Trail Hygiene: 101

Maintaining your hygiene is still important in the wilderness in order to fight off any infections and intestinal problems. However, your level of personal hygiene should never come at the expense of mother nature.


Rule of thumb: Choose a spot at least 55 yards away from all water sources, and get to digging. You should be digging a hole that’s about 6 inches deep to do your business in.

Sponge bathing

Use a collapsible water basin or water bladder. Take your “bath” at least 200 feet from all water sources.

Baking soda is a great option for bathing in the backcountry. It is easier on the environment and can also be easier on the skin than soap in some cases.

If you choose to use soap, op for vegetable oil based castile soaps (like Dr. Bronner’s) that are usually biodegradable.

Use a small washcloth to scrub the areas of your skin that are covered with soap or baking soda. Wash off until your skin is clean, and rise your washcloth frequently.

Body wash

Skin care

Carry and apply lip balm on a regular basis. Find one that has UV protection.

Wear sunblock on any skin that may be exposed to the sun throughout the day.

Disposable baby wipes will be helpful for keeping those “critical areas” clean. Keep in mind that if you do cary baby wipes, you’ll need to pack them out with you, which is added weight to your pack.


When done washing and rinsing, hang your clothes overnight on a line of parachute cord (given that it is not raining out) If your clothes are still damp in the morning, you can hang them from the outside of your pack to air dry as they day progresses.

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