I’ve done a lot of camping this summer, and with the drought, you can imagine it was pretty hot out there. I can attest that it was. At our camp site we cut a lot of wood, and we used much of it for the camp fire. Those were hot days swinging an axe, and can say in no uncertain terms that you were soaking wet with sweat when you were done. I got a lesson in hygiene in the field this summer, and decided that at the end of the day or the end of a long session of humping wood, from point A to point B and chopping it, that nothing would feel as good as a hot shower. All of this with the exception that there is no hot shower to have at the camp site.
With that, more than once a day I found myself cleaning up and wiping the sweat off of me. I also found that it was futile to do so until I let my body heat cool to the point I was no longer sweating, otherwise my pores acted like mini faucets and cleaning up was mute. Enter a couple of items that made a huge difference for me this summer:
- My razor. Recently I switched to a safety razor from the standard Gillette with five blades in the cartridge. I did so for two reasons. The first was the cost of the cartridges. Just crazy, and second I have a buddy who swears by the safety razor. All in all a good switch, but that is another story for another time. I found that nothing made my face feel cleaner than a good shave, even in the field. Not only was it pleasant to not have annoying stubble on hot humid days, but it was psychologically satisfying have a clean shaven face, even if temporary, it felt “clean.”
- Shaving Cream. You may think this is silly because I already mentioned shaving, but I brought with me, to conserve even more space in my kit, Sea to Summit Trek & Travel Shaving Soap. You don’t need a lot, use just about as much as the size of a nickel in your hand and lather your face. The upside is they are good to go, getting you through the TSA checkpoints at the airport as well… I did notice, that I had to add a little water to my hand and re-wet my face a couple of times when I shaved, but it re constituted well on my face after doing so.
- Camp Mirror or Signal Mirror. I used this camp mirror, but anything that is a mirror will do for you. It is now a permanent part of my hygiene kit.
- No Rinse Body Bath. What a great addition to my “hygiene kit,” as I call it. This allowed me, with the addition of Belguim Folding Plastic Wash Bowl (a rubberized bowl that you can put water in and use as a small sink) to clean up. I simply packed a wash cloth and a towel along with the kit. I could sponge bath down a couple times a day to get the dirt, grit, smoke, and sweat off.
In addition I recently purchased another safety razor, added some talcum powder, anti-bacterial aloe, and more to my hygiene kit. It was good to have something more comprehensive with me on those HOT days. Which, sort of brings me to my point of the post: Bugging Out. I realized that (at least for me) there are two areas of particular importance I needed to understand about hygiene if/when I have to Bug Out, especially if it’s on foot, no matter how hot or how cold out it is. The first is that you cannot under estimate the power of feeling good psychologically. It could be a long hard day of humping gear or hard work, but getting cleaned up if you can, will make you feel better and give you some renewed energy to get through the rest of your day/evening. The second is, you can’t walk around forever in the same clothes without your own body becoming unsanitary in some way. i.e. dare I say, crotch rot, athletes foot, etc. that can set in. It is not healthy and can seriously slow or stall your Bug Out plans.
I think until recently I took hygiene in the field for granted. I know I have not written about it much, and I really spent more time out in the bush this year than I have in many years, so it was sort of top of mind after it hit me that I needed to pay more attention to my own hygiene. Not to mention I hated the way I smelled at the end of the day after a long day of hard work. 😉