OK, this is going to be an odd one! Philip Werner wrote a recent post on washing in the backcountry. Avoiding pollution by not washing in stream directly is a good idea, but I have to confess, I’ve generally not bothered. I admit there’s an element of laziness (and inconvenience), but I’ve rationalised that the pollution with Dr Bronner’s soap is so negligible as to be not worth worrying about.
I’ve tried washing bowls but they’ve been too heavy and often too large. Reading Philip’s tweaked my conscience, so I thought I’d have another look for a suitable collapsible washing bowl. After a little root around the internet, I couldn’t find anything suitable (generally too large and heavy), until I searched for “bowl” on the Ultralight Outdoor Gear website.
Along with a load of cooking stuff, I found this beauty: the Ruffwear Quencher lightweight collapsible dog bowl. Cogs whirred in my brain, “that looks just the job!”.
It has a diameter of 15cm and a depth of about 8cm (to top of waterproof lining). On my scales, it weighs 64g (lighter than advertised) and will hold about 0.5L of water. It’s just large enough to put both hands in to wash.
The black waterproof liner has no seams to leak and the square base means it’s very stable. The only slight drawback is the lip is not waterproof. I might use some silicone sealant on it.
It’s a pretty small weight penalty to have a portable wash bowl for convenience and the satisfaction of avoiding polluting streams. It also means no balancing on rocks and risk of falling in. Now I’ll be able to wash in the comfort of my tent without my skin being flayed by a cold wind.
Admittedly, if you wanted to go even lighter, you could take a rigid plastic bowl, but it would be a bit inconvenient to pack a bowl of the equivalent volume. It’s not for everyone, but I think it’s a neat solution to camp washing.