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I went hiking this weekend in a national forest on trails that see little use. In parts there were many spiderwebs crossing the trail - sometimes full webs (which I could usually, but not always, clear before passing) and sometimes just a few strands of silk between trees, which were nearly impossible to see depending on lighting conditions.

After a couple times getting spiderweb to the face, I started waving a stick in a figure-8 pattern around eye level every so often and when I suspected there may be a web (for instance, foliage sticking in on either side of the trail). This helped mostly on the full webs I found, but I still kept running into random strands, which made for a very unpleasant hike.

Is there a better way to clear spiderwebs when I can't see them? Are there tell-tale signs that strands of web might be crossing in my path?

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    In case your wondering the filaments will likely be baby spiers attempting to move location. They spin a long thin single filament as a type of parachute. The wind catches the filament and lifts them into the air. They can travel great distances like this and it helps distribute the spiders so that they don't over compete for food in a single area. – user2766 Sep 5 '16 at 15:16
  • @Liam cool, I didn't know that! A mosquito net did not occur to me, would that be something I would wear over a hat? – user812786 Sep 5 '16 at 15:45
  • Yep. Depending on the net. Or under it. – user2766 Sep 5 '16 at 15:46
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    Let the tall guy go first, that's what my wife does. – ShemSeger Sep 5 '16 at 20:19
  • @ShemSeger unfortunately, this was a solo trip.. but I'll keep that in mind next time I pick a hiking buddy ;) – user812786 Sep 6 '16 at 12:47
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What about a mosquito net? It would protect your face from any unwanted spiders webs:

enter image description here

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    Love one-liner answers. So pragmatic. +1 – Mindwin Sep 5 '16 at 17:36
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    Mosquito nets are the worst when it's hot out, and they snag on everything. I'd much prefer the occational silk to the face than the constant annoyance of a net over my head. – ShemSeger Sep 6 '16 at 16:22
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    Tell that to an arachnophobiac, @ShemSeger. =:-| – AnoE Sep 7 '16 at 9:46
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    Dear arachnophobics, I'd much prefer the occational silk to the face than the constant annoyance of a net over my head. Sincerely, all moderatly claustrophobics. CC: @AnoE – ShemSeger Sep 7 '16 at 15:36
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    that's way too extreme! cobwebs are annoying, but not half as much as a full net. Not to mention it requires wearing a hat! – njzk2 Sep 10 '16 at 1:45
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If you hike in a group, ideally arrange the sequence so someone big and not-so-bright is first. Maybe they won't notice the webs. :-)

I have not ever seen anyone wear a mosquito net. Not during spider season. Not in the tropics, jungles, or rain forests. I have years of total trail time. But it is a great option and should be easy to pack for "just in case".

In the Pacific Northwest, spiders have a definite web building season which lasts 3 or 4 weeks. In the lowlands, it tends to be September or October seemingly triggered by when temperatures drop or maybe when the rains begin. So there is no need to carry protection between November through July.

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    You don't even need someone not-so-bright to go first -- just someone who doesn't mind cobwebs. I flatter myself that I'm fairly bright, but I've freely volunteered to go in front when walking with someone who's bothered by spider silk. – Pont Sep 5 '16 at 18:59
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    This is certainly my wife's approach – WW. Sep 6 '16 at 12:06
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    Interesting, I didn't realize there was a web season! I certainly haven't seen someone wearing a net either, although it seems like it would work (even if I look a bit silly.. but then I won't have to worry about spiders in my hair when I'm solo and nobody can check for me, hah). – user812786 Sep 6 '16 at 12:56
  • Variety of trails has more significance than time on trails when noticing presence or absence of mosquito nets. – whatsisname Sep 7 '16 at 6:55
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Quarterstaff!

No, wait, hear me out. It's not just helpful against Ogres and Trolls while doubling as a walking stick / trekking pole but protects your eyes from various dangers if used properly: spiderwebs, thornbushs, and shrubberies.

With respect to the length of the staff I'd go with about the same height as the hiker, maybe add a few inches for the cool. The technique is actually quite simple: grip the staff like a shorter trekking pole and tilt slightly forward. This way the upper part of the staff will be ahead of your face essentially all the time. When entering a more dense area you might want to resort to more aggresive techniques.

  • Haha, I like your style. I actually did pick up a walking stick, but it was most useful when I could see the webs I was swiping at - not so much for the invisible ones. Plus, swinging it around every step made for very slow going when I had to actually use the stick for walking :( Is there a trick to holding it effectively? Does the staff need to be a certain height? – user812786 Sep 6 '16 at 14:28
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    Ekki-ekki-ekki-PTANG, zoop-boing, v'nourrvmwringmm... – ShemSeger Sep 6 '16 at 16:16
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    This is the best answer. A good staff is better then a good stick, and will auto take care of spider webs. Plus should you need it, you get more leverage. It should be a little taller then you, and, if possible, strong enough to hold your weight, while still being lite. In addition to path clearing it makes an easy way to hang your pack at night. Staff in a hole on the pack and stick the staff between two two tree limbs. In fact, I'd say that a good staff was a runner up for a towel. – coteyr Sep 6 '16 at 20:38
  • how do you use it as a pole (a very heavy one, at that) AND at the same time clear the way of cobwebs? – njzk2 Sep 10 '16 at 1:46
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My husband and I only have this issue when we're the first ones on the trail in the morning, so we've learned to take our time at breakfast/packing up and then we hit the trail a bit after we see someone else pass by our camp. If we aren't lucky enough to have another group clear the path for us, we take turns going in front and doing a scissor motion with our trekking poles when passing between two close trees. It's not a terrible low-effort upper-body workout, either. I think the mosquito netting is a practical idea, but for me it kills the fresh-air open-wilderness feel of backpacking.

  • This only works if the people hiking in front of you are as tall or taller than you are. I often get spiderwebs to the face even while hiking at the back of the pack, the one's that everyone else weren't tall enough to clear. – ShemSeger Sep 6 '16 at 16:20
  • I did that (not intentionally) this week, but in some places, even though there was a hiker a few minutes ahead of me, I would still catch cobwebs... – njzk2 Sep 10 '16 at 1:49
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Spin a length of string or chain while hiking, so that it will destroy or be caught in any spiderwebs in front of you. Wear a clear plastic mask, perhaps.

  • That would work in meadows and fields, etc. But there would not be many spiderworks. In forests, the trees and brush will stop a swinging textile unless the path is wide. But I don't hike on any of those sorts of trails. – wallyk Dec 17 '16 at 19:16
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We get giant Banana Spiders here in Florida. They can span across the entire trail and though harmless can be a real pain. When going down trails that no one has used for months or years enter image description here

they are especially thick.

I use netting and a big stick and have to wave it in front of me else you will be spider-faced real quick. They are very timid creatures so they retreat as soon as you touch the net with the stick.

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    "Fl"? Finland? Florida? Lichtenstein? Fort Lauderdale? – wallyk Sep 7 '16 at 15:19
  • Sorry, I meant Florida. I hike the FT whenever my health permits. – bobbym Sep 7 '16 at 17:59
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This is a somewhat lame answer, but I am often hunting off-trail and get spiderwebs in the face all the time. One day I just decided to decorate my face with any spiderwebs where I couldn't see a spider. Once you get one or two on your face, they stop bothering you, and the big webs with a spider in them are usually easy enough to spot and avoid. Trying doing one hike where you intentionally gather them with your face, and you might be able to happily hike along without caring afterwards.

  • This is akin to the "devil-may-care" backwoodsman approach of intentionally soaking your hiking boots at the beginning of the hike, so you won't care if they get wet later on. – wallyk Feb 22 '17 at 21:42

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