I’ve got a question.
It’s a bit personal, but it’s definitely one I’ve been asked many times before. It’s about expedition underwear.
How many pairs of knickers do you pack for a three day expedition?
Until recently my answer has been one for each day plus a couple of spare pairs. However, all my recent adventures by train have necessitated a reduction in both weight and bulk when it comes to packing my rucksack. This has led to some drastic decision making.
I’m down to one pair of pants per day.
In normal life of course, this pant/day ratio is perfectly reasonable. I get up in the morning, shower, put my knickers on, do stuff, take my knickers off again, then go to bed. Recent fuel price rises mean that between putting my knickers on, and taking them off, most days I wear other clothes as well.
But expedition days don’t work like that.
I do wear other clothes of course, campsites and empty moors tend to be chilly. But a morning shower is more often an ambition than an actuality. Even if there was such a luxury available, I’d have to get up before five o’clock to use it before the jobs of the day took over.
Which makes my knicker routine more tricky to manage.
The obvious solution would be to follow my home undies regime, and put clean knickers on each morning. But time pressures (and a lack of washing facilities) often make this tricky. When you’re looking after young people over night, you need to feel ready to leap out of bed at any moment.
This necessitates wearing pants in bed.
This isn’t usually too tricky for me. I’m a cold sleeper so I often wear most of my other clothes in bed as well. I counted five layers plus my sleeping and bivvy bags on one recent and particularly chilly night. But the system of wearing all my clothes, all of the time does highlight one enormous problem.
When am I supposed to put my clean knickers on?
When I’m camping, issues like these can occupy a disproportionate amount of my decision-making time. And lead to some rather bizarre discussions. After one such conversation, in the back of a (not camper) van, that was serving as our general accommodation, I made an important announcement (in front of people who, to be fair, probably didn’t want to know).
I’m going to put tomorrow’s knickers on tonight.
Nobody questioned my decision but it made me laugh as I wriggled (with most of my other clothes on as well) into my sleeping bag later that night. The alternatives were interesting. I could have opted to leave tomorrow’s knickers until tomorrow but the nature of expedition work meant that this plan carried with it a risk. A risk that even I felt would have taken me a step too far in the slovenly stakes.
I could have ended up wearing yesterday’s knickers tomorrow.