How to Dry Wet Clothing on a Camping Trip
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Camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, however, what you bring and how you use your gear can make or break a camping trip. When choosing which clothes to bring, always consider the probability of your clothing getting wet. This is almost a guarantee on nearly any camping trip. Whether the cause is a rainstorm, crossing a river, or simply sweating, there are several things one can do when looking at how to dry wet clothing on a camping trip.
Perhaps the most important thing to do is to wear clothes that will dry easily. Cotton is not a fabric that dries well; this also applies to blue jeans or denim. Although many inexperienced campers think cotton tee shirts are a good way to stay cool and that jeans are the best outdoor clothing, cotton holds water and chafes the skin.
What to Wear
Before learning how to dry wet clothing on a camping trip, it is a good idea to take a look at what you are actually planning to take with you for your gear and outfits.
One motto that is often heard in the great outdoors is “Cotton Kills”. The best fabrics to wear are polyester-based materials, which dry easily. As long as they are not dripping, they can dry while you wear them, especially if the wetness is from something minor, such as sweating. Under Armor is an excellent brand for this; it has been developed for athletes to keep them as dry as possible.
Microfleece is also a very good choice. Fleece doesn’t absorb water very well, it dries nicely, and it’s warm. These and other moisture-wicking clothing are available at sporting goods stores and department stores, and they make all types of clothing: shirts, pants, jackets, underwear, hats, and socks.
Since getting wet is something that is bound to happen even if you do bring the right clothing and are exceptionally careful, there are several easy methods for drying your wet clothes.
Sock it To You
Socks are usually the first things to get wet, from either stepping in puddles or just plain sweating. If you’re backpacking, the best thing to do with a wet pair of socks is to tie them to the back of your backpack and allow them to dry while you move throughout the day.
Never leave wet clothing in your pack, this could cause them to mildew. You should always have at least two pairs of socks which you can rotate each day by drying one pair while wearing the other.
Wet Clothes Suck
For shirts and pants, the method of tying them to your backpack also works. However, to speed up the process you should untie them from your pack when you make stops, and if possible, lay them out on a rock in the sun to dry.
When back at the campsite, hang your wet clothes over tree branches and let the sun and wind do their work. If your tent is set up in an open area, lying clothes on top of the tent is a great way for them to dry in the sun.
Boot Care 101
If your hiking boots get a good soaking from poorly navigating the stepping stones at a river crossing or simply stepping in a puddle, wearing them throughout the day while hiking will help them dry. But when you stop, you should immediately take off your boots, take out the insoles, and let them dry in the sun.
Whether you’re out for a day, a seasonal hiker or you brave the trails all year long, odds are, you’ve invested a good deal of time and expense in finding the right type of hiking boot for you. It would be a shame to ruin your boots inadvertently, but sometimes, after a rainy day, or a hot afternoon with sweaty feet, we all find ourselves wanting to speed up the drying process.
However, before you get the blow drier out or decide to sit your boots on top of a wood stove, remember that your boots are a delicate and important investment.
Don’t Force Dry Your Boots
You’ve paid a lot of money for your hiking boots, and you want to care for them properly. It may seem correct to toss them in the drier with a couple of towels or over an open fire, but keep in mind that your boots are not constructed like your tennis shoes and that the material and glue holding your boot together can come undone, and improper care, such as drying them by heat, can cause the glue or waterproofing to fail.
Also, remember that nice leather that you took so long to break in? When that leather gets wet it can stretch, and if you force the drying of your boots by heating the boots to too high a temperature, the leather could warp, as can the sole of the boot meaning they will no longer fit properly.
How to Properly Dry Your Boots
You know you need to keep your boots in good shape, and you know that you made need them before they can dry on their own, but you’ll have to tough it out, however, there are a few things you need to remember and a couple of things that will help.
1. Air Flow: Keep your boots in a warm dry place, but if you can get some extra airflow moving, you'll be best off. You'll want your boots in a nonhumid place where the air can pick up more moisture. 2. Wipe them Off: Try to get as much moisture as possible off of your boots. When you're done for the day, if excessively sweaty, wipe them out with a dry towel and apply some foot powder. Dry paper towels will greatly speed up the process and you should keep your shoes filled with them or something absorbent when they have been wet. 3. Preventative Maintenance: To help keep your boots dry, and eliminate the problem of a breakneck drying pace, keep their water resistance and sealed. Clean them regularly and keep your laces in good shape and tight at all times.
Wet boots are no one’s friend, and they can turn your hike into a miserable day. However, you’ll want to let your boot air dry and try not to force the issue, or else you could find your biggest hiking expense, and your most valuable piece of equipment ruined.
Camping can be a fun time for families and friends to enjoy nature and each other at the same time. By taking the proper precautions and planning ahead, the inevitability of getting wet won’t be such an inconvenience.