This category contains items directly related to maintaining good hygiene on the trail, or light medical supplies you might need due to minor injury, aches, and pains. Nearly all of this stuff can be sourced from just about any business near you, however I will provide links to these products online.
Obviously you wan to carry a toothbrush with you. There is no specific backpacking toothbrush, but in an effort to save weight, you can cut your toothbrush in half.
I prefer tooth powder to toothpaste when I’m on the trail. It’s cleaner to deal with it and lasts longer than a tube of toothpaste, I’ve found. If you’re super particular about your toothpaste brand, then you may not be willing to make the switch. Toothpowder can be tough to get used to (it’s made with Baking Soda), but I’ve learned to grin and bear it. Literally.
They weight next to nothing and can come in handy when pulling out thorns, splinters, or whatever else. You may not ever need them, but if something happens where you wish you had some… you’ll wish you had some.
This is an overlooked item, as many people will simply cut their nails in town. If you are obsessive about trimming your nails, then you may want to carry a set of clippers. If you’ve got five days until the next town when you realize your toenails are too long and causing you shoe/foot problems… you’ll wish you had some. Also, if you chip a nail, it’s nice to be able to do maintenance on the spot to avoid any jagged edges.
This is probably my favorite and most used piece of gear in this category. It helps to prevent chafing, and it can help to heal chafing. When my body is getting used to the demands of hiking after a long break, I’ll throw some body powder on all the nether-regions, as well as the inside of my thighs every morning and sometimes throughout the day. If you’ve already chafed, then body powder is a MUST to put on at night while you’re sleeping. It’ll help you to heal almost over night.
If you sweat like crazy and you’re really prone to chafing, then body glide might be your best answer. Anywhere you can potentially chafe… you can apply body glide (yes). The key is to apply it before there is a problem, so judgement is a factor. If you think you might chafe one day, apply some body glide before it’s too late.
Vaseline is the original body glide. It can work much in the same way; simply apply to the areas that you are prone to chafing in and watch it work its magic. The biggest downside is how messy and greasy it can be. If conditions are very wet and moist, apply a layer of Vaseline to your feet and it will help to protect them from moister, as well as keep them from getting too soggy.
The type of paper you use to wipe your tooshy is a very personal choice to some people. You can opt to use regular toilet paper, or go for something stronger like a paper towel. Toilet paper is softer, but it sometimes takes more to get the job done. When using a paper towel; cut to your size liking; you can sometimes do more with less. The only downside is it can be a little coarse on the sensitive bottom.
I carry athletic tape for medical use, or even repairs. It serves as my band-aids, sutures, ankle wraps, and blister pads. It has multiple uses that save me from carrying a bunch of extra little stuff. It can also help with gear repair in a pinch.
I prefer Gorilla Tape over Duct Tape any day. Gorilla Tape is superior in strength and adhesion over duct tape (IMO). I’ve repaired packs with it, clothing with it, and taped up nasty cuts as well. It’s a cure all, and if I have Gorilla Tape with me, then I don’t carry athletic tape. They do sell small travel rolls of Gorilla Tape, but you’re better off wrapping some around your trekking pole or some other object for later use, rather than carrying an entire roll.
These are made specifically for blisters, so if you’re extremely prone to getting them, you might want to look into carrying a few of these. I prefer to improvise with other materials, but if you’re not into that… these are what you need (aside from possibly getting new/proper footwear)
I don’t hike without superglue anymore. It comes in great handy for filling in the cracks in your feet or small cuts/wounds. It was originally developed for closing wounds in World War II, so don’t worry about applying it to an open cut. It also comes in handy for minor gear repair. When I have a bad cut, I’ll shoot some super glue in it, then put a strip of athletic tape or Gorilla Tape over/around it.
We all know what this antiseptic is. It’s totally optional whether you carry it or not. I don’t carry it, simply because I’m not usually prone to infection and if something does get infected, I can get to a town before it becomes serious. It’s my personal choice to go without it, however you may choose otherwise. If you get lots of blisters, then I advice you to carry some, as it also acts as a mild pain killer.
This is known amongst hikers as “Vitamin I.” Everyone knows what it is and where to find it, but try not to become reliant on it while you hike. I’ve known a lot of people who cant hike without it; or without taking some at the end or beginning of every day. It will help with swelling and pain, but please, please, please do not use it as a crutch. I don’t even carry it because I prefer to feel my pain, but I know loads of people who keep an endless supply on them.
If you burn easy or simply don’t want to be as exposed to the sun’s harmful rays, you may want to invest in some sunscreen to bring along with you. Depending on where and when you’re hiking, you might find yourself exposed to the sun for long periods of time. Even when you’re not on exposed ridges or burning deserts; if you hike in the fall or winter, the barren trees or fallen snow can allow a lot more sunlight to reach you. Keep that in mind.
If your lips dry and crack easily; don’t forget your chapstick…