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Do You Wear Deodorant When Hiking?

Body Odor

An editor at Backpacker Magazine contacted me recently to ask how I control body odor when I’m day hiking or backpacking. It’s actually a good question, especially if you’re out hiking with a new “partner” who hasn’t been near you for days at a time.

Do You Wear Deodorant when Hiking?

Please leave a comment with your answer below.

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  1. I wouldn’t think of it on a backpack. Before day hike/ski/mtb I use a spritz of my daily use pine pump spray. As said earlier it makes synthetic shirts stay much nicer significantly longer. On multi-day trips I usually use merino and don’t even notice any stink. My personal experience has been that the most offensive smell for me is nasty old synthetic shirts.

  2. Hell yeah I do, but I’m a single dude on the prowl and I’ve met nice young ladies on the trail before so it helps the confidence to not smell like rotting trash. Since it sweats out, ditto on the Merino wool, that helps a lot especially when you double it up at night! Also a good soak in some camp fire smoke or a cigar helps a bit if its too cold to wash in a stream.

    Additionally I use a sleeping bag liner to prevent any stank from getting on my down sleeping bags.

  3. Yeh, if I’m out on a day hike, and I put it on in the morning (from home). But not when camping or on multi-day hikes.

  4. Yes! It’s a homemade concoction of Essence of Lime, 100% DEET, and saltpeter. It stings the eyes a bit, but the chicks dig it.

  5. I do wear it. I found Walgreen’s still carry’s TUSSY’s which is a thin pad, I can get away with one a day which I put on armpits and my feet after washing up at night. I put it in my garbage bag and pack it in my bear can if hiking in bear country. I can’t stand crawling into my sleeping bag with dirt and sweat still on me. I use a crystal at home, but good idea to bring one backpacking.

  6. Yes. I started out without it on my first long distance hike. Even with Dr. Bonner sponge baths, I hated smelling myself every day and night and bought a travel size deodorant at first stop to resupply.

  7. No, but I wash nightly with Dr. Bronners and water. My hiking shirt has silver in the threads, designed for hunters.(Scent a Way) No stink on me!

  8. This is a great question and as a female, it is funny to see the overwhelming majority of men do NOT use deodorant. I stopped using anti-perspirant/deodorant a long time ago because of the chemicals…but I do use a mixture of baking soda and cornstarch (sometimes add a little lavender or tea tree oil) that works to cut down wetness and odor–and they both have other uses too.

      • Sprinkle a combo of both in shoes to keep from smelling and help feet dry. Cornstarch helps with chaffing. It can be used as a “dry” shampoo, and baking soda can be used as a wet shampoo–of course, if so many people aren’t using deodorant, most likely, not too many will be concerned with shampoo.

        Baking soda can be put in a gallon ziplock bag with some water to wash funky socks or underclothes. Also, baking soda for brushing teeth/rinsing mouth and it can take the sting out of bug bites.

  9. I’m an ultra light backpacker (9.5 lbs skin out) and refuse to carry anything extra. My one and only exception to that rule is a tiny travel size deodorant that I carried and used my entire AT thruhike, KT, a month long hike in the southern California desert, and also on the Wonderland Trail. I looked into the powders and diy mixtures, but all those were too messy and actually weighed more than my little stick. I tried going without…holy ___! Never again on extended hikes.

  10. Nope, I am in the wilds.

  11. I do not – I’ve tried a variety things to not stink. Though I think that I start to smell sweet after a week or so, though my wife and kids would tell you different. I’m a windows down car ride to the hotel kind guy after my 2 week+ hike pick ups I guess. Latest try was some organic, nature friendly soap to bathe in the streams (as i saw above) I swear I got sand fleas/30+ bits from my nether regions and up :-( not a happy place. Now just stoking the fire every few days/week to smoke out the stink. works great on cloths and skin too (since I roll solo)!

  12. Yes, thanks for not judging those of us who aren’t quite as hardcore as some. For the record, sometimes I use deoderant and sometimes I don’t.

  13. Only takes a sweat rash caused by a build up of salt crystals on the skin to change ones thought pattern about personal cleanliness while out on the trail. I do not carry deoderant per se, but I make sure I wash down every night before I climb in the bag. Besides my skin feels creepy crawly if I do not wash down. It is not difficult, 1/2 cup water, one drop camp Soap, one bandanna 1/2 cup water to rinse and to rinse out the bandanna and your done. The girls like the smell of Dr.Bonners mint. But if you are with a women, research back in the 1990’s has shown that a womens chemical factory is very positively effected by the smell of man sweat. In the study it elevated the womens mood to a happy postive one usually within three days of exposure.

    • Addendum; Years ago, one of the Mail Order Retailers who is still around offered a small plastic container of a deoderant supposed developed by the Russia KGB or something like that was was made from all natural ingredients. But I haven’t seen it on the market in years and years…I bought some and it smelled “Minty” and it worked but as I said I never saw it for sale again..

  14. No way – I normally avoid any of the mainstream brands over concerns for chemicals, and any of the all-natural brands even the “unscented” typically have a distinct order – likely of something a critter might equate to food. I don’t know when people decided that “people smell” was unpleasant, but I’ve found that after being away from all of the artificial chemical smells we’re doused in from bath-to-laundry it’s the fresh hikers that are hard on my nose and I don’t even notice the “stinky” ones like me. I guess the liberty to smell like a human being is part of my backcountry experience.

  15. Anything but rubbing alcohol or the crystal type makes my pits itch. So it’s not a big step to go without. I feel better with at least a spit bath though.

  16. Lol, I’m loving everyone’s comments. I do – but the crystal kind. I don’t like wearing anti-antiperspirant.

  17. No way…I also don’t wear it on daily basis, ever since I started practicing heated yoga I’ve found I don’t need it, not sure if there’s a correlation or just coincidence which coincides with parallel lifestyle changes

  18. Yep. I buy the 1.5oz size of Crystal Body Deodorant and then carry about half of one of those (that’s as small as I can handle if my fingers are wet/cold). Works GREAT. Cheap. Because there’s no reason to alert others to my presence. Plus it earns me a noticeably better level of service from First Responders, bank tellers, and store clerks. Same goes for shaving every day with a .33oz bic razor. If it’s taught as a survival instrument by military survival instructors – that’s good enough for me.

  19. Tip: rubbing a small amount of antibiotic ointment into the armpits is odorless, shows no residue and keeps killing odor causing bacteria for about three days.

    Bonus: it doubles as..well antibiotic ointment for wound care.

  20. We all know that theres nothing better than stinky musky tent sex with strangers while backpacking! ;-) That said, I carry a small travel deodorant while multi daying. Other than that, a nightly dip and some biodegradable soap works wonders. And a morning dip in an alpine lake always wakes you up and helps you start the day a little fresher.

  21. I carry a chunk of the deodorant crystal, which kills off the smell for a while. When we perspire and let it dry there’s salts and sugars left and that’s what stinky bacteria feed on. That rock kills them but they’ll be back soon. They’re easily defeated if you wash them away before your immune system decides to ramp up in response. But once I smell “bad” I know I’ve gone too long. Odds of infection or sickness begin to go up. When we allow layers of dried to build there is a distinct and easily identifiable smell. Often if I run across someone out there and somehow decide I don’t like her/him, often I slowly become aware she/he just smells needs a shower. The nose knows. Good grooming is one of those books-by-its-cover instincts that we come equipped with; if you want the guy at the supermarket in town to take your check, he might be better disposed to trust a non-stinko.

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