Keeping up with hiking hygiene seems to take more effort than usual. But keeping your body healthy and strong is of the utmost importance when preparing for a day’s trek.
So how do you do this, exactly?
Here are some personal hiking hygiene tips for your next trail adventure:
Going to the bathroom
For the ladies: Okay, so it sounds disgusting, but have you considered using a pee rag vs toilet paper while on the trail? Essentially, a pee rag is a piece of cloth or a bandana that you use and then pack out to dry while you continue your trek. Then, when the time feels right (like, at least once a day if not more), you give it a wash.
The downside to this is a mental one – the thought of carrying a pee rag with you. But the upside to this is you’ll be a little kinder to the environment, not to mention upping your Leave No Trace (LNT) game.
Make sure you stay hydrated. Staying properly hydrated on the trail will do more for you than just keeping you conscious, it will also go far in preventing a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) on the trail.
Here are some tips for when the need to poo arises on the trail:
- Dig a hole at least 6-8 inches deep at least 200 feet from any water source or campsite.
- Use eco-friendly, biodegradable toilet paper.
- Use wet wipes to clean yourself afterwards, and pack the wipes in a baggy to throw out when you get to a garbage can.
Generally, there are two options for bathing on a hike:
- In a Lake – If you opt to bathe in a lake, it is wise to do it soap-free, using just the water to wipe off the day’s dirt. Consider bringing baby wipes with you to aid in cleansing yourself, and pack them out for later disposal.
- A Sponge Bath – If you require an option a little more sterile, consider a sponge bath. Remember to do this at least 200 feet away from a water source as to not contaminate, and only use biodegradable soap.
Ladies, is there a thought as uncomfortable than getting your monthly on the trail? If you’re on the pill and it won’t be too much of a disturbance, consider timing your period around your hike.
However, if that is not an option, then proceed as normal. Just remember to pack out your used tampons and applicators to dispose of at the next garbage can.
Also, consider using a menstrual cup for less waste. Just remember to wash it regularly!
It is always advisable to bring a bandana with you on your hike (and I don’t mean your pee rag one).
Bandanas are great for wrapping around your head during the day to stop sweat from getting in your eyes, or to even warm up your neck at night when the air gets cooler.
Bringing hand sanitizer with you on your adventure is a must. For when you’re done doing your business or just for when you need to make sure your hands are clean before eating, hand sanitizer will be your best friend.
Any experienced hiker will tell you the importance of keeping your feet happy and fresh on the trail, and one way to do this is to stay on top of your sock game.
Chances are your feet will get sweaty, and when that happens, your feet are prone to chafing and blisters. To help reduce the risk of infection, make sure your socks are clean and dry every morning.
Wash your socks every night, and hang them out to dry. If they don’t dry by morning, sling them onto the outside of your pack, and have them dry along the trail with you.
Brushing Your Teeth
Like with any hiking activity involving washing, make sure you brush your teeth at least 200 feet away from any water source or campsite.
For added eco-friendliness, dilute the toothpaste with water before you throw it away!
While this might be a major shake-up to your normal routine, deodorant is probably something you just want to leave at home.
Chances are, nobody on the trail is going to be smelling you too closely. And if you’re hiking with a buddy, they’ll more than likely smell just as bad as you anyway.
Also, scents tend to attract animals and bugs, so if you just can’t leave the deodorant at home, keep it natural and unscented!
For the same reasons you change your underwear daily at home, you’re going to want to change your underwear daily on the trail; except the reasons are magnified. Use the same technique that you do with socks, and wash your underwear regularly and let them dry completely before wearing.
While hiking, wear undies that allow your body to breathe, for when your downstairs business gets too sweaty for too long, you open yourself up to the risk of infection.