Field Hygiene

Staying in the woods for a while can quickly turn you into a woman repellant.  This is how I put together an effective field hygiene kit to keep myself clean in the woods.

HYGIENE BAG

This guide will be centered around the bag itself.  Here is what I consider a “front” view of the hygiene bag.  A carry handle is always useful, as are some external pockets, which I usually use to store a sewing kit for field repairs.

This is the inside of an ideal hygiene bag.  Plenty of easy to access pockets in the upper section for things like toothpaste, hand sanitizer etc. and a large zippered lower pocket for things that will be wet and aren’t always practical to wipe off.  It will make more sense as we go along.

In the upper section is a flap that both ideal for keeping the contents in the upper half of the bag in place, with elastic, MOLLE-esque bands for clipping on shavers and toothbrushes.  Mine also has a small pocket on the upper side of this flap but I never use it.  Also there is the all important hook.  Any low branch or branch stump is now a prime location to have your hygiene station set up.

This is the lower half of the bag where there is one large compartment that can be secured by zipper.

CONTENTS

Soap

As you can see, I bring laundry soap for those very long trips where it’s simply IMPOSSIBLE to bring enough changes of clothes.  Make sure you don’t do laundry in places like national parks etc., where you could get fined.
The soap box should not be a traditional soap box you use at home.  It should be a water-tight case used mostly for keeping leftovers.  I use this because it helps keep the inside of my hygiene bag free of soap.  Make sure you drain it as best as you can before packing it up again.

Shaving Kit

Some people swear by electric razors, I swear by having nothing electronic unless there isn’t an alternative (a digital camera for example).
The razor should be of high quality.  Don’t cheap out on this or your shaving experience will be miserable.
Equally important is that the shaving cream be the foaming type, not the gel type.  The foaming shaving cream allows you to shave without water and still get a smooth shave.  You can remove excess shaving cream from your face by using one wet tissue.
When away from a water source, water needs to be conserved.  The waterless shaving method is one such way.

Dental Hygiene

Typically for the toothpaste, I use a half-used tube from home.  Some of the “travel” sizes just seem too small.
Toothbrushes are always better off with a cover so they don’t get as nasty during your trip.
Tooth might actually be a good addition.

Waterless Bathing

I achieve waterless bathing by using a medium sized tube of hand sanitizer and a tube of body lotion.  I wash the major parts of my body by scrubbing hand sanitizer onto myself, but because it leaves a really rough and nasty kind of feel, I rub myself with body lotion to get a better feel.  Do not use the hand sanitizer on sensitive parts of the body, including the face.
Not shown is a pack of wet tissues.  Use those to wash sensitive parts.

Towel

I use a chamois sports towel for all my drying needs.  This is because a regular towel just won’t dry in time to be useful.  This one is fairly new and I keep it inside a ziplock bag so that I can keep it extra flat when stowed away.  It doesn’t dry as well as a regular towel, but that’s alright.  If dealing with feet, make sure you dry it thoroughly in the air or sun before you put your socks back on.

COMPLETE KIT

The two things missing are: a pack of wet tissues and a small container of shampoo.  The shampoo would go where that unnecessary second bar of soap is in the upper side of the hygiene bag.  The wet tissues are usually in the lower compartment.

FINAL REMARK ABOUT WATER

Laundry, and hair washing occur only near sources of water (like a large river).  Most of the time you won’t be able to carry enough water.  Same goes with shower bladders that some people use.  The only water I carry on my person is for drinking or dental hygiene.

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2 Responses to Field Hygiene

  1. saritabear says:

    I really love that bar soap container you’re using– do you know what brand it is, or where it’s available to buy?

    • Ryoga-kun says:

      It’s essentially a water-tight food container. Asian supermarkets such as H-Mart usually sell these because they’re big on side dishes and the ideal soap container is one made for side dishes. The most important thing is that they have some kind of lock system. Regular Tupperware style containers that don’t have some kind of lock tend to pop open, spilling contents everywhere.

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