October 20, 2013
I’ve heard many a cyclist whisper in dark corridors, that’s the first wash in a long time!
I can never fathom how you’d want to sleep while encrusted in grime and sweat. But, I suppose needs must at times!
So how can you stay clean while out cycle touring, wild camping and have that grime free night in your clean sleeping bag.
Ideally, setting up camp next to a water source solves all one’s problems, washing and cooking.
This can either be by a freshwater source, a stand pipe or public toilets.
Be careful though using biological soaps or detergents in natural water sources. Keep to 100% natural soaps or use no soap at all in rivers and streams.
Even the sea will suffice for a wash.
Nothing fresher than a river flowing from snow-covered peaks….. eecckk! A very brief dip indeed.
Second option would be to carry ample water before locating a wild camping spot.
My two water bottles hold four litres, along with an Ortlieb Water Bag, that’s another four litres. Also, a back up of a two litre hydration bladder. So ten litres in total for an evening if required.
I’d original used an MSR Dromedary, but I prefer the Ortlieb products.
You also have to be aware of how far you’ve to cycle the next morning to the next water source.
I like to have a litre before I set off the next day. Generally though, I end up digging into this for another coffee before the big push!
Now, all this extra weight has to be carried to your isolated camp spot. And, hopefully not too far. If any hills involved, you’ll know about it!
To wash in, I stand in a ten litre Ortlieb Folding Bowl. I can wash in one litre of water, but two is great as I can then properly rinse off all the soap.
No matter if it’s been a hot day, the water will still be cold, but refreshing. A few gasps though as the cold H2O contacts one’s warmer body!
If you can spare the fuel, boiling up a pan is a great idea, and makes for a more pleasurable experience. The added bonus: it’ll give you a thorough clean and you’re soap will lather better.
I’ll then have a small piece of tarp on hand to step onto. Makes drying feet easier and prevents getting crud everywhere.
My sponge is a kitchen squeezy. This is also useful for soaking excess moisture off the tent on damp mornings.
Everything will be stowed away, so it’s just a case of climbing into one’s sleeping bag, all fresh and clean. Happy days.
On one occasion I stealth camped in a rugby changing room, so the use of a head-over shower came into play. No hot water though!
If one’s after that really clean feel with hot running water, then a swimming baths/pool is the next option.
In New Zealand the community baths are dead cheap.
Ranging from two to five dollars. Two will generally only get you the use of a shower and a fiver for the pool too.
I never found them busy, and on one occasion, I had a pool to myself. Afterwards, I set up camp behind the pool.
If all else fails, and one wishes for permanent running water and hot showers, then it’s the dreaded commercial campsite.
But, if carefully chosen, some offer great amenities at a low-cost. Especially farms like this one on Bodmin Moor South Penquite Farm.
If it involves camper-vans and caravans, then I’ll give it a wide berth!
In Australia you’ll find road houses (truck-stops) that’ll offer showers for a few dollars. In New Zealand some I-sites (tourist office) will have showers for a small fee too.
Coastal towns usually have cold showers on or near the beach. But, expect to see signs saying no freedom camping.
So, with a bit of forward thinking and planning, you can always have a good scrub before retiring. This’ll ensure a better nights sleep. All physiological.
My only caveat, if there’s no water or in very short supply, then non of this really matters.
Back up: Wet-Wipes!.
You can click on each photo in this post for an enhanced Flickr view or the above Flickr slideshow for further photos for this post.