4 Tips For Personal Hygiene When Hiking

It’s easy to take good hygiene for granted. Most of the time we have easy access to fresh water and bathroom facilities. But, what are you to do when you’re on a 6 day hiking trip and have all your supplies in a backpack and there are no facilities on the track?

Here’s some tips that were shared in a recent thread on Hiking in Australia and New Zealand group:

1. Go Smelly

Do you really need to wash at all? When you’re on a long hike, you and everyone else on the track is in it together. You’ve all not showered for the same amount of time, so what’s it matter if you’re sporting some BO?

Sure, after toileting and before prepping food you’ll want to clean your hands. But you’re going to survive just fine if you covered in sweat and dirt for a week. Afterall, there’s nothing more satisfying than that post-hike shower where you can see the dirty literally washing off of you–especially when it’s followed by that post-hike meal and beer.

The main worry people have about not showering for days on end is that they’ll smell. Get over it and embrace it.

2. Wear Merino Wool Clothing

Merino wool has a knack for not getting smelly. Outside Magazine puts it down to:

“… wool’s ability to absorb moisture keeps the skin drier, so the microbes don’t find as much moisture in which to grow. Its texture and subatomic charge is different from synthetics, so it doesn’t tend to attract odor-producing bacteria.”

The first must-buy item of merino wool is socks. Nothing compares. [Image: Wilderness Wear.]

I have worn the same t-shirt for 6-7 days with barely a note of musk, and I get really sweaty when I hike. Nowadays you can buy good merino tops, underwear, jumpers, shorts, socks, beanies, and headbands. You can go virtually odour-free head to toe.

On the other hand, synthetics and cotton tend to get smelly really quickly.

3. Go For a Dip

There is nothing more refreshing than taking a dip in a pristine alpine stream. This is a great opportunity to wash some of that sweat and grime off. But do not use soap in streams, rivers, or lakes. It’s a pollutant. Even the ‘biodegradable’ stuff that’s available.

Taking a dip in a crystal clear mountain stream is part of the joy of hiking in a place like this. But, respect the place. Don’t use soap or other pollutants.

Also, avoid introducing other pollutants like sunscreen or perfume. You’re best off giving yourself a good wipe over before taking the plunge.

4. Carry Wet Wipes

These are handy for giving yourself the occasional once over. They’re especially handy for wiping your hands after doing your business, or before a meal.

Remember: if you carry them in, carry them out.

Alternatively, you might just want  to use a bit of soap (like Wilderness Wash) and water. If you do, make sure you’re well away from any watercourse and use your water bottle as a makeshift shower.


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