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Meet Clean Trek’s Craig Cushman

Staying fresh and clean when you’re camping or exploring outdoors is no easy task.

Hiking and moving (especially in the summer heat) can produce some funky smelling campers. Am I right? We obviously can’t help that our bodies sweat (it’s natural) – but we can prepare for washing away the funk. Enter Clean Trek.

Our 50 Campfires Portland Team was a big fan of Clean Trek and their amazing line of personal hygiene products for the outdoor enthusiast. Between their cleansing towels, gear spray and mountain fresh-scented shampoo, the folks at Clean Trek are making waves in the outdoor industry. One odor-free campsite at a time.

Fellow camping enthusiast and writer Clint Carlson, sat down with Clean Trek’s Craig Cushman to discuss the brand and the science behind the odor eliminating product line.

Read or listen to the full interview!

50Campfires: So we were talking a little bit before we started the show here, I was mentioning that we were out in Oregon and we got our hands on everything in your product line. We went out there for a 50 Campfires field trip and we went through three campsites through Oregon and then up through Washington. It was very cold and it was very rainy, and we got very funky after a week of hiking. And I have to say that the freshness that the product brought was well-appreciated by everyone in the camp.

Clean Trek: Well great, I’m glad you guys had some along and got to experience the benefit of that. Yea, I’m sure all of the folks around you appreciated the fresh-smelling clothes and body that each (person) had – it can get funky.

50CF: Yea, and especially when we hop back into the truck and we have 2 hours until we get to the next campsite – and we’re in close quarters with all the gear. You are correct – you appreciated it when your fellow camper used it.

CT: What we say is, “your fellow hikers should be funky, not smell funky”.

50CF: I love it. There’s the t-shirt, you could put it on a hat.

CT: There you go.

50CF: So, let’s run through a couple questions here. One thing I’m interested in is, to what degree do you feel like Clean Trek can replace just simple soap and water at a campsite? And in what situations?

CT: That’s a great question an our product line is advanced. It is not a product that is going to just cover odor – be it on your body or be it on your gear, or your boots – whatever. It is actually a bio-science applied to create an enzymatic cleaner that will attack the sources of odor. So, it’s not just going to cover it up the way some fragrances do and things like that, maybe for the home. What it’s actually going to do is, it’s going to attack the source of that odor. So, be it on your body with bacteria and things of that nature or be it on your gear or whatever you might have, it is going to attack that source, eliminate the odor that is producing, and then protect against that coming back. So, soap and water is terrific and that’s fine. What we will do with our cleaning products (our wipes, towels, and things like that) is we’re going to give you a level of protection – where you’re going to go beyond what any soap and water could do as far as controlling the odors and controlling them from coming back.

50CF: So, there aren’t a whole lot of products that are in the realm I don’t think. How does it compare to something that everyone is pretty much familiar with – like Febreze?

CT: Sure. So, Febreze is a terrific product – people know it for eliminating odors out of your house and things like that. Part of what that product does – it has a component in it to make your nose blind to the odor (believe it or not). It’ll make you think the odor is gone but it isn’t necessarily going to control that odor on the source. So, if you were to take that pair of hiking boots and Febreze them down, it’ll last for a little bit. It’ll last for a couple of days but it is not going to do what Clean Trek can do. [Clean Trek] can attack the source of the odor and control that to the point where it isn’t producing odor any more. So you’re going to get a much longer benefit out of our Clean Trek – and you still get the benefit of an awesome-smelling spray that is going to leave a nice, pleasant scent. It isn’t odor-free, there’s a great scent we call Mountain Moss. So you get the benefit of both – we’re not covering odor we’re eliminating odor.

50CF: So, on the scent I gotta say we had a lot of different people who tried it when we were cruising around Oregon. We’d have it on the picnic table and we had different people in – or even just people that were coming in from the campground because we had music playing and beer here and there. People were commenting constantly on the smell of this stuff – Mountain Moss. You did a great job with the smell! The only thing I could really compare it to in my head was reminiscent of Irish spring, but it’s a lot lighter than that and it’s a lot cleaner than that. So, I’m curious how you guys settled on that smell and I’m also curious – what other smells you guys had on the table when you kind of experimenting? What didn’t make the cut?

CT: Oh geez, yea absolutely. You know smells in itself is a whole science – there’s an industry of professionals. That’s all they know and all they care about. We did some really extensive studying with probably six scents that we were interested in. Then we did blind testing with our consumers and folks we know that are avids, and it came down to Mountain Moss. What did we kick out? Gosh, I don’t even remember.

50CF: What smell was on the bottom of the list where people were like, “Nope, I’m not using that”?

CT: Sure. When you get to that level it’s a degree of pleasantness, right? So what’s what smells better? And what do I want to smell like when I’m hiking and camping – you know? I don’t want to smell like a mountain meadow or heavy perfumes, or anything like that. I want to smell fresh and clean. So, in your head when you’re talking, when you get a sample of scents that are going to be put in front of somebody – you say, “This is the activity, this is what you want to do – what do you want to smell like?” And that’s where we come down to the Mountain Moss scent that we put into Clean Trek.

50C: And that’s the problem. You’ll see a lot of people throw baby wipes in their pack and it’s like, “Maybe I don’t want to smell like a baby all day long”.

CT: Not only that. They do a clean job and they’re fine, but wouldn’t you want something that not only gets your hands clean but also keeps odors? Think about it for a minute. Around the campsite you’re cooking onions and putting them in with potatoes and making your dinner – baby wipes aren’t going to take that onion smell away, off your hands. Clean Trek will. So, there’s added benefits to [Clean Trek]. The same amount of money you’d spend on baby wipes but you get that added bonus.

50C: So, we were particularly interested in something you talked about. Something to do with sleeping bags. We know on our end that manufacturers of sleeping bags will often say, “Try to wash them sparingly”. Some will even say, “Do your best to not wash it at all”, and will give recommendations for sleeping in fresh clothes at night, and sleeping with socks on and different things. There are a lot of sleeping bags these days and depending on the kind of loft, if you wash the bag it’s going to compromise the effectiveness of the bag – the loft can clump and these kinds of things. Talk a little bit about how your gear spray comes into play and solves that problem?

CT: Absolutely, yea that’s the perfect application. Actually, it’s one of the main reasons that we do the Clean Trek spray in a 12 ounce bottle. We spend so much on our gear – sleeping bags, high-performance sleeping bags, and hiking boots and things like that. You know, it’s a shame when you don’t get the life out of them that you expect because they start to stink. We recognize sleeping bags as one of those opportunities where – if you could just get rid of the odor and get rid of funk, then you’ve solved a huge issue. And you don’t have to wash them as regularly, if ever. So again, what we do is we take our spray – and if you’ve been out in your sleeping bag all summer and you sweat and things like that – as much as we want to get in with fresh clothes it doesn’t always happen…So, what you can do with Clean Trek spray – just turn that sleeping bag inside out, give it a nice spray down of all the surfaces, and let it dry. Once it dries you can turn it right-side-in again and spray the outside if you want, on the outside as well and let that dry. Just by doing that, by spraying it down and letting it dry, that spray is going to attack the sources of any the odors that could be there – and it’s going to control those sources. It’s not just a flowery spray, it is actively attacking the things that cause odor. So, you can get through many seasons before you have to actually do a real wash on the sleeping bag. It’s a lot more cost effective and works amazing. Same on your hiking boots as well. Take the liner out of your hiking boot, give it a good spray down on the inside and out, and let it dry – that odor is gone and it’s going to stay gone, which is great.

50C: I love it. Last question, one that I generally like to wrap up with. With anybody who loves the outdoors as much as we do – one reason you guys made the product is because you like to get out and about…Tell us your favorite place that you’ve been camping or hiking outdoors and what you loved about it.

CT: You got it. Two different places. My favorite are the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I’m a New Hampshire resident, I hike sections of the Appalachian Trail all the time, as well as day hikes and things like that. My heart is in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, they’re absolutely gorgeous and I just love it. More recently, I spent quite a bit of time in the Jackson Hole and Drigg’s Idaho area doing hikes on the Tetons. Man, that’s a close second to my beloved White Mountains of New Hampshire.

50C: Alright, thanks a lot. Thank you for those two spots – we’ll try to check them out if we ever get the chance. And thank you for making everybody’s camping trip just a little less nasty and funky.

CT: Ha! Thank you for having me. I look forward to keeping everybody fresh and clean while their camping and hiking.

Clean trek
Couldn’t get to the Clean Trek fast enough after a day of crabbing on the Oregon coast.




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