This is a guide on how to keep yourself comfortable and clean during a hike.
Hiking and enjoying the outdoors is fun but could be challenging if you are a woman especially if you need to go to the toilet or if you are having your period.
Hiking Hygiene Guide
Cleaning Routine: This includes brushing your teeth, cleaning your feet and body as well as your underwear.
Yeast Infection: Candida albicans is the most common yeast that we live with. It’s found naturally on our skin and in certain parts of our bodies. This is something you can get while hiking and therefore should have a cream to relieve and cure it.
Period: Always pack something for your period. Despite campfire fears dating back to at least 1967, black bears and grizzly bears are not attracted to the odors of menstruation, according to a recent Yellowstone National Park report. Polar bears may be interested in the smell of menstrual blood, the report found, but bears that roam in North America are not.
Toilet Break: We all have to use the toilet sometime.
Let us start with cleaning your teeth some people using baking soda or ash to clean their teeth. I use a toothbrush and toothpaste. I normally use that sample toothpaste tube – they are small and compact to carry. When finished, I just refill it or buy a new one.
I have a friend that puts her toothpaste in an old eyedropper and just refills it when done.
You can also use toothpaste dots which is easy to make:
Layout toothpaste drops or strips on a foil sheet
Let it dry for 1-2 days.
Sprinkle baking soda on them.
If you have used strips just cut the strips into dots and putting it in a Ziploc bag.
Pop one in your mouth and chew a little.
Brush and clean as normal.
Cleaning your body is next on my list, I don’t use soap I use wet wipes to clean, I will normally after a hike clean under my arms and breasts. I will then just sprinkle a little baby powder everywhere.
Cleaning your feet is extremely important after all they did all the hard work. I will normally clean with some water and the wet wipe that I have used to clean my body. After that, if there is a cold water stream available I will soak my feet a little.
Please make sure if you use a water stream to do it downstream, people don’t want to drink “old feet” water.
Dry your feet completely (I use a quick-dry towel) and put some cream on and massage it a little. I then would put on a pair of thick socks. I normally take two pairs of socks for hiking and one pair to keep my feet warm at night.
I tend to have cold feet and cannot sleep if my feet are cold. So I normally hike with a few disposable hand warmers which I would put my feet on to warm it up.
I will also take this time to see if I have picked up any hitchhikers like tics, spiders, or fleas. Peppermint and citronella keep away most bugs. I normally mix the two essential oils together with a little water and just drop a few drops on my wet wipe when cleaning my body.
I don’t use deodorant when hiking, everyone smells after a while, it is what it is. You must get used to your own smell. This is also a personal preference. Deodorant is normally heavy to carry and it doesn’t really help that much you are going to sweat.
I clean all the sweaty places with a wet wipe and sprinkle some baby powder everywhere.
Cleaning your underwear, I normally take 2 panties made of wool as it dries easily and is very comfortable. I will wear both sides and then wash them while wearing the other one. I use a training bra and again have two. I will use one for two days and wash and then wear the other one.
Easy way to clean:
Use a Ziploc, little of water, and liquid Biodegradable soap. Shake it.
Take it out and wrung it out with your hands to get rid of most of the water and then wrung it out again in the quick-dry towel.
Hang it in your tent to dry or on your backpack while hiking.
Even healthy individuals can get a yeast infection – Medical News Today explains that the following people can get an infection:
People that have taken antibiotics recently
People with uncontrolled diabetes
People that are taking oral contraceptives or who are on hormone therapy
Having a medical device inserted.
An increased need to urinate
A painful or burning sensation when urinating
An itchy or painful feeling in or around the vagina
Redness, irritation, or swelling around the vagina
Abdominal or pelvic pain
Blood in your urine
Drinking enough water might prevent a yeast infection with higher water intake, you will urinate more, thus flushing out the sugars that can cause a yeast infection. Garlic and yogurt can also help to combat a yeast infection.
Sometimes we do get it so make sure you take something on your hike to relieve and cure.
Having Your Period
You can still go hiking while having your period, exercise is good for you and we know that it can help with the cramps during your period as well as ending it sooner.
Unfortunately, there are no easy fixes, and using what products are available will depend on your preference and convenience.
There are menstrual cups you can use, safe to wear their products for up to 12 hours at a time, which makes them a great option for dealing with your period while hiking or camping. Since they’re reusable, they’re also more eco-friendly than tampons or pads.
I use pads and tampons, the problem I have with the menstrual cup is that I must take it out, clean it, and put it back. It is easy enough to clean, just use some of your water with wet wipes. Normally you would only change it when camping for the night but I had to change it before such a time and it wasn’t that bad but I found the process to be a bit of a hassle. Again this is something of personal preference. I would advise you to first try out the menstrual cup in everyday life. Make sure you get the correct size and then try it out hiking or camping. Take extra pads or tampons as a backup.
I take an extra Ziploc bag to put in my used products, please don’t leave it there practices a “leave no trace” motto.
This by far is the easiest and for most people, it sounds daunting to go do your toilet business outside. We all have to pee and poop and here are some easy techniques and etiquette to follow.
Peeing: Trail etiquette is to go about 200ft (70 steps) of the trail and do your business.
Some women drip-dry, or clean with a bandanna which they then hang outside their backpack to dry. I use a Shewee a female Urination device and afterward just do quick wiggle and drip-dry.
Pooping: Trail etiquette is to go about 200ft (70 steps) of the trail, campsite, or water source and do your business. This is the old fashion ‘cat method‘.
You dig a hole about 6 inches or 15 cm in the ground and do your business. Some people use the environment to clean but I use Coleman Camper’s Toilet paper it is biodegradable toilet paper, soft and one role has 65 squares available.
You can bury it with your poop. Biodegradable toilet paper is a little more expensive than normal toilet paper but it breaks down four times faster. Use it sparingly.
I will use a wet wipe as well to clean and then put in a Ziploc bag because I practice “leave no trace” motto.
However, if I am hiking in a dry environment like for example in a desert then I will put my toilet paper in a Ziploc bag as well because it takes longer to decompose in a dryer climate.
Fill the hole with the ground you have dug out and put some leaves on it and just put two sticks on it make a cross – so that the next person doesn’t go and do their business there. Afterward, I will clean my hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
It is important to always take tampons and a yeast infection cream as you never know when you will need it. Tampons can be used as an emergency bandage or a nose bleed stopper or even to start a fire if needed.
Hiking is about having fun and sharing nature with everyone therefor take into consideration to practice a “Leave no trace” motto and only leave your footprints.
“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” ~ Beverly Sills
Let’s go hiking.