Bathing on the trail

If you are hiking for any length of time get used to not being as clean as you usually would like. While you need to clean yourself all over from time to time, areas such as hands, the face, armpits and groin are areas that will need more regular cleaning.

If you’re doing an overnight hiking trail that has toilets at the trailhead/campsites then it is easy to strip down and give yourself a good wash. If you have enough privacy, and you are really sure, then strip off outside the tent to give yourself a clean. Some people are very comfortable with themselves and don’t care who is around but keep it family friendly.

Over the past few years we been using a body washing system thanks to the recommendation of a friend which is about as simple as it gets. Pour a small amount of water into the ziplock bag (sandwich size) add a couple of drops of essential oil (we use tea tree oil or lavender oil), and wipe yourself with a disposable dishcloth (e.g. Chux).

Wipe your body focusing on the areas that need to be cleaned and don’t forget the bottom of your feet. You won’t get as clean as having a shower or bath but you will at least be reasonably clean as well as being less offensive to other hikers and you’ll feel ‘deceptively’ cleaner! And make sure you are at least 60 metres away from water sources to limit the amount of germs, bacteria and chemicals that enter the waterways.

Toilet facilities typical of the campsites on the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail. These toilets are large enough to strip off and wash yourself. Alternatively if the weather is really bad, you may have to bathe yourself in your tent

Body washing kit which includes a Chux cloth (disposable cleaning cloth), essential oil (we use tea tree oil or lavender oil), inside a sandwich size ziplock bag. Just add a small amount of water to the ziplock bag and a few drops of essential oil and start cleaning – you’ll be amazed at how ‘fresh’ you’ll feel

Last words

Now the thing to remember is that compared to your day to day life, keeping yourself washed and clean on the trail is a compromise. If you are hiking for an extended period, you need to get used to smelling less than perfect but its amazing how much better a wipe down can make you feel.

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