Ultralight hikers are crazy. They saw their toothbrush handle in half, just for those couple grams. Though not claiming mental sanity I haven’t given up on those comfortable extra centimetres of weight yet. My big hands are just not wanting to fiddle around in my mouth with a leftover of a toothbrush handle.
While watching the awe-inspiring Living on Ice, about Ben Saunders’ preparations for a speed record over the North Pole, a silly idea came to mind. Why do we need a toothbrush handle at all?
Took a toothbrush with an interchangeable head. Clicked out the head. A wide rubber band and some super glue.
The same night I wiggled the toothbrush over my finger and tested my idea.
Remarks? Super glue doesn’t taste nice, so be careful when gluing. You don’t want to have some on the nylon bristles, crumbling apart when brushing your teeth.
My finger is thicker than a regular toothbrush handle, not comfortable tearing your mouth apart while brushing your teeth. Moreover, especially while hiking, my hands are perhaps not the most hygienic body part, stuffing them in my mouth seems once more a bad choice. However, who goes trekking without spoon/fork/spork with a handle? Multi-use gear.
Lastly, when the handle is wider than the toothbrush head, which it often will be, it pulls apart the rubber bands, making the glue dots a very weak point.
Took a toothbrush with an interchangeable head. Clicked out the head. Took a kitchen knife -was the sharpest thing around in my student room- and made incisions as to fit the rubber bands in. Glued and clicked back in the head. The handle-pulling-it-apart and rubber-bands-stay-glued forces were now in opposite direction, rendering a much stronger design. This at the cost of twice the amount of plastic used. Huh? Have a look at the picture, that should clarify things at least a bit.
Once again I brushed my teeth to test the toothbrush.
Remarks? Regular rubber bands give a bit of a strange feeling when rubbing against your inner cheeks. Otherwise a lightweight though comfortable solution.
Making an elegant all-in-one teeth hygiene set I took a plastic Delhaize spice box, in which the toothbrush fits snugly, leaving enough room for dehydrated toothpaste. If needed some dental floss or a minitube of toothpaste -or Dr. Bonners- could fit in as well.
Ultralight backpacking toothbrushes are more than just cut in half regular ones.
Some try to stick their fingers in their mouth, like Jason Klass in this video. The same remarks as with my first attempt can be made. Fairly unhygienic and a finger is not the most comfortable toothbrush handle.
Perhaps a list with some of the viable toothbrush alternatives, adding some weight information. Not owning all these toothbrushes I have to rely on the internet, making an exact comparison rather difficult.
ZPacks Ultralight Travel Toothbrush.
Toothbrush handle to click on in (flimsy looking) lightweight plastic.
Weight. Toothbrush – 9.3 grams.
Carrying case – 11.3 grams.
Toothbrush handle to click on. Carrying case can hold 33 gr of toothpaste.
Weight. Toothbrush and carrying case – 45 grams
Liberty Mountain Compact Toothbrush.
Toothbrush handle doubles as a carrying case.
Weight. Toothbrush – not defined. Hmpf, stupid internet.
TOOB brush Aurelle.
Refillable tube of toothpaste is stored in toothbrush handle. Full length carrying case.
Weight. Toothbrush, empty tube of tooth paste and carrying case – 29 grams
MYOG Ultralight Toothbrush.
Weight. Toothbrush – 4 grams
Carrying case – 11 grams
Why carry a toothbrush handle when you have cutlery? The first design was, however lighter, weighing only just over 2 grams, not too durable. The second design resolved that issue, adding about 2 grams to the design, still totalling lower than other ultralight toothbrushes. Is this the lightest we can go? Definitely not. Using lighter plastic like ZPacks does and integrating the rubber bands to eliminate weak gluing points enabling us to pick the first design, should reduce the weight just under 2 grams. Adding some dehydrated toothpaste or Dr. Bonners this makes a super combo.