You don’t have to let go of personal hygiene on a backpacking trip, despite what we hear in the media. Staying clean and washing up daily will keep you a lot more comfortable and prevent many health problems.
As a hiking adventurer, here are some items of gear and some best practices you can follow to not only remain healthy but also odor-free.
Wash Your Hands with Soap:
Taking a poo and eating a meal should be followed by washing your hands with soap and water. If you are packing, throw slivers of soap from your bathroom soap tray in the food bag since they are odoriferous (What to Put in a Bear Bag).
Instead of a stream or lake, rinse your hands in a water bottle or collapsible wash bucket (1 ounce) to leave no trace and avoid soap contamination. The best way to remove dirt and grime is with soap and water rather than a hand cleanser like Purell.
Wipe Yourself Clean:
After you do a number two, it goes without saying that your butt crack should be polished clean. You will feel like you have the ass of a baboon when you have chafing and monkey butt caused by a dirty crack.
Whatever you bring, use leave no trace trowel or carry everything out, if required, whether it’s toilet paper, paper towels, or natural materials. You can reduce the inflammation associated with monkey butt by using zinc oxide cream or Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. It is really best to prevent “butts” from happening in the first place.
Rinse Out Your Hiking Clothes?
You may experience chafing or irritation when your hiking clothes get smelly after absorbing a lot of perspiration. In order to remove sweat, you need only rinse it out with water without using laundry detergent. Sweated salt dissolves easily with water.
Ensure your clothes are completely dry by soaking them in a plastic bag, a collapsible bucket, or a bottle of water. When worn or hung up to dry, hiking shirts and pants made with synthetic fabrics dry very quickly. During hiking, if damp socks take longer to dry, bring a locking safety pin to pin them to your pack.
Sponge Off Before Sleeping?
To remove salt from your head, face, body, and feet at night wet a bandana or buff it with water from a bottle. With water, the salt will dissolve easily and there is no need for soap.
Keeping it away from water sources will prevent people from drinking your funk (since it won’t be filtered out by water filters). The process can also be simplified by bringing a shower attachment that screws onto a plastic water bottle or platypus soft bottle.
Bring a Separate Set of Sleeping Clothes:
Sleeping tops and bottoms should be packed separately. I usually pack a long-sleeved top and bottom so that I can use them as a warm baselayer in cold weather. Your sleeping bag/quilt will also stay cleaner and oil-free if you sleep in clean clothes, so you won’t have to wash it as often.
Due to the fact that you are not sweating in them all day, you won’t have to wash them every day. Longer trips may also be more pleasant with wool baselayers because they help mask smells for longer periods of time.
Brush Your Teeth:
Daily brushing of your teeth will make you feel better. It doesn’t matter if you’re backpacking or not, bad breath and tooth decay still happen.
Don’t Eat Out of Snack Bags Shared with other People:
Whenever you’re offered a snack from a bag of goodies shared with others, politely decline. If people reach into food bags with contaminated hands, germs can easily spread.
Read More: How to Pack a Backpack for Travel
Wash out Your Cook Pot:
You should wash your cook pot before putting it away at night if you cook your meals in one. There is no need to use soap. As an alternative to rubbing steel wool, you can throw in some sand or river pebbles and you will get the same results as rubbing steel wool.
There is no need to dispose of the dregs, they should be drained into a hole dug with your trowel, so nothing comes into contact with them, and microorganisms can easily digest them.
Backcountry Hygiene Gear / Supplies List:
Backcountry gear doesn’t have to be heavy to keep clean. You will experience a lot of discomfort as a result, though. The following is a brief summary of the items I recommend you carry.
- Trowel that leaves no trace
- A small camp towel, bandana, or buff
- Plastic bag 1/2 gallon size for washing/agitating clothes
- A sliver of soap
- Pins with locking mechanisms
- Brush/toothpaste tube
- For ladies, pee rag or toilet paper (separate from washcloth).
- A small container of white Dermatone or a repackaged tub of zinc oxide
Excess dirt and oil can be removed simply by rinsing in fresh water. You can also use biodegradable soap and extra water if there is no water available. Remove yourself from your campsite at least 200 feet away from any water source and 200 feet from any water source near your campsite.
Sinks can also be approached in a similar manner. You can hand-wash your clothes by plugging a sink’s drain, adding soap, and filling it with hot water. A backpacker’s favorite method of cleaning his or her clothes is by using this method. Even a universal drain plug designed specifically for travelers is available.
Without access to water, you can clean yourself with baby wipes. You won’t be completely clean after using them, but they will help. Whenever you use wipes, use more than one as each one gets dirty. After using the baby wipes, moisturize your skin with lotion.
Regularly washing clothes and bedding removes bacteria, dirt, fleas, mites, and other irritants or infections. Infectious diseases such as diarrhea, respiratory infections, scabies, and other skin infections can be reduced by washing clothes and bedding.
Keeping clean when backpacking doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. Dirt is a part of the experience, but it’s also a fun part. The feeling of getting dirty from time to time is good, but the feeling of getting home and soaking in a hot shower when it’s over is even better.
Don’t overthink it and plan ahead as best you can. If you apply some or all of the guidelines I’ve offered above, you’ll be fine. Don’t give up if something works for you. Try changing it up and finding something that does. It’s all about trial and error when it comes to backpacking.
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