Hand sanitizer is one option for staying clean. It’s quick, efficient, easy to use and store, and best of all, it removes bacteria from your skin. If you’re using hand sanitizer, though, keep in mind that a little goes a long way.
I like to use no-rinse cleaning products in the backcountry. No-rinse soap and shampoo require only enough water to spread them on your body or in your hair. You don’t need running water; simply lather up and wipe off the suds with towel.
Alcohol wipes are another option. You can find containers of wipes in a variety of sizes, starting with a teabag-size package to larger containers that may contain dozens of wipes. Wipes that are saturated with cleaning agents work best as a full-body cleaning system that may also moisturize your skin. Most brands are scented, but you may want to go scent-free, especially in regions where bears and other predators are found. Finally, resist the temptation to discard the wipes and store them in a sealable bag for disposal later. Remember, folks: Leave No Trace.
To help stay fresh, try not to redress in dirty clothing if possible. Clothing materials not only hold soiled scent, but also bacteria, which can lead to all sorts of problems. If you have a limited amount of clothing, at least rinse the day’s clothes with water and biodegradable soap, and then let them dry overnight if you can.
If you do have access to some water, then consider shower tents, solar showers, or pocket showers, such as Sea to Summit’s pocket shower. If you use a shower, though, go with biodegradable soap, as it doesn’t harm the environment. Some biodegradable soaps can even be used to wash dishes, as well, which can save space in your pack.
For those of you who shy away from camping because you don’t have access to a fully stocked bathroom, keep in mind that just because you’re spending some time in the woods, it doesn’t mean you have to smell like an old gym sock. The tips outlined above will keep you clean and smelling fresh during your trip, no matter the length or remoteness.