After a few days in the backcountry, even those most comfortable in the wilderness start to feel a little less fresh. Sun and hard work mean we’re often covered in sweat and grime—and while it’s invigorating to take a dip in the river, that doesn’t always cut it, smell-wise. There’s nothing like a little “backcountry bath” with body wipes to leave you feeling like a whole new person.
A few considerations if you’re packing in bathing wipes for your next river trip or outdoor adventure:
One or two wipes per day is probably sufficient. This will allow you to wash your face, armpits, and swimsuit zone (in that order) each morning or evening. Some folks choose to count out the wipes they’ll need and bring them in a ziploc bag, rather than packing in a whole bulky package.
You’ll need to pack out everything you pack in, so make sure you’ve got a way to transport used wipes, whether it’s an extra baggie or just your group’s garbage setup. Consider biodegradable body wipes without tons of extra packaging (i.e. avoid individually wrapped wipes) so you have less trash to pack out.
If you have sensitive skin, test your chosen wipes at home before you’re miles from the nearest road. Make sure scents and any additives in the wipes don’t irritate you.
As refreshing as a quick facial scrub can be, not all body wipes are created equally. These products stand out among the rest.
Our Favorite Bathing Wipes for River Trips
Sea to Summit Wilderness Wipes
Sea to Summit’s extra-thick wipes are more akin to a warm spa towel than to your average baby wipe—and after a couple of hot days on the river, they feel just as indulgent. The wipes come in resealable packs of 12 and 36 and have a touch of aloe vera, which feels great on sun- or wind-burned skin. They’re also unscented and biodegradable, so you can even compost them when you’re off the river.
When you’re really grimy, a standard-size body wipe isn’t always enough to get the job done. At 12” by 12” (that’s more than three times the size of your average baby wipe), Venture Wipes are among the largest on the market. They’re individually packaged, although the fact that you’ll likely really only need one a day offsets the extra garbage factor. Venture Wipes have aloe and vitamin E, as well as tea tree oil to help eliminate funk. For buggy trips, these also come in “Bug Defense,” which contains citronella.
Clean Life No Rinse Bathing Wipes
Sometimes keeping it simple really is the best way to go. Clean Life’s No Rinse Bathing Wipes are among the most economical alcohol-free wipes on the market and are sold at many outdoor retailers, as well as drugstores like Walgreens. Sold in resealable packs as small as 8 unscented wipes, they’re billed as hypoallergenic, so even folks with sensitive skin will likely be able to use them.
Nathan Power Shower Cleansing Wipes
Built with ultra-runners (in other words, the ultra-sweaty) in mind, Nathan’s Power Shower Cleansing Wipes are ideal for cooling off and cleaning up after a day spent in the sun. Their clean, mild scent isn’t overpowering, and they come in a resealable travel pack with 15 wipes—a package small enough that it’s not a pain to pack in. Safe for use on your face and body, they’re perfect to kick off another morning on the river.
VIBLOK Intimate Wipes
For some, a real treat on the river is a post-paddle cocktail or Dutch-oven dessert. For others, it’s a few minutes of luxury in the form of a fancy backcountry bath—and for those, VBLOK Intimate Wipes are the way to go. The beauty of these wipes is more about what’s not in them: alcohol, parabens, or fragrances. (They’re also vegan and not tested on animals.) Infused with green tea and vitamin E, these wipes moisturize as they clean, leaving you fresh as can be.