With our new partnership now in play with innovative travel product Scrubba wash bag, we took some time to chat with the creator, Ashley Newland to ask about his brainchild and of course, talk all things travel.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your past adventures.
My background is that of a scientist and patent attorney, so before coming up with the idea for the Scrubba wash bag, my work involved protecting other people’s inventions and brands. Nevertheless, I’ve always loved travel, and whenever I could I took as much leave as possible to explore the world! In 2010 and 2011 I travelled for a total of 8 months, ultimately exploring 22 countries across 6 continents. The idea for the Scrubba wash bag came upon me in the lead up to the 2010 trip, and although I took a prototype on both trips, it took 2 years to get the final product to market.
What exactly is the Scrubba wash bag?
The Scrubba wash bag is the world’s smallest ‘washing machine’ for travel and camping. Featuring a flexible, internal washboard that is capable of cleaning clothes anywhere in just minutes, the bag enables travellers to pack less, travel light, and save time and money while globetrotting by negating the need to loiter around dingy laundromats. Weighing only 142g and folding to pocket-size, the Scrubba wash bag blends old-fashioned technology with modern materials and manufacturing methods, resulting in an ultra-portable device that truly brings the effectiveness of the washboard into the twenty-first century. Suitable for all adventures, travellers can wash clothes anywhere by adding only 2-4 litres of water, a small load of garments, and a very small amount of cleaning liquid. After sealing the bag and removing air through the twist-style valve, clothes are ready to be rubbed from the outside against the washboard for as little as 30 seconds. After a quick rinse in the bag, clothing can be hung to dry. Between washes, the Scrubba wash bag also functions as a high quality dry sac to keep valuables safe from the elements.
What inspired you to create the Scrubba wash bag and accessories?
The idea for the Scrubba wash bag formed about 5 months before travelling to Africa to climb Kilimanjaro. While chatting with a mate, I happened to mention that our tents, sleeping bags, and cold weather gear would greatly reduce the amount of clothing we’d be able to carry, exacerbating the already complicated task of doing laundry in certain remote parts of Africa. A few weeks later, after pondering the issue further, I started thinking about washboards, which are incredibly effective but highly impractical devices for travel. The Scrubba wash bag was born from the realisation that if we could incorporate a flexible washboard into a sealable waterproof bag, we could change the way people travel.
Tell us about some of the most exotic locations you have seen your clients use the Scrubba wash bag.
The Scrubba wash bag has been used in hundreds of countries and locations ranging from 5 star hotels to remote jungles and deserts, and it is this unique ability to adapt to innumerable environments and thus suit the diverse needs of modern travellers, that is actually one of my favourite aspects of the bag. One memorable location – certainly one of my favourites – to have hosted the wash bag is the Matanuska Glacier in Alaska, as documented by travel blogger and photographer @adventuresoflilnicki.
Do you have a favourite travel destination or a favourite travel activity and why?
My favourite travel destinations have been Mongolia and Morocco, as both boast incredible culture and scenery, and neither are your run of the mill destination. My favourite travel activity is actually just walking and exploring. Whether this is in the nearby countryside or through the winding alleys away from the tourist areas, walking is one of the best ways to soak up unique cultures and environments, as it enables you to observe or immerse yourself in countless new experiences that simultaneously arouse and challenge the senses.
With the new partnership between Crooked Compass and Scrubba, out of the destinations we travel to, where would you most like to see travellers or local communities using the Scrubba wash bag?
While half of our customers use the Scrubba wash bag in hotel rooms to avoid hotel laundry charges, I get particularly excited when the Scrubba wash bag is used in the sort of remote locations for which it was initially developed. This is not only because I love seeing just how accessible laundry has become with the Scrubba wash bag, but also because the bag helps to reduce pollution by allowing grey water to be disposed of away from water sources. It would be great to know that the Scrubba wash bag is being used to clean clothes near some of the world’s greatest rivers, mountains, and jungles, all while leaving no trace.
Do you have any advice for others looking to create travel accessories?
Make sure that what you are trying to create is both useful and needed. It is a good sign if your idea tackles a real problem that you have encountered while travelling. Whenever I run into a problem, I get excited and use it as motivation, as it presents me with the opportunity either to solve it or find out about another entrepreneur who already has.
Apart from of course using the Scrubba wash bag, do you have any awesome travel tips that will help people to stay safe, travel light, or save money while exploring the world?
I think packing light is my best tip. Pack just the bare essentials, as this will give you so much more freedom on your travels. If you ever discover you need something that you left at home, you can simply buy it while abroad, with the added benefit that it will always remind you of the place you bought it. Other tips are to explore alternatives to hotel accommodation. With the likes of AirBnB, this is easier than ever, and you are likely to save money and experience more of the people and culture by broadening your focus in this way.
If you could do any Crooked Compass small group tour, which one would it be and why?
Two of the many Crooked Compass tours that I would love to do are the Lost World of 3 Guyanas tour and the Trek the Atacama tour. The Lost World tour has such diversity and incredible experiences, while the Atacama tour would be incredibly challenging and rewarding, not to mention something that very few other people will have done!
Where can people go to explore the Scrubba product range?
The best place to check out the Scrubba range for Australians is thescrubba.com.au. We also have a global website for those outside Australia at thescrubba.com. Additionally, the Scrubba wash bag can be found in stores around the world including Mountain Designs (AU), REI (US), Moosejaw (US), MEC (Canada), Globetrotter (DE), Tokyu Hands (JP) and Burnsco (NZ). People can also follow us on Facebook and via @scrubbaproducts on Instagram.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.