Camping can be sticky business. Unless you camp in a fully loaded RV or a state park where you have access to a shower every night, you’re going to get a little grubby. But if you’re spending several days on a backpacking trip or other outing where you’re away from the basic tools of hygienelikes sinks and showers, it’s still possible to keep yourself from turning into an unwitting bacteria breeding colony.
Here’s how to do it:
•Bring hand sanitizer, and use it often.
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It’s especially important if you’re handling food. Make sure it’s readily available for everyone to use because there are lots of hands on food when you’re camping. Everyone who dips their hand into a bag of chips is spreading their germs.
•Bring a portable solar shower.
They’re inexpensive and don’t take up much space. The sun will heat your water for you. On cool or overcast days, you can heat some water and add it to the shower to bring the water up to a comfortable temperature. As a bonus, they’re also good for rinsing dishes and other clean up projects.
•Pack deodorant, even when traveling as light as possible.
It works and it doesn’t take up much space. Get a small travel size for camping and use it every morning. Your fellow campers, especially your tent mate, will thank you.
•Bring baby wipes.
They’re handy in camp, and you can even get small packages of them for backpacking. They not only keep you clean, they help take away that grimy feeling you get when you crawl into your sleeping bag.
•Take a spit bath.
A little soap, hot water and a washcloth or handkerchief go a long way. You only need a pan of water and a little fuel to heat it. Use a soap that doesn’t require a rinse, like Dr. Bronner’s, if you’re short of water and/or fuel.
•Hit the creek or lake well before dark.
Take a dip in the late afternoon when it’s still hot enough to keep you warm after a swim or dip but the sun is not so intense that you need another layer of sunscreen afterward. Do not use soap or shampoo in water sources. Carry a bucket away far away from the river or lake if you’re using soap or shampoo.
A vigorous swim or just briskly rubbing yourself with a washcloth or your hands will wash away all that sweat, grime, sunscreen and bug dope. If you’re fair skinned or concerned about a sunburn, put on a light long-sleeved shirt and a hat after you dry.
•When evening comes and the bugs come out, put on long pants and a hooded sweatshirt thick enough that bugs can’t bite through it.
You might need a little bug dope around your face and hands, but when you’re ready for bed, you’re still clean.
•Use a sleeping bag liner or just an old sheet.
Nylon sleeping bags feel slimy when you’re grubby. Avoid that feeling and you will sleep better.
•Wear merino wool, bamboo and other odor-resistant clothing.
Some fabrics have natural anti-microbial properties that fight bacteria that causes body odor. They’re more expensive than cotton T-shirts, but they breathe better, dry quicker and you can wear them for several days without smelling gross. They’re also comfortable in a broad range of temperatures.