Changing clothes and keeping clean on the trail
- Dec 15, 2017
Have you ever considered taking the "packing light" concept to another level? We don't mean forgoing your backpack, sleeping bag and solar powered PRW3510Y-8, but what about being more conservative with your clothing? Outside magazine presented the challenge - or concept - to readers that they attempt to wear one outfit for five days straight. For male hikers, in particular, the outlet suggested garments with material like Warpstreme fabric, which takes sweat and dampness away from the body. You won't necessarily be sparkling clean, but material like this may help you feel more comfortable. Additionally, a wool shirt can help you feel somewhat fresh in a way that cotton cannot; it tends to absorb water and odor and feel heavy and stagnant. Naturally, you'll need a baseball cap to keep crazy hair under control and some socks with mesh venting for breathability.
As for personal hygiene, you'll have to pack up some toiletries to take care of yourself in the wilderness - and to be kind to your fellow hikers. But the key takeaway? It doesn't really matter how you smell. You're in nature, after all.
Leave the deodorant but pack soap
The one thing that you'd think would help you achieve a somewhat pleasant odor is actually the one item you should leave at home, said Backpacker. Deodorant can attract bugs, bears and other unwelcome attentions from wildlife, which is not something you or your hiking friends really want. Go au naturel: After a couple of days, no one will even notice.
That being said, you will want to bring biodegradable soap, the source noted. Regular soap is full of phosphates which can start algae blooms in lakes and streams. This, essentially, contaminates the water. Instead, look for something organic with few ingredients and when you must wash, do it away from where hikers collect water and swim. If you'd rather leap in the lake to splash about, leave the soap behind, but don't worry, you'll feel so cool and refreshed submerged in the water that you won't miss the suds.
Yet if you can't stand putting on your dirty clothes again, it's OK. It can be tough to go several days without a change of garments. So if you have to pack clothes, what should you actually bring?
Avoid cotton at all costs
Unfortunately, there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to what you wear but the one thing most experts can agree upon is not to wear cotton. REI said that it holds onto water, meaning you will feel sweaty, then chilly as the material absorbs moisture. In that vein, don't try to hike in your jeans - they're made of cotton, are almost impossible to dry and can be extremely uncomfortable to wear when navigating steep and unpredictable terrain. You need to have full range of motion, said the source, so seek out loose-fitting, comfortable and sturdy trousers. As for the layers, look for tops made from wool, polyester or nylon. These materials will help wick away moisture from your body.
Whether you want to wear the same gear for a few days or you need to bring a change of clothes, all that matters is that you enjoy the experience. Yet for the sake of your hiking companions, it can be advisable to pack some soap and an extra pair of socks. After all, you still want to be friends by the end of your trip, right?