For some reason, when people go into the backcountry, they think that means that they must give up their most basic hygiene needs.
For some reason, when people go into the backcountry, they think that means that they must give up their most basic hygiene needs. However, for the most part, backcountry hygiene is the same as frontcountry hygiene; anything you would do to stay clean and comfortable at home can (and should) be done on your jaunt into the wilderness.
Wash your hands: Before preparing food, before eating, after fishing or hunting (and the cleaning of your harvests), after answering the call of the wild, and before bed. This can be done quickly and easily with some hand sanitizer, although bringing some biodegradable soap so you can wash up with soap and water is highly recommended. *
Clean up before bed: Bathing wipes come in handy here. Treat this like a backwoods sponge bath, wiping down your face, underarms, buttocks, and groin. This does wonders to prevent chafing and makes crawling into your sleeping bag feel a million times better, especially if you’ve taken the time to wipe off the layers of sunscreen and bug spray you applied throughout the day. For a real treat, you can heat up some water on your fire and wipe down with a bandana and some biodegradable soap.*
Change your clothes: Getting back into the same sticky rags after bathing almost feels worse than not bathing at all. Bring along at least a change of socks and a change of underwear, as your feet and groin are the most susceptible to moisture, especially out in the backcountry. Rinse out your dirty clothes and lay them out to dry so you have something clean to wear the next time.
Brush and floss: Again, if you would regularly do it at home then why not do it out camping, too? After a day of trail mix, jerky, and, let’s be honest-- more than the typical share of adult beverages, cleaning your teeth is a necessity. Not only that, but you will immediately feel just a bit more human again after having done so.
*Even biodegradable soap should be kept well away from water sources; don’t rinse off directly in lakes or streams and bury your grey water in a cathole at least six inches deep.