5 Backpacking Tips for Staying Clean on the Trail

backpacking tips, hiking, journal entry

November 18, 2014 • Camps and Hikes, John Muir Trail, Latest • Views: 2163

You’re going to be gone for a day you don’t really worry about it. A weekend you’re a bit more concerned. But now you’ve decided to join the long haul. A week, two weeks, hell, maybe like me you’ve decided to hike the entire John Muir Trail and you expect you’ll be gone upwards a month. How the hell do you say clean? Here are some backpacking tips for just that.

  1. Reassess what is clean. If you’re going to be in the wild for any significant amount of time it’s going to mean dropping your standards. Your hair will get frazzled. Your junk won’t always smell minty fresh. That shit you’re walking on? Dirt. Don’t be surprised when it has permanently etched itself onto your calves and forearms.
  2. Rivers are your friend. Jump in them. Go swimming. Go skinny dipping. Take the plunge. One rinse off will do.
  3. Soak your clothes. You don’t need to wash your clothes with soap, but, like the previous tip, simply soaking them in water every couple of days to get the sweat off will do wonders for your self esteem.
  4. Use a bath towel. This guy is your most intimate friend. He’s going to see you at your worst. After you take a dump behind a tree hoping the ranger won’t spot you. Just before you eat dinner when your sweat has dried and left a thin layer of salt on your thighs. Be kind to this friend. He’s going to wipe all that gunk up. Also, if you drop him on the trail, please inform the backpacker stopping to pick it up for you that he most certainly should not (this may or may not have happened to me on the John Muir Trail.)
  5. Wash the 4 Key areas. George Carlin said it better than I ever could. You don’t need to jump in water if you don’t want to. You don’t need to soak body or even your clothes. Asshole, armpits, crotch, and teeth. That’s all. Find a private corner where the other campers can’t see you. Soak your rag, clean between your legs, wipe your ass, drag the crusty sweat off your armpits, and return to camp to brush your teeth with everyone else. Doing this will help prevent the ring of fire and, just as important, leave you feeling fresh and clean for the next day’s sweaty, filthy journey.


© 2014 Christopher Dart


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