7 Tips for Staying Clean on Orienteering Trips: Essential Advice for Outdoor Hygiene

June 28, 2024 8 min read

Orienteering trips offer exhilarating opportunities to explore the great outdoors, but they also come with unique challenges. One of these challenges is maintaining personal hygiene in often remote and rugged environments.

A backpack lies open on the forest floor, revealing neatly packed supplies. A map, compass, and water bottle are arranged next to a first aid kit and a small towel

Staying clean during your orienteering adventures is crucial for your comfort and health. This article provides practical tips to help you manage cleanliness effectively while enjoying the thrill of navigation and exploration.

1) Pack Bio-Degradable Wipes

A pack of bio-degradable wipes sits next to a map and compass. A water bottle and snack are nearby. The scene is set in a forest clearing with sunlight filtering through the trees

Bio-degradable wipes are a must-have for orienteering trips. They help you stay clean without harming the environment. Normal wipes can take years to decompose, but bio-degradable ones break down much faster.

These wipes are perfect for quick clean-ups when water is scarce. You can use them to clean your hands, face, and even your gear. This ensures you stay fresh throughout your journey.

Choose wipes that are specifically labeled as bio-degradable. This indicates they meet certain environmental standards. It's also a sign that they contain fewer harmful chemicals.

It's important to dispose of these wipes properly. Even though they break down faster, leaving them scattered in nature is still not ideal. Carry a small trash bag for disposal and pack them out with your other waste.

2) Use a Foldable Wash Basin

A Foldable Wash Basin sits on a flat surface, surrounded by camping gear. Water drips from a spigot, as soap and a towel lay nearby

Bringing a foldable wash basin on your orienteering trips can be incredibly practical. It allows you to wash up without needing access to a fixed water source. Simply unfold the basin, fill it with water from a nearby stream or portable container, and you've got a convenient personal sink.

Foldable wash basins are lightweight and take up minimal space in your backpack. This means you can keep your packing efficient while still maintaining hygiene. They are designed to be durable and can withstand various outdoor conditions.

Cleaning yourself and your gear becomes much simpler with a wash basin. You can easily wash your hands, face, and other personal items. It also helps to keep the campsite cleaner by containing dirty water until it can be properly disposed of.

Using a foldable wash basin means you can adhere to Leave No Trace principles. This includes minimizing your environmental impact by capturing and disposing of wastewater responsibly. This is important for protecting natural areas and wildlife.

Investing in a quality foldable wash basin ensures it can be reused on multiple trips. Look for one that is easy to clean and dry to prevent mold and mildew. This will prolong its lifespan and keep it in good condition for future adventures.

3) Bring Eco-Friendly Soap

A hand reaches for eco-friendly soap next to a compass and map, surrounded by outdoor gear. The sun shines on the scene, highlighting the importance of staying clean on orienteering trips

Using eco-friendly soap is essential on orienteering trips. These biodegradable products minimize harm to the environment as they decompose naturally. Traditional soaps can pollute waterways, but eco-friendly options ensure that your clean habits don't compromise nature.

Choose a soap designed specifically for outdoor use. Look for labels indicating the soap is biodegradable and phosphate-free. Such soaps are gentle on both your skin and the planet's ecosystems.

Remember to use these soaps away from natural water sources. Even biodegradable products need time to break down. Carry water in a portable container to wash up at least 200 feet away from rivers and lakes.

Packing a small, reusable container for your soap helps reduce waste. Solid soap bars and concentrated liquid soaps are both effective and easy to transport. They also prevent leaks and spills in your gear.

Opt for multi-purpose eco-friendly soap. Many are designed for washing your body, hair, clothes, and dishes. This versatility means you can pack lighter while still maintaining cleanliness throughout your trip.

Evaluate product reviews and certifications. Trusted brands often have endorsements from environmental organizations. This step ensures you're choosing truly eco-friendly products.

Bringing eco-friendly soap not only keeps you clean but also demonstrates respect for the environment. Your mindful choices contribute to preserving the natural beauty of your orienteering destinations.

4) Carry Multiple Trash Bags

A person carrying multiple trash bags while hiking through a forest, with a map and compass in hand. The surrounding area is filled with trees, rocks, and a clear path ahead

One effective way to stay clean on an orienteering trip is to carry multiple trash bags. These bags can be used to separate different types of waste like food scraps, recyclables, and general litter. Keeping your waste organized helps maintain cleanliness in your camping area.

Using several trash bags also ensures that you have backups if one bag becomes full or damaged. This prevents loose trash from scattering around your camp, which can attract wildlife and create a messy environment. Always secure the bags tightly to prevent spills.

You can also use trash bags for other purposes, such as storing wet or dirty clothing separately from clean items. This keeps your gear more organized and reduces unpleasant odors. Choose durable, multi-purpose bags that can withstand outdoor conditions.

Regularly empty your trash bags at designated disposal areas, if available. This minimizes the amount of waste you carry and helps keep the environment clean. Always carry out all your trash if proper disposal facilities aren't accessible.

5) Store Dirty Clothes Separately

Dirty clothes in a separate bag. Clean gear neatly organized. Orienteering map and compass laid out. Water bottles and snacks ready. Clean and tidy campsite

Storing dirty clothes separately is crucial on an orienteering trip. It prevents contamination of your clean gear, keeping everything hygienic. Use a designated dirty laundry bag made of waterproof or odor-resistant material. Bags with drawstring closures or airtight zippers are ideal.

Using a mesh bag helps if there’s a need for ventilation. This can reduce odor buildup in wet environments. Clearly distinguish your dirty laundry bag from other storage bags to avoid mixing up.

Keep the dirty clothes bag away from sleeping gear and food supplies. This ensures unpleasant smells and germs don't transfer. Regularly cleaning your dirty clothes bag, even during the trip, helps maintain its effectiveness.

If possible, rinse muddy or extremely dirty clothes before storing them. This lessens the stench and prevents mold growth. Also, keep the bag in an easily accessible spot for quick changes.

By following these tips, you ensure that only your dirty clothes get stored and keep your other gear clean and fresh.

6) Pack a Quick-Dry Towel

A colorful Quick-Dry Towel is neatly folded next to a backpack, surrounded by a compass, map, and water bottle. The sun shines overhead, casting dappled shadows on the forest floor

A quick-dry towel is an essential item for any orienteering trip. Regular towels can take a long time to dry, which can be inconvenient in the field. Quick-dry towels are designed to dry rapidly, making them perfect for outdoor activities.

These towels are made from lightweight materials, so they won't add much bulk to your pack. They are also highly absorbent, effective at soaking up water quickly. Whether you need to wipe off sweat, dry your hands, or clean up after a rain shower, a quick-dry towel is the best solution.

Additionally, quick-dry towels are easy to clean. You can rinse them in a stream or with a small amount of water, and they'll be ready for use again in no time. This feature is particularly useful when you’re on the move and have limited access to laundry facilities.

Their compact size means you can easily fit them into your backpack. Many quick-dry towels come with a carrying case or loop, making storage even more convenient. When space is a premium, having a compact towel can make all the difference.

7) Use a Portable Shower Head

A portable shower head sprays water over a person's camping gear, providing a refreshing clean during an orienteering trip

Orienteering trips often lack the comforts of home, including hot showers. A portable shower head can be a game-changer, allowing you to clean up after a long day outdoors.

Portable shower heads are designed to be compact and easy to carry. Many models come with a rechargeable battery, ensuring you can use them anywhere. You simply need a water source, and you're good to go.

Setup is usually straightforward. Fill a container with water, attach the shower head, and you're ready. Some models even feature adjustable water pressure, giving you a customizable experience.

A quick shower can help you feel refreshed and remove sweat and dirt. It's also beneficial for maintaining hygiene when you're in remote areas for extended periods. Portable shower heads make it easier to clean up without needing complex setups or large amounts of water.

These tools can be particularly useful if you're traveling with a group. Sharing a portable shower head means everyone can enjoy a moment of cleanliness. It adds a layer of comfort to your trip, making it more enjoyable.

Investing in a good-quality portable shower head can enhance your orienteering experience. Look for durable materials and favorable reviews to ensure you get a reliable product.

Importance of Cleanliness in Orienteering

A clean campsite with organized gear, trash properly disposed of, and a clear path for orienteering

Maintaining cleanliness during orienteering trips is crucial for your health and performance. It helps avoid infections and illnesses while ensuring comfort and better focus.

Preventing Infections and Illnesses

Staying clean helps keep harmful bacteria and viruses at bay. Field conditions often expose you to dirt, moisture, and cuts or scrapes, which can lead to infections. Washing your hands regularly, using hand sanitizer, and keeping wounds clean and covered are essential steps.

Proper hygiene practices reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. Use sealed containers for your food and ensure utensils are clean. Drinking from contaminated water sources can cause gastrointestinal issues; always use filtered or treated water. Good hygiene practices also help maintain your immune system.

Enhancing Performance and Comfort

Cleanliness significantly impacts your overall comfort during the trek. Wearing clean clothes reduces the risk of skin irritations or fungal infections, making your journey more pleasant. Taking care of your feet, in particular, is critical since you rely on them heavily during orienteering.

Maintaining personal cleanliness supports your mental sharpness. When you’re clean and comfortable, you can focus better on navigation and decision-making. Cleanliness also contributes to a positive team environment if you're traveling with a group. Everyone staying clean boosts group morale and cooperation.

Essential Personal Hygiene Practices

Maintaining personal hygiene is crucial on orienteering trips to prevent illness and ensure comfort. Focus on effective hand washing and proper waste disposal to stay clean and healthy.

Hand Washing Techniques

Clean hands are vital to avoid infections. Use biodegradable soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.

Rub all parts of your hands, including the backs, under fingernails, and between fingers.

If water isn't available, carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content. Keep fingernails short and avoid touching your face.

Proper Waste Disposal

Proper waste disposal is essential to maintain a clean environment. Use a portable toilet or dig a cat hole at least 6-8 inches deep, 200 feet away from water sources, trails, and campsites.

Pack out used toilet paper in a sealable bag. For other waste, use a dedicated waste bag to carry it out.

Carry a trowel for digging and ensure waste is properly covered to avoid attracting wildlife.

Maintaining Clean Gear and Equipment

Gear and equipment neatly arranged in a designated area, with cleaning supplies nearby. A checklist of items to clean and maintain displayed prominently. Outdoor setting with trees and a clear sky in the background

Proper maintenance of your gear and equipment ensures longevity and functionality, helping you stay comfortable and safe during your orienteering trips. Focus on regular cleaning and drying your tents and sleeping bags, as well as maintaining your orienteering tools.

Cleaning and Drying Tents and Sleeping Bags

After each use, shake off any loose dirt or debris from your tent and sleeping bag. If your tent is wet, set it up or hang it to dry fully before storing it to avoid mold and mildew.

For a deeper clean, use mild soap and cold water to hand wash your sleeping bag. Rinse thoroughly and air dry. Avoid using a washing machine for your sleeping bag to prevent damage.

Regular cleaning of your tent includes wiping down the interior and exterior with a damp cloth. Ensure all zippers and seams are cleaned to prevent buildup that could cause wear and tear.

Regular Maintenance of Orienteering Tools

Keep your compass clean by wiping it with a soft, damp cloth after each use. Check that the needle moves freely without any obstructions. If it hesitates or gets stuck, it might be time to replace it.

Map cases should be inspected for tears or holes and replaced if necessary. Clean them with a damp cloth and ensure they are completely dry before storing to prevent mold.

For your GPS devices, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning and maintenance. Regularly update the software to ensure accurate readings. Keep the screens and buttons free of dirt and grime to maintain functionality.