When going on an overnight or multi-day trek, it’s important that you keep yourself fresh. Your fellow hikers will thank you for it. No one wants to be *that* person on a hike! But more than not being a smelly hiker, there are good hygiene reasons why it’s important to stay clean during a multi-day hike.
Follow our tips that will help you stay clean and fresh on the trails:
Have a bath
Yup! It might not be the porcelain kind, but when it comes to bathing during a hike, there are usually two options available:
- Have a sponge bath: Use a bit of water and a face washer and freshen up your bits! Just make sure you bathe at least 100 metres away from your campsite or any source of water.
- Have a dip in a body of water: If you’re lucky enough to have a water source during your hike or close to your campground, take a dip, but beware of currents or submerged objects that could snag you. We recommend you do it so soap free. Just wipe away dirt with your hands and water or an unsoaped face washer.
Bring some baby wipes for special attention to your pits for added hygiene, but make sure that you pack them out with you.
If you pack one luxury, make sure it’s clean socks
Perhaps the most consistent advice you’ll get from any experienced multi-day hiker is to always make sure that your feet are comfortable and fresh while on the trail.
To do this, pack at least one extra pair of awesome hiking socks.
While you’re on your trail, your feet will most likely get sweaty. If this happens, there is a chance of chafing and developing blisters. In extreme cases, you could even develop athlete’s foot.
To reduce your chance of infection, wash your socks regularly and make sure they’re dry before you put them on. Wash your socks overnight, and if they aren’t dry by morning, hang them from your pack so they dry during the day and wear your lovely fresh socks that day.
You might need to get more than two pairs, depending on how many days you’ll be hiking.
Brush your teeth
Second to the luxury of at least one extra sock, brush your teeth, morning and night. Just like with almost any hygienic activity you do while on your trail, make sure you brush your teeth but no less than 100 metres feet from your campsite or a water source.
If you’re a hardcore, lightweight hiker, cut the handle of the toothbrush off and shave off some extra grams.
Toileting on the trail
Going to the toilet is a bit more complicated for us women as we have to choose between taking toilet paper, doing the good old shake and drip dry method, or taking a ‘pee rag’. A pee rag is a piece of cloth that you use to wipe yourself after a wee and leave out to dry (clipped to your backpack) while you’re on your trail. Then, when it’s convenient, you can wash it.
Not everyone is comfortable using a pee rag, though. I’m more of a shake and drip girl, myself. The thought of carrying a pee rag is not something all hikers are comfortable with. But the big advantage is that it’s environmentally-friendly over toilet paper and it saves having to pack it out.
Doing number twos
Now, if you’re getting plenty of fibre in your diet and if you’re hiking for more than a day, there’s a good chance you’ll need to poo while hiking. Here are a few must-know tips:
- Dig a hole to poo in. The hole should be at least 15 centimetres deep, and it should be no less than 60 metres away from your campsite or a source of water.
- Pack bio-degradable, eco-friendly toilet paper.
- When you’re done answering nature’s call, clean yourself with wet wipes or toilet paper. Pack the used wipes or toilet paper in a zip lock plastic bag or scented nappy bag and when you can, throw the bag in a rubbish bin.
A tool like this ultralight backpacking trowel is perfect for digging poo holes. It even has measurements so you know it’s deep enough.
Handling your period during an overnight hike
Experiencing ‘that time of the month’ in your everyday life is bad enough, let alone while you’re doing a day hike, let alone a multi-day walk!
If you’re on the pill, you can skip a period if you’re due just before or during your planned hike.
But lots of us women don’t like messing with our hormones, so dealing with our period while hiking is a fact of life.
All used pad, tampons and applicators should be packed out with you, throwing them away at the first opportunity. Use hand sanitiser before and after using sanitary items to help prevent infection.
Menstrual cups are great for hiking as they help reduce the number of used products you have to carry and pack out with you. Just remember to wash out the cup as often as you would during everyday life.Check out menstrual cups available on Amazon. They have a wide range available.
Use hand sanitiser
Hand sanitiser is a must for me on day walks, let alone a multi-day hike. Whether it’s for when you finish doing your toileting business or if you’re about to eat and you want to make sure your hands are clean, hand sanitiser will help the spread of germs.Grab some hand sanitiser before your next hike.
Over to you. What are tips for staying fresh on the trail during a multi-day hike?
Last modified: March 3, 2019