Dude, you stink!" - a common phrase heard in the woods. But beware of the pot calling the kettle black. "Camping sanitation practices" - "personal hygiene"- "funk removal" - whatever you want to call it, it's about more than just smell. Your health and the health of fellow hikers; the aesthetics of the wilderness; avoiding fines; and your personal comfort are all at stake as well.
all about the bugs - bacteria, viruses, and other various nasty's. Keep
them at bay through better personal and environmental cleanliness, and
you'll feel better, smell better and be less likely to end up
gut-wrenching sick. Hikers are usually knowledgeable about water contamination. If you get our OK Kit
but are less cautious about other sources of germs from food and waste -
witness a trio of hikers all sticking their grubby hands into a bag of
trail mix at break time. But just because you don't have a gold-trimmed
faucet, a bidet and a garbage disposal at camp doesn't mean you can't
keep yourself and your trail area reasonably clean when out in the
woods. We've assembled some suggestions on the subject so you can be a
friend to the woods - and to your tent mate.
a point to carry a tube of Waterless Antibacterial Gel (WAB) it kiss bacteria and viruses on contact.
- Every night clean yourself under the
arms, feet and groin area with soft moist AB Antibacterial handi-wipes. You'll be amazed at how dirty the wipe
becomes - yes, that all came off you - and how much better you feel
afterwards. They are light weight to carry with big benefits. If you want to really "take a bath" you can use our Waterless Full Body Wipes, they are large and thick enough to clean the whole body leaving you refreshed and safe.
- Antifungal cream should be applied right after you dry your feet, that way you avoid getting a nasty and debilitating fungus between your toes which can eat through your skin. If left untreated a fungus can impair you to walk or even to stand. Your feet require special attention when you are in the outdoors.
- Speaking of socks, if you camp near water, wash out your socks and hang out to dry overnight. Just make sure you have one dry pair for in the morning, as sometimes they won't dry out completely at night. Tie outside your pack to finish drying the next day.
a small container of body lotion or muscle rub and use it on your feet
at night after cleaning. Try to sleep in something other than what you
hiked in, and hang those hiking clothes to air out overnight when
possible. If near water, rinse them out when you can.
- Cosmetics and perfumes attract animals - bears and bugs, for example - so leave that stuff at home.
dental hygiene while camping is comforting and healthful. Include
dental floss and use our disposable teeth wipes, they inexpensive and biodegradable. You could also bring a toothbrush too but be aware that travel toothbrushes collect lots of bacteria which you will be putting back in your mouth again if you don't clean them throughly. Don't rinse out your mouth right near your tent though. As with
dishwater, either dispose of it well away from your sleeping area or in
running water that will quickly dilute it. Otherwise the aromas will be
attractive to bears and other critters.
- An alternative to bathing with water is using AB Antibacterial handi-wipes, moist towelettes, etc. You can remove a lot of grunge from your body with one or two of these alcohol-soaked cloths. Just pack out what you take in.
Going To The Bathroom
I've heard of hikers going as long as a week without "going" because of either being uncomfortable with the process, or too bashful of sorts to let nature take its course. No point getting your colon all up in knots over it; just emulate your cat, as we'll explain below.
First, on urination - not a problem for guys; the world is our bathroom. Do relieve yourself away from camp sites as the urine odor can remain for some time. Ladies have more difficulty, but are encouraged to either drip-dry, carry out the TP, or bury it where allowed by using a small gardening shovel.
Second, There's actually a good-selling book titled "How to S#!+ in the Woods", but we'll try to condense that issue down to a few points:
1) Go off trail and at least 200 feet from any water source, including springs and streams.
2) Always carry a lightweight plastic gardening shovel when you hike for toilet purposes. Like your cat tries to, dig a hole 4-6 inches deep. If the ground is covered with snow, be sure to dig through the snow and create the cat hole beneath the topsoil - this can be labor-intensive if the ground is frozen.
3) Then just squat above it. This is the part novices fear the most, but actually results in much more natural and healthful elimination than sitting at a 90 degree angle on your home toilet. There are a couple of pointers - make sure you're really out of sight; squat with your rear downhill; hang on to a tree or your hiking stick for balance; and make sure your shirt or coat is lifted up in the back. After wiping with TP, get yourself even cleaner back there with moist AB Antibacterial Wipes reduce chances of chafing and later discomfort.
4) After using the cat-hole, cover it and the TP with the soil you removed. Revert the site to its natural look by re-scattering leaves, rocks or pine needles over the top. Place a rock on top so the next person along doesn't step in it or animals try dig it up. Note - in many areas you must pack out the toilet paper, particularly in dry arid areas. Use sealable baggies for that. If fires are allowed, you can burn the TP; just make sure it's reduced to ash. Whatever you do, just don't be a contributor to Charmin Confetti - used toilet paper blowing in the wind or hung up in bushes as you stroll down the trail. Gross!!
5) Always follow with a good hand cleaning with Waterless Antibacterial Gel sanitizer or soap and water.
6) Keep your trowel as clean as possible - wipe off on grass or sand or wash off after each use. Keep it and your roll of TP in a plastic bag and carry in or on your pack away from your food.
hiker's biggest gripe according to many polls - trash on the trail and
at camps - wrappers, toilet paper, plastic jugs - any can distract from
the wilderness experience. Here's how you can be part of the solution.
ahead and pack consumables with minimal trash components. Use Ziploc
re-sealable baggies to package individual meal servings instead of their
original containers, then use those bags to hold your trash coming out.
Avoid cans and other containers with metal - you'll have to carry those
in and out.
fires are permitted where you camp, you can burn some trash items, but
beware of paper not burning all the way to ash, or you still have a
trash problem. Cigarette butts can hang around for years, and don't
easily burn up - if you're going to smoke, carry out the butts.
- If you see trash on the trail - be a trooper and pick it up; don't wait for "someone to do something about it".
a heavy duty trash bag with you - it has many potential purposes such
as water protection, ground cover, or sleeping bag protector while you
hike - and then consolidate your trash in it on your way out.
needs to be hung away from your sleeping area just like food and any
aromatic personal items to keep away from bears and other critters.
- Use of Sunscreen is a must when you plan to be in the outdoors for more than an hour. Use of sunglasses and heat prevention routines must be taking into account every time. During winter time "snow blindness" is very common and can damage permanently your eye sight.
If you have any tips that may help others and would like to share them, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org