There’s the “must’ve been out for a hike” scent, and then there’s the “thawed out from permafrost after a thousand years” aroma. Depending upon how long you’ve been out doing what you do, and how frequently you get a chance to wrastle a bar of soap, your presentation can be somewhat arresting. Inconsistent personal maintenance can also govern your ability to comfortably sleep and keep bacteria, viruses, or illness at bay. How does one achieve a modicum of freshness in the wild? It’s a personal thing we’re lucky our guests for this round of The Shakedown are willing to share.
MIKE ST. PIERRE
HYPERLITE MOUNTAIN GEAR // CO-FOUNDER + CEO
I seem to take hygiene a bit more seriously than most others you see on the trails. Granted, there are many nights I’m so worked that I want to eat and pass out, but for the most part, I like to find camps around water sources where I can at least wipe myself down with a wet camp towel or a bandana. Even a mug of water with a little soap goes a long way in helping you bathe. Dip your towel or bandana in the mug of soapy water and wipe yourself down, then rinse with clean water. Going to bed clean ensures a much better sleep, and in colder weather, you’ll stay warmer at night. Before bed even when the days start getting colder, wiping your armpits and groin to wash away sweat and salt will help keep you much more comfortable and warmer in the sleeping bag.
This probably goes without saying, but make sure you pee before bed. This will also help you stay warmer in cold weather as your body won’t be using energy to keep your bladder full of pee warm. Get it out.
BETHANY "FIDGIT" HUGHES
THRU HIKER // WORLD TRAVELER // HER-ODYSSEY.ORG
Baby wipes. I pick up a travel pack before hitting the trail and leave it open for a few days, so the wipes dry out. Then when I'm on trail I pull it out and add a bit of water. Then it is happy-baby-in-the-tent time! Hint: start with your face and work your way down. Never the opposite.
KRYSTIAN "SNAP" REPOLONA
THRU HIKER // PHOTOGRAPHER // @HIKES.CAMERA.ADVENTURE
During my AT hike and on extended backpacking trips I would use baby wipes on “pits and bits.” But otherwise I’d just embrace the hiker stench and maybe find the occasional wilderness bath to soak in.
NICK "CLICK" REICHARD
THRU HIKER // PHOTOGRAPHER // @NICHOLASREICHARD
Staying clean is the least of my concerns when in the backcountry, but if I find a good stream, I make sure to take care of my feet first and foremost. I also make sure to carry two pairs of hiking socks and most likely a warm pair of camp socks. When hiking, I always use Darn Toughs even though my personal favorites are the Injinis which I tend to try and not hike in as they wear out quickly. They do offer the most amount of comfort, and if my feet are extremely tired and swollen from a long day of hiking, I will put them on at night to relieve pressure on my toes.
LIZ "HANDSTAND" KIDDER
THRU HIKER // WORLD TRAVELER // @LIZKIDDER
I would consider the essentials for hygiene to include toothbrush/toothpaste, a multi-purpose natural soap (I like Dr. Bronners liquid peppermint Castile soap) to wash your body, clothes and cooking utensils, toilet paper (I love the Coghlan’s Camp TP for convenience), and hand sanitizer. Beyond that, it’s useful to carry floss (duals as thread for repairs), nail clippers, and a small town/bandana. For women, a menstrual cup (I used a DivaCup) is SO MUCH MORE CONVENIENT than other throw-away menstrual products. At times, it was necessary to carry sunblock (I carried a small sunscreen stick) and bug spray, but I’d recommend just grabbing those in town when you need them, rather than carrying them for the entire length of your thru hike. I also carried a disposable razor because I liked to keep up with shaving, but I did not carry deodorant- trust me, it’s worthless on a long hike. I did not carry a trowel, and usually didn’t have an issue digging a hole with a rock, but you could definitely argue that it’s worth the weight. Crossing more into first aid, I also carried multi-vitamins, ibuprofen, allergy pills, bandaids, safety-pin, duct-tape, antiseptic towelettes, toe-warmers, a lighter, and a compass.
EDDIE "OILCAN" BOYD
THRU HIKER // TRIPLE CROWNER // @OC_BOYD
I carry Neosporin to take care of the many cuts and scrapes that will inevitably happen. Hand sanitizer for after “number two” and before meals, but other than those things, I do not carry much for Hygiene. Just jump in a creek!
BIKEPACKER // WHEEL BUILDER // PHOTOGRAPHER // MIKESEE.EXPOSURE.CO
Simple -- Wet Wipes at a minimum. Hand sanitizer as a bonus. Dr. Bronner's soap and a Packtowl if we're going plush.
TYLER "WATER BOY" COSGROVE
THRU HIKER // PHOTOGRAPHER // @TYLERCOSGROVE92
My biggest tip on hygiene is to expect the stank. You will smell worse than you ever thought you possibly could on a long trail. Wash up with a wet bandanna or pack towel and wash your clothing away from water sources when you can. When you get to a town, remember your odor and try and be respectful to the non-hiking community – not everyone is as proud of your hard working stank as you will be. Shower and do laundry in town. Brushing of teeth should also be done away from water sources!