Hygiene On Trail and at Camp

Camping & Hiking expert Hannah K. shares her tips and tricks for feeling clean on the trail.

Backpackers hiking on a trail through a grassy field

Photo by Austin Bann

Published on

When you’re out in nature, hygiene isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to one mind. In fact, I think that there is a pretty large understanding that you probably will smell bad and your fingernails will have loads of dirt underneath them. No biggie, who cares right? Well for those interested in staying as hygienic as possible when you’re on the trail for more than a few days, here are some handy tips and tricks I have used to feel clean.

Body

Deodorant

I normally don’t bring deodorant with me if I’m backpacking. On a daily basis I often forget putting on deodorant so that isn’t a big deal for me anyways. For those who want to bring it along, I recommend getting a bar deodorant that you can put in a plastic baggie instead of one packaged in plastic. You’ll have a few ounces of weight and space in your pack.

Showers

Showering on trails can be difficult, annoying, a waste of water, and frankly unnecessary for some. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it if it will help you have a better experience. If you are interested, you can bring a privacy shelter and a pocket shower. For shampoo and conditioner, find package-free bars that will pack down small and light. There are soaps that are multi-purposeful, so if you want to wash up, bring a soap that doubles as body soap and shampoo.

An outdoors bathtub

Photo by Cecilia Medina

A lot of my friends swear by baby wipes instead. Pack a few into a small bag and be on your merry way. They are a great way to help you feel clean before you tuck away into your tent for the night. I always bring a few along to wipe off my hands before I handle food or and wipe away that very thick layer of sweat and dirt that always ends up on the back of my legs.

Teeth

Now, I have this thing with flossing every night. It’s actually a competition. My sophomore year of college my housemates and I decided to be accountability buddies and started a friendly competition to see who could floss every night without breaking the streak. Since then I’m the only one who has kept it up, but now I floss every night and my dentist loves me. Flossing on trails and at camp is not something I’m willing to compromise on because it makes me feel clean and fresh and ready to show off my smile. But as always, listen to your body and what feels good for you.

I also am a huge fan of brushing my teeth twice a day. When I go backpacking or camping, I bring along toothpaste tabs instead of the traditional toothpaste. They pack down small and light and I only bring as much as I will need for any given trip. I pair it with my bamboo toothbrush that is compostable and light in weight compared to a plastic one.

Bathroom

The last “hygiene” topic I want to touch on is using the bathroom. Many people are fine with going outside and taking a nice wilder-pee or wilder-poo. While I’ve never tried this out, it’s a device that makes it easier for females to pee outside! And for those who aren’t so comfortable with this idea, here is a portable toilet you can bring to camp if you so choose. Don’t forget some hand sanitizer and baby wipes.

A wooden outhouse standing in a green forest with a moon carved into the door

Photo by Amy Reed

“Camp clean” is a beautiful concept my friends. Whereas soap and deodorant are necessary to be deemed socially acceptable, the trail rejects that. Just another reason as to why the great outdoors are so great.

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Written By
Although I've been hiking for most of my life, I didn't start backpacking and camping until college when I joined the University Outdoors Club at my school. My first backpacking trip was ambitious, the Batona Trail in the Pinelands in New Jersey done in two days. To do that, we had to walk a maratho...

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