View Full Version : Odds and Ends- Toiletries, Etc.

12-30-2002, 23:00
Question for through hikers...

Generally, when I've backpacked, I've completed only short trips of a week or less. When I get back into town, I have easy access to toiletries (shampoo, soap, a towel, etc.) since I'm back at my car.

On a through hike, do you end up purchasing these items at each town stop? I would hate to carry a whole bottle of shampoo, or a full bar of soap, or a bath towel, on the trail.

Probably sounds like a crazy question, but I was just wondering how you handle this...


12-30-2002, 23:47
Most hostels and other places that offer showers do supply soap and shampoo, or at least soap. Also most times someone has left a bar of soap even if the hostel does not supply it. I did carry a small motel size bar of soap and also a motel size shampoo with me, in the event I did need it. You will probably stay in a motel or lodge at sometime in your hike, so take a bar of the extra soap if you are concerned about not having any at the next hostel. On the trail I would was with just clear water, and that was good for me. May have not been squeaky clean, but if felt good, and it did re-arrange the dirt. Hope this helps... you have some very good questions and concerns, just as I did and now is the time to ask. A lot of folks on here with a lot of experience so you should have plenty of information. It will be up to you, which is for you and which will not work for you. Just my 2 cents.... Happy Trails..... Ed

12-30-2002, 23:50
Some hostels have some of these things available for use, such as Miss Janet's. But if you partake of this, be sure to replenish the supply. I went in with another hiker to buy basic stuff (shampoo, lotion, and soap). Most of the southern towns have dollar stores that you can get this stuff cheap.

12-31-2002, 00:04
If you plan a decent # of maildrops, a bounce box should work nicely for bouncing these types of supplies from town to town. I have a modified OR kitchen kit with a bunch of small bottles of various sizes. I keep toothpaste, shampoo, liquid soap, Gold Bond, etc... in these, and I'll refill them from the larger bottles in the bounce box along the way.


12-31-2002, 09:45
Myself, I carried a 2 or 4 oz bottle of camp suds, a 4 or 6 oz tube of toothpaste, and a small pack-towel.

Depending on your habits, that will go you a long way. (The sample size toothpaste typically lasted me a week to 10 days)

Most hostels have soap and shampoo and towels, but for those that didn't, I used mine.

12-31-2002, 15:53
I carry a small bottle of doc bronners peppermint soap with me ..i use it to wash shampoo( not that I have much hair) and to brush my teeth(I DO have teeth) and It smeels good ..make sure to hang it with your food bag.

01-02-2003, 16:23
Hotels and some hostels had toiletries availble for the using, otherwise, we used our bounce box and kept a big bottle of shampoo, real soap, razors, all kinds of fun "get clean" stuff in there...it was like a Mini "spa day" on our zero days :-) Lots of people this year seemed to pride themselves on how disgusting they could get, but I found (especially if you were taking a day off in town) people really appreaciated it if you made the effort to clean up a little. If you do decide to carry soap or shampoo, only carry enough for one "serving"...there was a guy who we met getting on in Maryland that was carrying a LITER of Doc' Bonner's soap. The thing had to weigh two pounds!

01-02-2003, 18:51
Assuming that you use the soap found in motels and hostels, a small bottle of Dr. Bonners or Camp Suds should last a long time. I used less than 2 oz in 1000 miles.

01-02-2003, 20:21
Well, yeah. You didn't have to wash your hair!:D

01-02-2003, 20:30
lugnut I don't know about Peaks hair ..I'm the one without much hair ....BUT I DO HAVE TEETH!

brown bess
01-02-2003, 20:50
any nifty ideas on finding small plastic containers for shampoo etc that won't leak???

brown bess--*always scrounging

01-02-2003, 21:13
.. small bottles made of nalgene I think..I see'em at a lot of outfitters..I bought an combination assortment...they have multiple uses...think I picked up some at mountain crossing in Neel's gap...I like to buy things from trailside businesses keeps there in business for when you need them.

01-02-2003, 22:08
Where do get sample sizes of toothpaste? I have looked around and haven't found them in grocery stores. I have been using what airlines give you on international flights, but have used that up.

01-02-2003, 22:25
Walmart and K-mart have sample (travel) sizes.

01-02-2003, 23:24
Try tooth powder. It's lighter than paste, and you can carry any amount you want in a film can. Just wet your toothbrush and dip it in the powder. I found some Arm and Hammer Dental Powder that tastes OK. By the way, I rinse my toothbrush with the same water I rinse my mouth with (mouth first) after brushing - saves water.

01-03-2003, 11:23
I found an even lighter weight alternative to a toothbrush, toothpaste/tooth powder at my local CVS pharmacy: Dental Dots. One Dot per brushing, sort of a mini-brillo pad with a little toothpaste embedded that you peel off of the backing and stick on the end of your finger to brush with. I'm not sure that I would suggest using this in place of a real toothbrush for months at a time, but for a week-long section hike it saves a few precious ounces.

01-03-2003, 13:45
I use the dental dots as well, they are great for section hikes. I haven't found them anywhere but on the web - here's the URL: http://www.dentaldots.com/. Anyone seen these in stores yet?


01-03-2003, 15:05
Dental dots can be found in almost any pharmacy (at least, around here I have been able to find them at Brooks and CVS)...i used them a few times but the thought of putting my dirty fingers (even after they were well rinsed) near my mouth and teeth after several days of hiking inspired me to carry a toothbrush and paste instead. No matter how well you clean your hands, your nails are still filthy...eeeechhh. Also, I use Tom's of Maine toothpaste, and wrote and told them about my thru-hike and how I couldnt find their trial sizes of paste in the stores, and they sent me one of each flavor for free....

01-16-2003, 14:30
Like Steve I use Dr Bronners everyday and have for years just make sure you use it sparingly alot goes along way and if you are male or female dont cover your genitals in it. It has a nice tingle sensation at first, then begins to burn. If your a female I would advise do not use it on your hair it will make it very dried out. You can find it at any Herbal shop/rei or off the web at http://www.drbronner.com/


01-16-2003, 17:17
Originally posted by Waterbuffalo
If your a female I would advise do not use it on your hair it will make it very dried out.

Not that it's any better, but I found the opposite to be true of Dr. Bonner's...it made my hair slick and oily and disgustingly greasy, and was VERY difficult to wash even the smallest amount out when I was forced to use it. Take the complimentary shampoo from the first hotel you stay at and carry that :)

01-16-2003, 21:06
I felt comfortable taking regular dish detergent in a small bottle. Al long as it doesn't contain any phosphates it should be environmentally sound, and virtually no soaps contain this stuff any more. Sgt Rocks sight even mentions that a chemist freind of his testified to the fact that it's pretty much all the same. Beyond that I'd say get soap with as little scent to it as possible. And if you have long hair bring along real shampoo, just a little for use in town.

01-16-2003, 21:08
Jump maybe that's what my wife said about it. I have little hair so it doesn't bother me.

SGT Rock
01-16-2003, 21:11
I like Dr Bronners mint soap because it has a cool smell, gives you that tingling feeling when you wash, and it is mint.

Mint is a cool plant, my great uncle did his master's thesis on wild mint in NC. But get this, mint is a weed in the mountains, like where the trail goes thru. If you know what to look for, you can find it, especially in late spring and early summer. But you never see bears eat it, just berries, ferral fruits, and backpacker's food bags. Bears don't associate the smell of mint with food, it would be like us associating the smell of grass with food. Maybe someday they will, but I see it as a safe option for soap smell.

Of course this is based only on observation, nothing really scientific.