View Full Version : Toiletry odds and ends... Is there a "best" choice? (It rubs the lotion on it's skin)

02-24-2017, 13:01
So I've about finished up everything and I leave in just a few weeks (just like everyone else) and I'm down to the things I pack last. I know how to go out and buy things but honestly I don't use sunscreen or insect repellent off trail and the others are not home items either. It's always better to ask that to assume :)

Sunscreen: I'm guessing my only choices here are either cover up in a burka or to use chemicals. I'm very very pale and burn pretty easily so going without is probably a bad idea.

Insect Repellent: DEET, no DEET? Can I go with something natural? Is there something that doesn't smell (chemical based repellent)? With so many conflicting things to read online it's hard to choose one to slather on my body for 6 months.

Hand/face soap: Not sure what to go with here... I literally have no idea where to start. Do I do Dr. Bronners? Do I cut slivers of Dove sensitive?

Camp Towel: What size do I go with here. There are so many to choose from! There are sizes, patterns (waffle, microfiber, smooth) and I am completely lost. Please someone make this make some sense!!!

So there you have it. 5% of the last 10% I'm missing :D

02-24-2017, 13:14
Subscribed! You're not alone in being curious about these things. I'm not do concerned with soap. I just bought a single bar of whatever I saw that was cheap. Towels, I looked into awhike back and was directed to purchasing sime genetic microfiber ones. I'll take one for drying, along with a washcloth for cleaning things. Though, I did come across a good sized chamois for cheap at harbor freight. Have yet to try it out, but I'm looking forward to seeing how it functions. I ended up picking up a marker sized bottle of 100% DEET from Walmart. I'm a sucker and was sold on the size and 100%. But I'm also soaking my things in a bottle of Martin's permethrin this weekend. Regarding sunscreen, I had imagined I would need some too, but not a lot. I got a cheap travel pack of 4x3oz bottles and filled 1 up with sunscreen. Just an active 15 spf bottle I had lying around, not something I'm really concerned with, but want to have at my disposal. From what I hear and have seen, plenty of tree cover from the start, NOBO, at least for long enough for you to get acclimated to the sun. I'll be leaving March 12th.

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02-24-2017, 13:27
I use these for camp towels: http://gearx.com/lightload-biodegradable-towel-3pk

For soap, I take a 1/4 to 1/2 bar of Nutragena or other non-scented soap. Ivory is tasty to mice, so leave that at home.

I take sunscreen if I'm going to be above timberline, in fields, or early season before the leaves are out. Any brand should do the job.

I find 100% DEET to be too greasy, and can damage fabrics, so I prefer a less concentrated pump spray. Deep Woods Off comes in very small pump sprays that won't weigh you down. it's only 25% DEET, but it works for me. The Natural stuff like NatraPel is OK, too, and makes you smell purdy.

02-24-2017, 13:27
Best pack towel - Shamwow (beware of cheap imitations, we can't do this all day, . . . NO seriously, the brand name Shamwow is the best) Cut the size you'd like. A strip makes a good sweat band as well.

There is NOT plenty of tree cover on the AT from the beginning in March. You'll need sunscreen until the trees leaf out.

DEET works best. 30% concentration works as well as 100%. Treat clothing including socks and shoe uppers with Permethrin spray.

Dr Bronners or Camp Suds. Use a gallon ziplock to wash socks and underwear between town stops. Take a small travel size bottle of hand sanitizer as well (makes good fire starter as a bonus).

02-24-2017, 13:32
There is NOT plenty of tree cover on the AT from the beginning in March. You'll need sunscreen until the trees leaf out.


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02-24-2017, 13:43
Just to throw in a minimalist 2cents. On my thru I didn't use any soap (you're gonna stink learn to love it, I did rinse all my clothes a lot to keep the friction down and feet healthy), no sunscreen (but I don't burn easily), didn't carry a camp towel or insect repellent (only got a bit buggy in CT but manageable).

But, hey, that's me. Have a great hike, you're gonna love it.

02-24-2017, 16:17
Sunscreen - used it for the first six weeks or so while the trees were leafing and then dumped it.
Bug repellent - DEET. Had it the whole trip. Used it quite often whenever the bugs were bothering me and it worked very well. Refilled probably three times.
Soap - Dr. Bonner's. Carried and used a small bottle the whole trip. Replaced once.
Towel - Shamwow cut to size.

Also - Gold Bond medicated powder for much of the trip.

02-24-2017, 16:51
A chamois comes in handy as does a small plastic bottle that you can squirt water out of when needed

02-24-2017, 17:06
The Lightload towel is good. I like having a towel as well as a bandana or two. I carry a fairly small towel, not much bigger than a bandana.

I carry a tiny dropper bottle of dish soap to clean things like my cook kit. For personal cleanliness I prefer baby wipes. On a couple of trips we carried a small travel size shampoo/body wash when we knew we would be able to get a shower at a campground.

Yes to sunscreen, also to a brimmed hat that covers ears and neck. If you want the proper headdress, wear a keffiyeh. Useful in hot sunny climates, probably overkill on the AT. But it would make a statement. :)

I don't worry about bug spray until summer, I certainly wouldn't take it in Georgia in March.

02-24-2017, 17:43
Also - Gold Bond medicated powder for much of the trip.


I also carry a small squirt bottle of rubbing alcohol for hand sanitizer, foot massage, can even be used as fire starter, though I never have.

02-24-2017, 18:01
I carried a bottle of that camp soap you get from pretty much anywhere (Walmart, etc...). Spray on Permetherin (Iused Sawyer brand) worked great and it's fairly cheap. I'll use both again this year on my 2nd attempt. As for sunscreen, I too burn easily. At the beginning (I started April 19th), I didn't see a huge need for it but once I hit Va I ended up buying some at one of the Dollar Stores.

02-24-2017, 18:11
Having fair skin you should probably heed what dermatologists say about sun exposure. Its cumulative, the more sun burns your skin, the more likely you are to develop carcinoma or melanoma. Having had several surgeries for the former, I use #55 block on my face and neck, #30 on arms and legs. There are a few brands designed for sport use that take a bit longer to wear off if you are working hard, reapplication a few times a day is not unusual.

The issue is not how many leaves there are, or aren't, but how well UV rays bounce around off leaf, tree, ground, and water surfaces. A few minutes of prevention will save literally thousands of dollars in 20 years.

02-24-2017, 18:16
+1 on LightLoad towels. They have a "new and improved" towel out now, but REI now longer carries them in stores.

I don't take soap. Soap is for showers in town...

Kidding. Sort of. Less than a week? No soap. Longer than a week and I take a slice of this bar.


I take DEET 30 in season.

I take a durable waterproof sunblock. I've been under the knife thrice for basal cell carcinoma. No mas, thank you....

02-24-2017, 18:57
dont pee on your hands and keep your fingers out of you mouth. Hand sanitizer is overrated .bar soap and water works for me .

02-24-2017, 19:10
hand towel: I use my bandana. I have a fake car shammy from walmart for drying off if I swim, etc.
soap: I use dr. bronners
I wear a visor and long sleeves if it is sunny and only bring a small amount of sunscreen for my nose if i ever need it, or the backs of my hands because I don't wear hiking gloves.
bug repellant: you can treat your clothes with permethrin which is a chrysanthemum based plant repellant. I also repackage a small amount of Uncle Ben's Deet in an empty saline eye dropper container (very small) to use if I need it. I also have a permethrin treated head net that I use when it is torturous.

02-24-2017, 19:53
I'm a minimalist too, and just I carry a scrap of soap from whatever motel I last visited, and a bandanna. I did not carry sunscreen or repellent on the AT. I used Permethrin on clothing. I wore long trousers, long sleeves, and a wide-brimmed hat all the time. Those who work in the sun cover up--take a hint from them. A one ounce headnet is worth its weight in gold when you hit the low-lying damp areas in New Jersey. (I add sunscreen for the face and hands when I'll be on snowfields all day in the spring and summer, like on a PCT hike.)

02-24-2017, 22:03
I typically carry a small bar of soap and a travel or sample sized bottle of shampoo. I rarely use them in the woods, except if for some reason I get exceptionally dirty. When it gets really hot, rising off the sweat from your face and grim off your hands goes a long way in feeling better at the end of the day. (Of course, never wash in or near a water source, always carry a bag of water away into the woods)

On occasion you will find an opportunity to take a shower, but soap and shampoo are not available such as at park campgrounds or at a hostel where the amenities have been used up and not replaced. (every time I've been to "The Place" in Damascus, I've had to first stop at the dollar store and restock the place with soap, shampoo and TP) A lot of places supply all purpose liquid "body wash" which I hate. Then I'll break out my own bar soap and shampoo.

I carry a couple of bandanas (try to get cotton ones, they absorb water much better then the synthetic) and about a foot square of "camp towel".

Definitely a small tube of sun block. I just put it on my nose and the top of my lower arms if I'm not in long sleeves, which is actually most of the time.

02-24-2017, 22:08
Oh and DEET - I never use the stuff. Never felt the need. I use my psychic shield, along with eating B complex and Garlic supplements. If you don't look or smell like a flower, most insects will leave you alone. Although I've had flying insects attack my red earbuds, thinking they were a flower. I've since switched to black ones.

02-25-2017, 09:00
On the other end of the spectrum, I use DEET a lot when mosquitos and biting flies are out, it works for me and works very well. For noseeums and black flies I've found a wide brimmed hat and head net to be best (long sleeve shirt and long pants as well).

02-25-2017, 15:20
I wear long sleeve Columbia PFG shirt with good SPF and light weight with good ventilation. Bugs don't really bother me or I am good at ignoring them I grew up in the army and hunting. I may grab some spray for the summer. If you burn easily I'd go with a long sleeve dress shirt or sunscreen leafs should be good buy end of may possibly earlier depends on the year of course. I got a BA pump sack that I will also use as a shower. DrB is pretty good bar soap, may take a bar and a oz of liquid. I got a nice size towel on Sierria trading post clearance items, supposed to be for pets but I have repurposed it as my backpacking towel. I paid less then $10.

02-26-2017, 05:55
Permethrin soaked outer clothing and a little bit off DEET has kept me tick free. Props to Slo-goen on garlic supplements!

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Don H
02-26-2017, 10:28
Here's what I carried and used for toiletries.

Tooth paste: I carried a small eyedropper bottle, maybe 2 ounce capacity, filled with tooth paste gel.
Soap: None, but I carried Wet Wipes and a 2 ounce bottle of hand sanitizer.
Towel: Bandana
Sunscreen: Small amount repackaged in a 2 ounce eyedropper.

04-23-2017, 21:23
Thank you all for sharing your experience.