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Backcountry Hygiene

The Shocking Truth About Backcountry Hygiene: What No One Tells You

The Shocking Truth About Backcountry Hygiene: What No One Tells You


When it comes to the great outdoors, hiking and trekking are among the most popular activities that allow you to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. While many outdoor enthusiasts are aware of the importance of carrying the proper gear, few realize the impact that backcountry hygiene has on their overall health.

The Importance of Backcountry Hygiene

Backcountry hygiene involves all the practices and measures taken to maintain personal hygiene when you are in the wilderness. Proper backcountry hygiene will help you stay healthy, prevent illnesses, and reduce the risk of spreading infections to others. In the wilderness, most diseases are spread through the lack of hygiene practices, which can result in serious health issues, including infections, diarrhea, and even death.

The Shocking Truth About Backcountry Hygiene

Unfortunately, many hikers and trekkers overlook the importance of hygiene practices when they are in the backcountry, which can have some shocking consequences. Here are some of the things that no one will tell you about backcountry hygiene:

  • Hygiene is essential for water sources: If you are using a natural water source, it is crucial to understand that it may contain harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause waterborne diseases. Proper hygiene, such as washing your hands before you handle water containers, can help you prevent this.
  • Sanitation is crucial: While many hikers know to pack a bag out, they often forget to dispose of their human waste appropriately. This can lead to contamination of water sources and the spread of diseases such as giardia and dysentery.
  • The impact of feminine hygiene: Many women feel uncomfortable discussing feminine hygiene in the backcountry; however, it is a crucial aspect of maintaining good health. The lack of proper care can result in infections, such as urinary tract infections and yeast infections.
  • Oral hygiene is often overlooked: When you are on a long hike or trek, it is easy to forget to brush your teeth. This can lead to plaque buildup, gum inflammation, and tooth decay.

Tips for Maintaining Backcountry Hygiene

Now that you know the shocking truth about backcountry hygiene, it’s time to take the necessary steps to stay healthy in the wilderness. Here are some tips for maintaining proper hygiene:

  • Carry hand sanitizer and use it regularly, especially before handling food and after using the bathroom.
  • Pack out your human waste and dispose of it properly in designated areas.
  • Carry a small hygiene kit that includes feminine products, wet wipes, and a small toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Avoid using fragranced products and opt for natural alternatives instead.


When it comes to backcountry hygiene, the truth is often shocking and overlooked by many hikers and trekkers. By taking the necessary precautions and maintaining proper hygiene practices, you can prevent illnesses and stay healthy in the wilderness. Remember to pack out your waste, carry a hygiene kit, and wash your hands regularly. With these tips in mind, you can enjoy your outdoor adventure without worrying about the health risks.

The Shocking Truth About Backcountry Hygiene: What No One Tells You – FAQ

What is backcountry hygiene?

Backcountry hygiene refers to the practices of maintaining cleanliness and sanitation when in the wilderness or remote areas. It involves proper disposal of human waste and garbage, hand-washing, bathing and grooming, and maintaining clean cooking and eating equipment.

Why is backcountry hygiene important?

Poor backcountry hygiene can lead to the spread of disease, contamination of water sources, and unsanitary conditions which can attract wildlife and cause damage to the environment. It also helps prevent the transmission of illnesses among campers and hikers.

What are some common myths about backcountry hygiene?

– Myth #1: It’s okay to leave behind biodegradable items like food scraps and tissue paper.

– Reality: Biodegradable items take a long time to break down and can attract wildlife. These should be packed out just like non-biodegradable items.

– Myth #2: You don’t need soap to wash your hands.

– Reality: Hand sanitizer is a good alternative, but soap and water are best to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.

– Myth #3: It’s okay to wash dishes and cookware in a stream or lake.

– Reality: This can contaminate the water with soap and food residue. Use biodegradable soap and wash dishes well away from water sources.

– Myth #4: You don’t need to carry out your toilet paper.

– Reality: Toilet paper can take years to decompose and can attract animals. Always carry out your used toilet paper with your other garbage.

What should be in a backcountry hygiene kit?

A backcountry hygiene kit should include the following:

– Hand sanitizer

– Biodegradable soap

– Toilet paper

– Wet wipes or baby wipes

– A trowel for digging cat holes

– A lightweight towel for bathing

– A toothbrush and toothpaste

How should you dispose of human waste when backcountry camping or hiking?

Human waste should be deposited in cat holes which are small, shallow holes dug with a trowel at least 200 feet away from water sources and campsites. Cover the hole with soil and pack out used toilet paper in a sealable plastic bag. Some parks and areas may require the use of portable toilets or other waste disposal methods.

How often should you wash your hands in the backcountry?

You should wash your hands frequently, especially before handling food or after using the bathroom. Use soap and water when available, or hand sanitizer if not.

What’s the best way to keep clean in the backcountry?

While it might not always be feasible, the best way to stay clean in the backcountry is to bathe or sponge bath regularly, especially if you’ve been sweating or swimming. Use biodegradable soap and wash well away from water sources. Change into clean clothes and underwear if possible to prevent chafing and fungal infections.

Can you bring cosmetics or other personal care products on a backpacking trip?

It’s best to avoid bringing unnecessary items that could attract wildlife or add to your pack weight. However, if you do bring cosmetics or other personal care products, make sure they are stored securely in a waterproof bag or container and pack out all used products and packaging.

Related Products for Backcountry Hygiene: The Truth

  • Portable Bidet

    A portable bidet allows you to maintain personal hygiene while trekking or hiking. It is easy to use, and you can fill it with water anytime to clean yourself after using the bathroom. A portable bidet can be carried anywhere, and it is an excellent alternative to using toilet paper.

  • Biodegradable Soap

    Biodegradable soap is a must-have for backcountry hygiene. It is eco-friendly and doesn’t harm the environment. You can use it to wash hands, body, dishes, and clothes. Biodegradable soap is easy to carry, and you can use it to maintain personal hygiene while camping or hiking.

  • Camp Shower

    A Camp Shower is a portable shower that you can use to clean yourself while camping or hiking. It is easy to use, and you can fill it with water from a nearby stream or lake. A camp shower is an excellent solution to maintain personal hygiene, and it doesn’t require any electricity or plumbing.

  • Wet Wipes

    Wet wipes are a convenient alternative to using toilet paper. They are easy to carry, and you can use them to wipe yourself after using the bathroom. Wet wipes are an excellent solution to maintain personal hygiene while trekking or hiking. However, it is essential to dispose of them properly to avoid harming the environment.

  • Portable Toilet

    A portable toilet is a must-have if you’re camping or trekking in areas where there are no toilets. It is easy to use, and you can carry it anywhere. A portable toilet is an excellent solution to maintain personal hygiene, and it is a great alternative to using nature as a toilet.

  • Hand Sanitizer

    Hand sanitizer is an essential item to maintain personal hygiene while camping or hiking. It kills germs and bacteria and doesn’t require water to use. Hand sanitizer is easy to carry, and you can use it to clean your hands after using the bathroom or touching any dirt or objects.

  • Travel Towel

    A travel towel is lightweight and easy to carry. It is an excellent solution to remain clean and dry while camping or hiking. A travel towel dries quickly, and you can use it to dry yourself after showering or swimming. It is also a great alternative to using paper towels or tissues, which can be harmful to the environment.

  • Water Filter Bottle

    A water filter bottle is a lifesaver when trekking or hiking. It filters water from local streams, lakes, or rivers, removing harmful bacteria and viruses, making it safe to drink. A water filter bottle is easy to carry and can be refilled multiple times, making it a great option for staying hydrated while maintaining personal hygiene.

  • Nature’s Head Composting Toilet

    Nature’s Head Composting Toilet is an eco-friendly toilet that doesn’t require plumbing. It separates liquid and solid waste, converting solid waste into compost that can be used for gardening. It is easy to install and maintain and an excellent alternative to traditional toilets while camping or living in a remote area.

  • Emergency Toilet Bag

    An emergency toilet bag is an excellent solution to maintain personal hygiene in case of emergencies. It is easy to use and dispose of and comes with an absorbent powder that solidifies liquid waste, making it safer to handle. It is an excellent option to have in your backcountry hygiene kit.

  • Pros & Cons of Backcountry Hygiene


    • Connection with Nature: Maintaining good hygiene in the backcountry helps you get in touch with the natural environment. You learn to adapt to the surroundings and take care of yourself without modern amenities.
    • Health Benefits: Good hygiene practices keep you healthy and prevent diseases. A clean body and surroundings reduce the risk of infections, skin problems, and gastrointestinal issues.
    • Minimal Environmental Impact: Backcountry hygiene practices use fewer resources and minimize pollution. Using natural soaps and cleaning products ensures that the environment is not harmed by harmful chemicals.
    • Less Gear to Carry: Good hygiene practices require minimal gear, so it’s easier to carry less weight on long trips. For instance, you can use natural soaps to wash your hair and body instead of carrying multiple toiletries.
    • Better Mental Health: Keeping clean in the backcountry has a positive impact on your mental health. A clean body and surroundings reduce stress, fatigue, and promote a positive outlook on life.


    • Inconvenience: Good hygiene practices can be time-consuming, and it might not be possible to keep up with your standards of cleanliness. For instance, a lack of running water might make it challenging to wash your clothes or shower.
    • Waste Disposal: Properly disposing of waste can be a challenge in the backcountry. You need to practice leave-no-trace principles to minimize the environmental impact of your waste.
    • Resource Constraints: Good hygiene practices might not always be possible because of resource constraints and limited supplies. You might be forced to use unrefined soap or go without a shower for days.
    • Cost: The gear required for good hygiene practices, such as natural soaps, can be more expensive than conventional products. This might increase the cost of your backcountry trip.
    • Privacy: Maintaining good hygiene practices might be challenging because of a lack of privacy in the backcountry. You might be forced to take care of your hygiene needs in public or communal areas.

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