by Diane Spicer
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!
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.
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.
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:
There's no way to fight it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These handy little items are what you need to check all of sorts of comfort boxes.
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!]
As a comfortable female hiker, you have no worries about itchy insect bites if you use the right repellents.
I've used insect repellent products over many
seasons decades, finding they work well either alone or in combination, depending on the situation.
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.
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.
To stay comfortable, you've got to be wearing the right clothing to absorb perspiration in areas where it counts:
Wicking, breathable fabric is essential for this purpose.
Wear an ingenious piece of fabric like this high UV (SPF 20) Buff neck gaiter.
Best part about this lovely little Buff?
All of the color and pattern choices!
Soak your neck gaiter in an icy stream and put it back on. Hurts so good!
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.
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
Sometimes it's okay to dig a cat hole and toss in your toilet paper or biodegradable wipes on top of your feces.
Sometimes it's not okay to leave paper products behind:
And it's never okay to leave behind used menstrual supplies such as pads and tampons.
So you need two different solutions.
But don't use your hands.
Instead, dig a shallow cat hole using a sharp stick or an unbreakable trowel.
For trowels, two options: non metal, or feather weight, indestructible metal with sharp edges.
If you're a backpacker, you know which one you'll prefer.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 hand sanitizer
is a fast way
to get back on the trail
after a bathroom break.
No harsh chemicals!
You've got odors and dirt tamed.
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 headband that's wide (but can be scrunched up when needed).
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: polyester and nylon, with a touch of spandex to hold its shape.
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.
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.
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.
I routinely use, or have used, all of these products, and I know they work.
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 tips, the "but I hate getting dirty" scenario will never stand in your way again!
Best Hiking Hygiene Tips
About the author
Diane is the founder of Hiking For Her.
She’s been on a hiking trail somewhere in the world for nearly five decades & loves to share her best hiking tips right here.
All rights reserved.
Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer except where noted.
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