5 Essentials For Personal Hygiene In The Backcountry

By: Anna Cohen

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Anyone who spends a lot of time in the backcountry knows that it can take a toll on your hygiene. Personal grooming tends to go out the window, and this results in some long, smelly nights spent with your camping buddy in close quarters. It’s just part of the gig. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my pride is just a bit too big to let my personal hygiene go completely out the window while backpacking. So I’ve figured out some easy backcountry essentials to keep you looking, smelling, and feeling your best while backpacking, without adding too much extra weight to your pack! The goal is not to be high maintenance, but rather to prevent revulsion and help you feel your best.

Photo: Austin Trigg


This is probably the most important beauty essential while hiking, camping, backpacking…whatever. Any time you are outside, rock the sunblock. A sunburn is not only very un-cute, but it is also bad news for your skin. Sunburns can really hurt too. Carrying a heavy pack on sunburned shoulders is NOT something you want to try.

2. Lip Balm

Pick your favorite kind of lip balm and carry it with you. Chapped lips are not good looking, and they are pretty uncomfortable too. I like to bring cherry flavored chapstick with me because it adds a slight red tint to my lips and makes me feel a little glamorous even while I am sweaty, covered in dirt, and scrambling across a river.

3. Unscented Moisturizer

Keyword here is ‘unscented’. You want to keep your skin moisturized and soft, and prevent unbecoming flaking and dryness. You do NOT want some bears sniffing around trying to get a piece of the action.

Photo: Gemina Garland Lewis

4. Baby Wipes

Again, unscented is key. If you are near a river or lake, that's a great way to rinse off the grime. If not, baby wipes can be your best friend in the backcountry! Use them to give yourself a baby-wipe-bath. Use them as TP. Use them to clean up after a meal. They have so many uses and they will keep you feeling and smelling at least some what decent. Your tent-mate will thank you!

5. Dental Care Items

Last, but certainly not least: pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss with you. (Hopefully you already bring at least a toothbrush with you. If not, please, for the sake of your chompers, start now.) You can get little travel sized ones that don’t take up too much room and weigh hardly anything. Just whip them out when you wake up and before you go to bed, and voila! Fresh breath, gleaming white teeth…you are a backcountry bombshell. Just be sure to store your toothpaste (and any other even moderately scented products) securely tied up in a tree, or in a bear proof container along with your food items.

Photo: Anna Cohen

To see all of Anna's adventures and articles, check out her Outbound profile.

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