Good hygiene is essential to long-term health when out in the wilderness and some people find the ritual of a morning or evening wash and shave to be very therapeutic.
Now at Briar Patch
last summer the only "bathing" I did was in an icy lake. Since then I've come up with a simple routine to keep the cooties away if I'm out for more than a couple of days. It requires no extra gear that I wasn't already bringing, it can be done in any season and any weather, and it takes only a couple of minutes from start to finish.
I choose to wash up just before bed as it keeps the oils, dirt, and stink I carry to bed to a minimum.
First, put a pot of water on the camp stove and bring it up to a nice warm, almost too
hot, temperature. Once it's hot you throw your bandana/rag/wash cloth into the water with a drop or two of soap and give it a good swirl. Now I like to carry one of these
from Lee Valley and it does a fantastic job of scraping off the layer of crud without also taking a layer or two of skin.
I give myself a once-over with the hot, wet bandana and then use the nail brush to exfoliate and open up the pores, and then another swipe with the bandana after I've dunked it again.
After the scrubbing I will either air dry (if no one's around) or just towel off with a t-shirt.
While the water's still hot I can use my signal mirror and have a shave if I'm really motivated. Now my facial hair seems to grow about an inch every ten years so shaving isn't ever a priority but a clean washed and shaven face can really bring back the "civilized" side of me.
If it's available, I like to rub down a bit (you know the key areas
) with spruce needles as they both smell good and are (I believe) anti-microbial. This'll help keep the cooties from coming back so quickly and, when combined with a bit of wood smoke, will really remove the smells of civilization without reverting to a more primitive; more stinky self.
Thanks for reading,