Female Hygiene While Bikepacking (Helpful Tips and Routine)

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Even when you’re bikepacking, nobody likes having body odor. As a woman, you may find unpleasant smells all the more undesirable. Never fear! There are many ways that you can stay hygienic, even while bikepacking. 

If you want to bikepack and smell good doing it, take a look at these clever and effective bikepacking hygiene tips... and a recommended daily hygiene routine for a bikepacker!

women bikepacking

Hand Sanitizer is Your New Best Friend

If you’d like to stay hygienic on your bikepacking trip, look no further than hand sanitizer. This germ-buster is specially formulated with isopropyl alcohol and kills up to 99.9% of bacteria. You can also find ones with soothing ingredients, such as aloe vera.

Hand sanitizer is lightweight and will take up minimal room in your pack. It’s ready to use and doesn’t require water. All that you need to do is apply it, and it will quickly dry off.

Baking Soda Will Magically Banish Foot Odor 

You may already know about the magical deodorizing properties of baking soda. It’s used in many households for an array of odor-busting purposes, from the refrigerator to the carpet. That’s not to mention that it makes baked dishes fluffier.

Baking soda will also banish foot odor, and thank goodness, because what else does? All that you need to do is sprinkle a bit on the inside of your shoes, and leave it to sit overnight. In the morning, shake your shoes out, and you’ll find them much fresher!

Wash Your Bike Shorts Every Single Day

So, how often should you wash your bike shorts? Without exception, every day. This is because, out of all of your clothing, your shorts will be exposed to the most sweat.

As a result, they accumulate the most bacteria. This can cause sores, chafing, and general discomfort. That’s not to mention odor. 

At the end of each bike ride, suds up your bike shorts with a fragrance-free biodegradable soap, and water. Rinse thoroughly after they have had 5-10 minutes to soak.

lady bikepacking

Wet Wipes are Super Handy

You can get face wipes, to keep your skin oil-free and prevent breakouts during the day. Along with these, pick up some antibacterial wipes, to help keep germs on places like your handlebars in check. Wet wipes are lightweight and take up very little room in a pack!

Leaves or Snow can Substitute Toilet Paper

Hopefully, you never find yourself without toilet paper. If the worst occurs, however, you can substitute it with leaves or snow. These may not be the most pleasant, but they’ll work in a fix!

Only Wear Fragrance-Free Deodorant

It is suggested by some that you go without deodorant entirely. The fragrances can draw wildlife, including bears, which makes them a danger. If you’d like to bring deodorant on your bikepacking trip, make sure that it’s fragrance-free, to eliminate this risk.

A Menstrual Cup Can Make Things Easier

Menstrual cycles can be a real inconvenience, especially on the trail. Many bikepackers recommend using menstrual cups to make things easier. To simplify things more, some will even skip their period entirely with birth control.

Of course, there’s no need to do either of these things. Just make sure to pack any tampons or pads out, and that you dispose of them properly (in the trash).

Enjoy a Cleansing Sunshower

A sunshower is a plastic bag with a perforated head on one end. It’s basically a portable shower. What’s more, once you’ve filled it from a lake, river, or camping spigot, you can leave it in the sun to heat. Then, you can enjoy a rare luxury on the trail: a warm-to-hot shower!

Wash Off With a Squeeze Bottle of Water

If you’re in a fix, a squeeze bottle of water can provide a spray to help you wash off. 

bikepackers washing in a stream
Sometimes a cold stream or river is all your only option. Just make sure you use biodegradable soap

Bathe in Lakes, Rivers, and Waterfalls Whenever You Can

If you’re looking to stay clean on your bikepacking trip, stop at the next lake, waterfall, or river. It may not get you as clean as soap will, but it will rinse off any grime and sweat. This will make a considerable difference in itself. 

Something to know: biodegradable soap bars can work great out in nature, but should not be used directly in a lake or river. They require soil to break down and will taint the water.

Instead, use soap only with a bucket, water bottle, or sunshower, at least 200 feet from the water (to avoid runoff).

Opt for Residue-Free Sunblock

Really, we should all be wearing sunblock every day. When you’re bikepacking, though, it’s no longer optional. That is unless you want a truly legendary sunburn (you might even blister).

The most unpleasant aspect of sunblock is probably how oily it is, and the residue it leaves behind because of it. When you’re bikepacking, this can be a grime-magnet.

To keep your face cleaner and more comfortable, invest in a mineral-based, light, or oil-free sunblock.

Always Clean Your Cookware Right Away

When you’ve just finished a grueling day, and your dinner, you might be tempted to save washing your cookware until later. This is not advisable, however. Not only will it allow bacteria to form, and cause baked-on food to become harder to remove, it will attract wildlife (including bears).

Spare yourself the unpleasantness and potential trouble by giving them a good rinse with water (or scouring with sand, if spare water is not available).

Get Squeaky Clean With Some Biodegradeable Soap

If you’d like to stay squeaky-clean, you can bring along some biodegradable soap. You’ll just need some water to use it with. Remember, you can absolutely use the soap outdoors, but try to keep it at least 200 feet from a natural source of water. It’s meant to be broken down in the soil and can taint the water with its runoff. 

Pro tip: Fragrant soaps are arguably one of the best things in life… but wild animals like the smell, too! For bikepacking, make sure to only bring soap that is scent-free, to avoid this risk.

Try a Sponge Bath in Cold Weather

You’re probably not going to want to strip down completely in cold weather. However, staying dirty might not appeal much, either. A sponge bath is an ideal compromise; you can avoid some of the chill if you clean up bit by bit.

All that you need is a rag and some water, and maybe some biodegradable soap if you’ve got it (just make sure to rinse well with a soap-free rag at the end, as soap residue will irritate the skin).

What is My Daily Bikepacking Hygiene Routine?

  1. Clean your bike shorts every night. If you want to avoid heaps of germs and a lot of body odor, clean your bike shorts (and underwear) every night. Out of all of the things you can do for your hygiene, this is one of the very most important.
  2. Baking soda in shoes at night. After you’ve washed your bike shorts, sprinkle some baking soda in your shoes. Baking soda is effective at absorbing all kinds of odor. This is a neat trick!
  3. Air out shoes frequently. Along with applying baking soda, you’ll also want to air your shoes out whenever you can. If you’re stopping for lunch or a break, kick them off. This will also help prevent dreaded foot fungus, as they depend on conditions that are nice and moist.
  4. Wash your hands before every meal. You probably don’t need reminding, but be sure to wash your hands first any time you eat. You get a lot more bacteria on you when you’re out and about and covered in sweat.
  5. Clean dishes promptly. As touched on above, don’t let dirty dishes sit. Get them out of the way, or they can both attract animals and potentially make you sick!
  6. Brush your teeth at least once a day. As always, it’s best to brush your teeth twice a day, bikepacking or not. Realistically, you might not always get the chance, but make sure that you always do it at least once, preferably at night.
  7. Bathe. Whenever you can, bathe in a lake or a river. You can always bring along a handy sunshower. When it comes to keeping your hygiene up, this will do the trick!

As you can see, there are some really handy ways to stay clean while bikepacking, from hand sanitizer to your own biodegradable soap bar. Just make sure to follow a hygiene routine each day, and you can beat germs and odor back!