View Full Version : Clothes: How many days to a wash?

2005-10-08, 00:28
Up till now all my hikes and overnights have been made wearing off the shelf cotton (quit cringing) or denim. The denim stays fairly fresh through a few days but the cotton soaks up stink in short order and doesnt let go. Ive been looking at these fancy synthetic "clothing systems", the ones that advertise wicking and whatnot, and I'm wondering how many days it can be worn without packing itself up and hiking out on me, so I know how few changes of clothes I can reasonably carry. The particular stuff I'm looking at can be found at http://www.paramo.co.uk/US/
Bring your waders, the hype is neck deep but it seems to be some decent stuff.
If anybody can point me to some better/cheaper stuff I wont complain in the slightest!

2005-10-08, 01:58
I followed the advice of my hiking partner and started buying microfiber, nylon, and polyester clothing right from the start. Convertible cargo pants, capilene undies, capillary polyester shirts and/or spandex, polypropylene sock liners, and wool socks are the things I wear and pack. Couldn't be happier.

My reason for wearing this stuff comes down to iit will dry out while I'm wearing it. We got drenched out in a torrential storm in GWNF back in July and I stripped out of my wet outer layer, laid it out on the rocks at Big Schloss, while exploring and eating and the stuff was mostly dry to the touch in an hour. Man, that was nice, and it wasn't going to happen that way with cotton, ever. That means on a sunny day with a stream, you can rinse the worst of the foulness out of your clothes with clear water, then hang it up to dry and be going again in a few hours.

The cargo pants are from The North Face, but I wouldn't buy another pair because I don't like the placement of the cargo pockets.

I've bought a bunch of long sleeved Duofold capillary poly shirts, and I love them, even more because I got them for a third normal price on closeout from Campmor. You can get a very similar shirt at WalMart made by Starter for $10, which is what I will buy when I can't get them from Campmoor for $7.50.

Patagonia undies are great, but you can buy microfiber underwear at WalMart these days in both mens and womens. My husband reports that the briefs he bought actually provide more support than the thought they would.

Socks? This may be a religious issue, but I am extremely happy with the Wigwam liners with Smartwool outers. I have several different outer socks and the Smartwool just fits me better and works best with my boots. It's the relationship between your foot, the sock, the liner, and the boot that matters. I've recently found liners at WalMart in the hunting section and I've yet to decide what I think about them. Most of my hikes are dayhikes in local parks to get/keep me in shape between weekend trips. Bottom line is that if you can do it with cheap socks, don't pay the bucks for expensive ones.

Despite what I've described above, I am not a stickler for brand name gear. The stuff is exteremely expensive at full price and I've worked pretty hard to get closeouts, sale items, and seconds. Spending the time shopping around is worth the effort, though. I have found some excellent deals on some of the brand name stuff by carefully combing the REI and Campmor websites, and hitting the local outfitters. Cheaper Than Dirt carries the occasional true bargian, provided you happen to be the size they are selling.

I mean, like, I'm a woman and I can smell a bargain from several miles off. ;)

Really, the best way to succeed is to get to know what the stuff is that you're buying, and allow yourself a few months to find, buy, and accumulate items as you go. I probably saved $300-400 by simply making a solid list, researching the stuff I was buying, and waiting until I found a good price that I wanted to pay/could afford.

2005-10-08, 15:53
Based off of the URL in the first post, Im guessing your in the UK?

If so, this advice might not work out to well for you but maybe you can do something similar.

If you have a Walmart or similar type store, you can often find cheap ($5-10 dollar) shirts, shorts, pants, etc made from polyester. You can usually fond some decent fleece items as well. Dont expect something excellent in the fleece department, but the polester youll find is about on par with UnderArmour or other big name brands.

You can also usually find some decent wind clothes as well. Starter brand Windpants for $10. Polyester track pants for under $9. A windshirt for $8, and a 3-in1 "All weather" jacket made of poly for under $30. Hard to beat this. Cheaper than cotton.

Hell, you can even get low-grade down jackets for under $30.

Hit the hunting section for insane deals on fleece gloves and hats.

If Walmart type stores arnt your speed, hit military surplus stores. You can often find really good deals here too. Be careful and read your labels (NO COTTON NO COTTON NO COTTON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and you can often find polyester long underwear and wool socks for rediculously cheap prices. You can sometimes find very cleap Gore-Tex too. If you are in the UK, you might find alot of Arktis gear. Their windshirt is pertex and has some really great reviews out there.

As for the original question of how long you can wear it without needing to bathe? Well... how much do you sweat? How much funk can you withstand? How about your hiking partners?

In warm weather, with quick dry clothing... you can just wade into the water and start scrubbing (some soaps with special blends can even be used without causing environmental issues.... but you probably dont even need to do that.) In cold weather, you should be as careful as possible not to sweat anyway - so you shouldnt have to worry too much about cold weather funk. If you DO screw up and get sweaty, with quick dry clothes you can often wash your dirty clothes nightly if your so inclined.

BUT, you need to have quick dry clothing to do that. Otherwise youll get soaked, and wear the same soaked clothes for days.... then its not the smell that will do you in, its the hypothermia in the cold, and the rash in the heat that will send you home crying.

2005-10-08, 16:13
Oh, one other thing.... If you think cotton get funky... alot of the polester underclothes smell like warmed over death after a day or two. Wool can go a bit longer.

2005-10-08, 16:39
We are all going to do something a bit differently, I suspect. If it's warm, I've probably been sweating a lot. My preference is to at least rinse my clothes (shirt and undies, at least) and take a sponge bath nightly. I MIGHT skip a night rinsing or washing out clothes if things aren't too bad or I get into camp really late. Then I at least air things out. An old silk shirt and pants/shorts can make great sleeping/town/campsite/layering clothes. My "sink" is also my water dipper and camp water holder-a 3 L soda bottle with the top cut off. I don't use soap in or near water sources. Big no-no.


2005-10-08, 18:47
Dr Bronners. Certified organic, and biodegradable.... get the baby version. No scents, no oils.... hell you can eat it. And I know by accidently knocking the bottle into the fishtank, that it doesnt harm the fish either.

2005-10-08, 18:54
Sgt. Hawk-

I use the peppermint. It kills/covers odors somewhat, and peppermint is reported to have some mosquito repelling effect. I still don't use it in or close to water sources. Someone could be getting water just out of sight, and soap doesn't belong there to begin with.

As much as the LNT people can be a bit overboard, I have to go along to somewhat with keeping stuff out of our water.


2005-10-08, 19:15
Not Sgt Hawk.... and LNT has its place, and I guess on trails like the AT... a trail with a higher "population" than many TOWNS in my state, being worried about a little soap, in accumulation, might be something. Of course, alot of that water is so polluted already soap might actually be a GOOD thing. There are still toilets in the northeast that dump straight into the river.

Actually, the only places Id really worry about getting an organic surficant into the water would be in the desert. Theres too little water anyway.

But this is all off topic.

Back on the topic of clothes....

2005-10-08, 19:32
Dr Bronners. Certified organic

By whom?


2005-10-08, 20:11
The %&#!% USDA.

2005-10-08, 21:01
Interesting. I didn't reallize that the USDA did organic certification. I did a little research and (for those who care about such subtlties) it appears they don't directly do the certifications. They set standards and there are approved third-parties who do the certifications. This is just a curiousity, it doesn't make it any less significant.


2005-10-08, 21:26
Sorry-looked at your handle too fast.

I'm not anti leaving no trace. I'm saying the LNT crusade can go overboard. I've been to some of their presentations, and have left shaking my head.


2005-10-08, 22:13
Doug, I dont really care enough about who does the certification. I dont really see how it matters anyway.

2005-10-08, 23:54
Actually I am in the states, upstate NY on the outskirts of glens falls, my latest favorite camp spot is Moreou Lake state park.

I know of Dr Bronners and love the peppermint but havent been able to find any local since Dicks decided to stop carrying it. Anyone know of a good place to order it online? As for the certified organic argument, I believe its all organic, its just castile soap with peppermint oil added. I'd still be a bit leery about using it around sources of drinking water but I cant see the stuff doing any real harm. I mean its advertised as an effective mouthwash if you dillute it! Then again we all know how reliable advertising is. I wager I'd still have a pottymouth after trying the stuff that way :puke:

SGT Rock
2005-10-09, 04:45
I get mine from Campmor

2005-10-09, 10:23
Doug, I dont really care enough about who does the certification. I dont really see how it matters anyway.

I think it matters greatly. Any quack organization can begin a certification program. It isn't worth anything.

If you mean about the USDA vs. a third-party using USDA standards, then I agree, it doesn't matter.


2005-10-09, 14:29
Well, according to the drbronners site, they use USDA standards.

2005-10-09, 14:30
Oh, and Dr bronners sells from their website. drbronners.com

2005-10-09, 17:48
I get mine at GNC, a health/nutrition store. I use it for my dreds. :biggrin:

2005-10-10, 00:28
I know some of you might not go for this, but this is how I made it through Basic Training without reeking, when we had only 4 working washing machines and no laundry soap for our entire company (about 200 men).
A combination of Lysol spray and airing out.
You spray down your clothes and then hang them out to air and any smell will disapear overnight.
-I did hand wash my underwear.

I try to hike near water and wash my clothes in a plastic bag and dump the soapy water away from the creek. -Sometimes I'll put my underwear or a particularly dirty item in a double bag and let it soak/wash from the motion of my hiking.

But I still often carry lysol spray.