6 Gross Things Backpackers Learn to Embrace

When you’re in the middle of nowhere for multiple days, with no modern day plumbing or running water (and I’m not talking about rushing river water, guys!) well… things are gonna get nasty. Getting gross is just inevitable, and you quickly learn to accept it, because… well, what choice do you really got?!

So here are some of the grossest things I’ve come to embrace, from least worst to worst –

1. Greasy Hair.
By day 3 of no shampoo, my hair is so greasy, you’d think I did shower for a hot second. And there’s really not a hairstyle to hide super greasy strands (nope, not even a messy bun or braid), and that’s just one reason carrying along a hat is a good idea. P.S. Additional reasons include shade from the sun and shelter from the rain. P.S.S. Dry shampoo is also an option, but personally, I’d rather not deal with it.

2. Nasty Feet.
While my friends are flaunting off their fresh pedis, I’m just trying to keep my feet together in one piece. Your chance of blisters is lessened with good shoes, but even the best hiking boots don’t leave your tootsies in foot-model condition… Callouses, dryness, rough patches are all apart of the deal. And don’t get me started on the chipped polish!

3. Sweat.
Some people sweat in their pits, but for me, it’s as if my pit glands were transplanted onto my back, especially with my backpack pressed against me. When I take my pack off, it looks like I chickened out of a wet t-shirt contest at the last minute. Oh man, did I just take that too far? Anyways, expect to discover all the new areas you can sweat profusely out of… But hey, sweat is a good sign. It means you’re working hard!

4. Extreme Body Odor.
Deodorant can attract animals (read: bears) and the kinds that contain aluminum and other chemicals are not good for your glands! Because of this, I highly recommend you leave the stick at home and experience the not-so-sweet smells of your body, au natural. I promise, eventually you stop wincing when you catch a whiff.

5. Snot Rockets.
This addition to the list was inspired by my solo hike today, where I neglected to take the allergy meds I definitely needed. So. Much. Snot. And no bandana to blow it into! So I did what any self-respecting woman would do… Snot rocket.

6. Pooping in a Hole.
Digging a 6+ inch hole into the ground with a rock or little shovel – lovingly referred to as a “cat hole” – just to “relieve yourself” seems like an acute form of torture. But that’s what we do. It’s sort of gross, and it’s definitely weird… but like with the greasy hair, sweat, and the BO, you become to accustomed to it and goin’ #2 in the woods becomes second nature – pun intended.

 I’m pretty sure this is just the tip of the iceberg… What are some gross things you endure during your backpacking ventures? And please, do NOT hold back.


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