www.longwalks.org.uk

My Walk

Home

The End to End Trail

E2E Bibliography

Offa's Dyke Castles Alternative

Links

Contact me


At some point I'll fill this page out into a more coherent account of my walk in 2002. Here are just a few notes for the time being, before I go off into fairyland towards the end of this page. A few facts about my walk:

Is my razor just for shaving? Yes sir

The heading is from an old Western Swing song by Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies. It's not got much to do with this bit of the website apart from the reference to a razor, but it's my website so I'm leaving it in anyway. The key question here is "Should you carry a razor on a Land's End to John O'Groats walk?"

Let me make it clear I'll be evaluating this question from a male point of view. This isn't due to any bias or prejudice, but purely because I'm not really qualified to judge this one from a female perspective.

Pro

Con

So assuming you're not worried about scaring the kids, it all boils down to whether a razor is heavier than a beard. Or, rather, half a beard. Remember you'll start out with no beard at all. which weighs nothing. So if we assume a two-month walk, we need compare one month of beard against a razor. Let's start with the razor. A disposable razor weighs about 5 grams. They work OK for me, and that's pretty light. Now for the beard...

The average human head has about 100,000 hair follicles (according to that infallible source of knowledge, a Google trawl). Let's assume that 10% of those are in the beard area, i.e. we're talking about 10,000 hairs. Well I've never counted what ends up in the sink when I have a shave, but that sounds reasonable to me. Now the diameter of a human hair is 18 to 180 micrometers. Beard hairs are about as bristly as they come so let's assume the average beard hair is 150 micrometers in diameter, i.e. 0.15 mm.

Now the average human hair growth rate is about 11 cm per year, or about 1 cm per month. This means you're growing 10,000 cm, or 100 metres of hair on your chin in a month. So how much does this weigh?  We can work out the volume: length times the cross-section area, or 100 metres x pi x 0.15/2 mm x 0.15/2 mm.  This gives a volume of 0.00175 litres. So what does this weigh? Well hair must weigh at least as much as water, since hairs sink gradually in water. A litre of water weighs 1 kilogram. So half a beard weighs at least 1.75 grams.

But...that would be if your beard were dry. Will it be dry?  Not if my walk was anything to go by. It will hold water - either sweat or rain - in a way that a shaved face doesn't. Let's assume that on average your beard will hold its own weight in water. This means the gross weight of half a beard is about 3.5 grams, therefore it's not worth taking the razor.   QED. I'll let others ponder on whether the balance might be tipped by shaving legs etc as well - I don't think I'm going there.

Page last updated 26 August 2008