Backpacking Hygiene

Let’s face it, camping doesn’t tend to lend itself to perfect hygiene. Even if you’re at a campsite with pristine showers, it can be tricky to quite manage the levels of personal cleanliness you’d normally maintain at home.

If you add backpacking into the mix, or if you’re camping somewhere without many facilities, it can be tough to stay clean. Here are some simple things to take with you that will help:

  • Hand Sanitizer

During the coronavirus crisis of 2020 and 2021, you’ve probably already got into the habit of carrying hand sanitizer everywhere you go. Keeping a small bottle of hand sanitizer handy is a great plan, especially if you won’t have access to handwashing facilities. 

  • Cotton Bandana (Doubles as a Washcloth)

If you’re trying to travel as light as possible, try using a cotton bandana in place of a washcloth. It’ll dry off quickly, making it easy to use then pack.

  • Wet Wipes / Moist Towelettes

As any festival-goer knows, wet wipes or moist towelettes are an essential item to pack. They’re great for wiping down if you don’t have access to showers or somewhere to bathe. Just remember to responsibly dispose of used wet wipes or take them home with you. Even so-called “biodegradable” wipes take a long time to decompose.

  • Travel Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Take care of your dental hygiene while backpacking by using travel-sized products. A folding toothbrush is a great way to save space. You might want to take some floss, too. Again, be responsible about how you dispose of used toothpaste and floss.

  • Extra Socks

Your feet are likely to get stinky and sweaty if you’re hiking all day – there’s no way around that. Keep an extra pair of socks with you just for sleeping in, and only wear these while you’re at camp.

  • Moisture-Wicking Clothing

To avoid getting sweaty while camping, invest in moisture-wicking clothing (particularly underwear). This will keep you feeling fresh for much longer each day.

  • Microfiber Towel

If you’ll be able to wash at some point along your route, take a microfiber towel with you. This lets you dry off easily, and it won’t take much space – or much time to dry.

  • Dry Shampoo

Worried about how to keep your hair from looking greasy? Dry shampoo is a great option here. Simply spray it on your hair and brush it through.

Some other great ways to take care of your personal hygiene while backpacking include:

  • Camp near a stream or lake.

    This is a great way to stay cool when camping, as well as a way to clean up.

    Remember not to use soap in this, as it will contaminate the water source. You could bathe in the water though, or dip your feet in it to cool off.

  • Consider breaking up your trip with stays at campsites.

    You might want to split a long backpacking trip with some stays at sites that have showers, so you can get properly clean.

  • Stay cool.

    An air conditioned tent isn’t really an option when you’re backpacking. But if you have the space to pack and carry it, a personal camping fan can help prevent you getting hot and sweaty in your tent – meaning you’ll stay fresher and cleaner.


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