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Old Man Hygiene


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  • #3737139
    Matthew Alan Thyer
    BPL Member

    @feetforbrains

    Locale: Pacific North West

    Meh, they were in fact concerned with hygiene and enforced the National Army’s direction following guidelines set out by Baron von Steuben during the War of Independence. Besides, they probably didn’t have to consider chopping up a $150 R1 hoodie two weeks after they bought it.

    And let’s not beleaguer the point, I’m not expressing my namby-pamby angst over run-of-the-mill sweat build up. I’ve lived on trails for months at a time previously, but this is the first time I’ve smelled so bad I can’t stand myself. I can’t sleep with it.

    #3738984
    Matthew Alan Thyer
    BPL Member

    @feetforbrains

    Locale: Pacific North West

    Okay, an update:

    I’ve been making progress. Here are the things I’ve been doing.

    First, to simulate actual trail time I’ve been spending a couple of hours hiking with base weight every day and then limiting the number of showers I take per week to two. I know this is more time under hot water than I’ll probably experience on the PCT this summer, but it seems to walk the fine line between funky-enough-for-testing and you’ve-been-kicked-0ut-of-the-house.

    Isopropyl Alcohol: When applied liberally to the underarm seems to reduce the potential for serious funk for about three days at a go. A particularly good sweat, moist day, or pre-funked shirt can spoil this pretty quickly though.

    Treating the Funked: Some of my clothing (yes even the wool) seems to retain the funk even after washing. Consequentially, I’ve begun washing those items alone, with warm water if possible, after treating them directly with a standard laundry stain treatment. I try to let it sit for a while before washing since I’m using an enzymatic solution and more time seems to help.

    Anti-Fungal/Anti-biotic soap: Smells nice, cleans okay; doesn’t seem to last very long and it’s stupid expensive.

    Shorn Pits: It’s a little embarrassing, but I suppose not as much as bad funk. Shaving my armpits all but eliminates the stench part of the sweating. Go figure. Whatever is being funky loves to live on hair.

    #3739000
    AK Granola
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    Have you tried benzalkonium chloride wipes for your pits? Supposedly kills funky bacteria.

    I mentioned meat before, but also vitamins can create stink. If you take them on trail, don’t take more than 100% RDA.  The B complex ones can really make you stink. You might need vites on something as long as the PCT though. Just don’t overdo it.

    Are you considerably overweight? I don’t mean to be prejudiced at all, but I have noticed that people who are morbidly obese often have terrible BO. Don’t vote me off the island here; I have lots of compassion for people who struggle with weight, including myself.

    Whatever you do don’t use deodorant/antiperspirant with scent. Perfumes and scents just make the smell worse. It’s like the scent takes the funk and broadcasts it. Guys who wear Polo or Axe – I have to keep them at quite a distance to be comfortable. I actually prefer the smell of sweat. Probably true with scents for women too; I don’t know anyone who uses scents!

    Ditto with tobacco; hopefully you’re not a smoker? My tobacco allergy gets worse with every exposure and I now unapologetically move away quickly, before i break out in hives. I was recently on a flight sitting next to a guy who spent the entire flight dipping from a pouch or sticking a cig in his mouth and getting scolded by the flight attendants. He smelled so bad! We nicknamed him Hacky because he had a deep horrible hacking cough. He was wearing a joker mask too, which didn’t make me any fonder of him.

    I use a drop or two (no more!) of pure bleach to wash my clothes in a ziplock bag. The rinse water gets dumped far from trail and water sources, usually over a big boulder.

    I hope you find some solutions!

    #3739318
    Matthew Alan Thyer
    BPL Member

    @feetforbrains

    Locale: Pacific North West

    Going to give benzalkonium chloride wipes a try, see how they compare to isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. They’re on order.

    Here’s the good/bad news: I’m having trouble reproducing the exact scenario where I stink. Something *is* in fact working. I’ve turned to wearing old shirts and working out a lot to reproduce the testing scenario.

    Otherwise, I am none of those other things. My closest issue at the moment is some extra weight I picked up during radiation treatments that I’ve been unsuccessful at losing since recovering. I’m maybe 20# overweight from my ideal and it fluctuates very little even with a vegetarian diet and an appreciable level of exercise. For this reason alone, I’m really looking forward to 20+ mile days this summer.

    #3739748
    Gumbo
    BPL Member

    @redgum

    Locale: Aussie in exile in the PNW

    You’re 49? Sorry, that’s Young Man Hygiene. Or One Man Hygiene. Or Matthew Alan Thyer Hygiene. But Old Man Hygiene, no!

    Fun thread, great problem solving ideas, and lots of useful information. Can’t wait for the final episode, where we learn the true cause or solution!

    #3739895
    Iago Vazquez
    BPL Member

    @iago

    Locale: Boston & Galicia, Spain

    I’ve been using wool and wool blends for a long time now and I tolerate them okay until it gets hot.

    I warm weather I have had great luck in the funk department with bamboo clothing. I tried garments from Freefly and Task last summer, and even when exercising and sweating in the head, there’s no funk. I recently got hoodies from Duck Camp and Shoal Gear. The latter is the only fabric that’s primarily bamboo, the rest are cotton or polyester blend.

    By order of SPF, I think it was Tasc (50), Shoal Gear (30+), Duck Camp (20+) and Freefly (20+).

    BTW, they all advertise bamboo clothing as being quick dry. My experience is that it isn’t at all.

    #3741416
    Matthew Alan Thyer
    BPL Member

    @feetforbrains

    Locale: Pacific North West

    Update:

    The anti-fungal soap has had a significant impact on potential and current BO. Being soap, it’s also anti-bacterial so there’s no way of knowing what the agent-of-funk actually is.

    Shirts previously funked are still an issue. Yesterday I wore a wool blend from Patagonia and by lunch, the smell had leached through to my sweater. I need to figure out how I can treat fabrics to remove the funk-of-yore. Most of the clothes in question are wool, some are synthetic. I’m taking suggestions.

    A note on involvement in this thread: Gentlemen, I realize that some of you are okay with stinking and I’m generally of the mindset that grants you the freedom to HYOH. So, if you want to wax nostalgic for the funk-of-yore that’s fine by me. That said, it may be important to recognize 1) that hygiene is a backpacking challenge 2) hygiene comes with taboos in any social context, and 3) I’m opening up about my own challenges with hygiene in a backpacking context which is a specific violation of said taboos. Don’t make me feel any more vulnerable or out of place about this shared challenge that many people face.

    #3741492
    AK Granola
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    Women talk about this stuff a lot, no shame. Hygiene on trail matters, esp the longer the trip, because health matters.

    One other thought on the fungal thing…with reduced immune function after radiation, could a simple infection have gone systemic? I’m no medical person, but have a friend who needed an oral medication to treat a fairly serious condition. The meds also cleared up her athlete’s foot.

    My husband washes his running and biking baselayers in some kind of special athletic clothing detergent, which he buys at a running store.

    #3741499
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    My husband washes his running and biking baselayers in some kind of special athletic clothing detergent, which he buys at a running store.
    I suspect (but do NOT know), that what he is buying is a ‘sports wash’ which leaves ZERO residue. No brighteners, no perfumes, no (insert sundry marketing crap here), no residues at all, just pure detergent. Well, I hope so.

    You need to use this sort of stuff if you want to use any sort of DWR these days, and if you have any allergies at all. Modern laundry ‘washing powder’ contains an excess of (usually expensive) rubbish.

    Cheers

    #3741500
    d k
    BPL Member

    @dkramalc

    I remember my dad at one point having kind of a yeasty smell – he was much older than you, but Karen might be right about the reduced immune response.  The antifungal soap might well help with that odor, if that’s what you had.

    #3741539
    Jacob
    BPL Member

    @jakeyjohn1

    Shirts previously funked are still an issue

    Dry cleaning might be worth a try for the wool. Most use perc which you probably want to avoid, but I think any solvent used in dry cleaning should strip all the oils from wool which are probably holding the funk. You’d then have the chance to re-treat the wool with fresh lanolin or anything else…

    For the synthetics I’d guess the funk may have dissolved into the synthetic fibers themselves and thus no amount of surface washing with or without solvents will get it out unless you dissolve the whole fiber; since you can still smell the funk it must be off-gassing from the fibers to some extent, maybe try putting them in a vacuum chamber for days/weeks.

     

    #3741560
    Dan Y
    BPL Member

    @zelph2

    #3741583
    Matthew Alan Thyer
    BPL Member

    @feetforbrains

    Locale: Pacific North West

    @Dan Y

    Are you applying it directly to your clothes, your body, putting it in your wash, or some combination of the above?

    #3741584
    Dan Y
    BPL Member

    @zelph2

    I apply it directly to my body where odor is eminating from…crotch, feet, armpits. I use on my face where protective masks have made a rash. Skin needs to be washed and dried before application. I shake it into my shoes when necessary. Shaking it onto the pit area of your shirts should help odor control.

    The active ingredient was contained in the foot powder issued to soldiers when I was in the service back in 1965. Last year is when a VA doctor prescribed it for use on my face for a rash.

    #3741619
    Tom K
    BPL Member

    @tom-kirchneraol-com-2

    “Er… for some ‘primitives’, I suppose. There are indeed guys that just like to be gross…….and Louis and Clark bathed also… not sure how frequently, but they did not do that entire trip with cleaning up…”

    [Chuckle]  I apologize if I offended delicate sensibilities.  Please do post if you find out how often Lewis and Clark expedition members bathed.  From what I have read, the were much more concerned with staying alive and keeping the mosquitoes, and other unpleasant life forms, at bay, among other things.  The former was accomplished by slathering themselves with bear fat, which I suspect they would have been reluctant to wash off for trivial reasons like adverse social reactions to their aroma.  Of one thing I think we can be relatively certain:  The interval between their baths far exceeded the length of the backpacking trips we are discussing here.

    Carry on.  :0)

     

     

    #3741627
    Dan Y
    BPL Member

    @zelph2

    Desenex was L&K friend :-)

    #3741654
    Dan Y
    BPL Member

    @zelph2

    Please do post if you find out how often Lewis and Clark expedition members bathed.

     

    They were often in and out of their boat as they came upon “riffles” so they could haul/pull it to deeper water. They were often in the water.

    #3741660
    AK Granola
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    I read the journals of Lewis and Clark many years ago, but honestly, who would want to live the way they lived? Glad I can have better hygiene even while hiking, and especially glad I don’t have to eat my dog for dinner. This could quickly slip into chaff.

    #3741683
    Dan Y
    BPL Member

    @zelph2

    During the month of September there was a migration of squirrels going across the river and their dog would go into the water and catch them for the crew to eat. Interesting stuff.

    #3741686
    Matthew Alan Thyer
    BPL Member

    @feetforbrains

    Locale: Pacific North West

    There’s plenty more written on the topic. L&C used the regulations prepared for the US by Baron von Steuben (http://www.lewis-clark.org/article/368). There’s a whole section on hygiene and while not the same level of “clean” as we can experience, they did in fact clean themselves.

    Here’s the thing that I find problematic with this response: it’s predicated on unexperienced nostalgia for a time and place that isn’t contextual. L&C did not detail their or their party’s hygiene regimen in their journaling. There are otherwise no first-hand accounts of bathing practices or mentions of when the washing might have been done. Your assumption is that because it wasn’t mentioned, it wasn’t done. Add a little confirmation bias, “Hey, they must have been dirty, stinky people covered in streptococcus and listeria. So, it’s okay for me”  is fine for you, but fails as a predicate for this argument. It’s safe to say that people of the past held differing opinions on hygiene, but it’s an exceptionally long reach to assume that those differences were in fact a complete abdication of the practices. Especially, when there’s evidence available to to contrary.

    Historically speaking, it’s always a safer bet to suppose those past people shared concerns more similar to contemporary people than not. Even when they don’t write about it. The L&C expedition wasn’t a slave drive. The crew members were expected to make the best possible use of rations and make it to the far western shore. Significant financial investment was poured into the endeavor and both the government and private concerns wanted a return on this. None of that was possible, in the instance that the crew paddled and poled up the Missouri to meet their demise from cholera. And sure, they weren’t perfumed dandies with macaroni in their hats. They worked hard, sweated plenty, and probably stank from time to time. Given that they were people and had the same bodily requirements as people do today, they probably cleaned up and invested some effort into remaining hygienic.

    #3741746
    Tom K
    BPL Member

    @tom-kirchneraol-com-2

    ” Add a little confirmation bias, “Hey, they must have been dirty, stinky people covered in streptococcus and listeria. So, it’s okay for me”  is fine for you, but fails as a predicate for this argument. ”

    WOW!  What was intended as a light hearted quip has clearly aroused some serious emotions revolving around personal hygiene.  I’ll back off now, because it doesn’t really matter to me, and I don’t really want to disturb community harmony by addressing your comments in detail, which would invariably raise the temperature a few degrees.  No point in that.   As I said earlier, carry on gentlemen.  As for me, I’ll slink off, tail between my legs, to lick my conversational wounds and commiserate with the few old timers who remember the BPL of yore.  ;0))

    #3741774
    Matthew Alan Thyer
    BPL Member

    @feetforbrains

    Locale: Pacific North West

    Huh, that was an unemotional, completely context-specific response to your “light-hearted quip.” Seriously, there was nothing insulting or angry in any of what I wrote. Everyone will tend to “search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values.” Confirmation bias is so common that’s it’s, at worst, unremarkable. We all do it, all the time. The point is that we can and should recognize when we’re doing it so we can see things more clearly.

    I don’t have a microbiological lab, but I’ve got this problem. Consequentially, I’m using the tools at my disposal to solve said problem. You may not see this as a problem, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still have a problem that I’m trying to solve. It makes me feel self-conscious and maybe unhealthy especially given the milages I routinely walk. Through this discussion, I’ve been able to isolate both a cause and a plan to act against the problem. Personally, I really appreciate the contributions others have made to this discussion. They’ve taken it further, faster than I could have gone on my own.

    Just so we’re clear, I too am an “old-timer.” Got my membership during the first wave of lifetime sales. The BPL of yore had its conflicts too, it’s the nature of discussions on the internet. Honestly, I wasn’t insulting you just pointing out that the nostalgic version of most hygiene in history is often not very accurate.  What makes us uncomfortable, made them uncomfortable too.

    #3741852
    Tom K
    BPL Member

    @tom-kirchneraol-com-2

    “Just so we’re clear, I too am an “old-timer.” Got my membership during the first wave of lifetime sales. The BPL of yore had its conflicts too, it’s the nature of discussions on the internet. Honestly, I wasn’t insulting you just pointing out that the nostalgic version of most hygiene in history is often not very accurate.  What makes us uncomfortable, made them uncomfortable too.”

    I wasn’t insulted at all.  It was more a matter of realizing that you are much more invested in this discussion than I, and I didn’t want to rile you up or make light of your problem, which I realized after the fact that I had inadvertently done.  That is why I am withdrawing, because there is nothing that I can do to help you address your concerns with all the various products being discussed.  My approach has always been to clean the nether parts with plain old H2O every few days and beyond that live with the aroma, which frankly has never been that offensive to me.  I would make one final observation:  Be cautious about washing away all those microbial critters;  they are your first line of defense against some real nasties.  Ask any dermatologist.  It’s analogous to antibiotic disrupting your internal biome.  Good luck in your quest.

    An even older timer.  :0)

     

    #3741857
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Be cautious about washing away all those microbial critters; they are your first line of defense against some real nasties.
    Absolutely.

    Cheers

    #3741914
    Dan Y
    BPL Member

    @zelph2

    Desenex works for me :-)

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