Camping, Hiking, Fishing and Backpacking: Practicing Personal Hygiene in the Great Outdoors

When you’re roughing it, you don’t think of pampering yourself, yet there is no reason to completely neglect hygiene.  Paying attention to your skin, hair, and teeth will certainly be appreciated by those around you on a particular backpacking or camping expedition.  Whether you’re camping, hiking, fishing, or backpacking, the normal rules of hygiene still apply.  Here’s how to keep practicing great hygiene while you’re out and about in among the outdoors.


Flickr Creative Common License: Archigeek

Extra Socks

Dry socks are very valuable when venturing throughout the outdoors.  A dry, clean pair of socks is so easy to find normally but not when you’re miles from your sock drawer.  Throw a few more pairs of socks in your sack before heading out.  Regardless of your activity or destination, you’ll be moving a lot and on your feet a majority of the time.  Wet, dirty socks attract bacteria, which leads to a host of foot issues that can last well beyond the excursion.  You can hang a pair on the outside of your pack as to quicken the drying process in emergency situations.

Hand Sanitizer

Take along a small bottle of hand sanitizer, using it frequently after touching trees, plants, and going in lakes.  You will be using your hands to cook food, clean equipment, and eat.  Therefore, you’ll lessen the likelihood of ingesting and coming in contact with bacteria if you make it a habit to clean your hands with the sanitizer.  It’s an easy way to avoid sickness, which would be unfortunate, especially while on the trip.

Baby Wipes

You won’t be able to take a shower but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to keep yourself clean.  Take along a package of baby wipes to use to clean your entire body.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find how refreshed and cleaner you’ll feel after wiping yourself down.  Nothing can replace a nice, hot shower but baby wipes do well to remove dirt and bacteria from your body parts.  You can achieve the same effect with a bottle of alcohol and cotton balls but it’s easier to use the wipes.

Dental Hygiene

You don’t want to neglect your mouth and teeth because you’re away from your bathroom sink.  Regardless of your location, it’s still important to brush, floss, and gargle with mouthwash.  Place the dental essentials in your backpack.  Be mindful of when spitting out your mouthwash and toothpaste.  You don’t want it running into a natural body of water.  Also, the smell can attract wild animals so dispose of your mouthfuls a distance away from the camp.  Read on the topic further if you decide to choose dental powder rather than paste.

Hair Care

Those with long hair may want to braid or keep it up or back with a hair tie.  Those who are going to be out in the wilderness for a while may want to cover oily hair with a headband.  Also, running baby powder through the hair will help with soaking up some of the excess oil.  You could bring a travel-size bottle of shampoo and quickly wash your hair out with the help of a bottle of water.

Zero Deodorant

It’s necessary to know of the things you can go without in addition to minding the things you’ll need.  For example, you don’t need to wear deodorant; in fact, it’s suggested to leave it at home because the scent will help attract bugs and wild animals.  The same goes for perfumes and cologne.  There is no need for it in the wilderness and it can work against you.  Of course, you don’t want to smell dirty; that’s why you’ll keep your armpits clean with baby wipes and a bit of powder.  You’ll get used to the ‘natural’ smell of your skin after a day or two.

Change Clothes

The weight of your backpack and the number of needed items is always a concern to those who are hiking and camping.  You’ll want to balance packing too many clothes with knowing when to change and clean what you do bring.  Replace sweaty shirts and pants each night with fresh clothing.  It’s best to change before going to sleep for the night.  Sleeping in dirty clothes makes your sleeping bag smell and it also introduces the opportunity for rashes and skin problems.  Of course, you’ll want to consider the type of material.  Some materials wick away sweat while feeling light on the skin.  Cotton will make a sweaty shirt stick to your skin and does not feel comfortable in the rain.

Join the Conversation


  1. Great tips – baby wipes are definately an essential items, they are so handy. I always try to carry some with me.

  2. All the lists are very useful. I will like to add sleeping mat.
    I normally carry small sleeping mat. It is very hand when you are going for a multiple days hike. You can use on the place you want to sit.

  3. What an informative article! The tips on practicing personal hygiene while camping, hiking, fishing, and backpacking are invaluable for outdoor enthusiasts like me. Thank you for sharing these essential insights!

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