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for those who camp...

Old 07-22-10, 07:59 AM
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for those who camp...

I never realized that camping on tours was so popular. So, uh, how do you handle staying clean? I know lots of campgrounds have showers, but what about your cycling clothes? Do you wash them out at the end of the day in the sink and let them dry out overnight in the tent or something?
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Old 07-22-10, 08:34 AM
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You did realize millions of people camp without riding a bike? We don't have showers then either.

First, I wear wool jerseys. They don't stink when wet, just smell like wet fabric, and believe it or not, for at least 3 days they smell like they just came out of the dryer when they've dried. I've not worn one more than 3 days straight -- they may not stink ever, but I've always managed to wash in a sink somewhere. But honestly, at home I often don't wash the jersey when I get back from a ride. I hang it up on the back porch to dry and let my wife (the one with the "nose") check it before I hang it back up. She can smell yogurt that's a day past the sell-by date from the grocery store parking lot so I know I'm covered.

In fact, I commuted in one today and it is hanging downstairs in my private shower. When I get ready to ride home it will be dry and indistinguishable from when I put it on this morning (it was actually clean then!).

I've done credit card tours before with a standard lycra jersey. Of course it smells like a hobo by lunch time. I just wash them out in a sink every night. I only bring one, the one I'm wearing. When camping, if I feel the need to wash something it's in the creek, no soap. That seems to work just fine. I wash the bibs only if I'm washing my own body, which certainly doesn't happen every day when camping, bicycle or walking.

I guess the answer to your question is: I don't worry much about staying clean.
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Old 07-22-10, 08:37 AM
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I wash my riding clothes when I have the chance and hang them out to dry if conditions allow. I hang them on my panniers or under a pannier flap to dry while riding if necessary. Washing might be in a sink, in a ziploc, or even in a coin operated washing machine once in a while.

As far as frequency of washing of riding clothing, that varies. I usually have two changes of riding clothes (some times only one) so I can usually wear one while another is drying, but I also don't mind putting them on damp.

Sometimes riding clothes get washed every day and some times they go several days between washings. Washing of off bike clothes is usually less frequent and I might only have one change of those. Running shorts (with built in brief) and a tech shirt are pretty tolerant of infrequent washing. Ditto for my nylon zip off leg pants (also with built in brief).

Pretty much the same for showers. I shower when I can, but don't stress if I have to go a few days without.

I usually try to use a coin operated washing machine for the whole lot at least once every few weeks, but some times more or less frequently.

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Old 07-22-10, 09:03 AM
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You can often times, "buy" a shower at a campground you are passing, or a health club type place. I usually stop at a laundry mat every three days or so. I like to only wear my on bike clothes one time.
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Old 07-22-10, 09:07 AM
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Interesting question - and one whose answer will vary GREATLY depending on where you are!

We camped nearly exclusively throughout Canada and the USA. In big cities we stayed with warmshowers hosts, but otherwise we were camping out. Sometimes we managed to find campgrounds with showers - LOVED it when that happened! Other times we bathed in lakes or rivers. Other times we simply didn't bathe.

As for clothes, we typically wear the same clothes until we can wash them. We may wash them in a river, but we could generally find a laundromat at least once a week in some small town we were pasing through. We stopped there with our bikes and changed clothes in the bathroom before throwing the dirty ones in the washer. It worked! the one exception is my cycling shorts - I hate wearing them more than one day! I carry four pairs and have never (in 3 years on the road) had to wear the same pair twice. I wash them out wherever I can find and strap them on my rear rack to dry.

Once we hit Central America, things became more difficult in the bathing arena - there weren't a lot of lakes and rivers and those we did find were freqently filthy. Then we started checking into hotels more often - many time specifically in order to find a shower!
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Old 07-22-10, 09:11 AM
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i wear wool and for longer tours take two jerseys, three pairs cycling shorts. shorts washed every night if possible, dry night and next day on rack with the third set of fresh dry shorts in bag. jerseys washed every few days, experiences like NoGa biker with the wool. I wore ONE wool jersey five days straight once on a blitz tour as i was packing light. didn't smell too bad after 500 miles of desert and high mountain passes.
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Old 07-22-10, 09:27 AM
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I'll add my vote in here for wool - best stuff ever!
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Old 07-22-10, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
i wear wool and for longer tours take two jerseys, three pairs cycling shorts. shorts washed every night if possible, dry night and next day on rack with the third set of fresh dry shorts in bag. jerseys washed every few days, experiences like NoGa biker with the wool. I wore ONE wool jersey five days straight once on a blitz tour as i was packing light. didn't smell too bad after 500 miles of desert and high mountain passes.
For what it is worth... A lot of people tout wool as being relatively odor free even after several days or more of wear and I assume that is true for them. That said I have not found that to be the case for me. Wool items I have worn tend to be the stinkiest things I have worn. Maybe my body chemistry is just different, but the love of wool is not universal. I find synthetic tech fabrics work better for me, but they do vary widely in how bad they hold odors. For tours I try to pick among my tech garments for the ones that are better in this regard.
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Old 07-22-10, 07:23 PM
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Some campgrounds have free showers that you can slip into unnoticed at 5 a.m.

One tip that few will agree with: I feel it's much easier hygienically to ride in unlined, unpadded shorts and get your padding from the seat. Unlined synthetic shorts dry very quickly.
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Old 07-22-10, 07:28 PM
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Wash my bike clothes in the shower.
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Old 07-22-10, 08:05 PM
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Wool jerseys, bring 3 pair cycling shorts, wash each pair of shorts after each wearing. Shorts get washed in the sink or shower and hung to dry, and once or twice a week (depending on what's ahead of me) I find a laundromat and put everything in a machine. 3 pair of shorts means I can go a few days without washing them if I have to, or a pair can take an extra day to dry. For off the bike clothing, I try to use synthetics that will dry in a hurry, or wool T-shirts that can go a while without washing.

Most European campgrounds and hostels have some kind of laundry facilities, but they tend to cost a fortune.
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Old 07-22-10, 09:04 PM
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Many campgrounds have laundry facilities. When you camp in a campground, you are free to go in and use the facilities ... they usually cost a few coins to operate.

If the campground does not have laundry facilities for some reason, many towns have laundry facilities. There's nothing stopping you from taking a break in the middle of the day at a town with laundry facilities and having your lunch while doing your laundry.

I will wear the same cycling clothes for 3-5 days and then switch to my back-up set for 3-5 days. I can usually find a laundry facility of some sort in that time, and that's where my sarong comes in. I will use it as a blanket or pillow, but when it is laundry time, I change into my sarong, and wash everything else.
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Old 07-22-10, 09:12 PM
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It's a point that our recent ancestors didn't bathe more often than once a week, and had shirts that had replaceable colours and cuff, so the shirt body could be worn more often. They wore suits pre dry cleaning. Often these clothes were worn by labourers so it wasn't as though nobody was sweating. I once went 3 months without a bath after an accident. You get used to it.

That said, I try to keep up with normal hygene while touring, and it often comes down to a camping ground shower. Not to sure what the folks who don't pay do. I think from the younger ones I have met that they sponge a lot of stop overs from people with showers, like ask people if then can camp in their yard.
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Old 07-22-10, 10:13 PM
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I find stealing a quick sponge bath in a washroom or secluded place works for me on those days when I am away from a shower. I use a wet cotton bandanna and dry with a travel towel (or sometimes just another dry bandanna). The thin cotton dries in no time and takes up very little space in my pack.

As for laundry, I find a thorough rinse is usually enough between machine washes... When necessary, I have used camp suds and a freezer bag. I leave lots of air in the bag and shake it for a nice wash. Then I repeat the process twice more without the soap to rinse (ringing out each time).
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Old 07-22-10, 10:26 PM
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I spent 6 years in the army infantry, with several of those years in Afghanistan and Iraq, trust me, going a few days without a shower is nothing. Honestly, as long as you have a decent source of water you can wash your clothes and your body easily, you just have to get over the idea of a stand-under shower and a clothes washing machine. There are hundreds of clever ways to do it.
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Old 07-23-10, 02:23 AM
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When no showers are available, baby wipes work well.

Alcohol works well for killing the bacteria that causes body odor both on the body and sweaty clothes.
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Old 07-23-10, 06:23 AM
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Great question and one that will get a variety of good responses.

I tour with two jerseys and pairs of shorts. By alternating outfits, I can usually get four days of riding in between washings. In between washings, I allow the jersey and shorts to dry and air out, and sprinkle the shorts with baby powder. I keep an eye out for laundering opportunities. Many developed campgrounds have laundry facilities including dispensers of detergent for single loads. I have also taken midday laundry breaks at coin operated laundromats in towns I pass through. When the opportunity to do laundry presents itself, I throw in everything I have except for a t-shirt and going commando in a pair of gym shorts. When I'm back on the road, the panniers are full of soft, odor free, freshly fluffed fabrics.

On my tour in Ireland, I stayed in a Bed & Breakfast on the night the lady of the house was doing laundry for her family. She offered to include mine (at no additional charge!). When I returned to my room from an evening at the pub, I found all my stuff at the foot of bed, all warm and neatly folded.
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Old 07-23-10, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
For what it is worth... A lot of people tout wool as being relatively odor free even after several days or more of wear and I assume that is true for them. That said I have not found that to be the case for me. Wool items I have worn tend to be the stinkiest things I have worn. Maybe my body chemistry is just different, but the love of wool is not universal. I find synthetic tech fabrics work better for me, but they do vary widely in how bad they hold odors. For tours I try to pick among my tech garments for the ones that are better in this regard.
Then it wasn't real wool or it was mixed with synthetics. Also it's the Australian Merino wool is the best. Although I found it takes a lot longer to dry than synth jerseys so I wore synth clothes on my first tours. I can wash a synth jersey, lay it flat on hot pavement and it's dry in 15-20 minutes. One per day, really didn't smell much.

I planned my tour in way that I was hoping between state parks so I had a legit campsite and showers every night. I plan to keep it that way for a while since I just started touring.
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Old 07-23-10, 10:11 AM
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There's a weight vs. comfort equation we all have to consider. I think there's also a grossness vs. convenience equation. I've washed my bike clothes in the shower with me, in the large pot of my mess kit, and in laundromats. All are a hassle. I've also worn my bike gear several times before washing it. Sure I probably smell gross to others, but do I care? Yes and no.

My preferred method is to wash my bike clothes when I'm showering, hang them up in camp, and in the morning if they're not all the way dry I drape them over my load on the rear rack.

Second is to stop at a laundromat, usually on a day with a short ride, and wash everything except the stuff I'm wearing. Then I wash that in the shower that night.

If there's no shower at the campground when I need to wash something I just wear them dirty the next day.
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Old 07-23-10, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by AdamDZ
Then it wasn't real wool or it was mixed with synthetics.
That was/is not the case. I have found the same thing with 100% wool and with blends.

I am not saying that will be the case for everyone, but it is what I have found to be the case for me.

You mentioned wool does not dry quickly. I find that as well, but additionally it soaks up a lot of sweat or water and gets quite heavy.

I wore wool extensively in my younger years (30-40 years ago) for various outdoor activities including wet ones like ww kayaking and canoeing and was delighted when synthetic substitutes became available. The early substitutes did stink pretty badly, but they have gotten better to the point that I find most of them better than wool in that regard. Synthetic garments do vary though and I have a few that do stink pretty badly after wear and others that are fine.
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