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Best Hiking Hygiene Tips
For Women On The Trail:
Clean, Comfy Confident You!

By Diane Spicer

Hate getting dirty and feeling gritty on a hike? Hiking For Her shares lots of the best hiking hygiene tips. #hikinghygiene #hiking #backpacking #femalehikers #hikingforher

The best hiking hygiene tips for female hikers lead directly to the results we all want:

feeling clean, comfy and confident

in spite of trail dust and sweat

every single day of the month

As a seasoned hiker, you're familiar with the gradual erosion of personal hygiene as you accumulate trail miles.

Are you a beginner hiker? Then you might have to brace yourself for the shock of how dusty and UN-hygenic you're going to get!

  • Let's call it the "but I hate getting dirty" scenario

I feel your pain.

And I've got some news to deliver:

You can gracefully stand up to the challenges of gritty trails, monthly flow, and smelly armpits (might as well get it all on the table right now) with these best hiking hygiene tips from Hiking For Her.

Added bonus for you

Along with the best hiking hygiene tips, you'll get tried and true trail worthy recommendations for hiking hygiene solutions which are lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to pack.

Plus the ability to check them out quickly, with one click, from REI Co-op.

As an REI affiliate, Hiking For Her receives a small percentage of your purchase price but you pay nothing extra.

  • Great products
  • Trustworthy tips

Sounds like a recipe for success on your hike!

Time to tackle the three C's of hiking hygiene.

In other words, how to keep yourself:

  • Clean
  • Comfortable
  • Confident

Top concern in these
best hiking hygiene tips:
How to stay clean

on a hike

Muddy steep hiking trailGive in to the reality of getting dirty on a hike

There's no way to fight it.

  • Dirt happens.
  • Moreso when you face plant.

Instead, channel your energy into cleaning up at a rest stop or before you eat lunch.

Just read these best hiking hygiene tips.

Then bring along a few supplies.

How to deal with dirty hands
(and armpits)

Ugh, grimy hands and tired, smelly, gritty feet.

Whip out these Trek & Travel moist wipes for a quick clean up.

Note the absence of harsh, drying chemicals.

That's important, because dried out cuticles leave a pathway for microbes into your body.

Another nice touch with these wipes: fragrance free, so they're safe to use in bear country or if you have chemical sensitivities.

And your skin will definitely thank you for the softening power of aloe and vitamin E.

Sweaty neck and face solutions

Your facial skin is probably more sensitive than the tougher skin on hands and arms, so bring along a tiny amount of all natural, baby mild liquid soap.

This two ounce bottle of Dr. Bronner's is just about right!

Wet your bandanna with a small amount of water, add a few drops of this mild soap, and work up a lather to cleanse the sweat and grime from your face, neck and ears.

You can't believe how refreshing this is until you try it half way through a hike.

  • For whatever reason, a clean face puts pep back into your step for the hike back to the trail head.

If you like to use aromatherapy as an additional incentive, this soap can be had in peppy peppermint and other fragrances, all accomplished with organic oils.

  • But not in bear territory

How to stay comfortable:
best hiking hygiene tips

These handy little items are what you need to check all of sorts of comfort boxes.

Keep your skin in one piece!

If you're comfortable, you're not worried about chafing, blistering or abrasions on your body - or your feet.

That's where this easy roll on balm called Body Glide comes into the picture - or out of a handy pocket on your backpack.

[Given the name of this website, please allow just one snarky editorial comment:

Gotta love the bright pink color, just in case you miss the "for her" part!]

Banish bugs

As a comfortable female hiker, you have no worries about itchy insect bites if you use the right repellents.

  • No worries about scratching your skin right off and setting yourself up for an infection, either.

I've used insect repellent products over many seasons decades, finding they work well either alone or in combination, depending on the situation.

Your options:

  • Use different strengths of DEET, a chemical which is not recommended for every day use but can be a sanity saver when flies, gnats, mosquitoes, ticks and fleas are sharing the trail with you.
  • Or go completely natural

One of my best hiking hygiene tips:

When all else fails (and if you hike long enough, it will), a bug net for your head and neck is ideal.

  • Otherwise, you'll be scratching with dirty fingernails.
  • Definitely an un-hygenic abrasion scenario for your epidermis, to be avoided at all costs.

This little (as in lightweight with a tiny footprint) head net saved me from sleepless, itchy nights during an Alaska hiking and rafting trip, so I don't hesitate to recommend it to you.

Mop up sweat & keep going

To stay comfortable, you've got to be wearing the right clothing to absorb perspiration in areas where it counts:

  • your forehead, neck and face.

Wicking, breathable fabric is essential for this purpose.

Wear an ingenious piece of fabric like this high UV (SPF 20) Buff neck gaiter.

  • Invest in it once.
  • Use it again and again as a multifunctional piece of gear to stay cool, protected from bugs, and covered up against sun exposure.
  • And of course, to mop up sweat - along with anything else coming from your nostrils or eyes.

Best part about this lovely little CoolNet UV+ Multifunctional Headwear Buff?

All of the color and pattern choices!

Trail tip:

Soak your neck gaiter in an icy stream and put it back on. Hurts so good!

Feel confident regardless
of Mother Nature's moods:
best hiking hygiene tips

If biology is destiny, then women have the deck stacked against us as hikers.

We have to squat to pee.

We have monthly menstrual cycles: bloating, cramps, and proper disposal of feminine hygiene products.

And let's not even get started on what it takes to poop properly behind a tree.

Wait a minute! That's exactly why you're here.

So let's get to the nitty gritty, and avoid the pity party, of being a female hiker in the clutches loving embrace of Mother Nature, with the best hiking hygiene tips for the trail.

Squat no more

Have you heard of a female urination device?

It levels the playing field in terms of allowing you to stand up to pee, just like (but probably not along side of) your male trail buddies.

This Sani-Fem Freshette Feminine Urinary Director (go ahead and chuckle) is highly rated for its convenience and lack of leaks.

Read Hiking For Her's review of another option, TinkleBelle, here

Solid waste disposal options

Sometimes it's okay to dig a cat hole and toss in your toilet paper or biodegradable wipes on top of your feces.


  • Abundant soil with a rich diversity of organic degraders, such as forests and subalpine terrain
  • Well away from water sources and the trail (200 feet or more)

Sometimes it's not okay to leave paper products behind:

  • Arid climate with porous, depleted soil
  • Resident wildlife with impressive digging abilities
  • Alpine and rocky environments

And it's never okay to leave behind used menstrual supplies such as pads and tampons.

So you need two different solutions.

  • Cat hole supplies
  • Carry it out supplies

Channel your inner cat

But don't use your hands.

Instead, dig a shallow cat hole using a sharp stick or a sturdy trowel.

For trowels, two options: plastic, or feather weight, indestructible metal with sharp edges.

If you're a backpacker, you know which one you'll prefer: TheTentLab The Deuce #2 UL Backcountry Trowel.

Dayhikers, get by with the less expensive but bulkier trowel for your cat holes.

And you know those wipes you brought along for your hands?

  • Use them after the job is finished.
  • Then pack them out.

Another candidate for best hiking hygiene tips:

Carry these Sea to Summit Trek and Travel soap flakes, add a tiny amount of water to one, and lather up.

  • Don't expect a bubble bath quantity of lather from one flake. Just enough to get 'er done.

I'm never without a pack of these, whether in an airport or on a trail, because while they weigh nothing they buy me protection against intestinal microbes I don't want in my water, food, or mucous membranes.

Trail tip:

Keep these absolutely dry, or they will clump together and you'll have to break off chunks to wash your hands.

Also, be sure your hands are dry before you peel off a flake or two.

When you need to pack it out

Odor control comes to mind.

Ability to dispose into regular trash once off the trail would be swell.

Leak proof containment matters, too.

These Cleanwaste GO Anywhere waste bags get it done.

They're approved by the Leave No Trace program, so they're what I use in the terrain mentioned above when leaving your feces in a cat hole, or on the surface, is no way to treat your Mother.

Catch your flow with a Diva Cup

Wear a flexible, internal cup, and skip the hassle of how to carry and dispose of paper products.

Nice features of this method of menstrual hygiene:

  • Silicone, free of latex and chlorine bleaches
  • Can be worn overnight
  • Empty, clean it, and re-insert two or three times within a 24 hour period (no pun intended)

Important note before you purchase:

Determine the correct size for you, either Model 1 or Model 2, based upon whether or not you've delivered children into the world.

Clean up options

Nothing ruins a hiking trip faster than an infection picked up from poor hand hygiene, your own or others.

You've already seen some worthy options for scrupulous hand hygiene (especially critical in the back country).

Here's one more convenient way to blast the microbes off your hands after you take care of business.

Dr. Bronner's does it again!

This lightly scented hand sanitizer is a fast way to get back on the trail with clean hands after a bathroom break in the bushes.

If you're not a fan of alcohol on your skin, try this safeHands alcohol free hand sanitizer.

More best hiking hygiene tips
to stay confident

Female hiking hygiene concerns might be  keeping you off the trail. Use the Hiking For Her tips to stay clean, comfortable and confident during your hike. #hiking #backpacking #hygienetips

You've got odors and dirt tamed.

Your hands are clean.

But there's more best hiking hygiene tips to share with you.

Taming your hair on a hike or backpacking trip

Another way to feel confident: when your hair is tamed (or well hidden) and your oral hygiene has been addressed.

Gross, greasy hair is a de-motivator on the trail, so let's tackle that problem first.

Here's how I get my dirty hair off my face and neck: a soft piece of fabric that is wide but can be scrunched up when needed, the Buff CoolNet UV+ Tapered Headband.

Plus, it won't squeeze all the blood out of my head as I hike (or sleep).

Love the moisture wicking blend of fabrics, too: recycled polyester with a touch of elastane for stretch and comfort.

Oral hygiene tips for hikers

Not sure whether you agree, but when my teeth feel greasy or grainy, that's all I can think about on the trail.

That's a distraction from navigation and safety, so be prepared to keep your mouth clean and feeling fresh so you can concentrate on the trail.

This Aurelle TOOB Brushoral hygiene kit is easy to toss into your backpack, and easy to deploy after lunch or as part of your bedtime clean up ritual on a backpacking trip.

The refillable tube is a nice touch.

Or just use the travel brush and paste you might already have, although it probably won't be as compact as this kit.

Best hiking hygiene tips
for female hikers:
more resources

If you use a hydration reservoir, you'll need a cleaning kit to avoid microbial growth and odors.

It's a great investment in your health.

Be sure to select the correct brand specific kit to do the job correctly.

These are two popular models.

You'll also want to keep a clean backpacking kitchen to prevent food borne illness.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Once you're off the trail, clean your clothing, and waterproof it while you're at it, with Nikwax.

They make formulas for down garments and sleeping bags, too.

And trail footwear!

Again, a good investment in extending the longevity and performance of your hiking and camping gear.

Maintenance is just part of the hiking life.

And it really pays off when the weather turns sour and you want your body to stay comfortable and safe.

Questions about the best
hiking hygiene tips?

I routinely use, or have used, all of these products, and I know they work.

  • Otherwise, they wouldn't be on this website.

I also know that some of them have a learning curve.

For example, some bug repellents work fine for moderate summer conditions, while others are the "go to" choice for extreme conditions.

Some cat hole trowels will crack when deployed on rocky ground, while others will stand up to the challenge but might be a hassle in sandier ground.

Not sure which of these products is best for the type of hiking you do?

I'm always here to help.

And just in case you're on a mission to discover more Hiking For Her comfort and safety tips, here they are:

Armed with these best hiking hygiene tips, the "but I hate getting dirty" scenario will never stand in your way again!

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Best Hiking Hygiene Tips For Women Hikers