Smelly Body Odor: How to Manage and DEAL with It While Camping

You never want to hear anyone in your camping group ask, What’s that smell?

That’s especially true when you didn’t properly prepare to control your body odor while out on an extended camping trip.

We get it. You’re out in the wilderness and it may even be hot. You’re being active going on hikes, cutting firewood, and playing campfire games. It’s only natural for your body to cool itself off through perspiration.

Unfortunately, that perspiration (which is just a fancy word for sweat!) doesn’t smell the best. And as it continues, your body odor only gets worse. So, what can you do to deal with body odor while camping?

Here are eight great tips to keep you feeling and smelling good while camping.

1. Clean the pits and loins

Showering from the RV

While multiple areas on your body can stink after a while after camping in the heat, none are more potent than your armpits and butt, and genital area. The body sweats way more in those regions due to special bacteria that hangs out there.

In the armpits, bacteria will actually continue to grow until it’s properly washed off. And that’s not an exaggeration. If you don’t wash your armpits for several months, you can actually start to visibly see the bacteria populations growing on nodules from armpit hairs.

As you can imagine, bacteria can start smelling pretty quickly if left untouched.

First, buy and use deodorant. Extended deodorant that can last up to 48 hours is a great option for camping, as it offers longer protection. If you want something more natural, baking soda or cornstarch dabbed under your arms can get the job done.

Gentlemen who let their armpit hairs grow may want to consider shaving off that excess hair before the camping trip to keep things a bit cooler down there. It also makes it easier to wipe and clean your pits when you take hair out of the equation.

For your nether regions, including your butt and genitals, baby wipes are your best friend while camping. Make sure your wipes are unscented to fend off any wildlife. If you don’t have access to baby wipes, use the same bandanna and wet it with water ahead of each wipe.

2. Wash your hands

Wash your hands with soap and water

Not only can your hands start to stink after going to the bathroom (especially No. 2), along with other camping-related activities, but they can also spread germs pretty quickly.

Make sure you have a travel tube of hand sanitizer and use it religiously on your camping trip.

3. Bring multiple pairs of socks, and use them!

fun and colorful hiking socks

It’s no surprise that your feet can stink pretty badly after a few days in the wilderness. Heck, even a three-mile hike can wreak havoc on your feet.

That’s why it’s important to always bring extra socks with you.

Now, it’s not as easy as swapping the old socks with the new ones. You also have to do a good job of wiping down and drying your feet in between the switcheroo.

Even though your feet can get warmer, look for a thinner wool sock, as wool is an antimicrobial material that can help cut down on sweating and stinky feet.

4. Brush your teeth frequently

How do I brush my teeth in the backcountry

Body odor isn’t exclusive to your armpits and nether regions.

Make sure you carry floss, a travel-sized toothbrush, and a mini tube of toothpaste with you, and brush your teeth at least three times per day. 

Obviously, do it first thing when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed each night, but afternoon teeth brushing can make a world of difference.

Read More : 11 Backpacking Hygiene Tips to Stay Clean

5. Take a backwoods bath

How do I survive camping without a shower

You can’t beat the combination of soap and water with some old-fashioned elbow grease.

The more you scrub, the more stink bacteria is removed from your body.

Now, if you have access to a clean water source, that’s a no-brainer. Hop in, clean yourself and get out and dry off.

But more often than not, you’re not going to have a clean water source. In that case, antibacterial moist towelettes can get the job done. They actually make camping towelettes designed for dry camping baths that are quite compact, allowing you to pack a handful of them for your trip.

Read More : How to Purify and Treat Water While Camping

6. Wash your clothes

Wash your clothes

This tip is huge. The stink on your body wipes off your clothes and sticks around.

You need to do laundry, especially for your underwear.

Fill a collapsible bowl with hot water from the campfire along with some soap and scrub your clothes. You can dry your clothes on a line, but if you’re going out for a hike, feel free to attach them to the outside of your hiking backpack to easily dry off.

7. Beat the heat

wiping sweaty neck with body wipes

The hotter it is, the more you’re going to sweat and subsequently stink.

Plan your day hikes early in the morning or later in the day to avoid being under the sun during peak temperatures.

We recommend early morning hikes so you can have the rest of the afternoon to enjoy your campsite and other activities.

8. Air out your mattress

Air out your mattress

When you’re out of bed for the morning, air out your mattress by draping it on your tent.

Your body likely did some sweating while you slept and made its way to the sleeping bag. If you hop back in at night without airing it out, expect to continue smelling poorly.

You only need to air your mattress out for 20 to 30 minutes to deodorize things.

Andrew Dodson

Andrew Dodson is an avid camper who enjoys the great outdoors with his wife and two-year-old son. He resides in Colorado, where you can often find him enjoying hikes with a toddler strapped to his back and mini goldendoodle Percy nearby.