One of the most frequently asked questions we get for our backpacking trips is "Are there showers?" Well, you are in the big, bad, outdoors so, no. However, that should not keep you from experiencing life in the outdoors - which is so worth foregoing the shower. Here are some ways to stay clean-ish in the backcountry when on your backpacking trip, or camping off the grid or your parent's back yard.
These aren't just for baby butts. You can use baby wipes to freshen up just about any place on your bod. But baby wipes may not be enough for adult funk, so try wipes that are made specifically for freshening up in the backcountry. Sea to Summit's Wilderness Wipes are a great option - especially if you are in an area with no or limited water.
If you are camping in an area with a large flow of water - like the Colorado River in Grand Canyon, you can use biodegradable soap and it is a good item to have for cleaning up anything from you, your clothes and dishes. However, Leave No Trace Principles suggest to not use any kind of soap in small streams or water sources that have little flow or volume.
If you are in a place where bathing in a river is not possible, get yourself a wash basin. You can collect water and wash up with a bandana or pack cloth, with soap. Give yourself a treat and heat up some water first for a nice warm sponge bath! Sea to Summit offers a very lightweight "kitchen sink" that can be used for any of your washing needs. The Ultra-sil Kitchen Sink holds 10 liters of water and weighs only 1.7 ounces.
Don't assume that because it says "shower" you will have water pressure to go with it. However, pack showers are a great way to collect water, soap up and rinse off. Plus, if you get a solar shower or one that is black in color, you can leave it in the sun for for a while and shower with warm/hot water. If camping in Grand Canyon or the Phoenix area during May or June, you will have hot water in about 10 minutes! It holds 2.6 gallons of water, weighs just over 4 ounces and a great way to feel refreshed.
Once you washed up, especially if you are now soaking wet, you need to dry off. Unless you are air drying, a pack towel is a nice option. Leave the 5lb terry cloth bath towel at home. Pack towels come in several sizes, are ultra lightweight, absorbent and don't take on musty smells. Give Cocoon's towel a whirl.
While you do not want to pack a change of clothing for each day you are out in the backcountry - that will get heavy - rinse out your clothing in the stream or lake (no soap), use the wash basin, or shower in your hiking clothes. Just be sure to have a dry set to have while drying the other out. Saving weight? At the very least, sleep in clean clothing. You will be much more comfortable, your sleeping bag will stay a little fresher and you will at least have some hours being less funky.
For more clean or dirty stories, visit our blog! We have lost of stimulating information about all things backcountry, hiking or wahtever.