Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Bushwacking and tough skin.


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Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Bushwacking and tough skin. on 02/26/2013 00:30:17 MST Print View

Whenever I bushwack in shorts or a short sleeve shirt, I get pretty scraped up. For this reason I typically put on pants and a long sleeve for off trail travel.

Can you toughen up your arms and legs through repeated exposure in the same way that you toughen up your hands by not wearing gloves or toughen your feet by walking barefoot?

I thought of the natives who once inhabited the same places that I explore. They weren't wearing heavy duty clothing, some of them were practically naked. I think about cody lundin walking around the desert in shorts and no shoes.

Edited by justin_baker on 02/26/2013 01:33:59 MST.

Jeremy B.
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: Bushwacking and tough skin. on 02/26/2013 00:58:09 MST Print View

The natives had fire, a wonderful tool for clearing out underbrush, and used it regularly.

You can probably toughen your skin, or at least de-sensitize it; but I recall even Cody getting his legs cut up in some environments. Sorry, I don't have any good tips for it.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: Re: Bushwacking and tough skin. on 02/26/2013 01:37:04 MST Print View

Just this last summer I walked around my local grasslands in shorts. There were some very coarse dry grasses and prickly plants, but I didn't mind at all
I have worn pants up until the past couple of weeks and with all of the warm weather we have been having I am now back in shorts. I have noticed that my legs are now very sensitive to even the slightest abrasion. Makes sense.

Edited by justin_baker on 02/26/2013 01:37:36 MST.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Bushwacking and tough skin. on 02/26/2013 05:50:00 MST Print View

In my experience no. I've learned to cover up when bushwhacking as infection control in the wilderness is one of my top priorities for an enjoyable trip. One of my predecessors at work died of flesh eating bacteria after returning from the Philippines. Another man in NY lost his leg due to infection from what he thought was a very minor cut he received when he was harvesting firewood.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Not a good idea in my opinion on 02/26/2013 06:02:35 MST Print View

I don't think that trying to toughen your skin on arms and legs is a good idea. For one, I don't see how the skin in those areas can ever get as much use as your hands. Also, tough skin is great, but when you do cut or scrape it, it takes longer to heal. A cut on callused skin takes very long to heal- believe me...
I would stick to long sleeves. Besides protection from scrapes, you get protected from the sun and loose long sleeves keep you cooler than short sleeves in full sun anyway.

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
Bushwhacker's skin on 02/26/2013 07:49:39 MST Print View

I know people with skin that tough, from intense and prolonged exposure to wind, sun, salt water, and extremes of heat and cold. Basically, they tan their own hides and turn them into leather (my father doesn't need oven mitts, it's kind of horrifying). Then they have trouble with drying and cracking, just like with leather. Scratch-resistant, yes, but they still get infections. And because it's true about slower healing, they are probably MORE likely to get infected once injured, and certainly more prone to scarring.

Christopher Gutwein
(syntax) - MLife
Safety First on 04/08/2013 23:57:47 MDT Print View

My general rule is to avoid cuts/infections on a trip if at all possible. If I know I'll be going through rough or thick brush it is always long pants and sleeves and if I do get a scratch or cut on exposed skin I disinfect right away. I love my little 3oz medical kit I carry in my pocket.

I'm probably a little more paranoid than most though, my father-in-law had a long cut from a rock underwater in a canoe trip got really bad by the time he came out a week later since he didn't stop to treat it properly.

Edited by syntax on 04/23/2013 08:43:49 MDT.