How Does a Backpacker Stay Clean and Comfortable?
The term “Great Outdoors” applies in so many ways, especially if you’re an avid backpacker. The sights, sounds, exercise and fresh air are more than enough for most of us to want to stay out on the trails for days at a time. We must admit though, that the real challenge comes down to trying to keep as comfortable as possible, especially as the aging process presses on, and keeping clean and hygienic. For many backpackers, they are perfectly content to go those few days without a wash or a toothbrush. For others, this can be a challenge. Today we share some tips to help make your great outdoors adventures even greater! (and cleaner)
Comfort is Key
Just because you’re roughing it doesn’t mean you need to be roughing yourself up in the process. We only get one body, so we need to take care of it! In 2023 there are so many products geared towards hikers and backpackers that it can seem daunting to know what you truly need versus what might be a bit over the top. Especially when you’re serious about your carry weight (and we hope you are!). Below we’ve listed some items that we consider essential. You can find these at various price points to fit any budget, especially for beginners, but the longer you participate in the hobby, the more you’ll want to invest in the quality of your gear.
Starting with clothing, you will want to pack lightweight and quick-drying clothes. Choose moisture-wicking fabrics that dry quickly, such as synthetic materials or merino wool. These will keep you comfortable, but as an added bonus, they also prevent excessive sweating.
Perhaps the most important piece of gear for backpacking, is the backpack itself! Invest in a well-fitting backpack, specifically made for backpacking, that distributes weight evenly and has adjustable straps to ensure a comfortable fit. A good backpack will prevent unnecessary strain and discomfort, and will provide years of use.
Treat your feet! Proper footwear is an absolute must. Choose sturdy, comfortable footwear designed for hiking or backpacking. Make sure they are broken in before your trip to avoid blisters and discomfort on the trail. Your feet are your ultimate tool out on the trails, so be sure you’re treating them as such!
Rest on the trail is important in ensuring you have the proper energy to carry on for multiple days. Bring a good quality sleeping bag suitable for any weather conditions you may run into. Also, use a sleeping pad for added comfort and insulation from the ground.
This last one isn’t really a tip for comfort OR for cleanliness, but it’s still important, so we’re going to say it. Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated and feeling refreshed. Carry a lightweight water filtration system to replenish your water supply from natural sources along the way.
Keeping it Clean
We’re going to get real with you for a second… you WILL stink. It’s part of the charm of this sport! But stinking and being clean are two very different things. Just because there is no running water, doesn’t mean you can’t wash up!
Pack travel-sized toiletries such as biodegradable soap, toothpaste, and a toothbrush. Take the time to wash your hands regularly and maintain oral hygiene. Additionally, use wet wipes or a small towel for quick cleaning when a shower isn't available. Another great option is to heat up some water for a makeshift sponge bath. Our Littlbug Stoves offer the perfect solution to being able to get some hot water right on the trail to wash up with! If water sources are limited, consider using no-rinse body wipes or dry shampoo to freshen up.
Follow Leave No Trace principles by disposing of waste responsibly. Pack out any non-biodegradable items and bury human waste in a cathole dug at least 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet away from water sources.
Bathing in a lake or pond can be quite relaxing. Take the opportunity to bathe in natural water sources like rivers or lakes. Out here, there's no need for soap. Even biodegradable soap is inappropriate to use in pristine wilderness areas. A simple soak and rub down will be just fine to remove any surface dirt you may have picked up on your journey, and will make you feel equally as rejuvinated. As for drying off, did you know that a beach towel isn’t the only option for drying off? Instead, choose a quick-drying and compact microfiber towel that takes up minimal space in your backpack. It will come in handy for drying off after swimming or bathing if you don’t want to take the time to air dry!
Stop and smell the roses (or whatever safe to smell flora and fauna you see)! Allow yourself some rest days during your backpacking trip. Use these days to relax, clean up, do laundry, and take care of personal hygiene needs. By implementing some or all of these tips, you can ensure a more enjoyable and comfortable backpacking experience while maintaining personal hygiene and cleanliness along the way.
When it comes to outdoor skills the more you bring along, the less you have to carry. Skills don't break and they're never left behind. They don’t leak, they don't tear, and they don’t get wet! Happy trails!