Packing The Bare Necessities
You can’t pack “everything but the kitchen sink”, however you can pack a toiletry kit.
Your kit should include at least the basic necessities.
The list below is just a guide. You can pack more items than what you see on this list, but remember everything has some form of weight and will have to be carried throughout your hike.
Toiletry Items To Pack
- Toothbrush – Travel Size
- Toothpaste – Travel Size
- Dental Floss
- Hand Sanitizer – Alcohol Gel-Based
- Washcloths or Bandanas
- Baby Wipes or Moist Towelettes
- Biodegradable Soap
- Towel – Approx 30” x 16”, Highly Absorbent – Microfiber OR Polyester & Nylon
9. Trowel – Made of Strong Plastic – to dig holes
10. Zip Top Bags For Trash – Quart and Gallon-Size Bags
Toiletry Items You Should Leave At Home and Why
- Shampoo – Is not environmentally friendly
- Deodorant – The sweet scent can attract animals, (including bears) & bugs
- Razors – They are just not practical
- Hair Dryer – If you want to bring it – ok, but just make sure you have an extension cord that is several miles long (Kidding)
- Mirror – Can break way too easily and can leave shards of glass in your backpack or on the ground where you and others may have to walk – just not safe
Traditional soap has phosphates. These types of chemicals promote algae blooms in streams and lakes and can harm our environment.
If you use traditional soap, avoid using it within 200 feet from any body of water, so as to prevent the phosphates from contaminating the water.
Biodegradable soap reverts back to is its organic ingredients.
When buying biodegradable soap, you can choose unscented or a natural scent such as eucalyptus or citrus.
Glasses and Contact Lenses
If you wear contact lenses, ask your eye doctor about getting a few pairs that can be worn overnight, unless you feel confident about removing them at night and inserting them back in, in the morning without a mirror or sink.
Even if you do wear contact lenses, it would be a good idea to bring a pair of glasses, just in case.
Toothpaste: Use a small amount and then bury your spit in a small hole that is at least 200 feet from your tent and from any water source.
When storing unused toothpaste, either put it in a canister or bear bag with your food. Toothpaste is another item that has a sweet scent & can therefore, attract wildlife.
Flossing: Even if flossing is not part of your daily routine, you should floss every night when hiking and camping. Hiking snacks such as trail mix and cheese can stick between your teeth.
On a side note: Another reason to carry dental floss is because it can be used for multiple purposes. For example, you can use it as thread to repair gear or clothing.
The weight of the items you need to carry in your toiletry kit is, of course, something to be considered. However, it should not be the only consideration, when deciding what to include.
The lists above include (what are the generally accepted) basic necessity items, but you can add items to or subtract items from, these lists.
Washing your hands before meals, after bathroom runs and before brushing and flossing your teeth, is a necessity in order to prevent germs. While the importance of hand washing is well-known, sometimes it's a step that we may skip or not be thinking about when hiking or camping. You certainly don't want to get sick on or after your trip.