quicker but less effective wash. It works best with a little soap, but also works well with just water.

I prefer Dr. B soap because it is multi use, and is a castile soap which means it is natural and biodegradable.

8:05 a.m. on May 5, 2011 (EDT)
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Ken ~~

What is your opinion / attitude regarding "Camp-Suds" ?  ( vs. castille soap )

Yogi Robt

5:42 p.m. on May 5, 2011 (EDT)
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They are practically the same thing I believe. Well both are bio degradeable that i know for sure, as far as the other differences i couldnt tell you without comparing the labels/ingredients.

Dr. Bronner is probably cheaper I imagine as it isnt a 'specialized product' for a specific market.

Not sure if camp suds has it, but Dr. B has natural glycerin still in it so it helps give that smooth finish to whatever you wash, specificaly your hair. Know how a shampoo makes your hair feel after you wash it? And then do you know how your hair feels after using say bar soap to wash your hair? Thats the difference between a soap with glycerin and one without it.

I just personally think the peppermint Dr. B soap is a good multi use soap. Like I mentioned before I use it as soap, shampoo, toothpaste(it actually tastes fairly good), use it to clean cookware. I also use it as a natural insectiside at home in my garden mixed with water. It has lots of uses. A 16oz bottle has lasted me about 8 years so far and its still half full.

6:22 p.m. on May 5, 2011 (EDT)
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I agree with TheRambler,

If I had to choose between Camp Suds or Dr. Bronners I would choose Dr. Bronners because it is more versatile.

If you have a little water, a small cloth, and some soap you can bathe off and refresh your self after a long day on the trail, or as a 'wake me up'.

I don't mind getting dirty and sweaty when I'm out backpacking, but I don't mind being clean either.

8:51 p.m. on May 5, 2011 (EDT)
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....this thread reminds me of the shortest "showers" I ever took.

I led a group in to climb M. Daniel here in the Cascades and a bud named Ed was on the trip....actually he was my assistant leader. We bivied our small group near Peggy's Pond at the foot of Cathedral Rock near the dead Hyas Creek Glacier and he and I decided it would be nice to jump in the pond for a swim....it was late afternoon on a sunny September day so the pond had had all summer to warm up.

Ed dove in the pond and immediately said "hey come on in..it's great!" I followed in maybe 5-7 seconds later with a shallow dive that in one continuous motion involved a flip and flop out onto the beach much like we see penguins do on the PBS shows. The water must have been barely 40 degrees!!

Ed followed me out instantly.... all the while laughing uncontrollably and said he could not have waited another 5 seconds for me to go in before he would have been second stage hypothermic.  I was in and out so quick I don't remember my hair even being wet. In either case, my reputation as a cold water wuss is quite secure within my group of friends.

Turns out... The pond is apparently fed by underground stream flows from the residual Hyas Glacier ice body on the east face of Daniel.

10:00 p.m. on May 5, 2011 (EDT)
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Sorry for disappearing, pesky things tornadoes.

Before you go jump into a lake or crouch in a creek, you might want to (re-)read the classic book, "How To Shit In The Woods." All those nasties you filter out of your drinking/cooking water can just as easily enter your body via other orifices.

Women do seem to have a greater need for, er, personal cleaning. I usually purify a bit of extra water and use Dr. Bronner's because it feels like it rinses off more readily. I think those synthetic super towels are about the best invention since sliced bread.

Of course, I disregard all of the above precautions if I find a lake/river/creek whereupon I immediately soak my feet, rinse out my socks, and put on a clean pair of socks. This means I invariably have a pair of socks tied to the outside of my pack.

An aside for those new to backpacking in cool/cold weather. Rather than carry spare mittens or gloves, carry extra socks: socks can be worn on your hands but gloves will not fit your feet. ;-)

12:12 p.m. on May 10, 2011 (EDT)
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I warm up some water, put it something, get naked, stand on a sheet of plastic  behind my tent and wash off with a cloth.

 

Usually do this before climbing into the sleeping bag for the night

5:28 p.m. on May 10, 2011 (EDT)
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hopefully find a stream, take a deep breath, and take the plunge.  down to 20 degrees air temp.  Bracing.  i'm serious, though - i don't use soap and basically rinse off in a stream, dry off with a camp towel, and put the baselayer back on.  no stream, i'll use the camp towel with water from a bottle and sponge off. 

8:00 p.m. on May 29, 2011 (EDT)
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Robert Rowe said:

OK --  Here's the deal with alcohol:   Do not use.  I came-up with something much better: 

  I developed this solution / combination for my Mother, who recently passed at age 93.   She had Alzheimer's Disease, and I cared for her at home for the last 5-years of her life.   We (home health-care aides, nurses, and I) needed to bathe her regularlyBetween regular in-tub / shower baths, this is what we used (my home-brew 'concoction') --


I combined 3 parts "Thayer's" alcohol-free toner Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera ( about $9 per 12 fl.oz. bottle at Home Foods)   ... with  1 part generic Aloe Vera gel.   Mixture ( 3 : 1 ) can be varied, to suit.

"Thayer's" offers this Witch-Hazel in lavender, and citrus scented varieties.

This slightly thicker-than-water solution can be put into any plastic container with a lid, or lid with a snap-open/shut spout to squirt onto a wipe or cloth.

I also used this solution to re-hydrate wipes in the packaged plastic containers (as they come from the store) when the wipes start getting a little dry, due to evaporation.

Nurses and home health-care aides were impressed.   They even said they began to use it at home, themselves, and on other patients.

I turned-on my former-yf (wife) and a g/f  on to this, as an added solution to a container of flushable wipes in the bathroom.   I just spritzed some of the solution into the plastic container to provide additional wetness.   The ladies used these soaked, flushable wipes to clean and freshen their 'shnookies', following a pee.  I use it on my 'nether-parts', as well.

I hear they spread "the News" far-and-wide to their friends.

Anyhow ... this is the way to go.   No sting (alcohol-free), and is a mild astringent.   You can gargle or clean your teeth with it, also.

 

r2

 

Maybe I should patent this (?).   Free advice from Dr. Robert, to my Trailspace friends.

 

~ UPDATE ~

"Small-World Department"

New Girl-Friend.  Flight attendant.

Just clued her in on this.   She says I should patent it.

Funny !

_________________________________________

NoSmo King

12:37 p.m. on June 8, 2011 (EDT)
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Whoa, there, Rambler, easy on the lye. It is not per se an ingredient in shampoo.  Its mixed with FAT to make soap before it goes in the shampoo.   Lye is extremely caustic, can cause chemical burns, definitely not to be used straight.  Check out the warnings on a can of Drano. If you haven't burned yourself with the wood ash routine, its only because you haven't actually succeeded in making lye yet. It takes time, not just mixing with wood ash.

We could use a little caution about "biodegradable" stuff too.  All that biodegrading is bacterial action, remember, which means the stuff is an unnatural nutrient, and is not necessarily any more benign  around water supply than any other stuff.  All "biodegradable" means is that the bugs will eat it and change it from what it is now to what they excrete from their little behinds.  That applies to a bunch of stuff you wouldn't touch with a trekking pole.  Not necessarily good stuff. 

4:27 p.m. on June 24, 2011 (EDT)
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Now trying some of the gel anti-bacterial hand-cleaner / sanitizers.   Different ones.

I have found out, that shaving some body-hair (namely, armpits) helps A LOT.   I commented on this in this Post-Topic, earlier ... when I mentioned I learned this "tip" from some European hikers.

"Bird-Bathing" seems to be way up on the list.  Probably #1, other than a showering under a waterfall.

_______________________________

  Yogi Robt

7:58 p.m. on June 24, 2011 (EDT)
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The culture in the U.S. has been lead, IMO, into an increasing fear of the world around them. Of course, this fear is exploited to sell everything from SUVs to antiseptic wipes. Currently, we are experiencing a problem with excessive cleanliness. The admonition that "You gotta eat a peck a dirt before you die" seems to be lost; instead we have become phobic about germs, to the point of reducing our immunity through too limited exposure (perhaps).

If, for example, you wash your hair every day, your body will need to replenish the oil on the scalp/hair more often. Hence the body produces more oil, the hair collects dirt on the oil sooner, your hair looks dirtier, and the cycle has begun.

Body odor is another thing that Madison Ave has enjoyed. Frankly, if you spend much time in a culture that doesn't have deodorant, you will realize that deodorant may itself be a culprit in (some) increase in body odor. Much of deodorant is "anti-perspirant", however, your body has the need to perspire; deny it that opportunity and it will just try harder :)  Try weaning yourself from deodorant and you will be surprised at the result in decreased perspiration from the armpits over time. (I haven't used any in the last forty years and do not find myself emptying rooms... unless I sing.)

I have spent eight months at a stretch in the woods, working hard in the heat, with no electricity or running water. Some pure soap, water from the stream, and a towel would get me through the days until I could take a trip to the river for a real bath. Very cold water, that river. In the winter I would heat enough water over the wood stove for a sponge bath and some to wash my hair (with pure soap).

I guess what I am trying to say is that being clean is wonderful and desirable all the time; however, as a culture we have succumbed to an ideal of cleanliness that is not only impossible to maintain, but unhealthy as well. Spend some time in a country where clean water is not readily available and you may be surprised to find that the people are nevertheless clean and healthy.

4:57 a.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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Hmmm ....

Interesting take, overmywaders.

Does cause one to think about our attitudes regarding cleanliness.

Dunno (?) if I'm ready to go the next 40 years without underarm deodorant ....    I have tried natural, organic essential-oils ... with some surprising success.   But, that in itself can be regarded as a "deodorant".

What did the aboriginal,  native Americans use?   Some kind of animal musk gland secretions ?

_____________________

 ~r2~

3:20 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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overmywaders said:

The culture in the U.S. has been lead, IMO, into an increasing fear of the world around them. Of course, this fear is exploited to sell everything from SUVs to antiseptic wipes. Currently, we are experiencing a problem with excessive cleanliness. The admonition that "You gotta eat a peck a dirt before you die" seems to be lost; instead we have become phobic about germs, to the point of reducing our immunity through too limited exposure (perhaps).

If, for example, you wash your hair every day, your body will need to replenish the oil on the scalp/hair more often. Hence the body produces more oil, the hair collects dirt on the oil sooner, your hair looks dirtier, and the cycle has begun.

Body odor is another thing that Madison Ave has enjoyed. Frankly, if you spend much time in a culture that doesn't have deodorant, you will realize that deodorant may itself be a culprit in (some) increase in body odor. Much of deodorant is "anti-perspirant", however, your body has the need to perspire; deny it that opportunity and it will just try harder :)  Try weaning yourself from deodorant and you will be surprised at the result in decreased perspiration from the armpits over time. (I haven't used any in the last forty years and do not find myself emptying rooms... unless I sing.)

I have spent eight months at a stretch in the woods, working hard in the heat, with no electricity or running water. Some pure soap, water from the stream, and a towel would get me through the days until I could take a trip to the river for a real bath. Very cold water, that river. In the winter I would heat enough water over the wood stove for a sponge bath and some to wash my hair (with pure soap).

I guess what I am trying to say is that being clean is wonderful and desirable all the time; however, as a culture we have succumbed to an ideal of cleanliness that is not only impossible to maintain, but unhealthy as well. Spend some time in a country where clean water is not readily available and you may be surprised to find that the people are nevertheless clean and healthy.

 Very interesting omw. Plus it actually makes alot of sense. Thanks for posting.

9:10 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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Excellent discussion.  I appreciate the "How to Shit in the Woods" recc, information about "defattening" ispropol alcohol, and glycerin for the smooth and shiny feel.

10:58 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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You should carry the glycerin anyway for quick energy, as a sugar substitute, and for starting fires.

5:39 p.m. on June 27, 2011 (EDT)
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Disposable baby wash clothes.  they are about 4 inches square and have soap already in them.  easy to find in the baby section of any major stores from walmart to kroger

8:33 p.m. on June 27, 2011 (EDT)
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Nic epost Chris, I do the 'ol wipe it down method...  Guess I forgot to mention that earlier.  Great ideas within this thread. 

2:01 a.m. on June 28, 2011 (EDT)
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overmywaders said:

..Body odor is another thing that Madison Ave has enjoyed. Frankly, if you spend much time in a culture that doesn't have deodorant, you will realize that deodorant may itself be a culprit in (some) increase in body odor...

Perhaps in some cases, but not me.  I have been on treks lasting up to eight weeks, without deodorant, and my companions lived to regret it.  I just plainly stink in a most foul way if I don't wash regularly and use deodorant.  I have also found a racial differentiation in body odors, perhaps caused by dietary habits.  The Mung people say white men stink from eating cheese.

Ed

6:33 a.m. on June 28, 2011 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

 body odors, perhaps caused by dietary habits.  The Mung people say white men stink from eating cheese.


Ed

  Is this folk-lore ... or, might you be aware of any factual data to support this?'

If so, I am in trouble.

I sometimes think I am a "cheese-a-holic" ... (being a vegetarian).

BTW -- Isn't that the Hmong people?

________________________

~r2~

10:15 p.m. on June 28, 2011 (EDT)
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Whoa, whomeworry, I didn't say that you shouldn't wash regularly :)

If you had washed regularly during your eight week stint, you may have been allowed near the campfire at night, even without deodorant. OTOH, from your description, you found a way to enjoy freedom from bear attack without having to carry a gun or spray. It's all good.

Remember, B.O. is just bacteria doing their thing. You can't prevent the bacteria from enjoying you as a home - we are never alone, millions of microbes are on and in us - but you can wash a few of them away for a while, along with the components of sweat that the bacteria feed upon.

BTW, the reason the Mung (or Hmong, it is all transliteration) people think you smell like cheese is that the same genus (not species) of bacteria using your sweat to produce stinky propionic acid are used by cheesemakers to create Co2 bubbles in cheese.

Annnd, the people of East Asia, e.g., Vietnamese, excrete a different chemical in their sweat; as well as often producing a lower volume of sweat. Why? I don't know, diet perhaps, no deodorant, I don't know.

10:21 a.m. on June 29, 2011 (EDT)
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overmywaders said:

 ...  you smell like cheese is that the same genus (not species) of bacteria using your sweat to produce stinky propionic acid are used by cheesemakers to create Co2 bubbles in cheese.

 When it gets to the point where someone suggests I smell like Limburger cheese ... I'm gonna change my diet  (no meat, however ... I wanna die healthy).

Either that, or bathe regularly with bleach.

______________________________

~r2~

11:48 p.m. on June 29, 2011 (EDT)
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Robert Rowe said:

whomeworry said:

 body odors, perhaps caused by dietary habits.  The Mung people say white men stink from eating cheese.


Ed

  Is this folk-lore ... or, might you be aware of any factual data to support this?'

This, according to my Vietnamese ethnic neighbors.  I assume their sense of smell suffices as factual data.

Ed

11:55 p.m. on June 29, 2011 (EDT)
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overmywaders said:

..If you had washed regularly during your eight week stint, you may have been allowed near the campfire at night, even without deodorant. OTOH, from your description, you found a way to enjoy freedom from bear attack without having to carry a gun or spray. It's all good.

Never thought of it as bear repellant.  But I stink so bad after a day's toiling that the air downwind of me is unfit for human habitation.  Judging from the mief emanating from my soiled hiking clothes as I dump them in the washer after a trip, I must agree with what my companions attest.

Ed

3:52 a.m. on August 29, 2011 (EDT)
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I'm kinda 'new' to backpacking and new to this forum. Hello everyone! (I've gone on 5, at most, 2 night trips so far).

Being female I MUST wash every, single, day! Especially during menstruation. I prefer Cottonelle or Always feminine wipes for the ENTIRE body. I tried two versions of body bath wipes from REI and didn't like the sticky, soapy feel it left behind. And a biodegradable soap for the hair (luckily I have short hair).

When I've backpacked in warmer climates, the body wipes leave almost a soapy build up, sticky n' uncomfortable feel in the nether regions, so I bring a little 4 oz. squeeze/squirt bottle and use filtered water to flush and clean the area down there (sometimes I'll warm the water up). I consider it my backcountry bidet. ;)

11:16 p.m. on September 1, 2011 (EDT)
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Just had a female "newbie" ask me about this.   I was trying to explain to her ... but, this post (above, by ooohfishy)   helps a lot.   Also, the posts by second gear & derjoser.

Thanks, gals !

                                                       ~r2~

3:55 a.m. on September 9, 2011 (EDT)
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nirotem said:

I'm with Gary...go out to the wood when it rain and wash myself with the dishes...:)

A bit of a wash when I'm near a stream or a lake if it's not too cold. Spend 6 weeks without a hot shower and only one dip in a lake, I don't think I smelled  too bad and there were no side effects...that shower was great!

 hello friends, I spent my first trail season in the klamath natl forest, 5 and a half months...no shower, or toilet. SO I wondered how the hygene thing was gonna work?? anticipating the worst I prepared a few packages with some biodegradable soap, q tips, and other junk. I never used the soap.. turned out all I did to wash up all season is take a dip and clean the dirt from my pores using an abrasive rock or gritty sand whilst dipping(or splashing depending on resources) feels great for 2 days, dirty clothes or not. if I did laundary twice a week and I washed up every 2 days( liked my second season) I would have been cleen as a whistle... I did more like 5 days and washed up and did laundry on my weekends -note- we did use tp and sanitizer after using the facilities, also washed our hands and dishes with soap when preparing meals. it seems that when you begin to shower less your skin doesnt need to replace the natural oils and stuff as as quickly as it would when showering daily. just a theory..

 

4:31 a.m. on September 9, 2011 (EDT)
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jarstin said:

..it seems that when you begin to shower less your skin doesnt need to replace the natural oils and stuff as as quickly as it would when showering daily. just a theory..

 

That, and as some of my less fastidious compatriots say, you kind of get used to your own funk.

Ed

4:46 p.m. on September 9, 2011 (EDT)
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If you are with a group, the key to showers is..... if 1 of your group isn't going to shower..... the rest shouldn't either.  If you are the clean one, you will smell everyone else.  At Philmont Scout Ranch, deoderant is a smellable for attracting the bear.  We don't use it for 11 days while on the trail.  For the most part, its not bad.

4:47 p.m. on September 9, 2011 (EDT)
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~2, if I could stand the itching from shaving my pits when the hair grows back, I might try it.

6:01 p.m. on September 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Guyz said:

~2, if I could stand the itching from shaving my pits when the hair grows back, I might try it.

 

I have done it this Summer.   Not so bad.   You're right, however -- does become itchy growing it (the hair) back.   Just for less than a week, though.

Of course, the other alternative ... is to keep shaving the pits.

____________________________________________________________

On your other subjects, Guyz -- underarm deodorant.

I have looked into this.   I now am convinced I've learned of a solution or sorts.

A couple "natural" products work surprisingly well.   The best (of those I have tried ... about 4, in all) is called "Men's Stock" by AUBREY.   It is an herbal pine scent "spray-on", in a base of denatured alcohol (a 'carrier' which dissipates almost immediately), virgin witch-hazel, Arnica extract, calamine (!), and Vitamin-E.   Subtle natural scent  (like pine).

Found it in Whole Foods.    "Burt's Bee's" also has a pretty good one.  All natural stuff in it.   Subtle natural scent.

Hopefully (?) with me traipsing through the glen with a pine scent, I don't attract some kinds of birds that like to nest in pine trees.

_________________________________________________________

                                                    ~r2~

8:11 p.m. on September 9, 2011 (EDT)
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campfire smoke.. its the cheap alternative to deoderant, still funky but makes you think you don't smell so bad lol

8:18 p.m. on September 9, 2011 (EDT)
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jarstin said:

campfire smoke.. its the cheap alternative to deoderant, still funky but makes you think you don't smell so bad lol

The native americans took regular smoke baths.  I can't remember what they burned.  Maybe prairie sweet grass.

9:36 p.m. on September 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Buffalo chips.

                                                  ~r2~

9:50 p.m. on September 9, 2011 (EDT)
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It's not always the safest or smartest, but I can't handle feeling a certain way.  I'll break through a foot of ice and bath in ice water if I have to do it.  I'll scrub with snow like the Arctic natives use snow to wash their clothing and food.  I'll repel down a 30ft cliff into a rushing river to rinse off (Oregon).  I've done some really stupid things, but I also know it is the only way I'm going to sleep well that night.  In the desert, I don't tend to have this obsession.  It's not that I obviously won't have access to water most of the time, but the dry heat doesn't affect me.

For car camping, I have a 3-4g sun shower.

10:48 a.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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Saltydog335 said:

Whoa, there, Rambler, easy on the lye.

 Someone should have told John Wayne Gasey that......then they would have found those boys burried under his house before they melted.

10:51 a.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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I am a two shower a day kinda girl. This is a concern to me on my 21 day trek. Though it is a tea house trek so there will be op for showers ijntermitantly along the way. But as a 2 shower girl, that will seem like AGES. Gonna bring some wips for between the shower days. Will read through all this and land on my best choice of soap. I don't think teh plumming in Nepal is like here in Vegas, so will bring an environmentally friendly soap/shampoo. Also going to cut as much of my hair off as I can get away with. As far as shaving pits being revolutionary? Been doing that since 7th grade. Curse of womanhood in America.

11:30 a.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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giftogab said:

I am a two shower a day kinda girl. This is a concern to me on my 21 day trek. Though it is a tea house trek so there will be op for showers ijntermitantly along the way. But as a 2 shower girl, that will seem like AGES. Gonna bring some wips for between the shower days. Will read through all this and land on my best choice of soap. I don't think teh plumming in Nepal is like here in Vegas, so will bring an environmentally friendly soap/shampoo. Also going to cut as much of my hair off as I can get away with. As far as shaving pits being revolutionary? Been doing that since 7th grade. Curse of womanhood in America.

 You might enjoy Dr Bonners pure castle soap thats Lavender. I use the peppermint and my niece likes that as well. But the Lavender can be found at Target from what I've read. or Tarzha"lol

11:35 a.m. on December 7, 2011 (EST)
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denis daly said:

 You might enjoy Dr Bonners pure castle soap thats Lavender. I use the peppermint and my niece likes that as well. But the Lavender can be found at Target from what I've read. or Tarzha"lol

 I will check into that PDQ! Tarzha is my fave for getting good stuff ad good prices!

6:35 a.m. on December 9, 2011 (EST)
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denis daly said:

..Lavender can be found at Target from what I've read. or Tarzha"lol

You mean Le Targetté?

Ed

5:18 p.m. on December 10, 2011 (EST)
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Love the Dr.Bronners. It is good.

2:32 p.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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To remind people about Leve No Trace principles:

LNT principles say do not wash clothes, dishes, or self in streams and lakes. If you have to wash or bathe, take the water in a bucket or other container at least 100 ft from the water source (some wilderness areas specify 200 feet) to wash. Then disperse the grey water over a wide area. Even "biodegradable" soaps and detergents will contaminate water that is used for drinking by animals and humans.

Here is the discussion of Principle 6. Swimming is ok under some circumstances. But respect wildlife's need and use of water, especially in desert areas.

4:49 p.m. on December 12, 2011 (EST)
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 I use a bucket (one of my pail panniers or food caching buckets to haul water) to wash in and use for water in camp on hikes and bike tours.

12:33 p.m. on December 13, 2011 (EST)
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Bill S said:

To remind people about Leve No Trace principles:

LNT principles say do not wash clothes, dishes, or self in streams and lakes. If you have to wash or bathe, take the water in a bucket or other container at least 100 ft from the water source (some wilderness areas specify 200 feet) to wash. Then disperse the grey water over a wide area. Even "biodegradable" soaps and detergents will contaminate water that is used for drinking by animals and humans.

Here is the discussion of Principle 6. Swimming is ok under some circumstances. But respect wildlife's need and use of water, especially in desert areas.

 Good point, This planet is not endless.

5:03 p.m. on December 13, 2011 (EST)
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No. It is not an endless planet. But it is a planet for our use and respect. I subscribe to doing all I can to be a good steward of the land. I will swim in water and feel no guilt. If an animal can wash in the water, so can I. I won't put soaps and additives there, but my body is as natural as anything swimming with me is.  I don't pee in the pool. But if you come here to Nevada and are on the Colorado below the dam and have to pee...PLEASE jump in the river to do it if there is no bucket to carry it out in. Even the rangers will tell you that.  Don't pee in the dirt in the desert because it is too dry and the pee just lays there.....no break down, just stench.

12:22 p.m. on December 14, 2011 (EST)
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Part of LNT is respect for animals and their use of the water, in addition to the contamination by soaps, garbage, and trash. If the area you choose to swim, bathe, camp next to, fish in, etc happens to be one of the local water holes for the local deer, bear, and other critters, your presence is likely to preclude their use of it. That's the idea behind getting your water for cooking, washing, etc and moving it one or two hundred feet from the stream or pond, minimizing human impacts. In the Sierra and Rockies, there are certain lakes and streams which have a designated "no camping" zone around them for just that reason.

On the other hand, I have found some of the ponds and lakes to be so cold, even in late August that I can't stand to get into them above ankle depth, or if I immerse myself, I am ejected with giant shivers within seconds. I may be warm-blooded, but 40F and lower is too cold for my comfort for swimming. I did do a mile swim in Huntington Lake (actually a reservoir at 7000 ft elevation), with the water temperature at 60F. Took the first quarter mile before I even began to warm up.

1:12 p.m. on December 14, 2011 (EST)
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I don't think we are in disagreement. I would rather be back off the water and be able to watch them use it and take pix than to preclude their use. A quick swim to refresh and get the dust off sans soaps, to me, is not a preclusion of their use. I am in...I am out. Not floating with my cup holder and cheap sunglasses on a raft catching some vitamin D while using my iPod in its cool water prrof case. Being on the river in a kayak with wioldlife waiting for us to pass is not too big an intrusion, in my book, either. I always have a permit and do not use restricted area. I am part of the environment too. I think people forget that this planet was not created without us....we are a PART of it.

1:45 p.m. on January 19, 2012 (EST)
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Robert Rowe said:

Buffalo chips.

                                                  ~r2~

 

Saw lotsa 'em (Buffalo chips)  in The Badlands (S.D.), a few weeks ago.   I mean LOTS!   Was near / amongst the buffalo  (American Bison), while hiking.   Kept my distance, as I was an "interloper" into their domain.

Ironically, the buffalo chips are probably the primary source of water pollution in this area.   Much as Canadian Goose poop, here in the wetlands of Maryland, near the Chesapeake.

                                                 ~ r2 ~

2:24 p.m. on January 28, 2012 (EST)
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pee into the wind

1:02 a.m. on January 31, 2012 (EST)
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Last year traveling in Europe I met a guy who invented the Scrubba wash bag. Its essentially a lightweight waterproof bag with a flexible washboard inside. I just saw a video of it in use on Youtube (Scrubba Wash Bag Demonstration) and thought I would share it here. I'm planning to get one to take hiking in Peru later in the year to clean my clothes and double as a dry bag when not in use.

For keeping the rest of me clean, I plan to do as suggested above and use a bandana as a wash towel, though I don't think I will go to the extent of shaving my armpits.

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