hygiene

Product Review / PiperWai All Natural Deodorant

Have you been looking for effective, ultralight, all natural deodorant to use in the backcountry? Well I found it and I'm SO excited to share it with you! It's PiperWai, all natural deodorant.

Girl, this story is good because it starts with a confession. 

I am TOTALLY insecure about smelling bad, like always. I don't like it one bit. And although I've come to terms with smelling less than ideal on backpacking trips, by all means if there's a solution, I'll take it!

Oddly, even though I'm insecure about smelling bad, I gave up deodorant a couple years ago to simplify my life (and because I felt bad about all the plastic involved in the packaging). I've been fine without it, but I think my subconscious has always been on the lookout for an all natural and mostly waste-free solution.

Well I happened to be watching one of my favorite shows Shark Tank last December and saw PiperWai on one of the episodes. I was like, "WaAaAaahh? Could this be true?! An effective all natural deodorant?!" I bought one immediately for $15.99 ($11.99 + $4 S&H) on 12/23/15. I just received it a couple days ago, as in 7 weeks later. Honestly, I didn't care that they were crazy delayed because I don't use deodorant anyway. (I mostly shared that bit of info because that company is blowing up and if you want to order a product, you'll probably have to wait a month+ to get yours.)

Well......Yadda yadda yadda....you want to know if it works, right? ME TOO! I put it on immediately after I took all the photos in this post and put it through the ultimate test: a video chat.

Seriously. 

My pits sweat like no other when I'm sitting still on a video chat moving my mouth and staring at a screen. After 90 minutes of sweating, I smelled my pits and no kidding, I smelled like a SPA. I know. I couldn't believe it either. 

Of course I asked my husband to smell my pits immediately afterward to confirm my finding. He replied with a, "yeeeeeeeah" which was 100% unconvincing. Which I then replied with, "What?! You don't think I smell like a spa?! Smell my pits again!" He took a whiff, looked at me and said that I smelled like his 93-year-old French grandmother. LOL. 

I love this man. 

I mean, c'mon, he smelled my sweaty pits on command. Who cares if I smell like a 93-year-old grandma? Anyway, my point is, I think I smell like spa and that's what matters.

I did go for a run as well to test the product through a more physically athletic affair than video chatting and I can confirm that I smelled mostly of a spa with a splash of chlorine afterward (which may be from the witch hazel ingredient).

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WHY IT WORKS

You can read more on their website, but here are the highlights:

  • PiperWai contains ingredients that create a pH-balanced environment where bacteria can't thrive. (The bacteria is what causes the stank!)
  • They use essential oils that provide a pleasant smell and has some anti-microbial properties.
  • The Magnesium Hydroxide ingredient curbs the offensiveness of underarm sweat, potentially due to its pH-balancing properties. 
  • A bonus: it's great for sensitive skin.

Here's the thing: When I can find an effective product I can use for both on and off the trail, it's like a double rainbow sighting. For the trail, however, I'd repackage just what I need in a tiny container and voila, I get a tiny bit of luxury while roughing it. (LOVE!)

Overall, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND PiperWai for all of your backpacking, travel  and video chat needs. (Now, they just need to come up with a deodorant for my vjay. ;-P)


How do you apply PiperWai?

The directions suggest using a "pea-size" amount and to rub it into your pit, then to "pat yourself on back for using a healthy, natural deodorant."

First, I used less than a pea-size and found it to work fine. I suggest playing with the amount and figuring out what works best for you. Second, pat yourself on the back if it pleases you, but I definitely suggest taking a whiff of your finger tips! MMMmmmmm...


BENEFITS OF USING PIPERWAI ON THE TRAIL

  • It's ultralight!
  • You'll smell good!
  • It's all natural!
  • It's a tiny bit of luxury while roughin' it.
  • It's fairly affordable, all things considered.
  • You get to smell your fingers afterward!

You can buy your PiperWai HERE. (Psst. This is NOT an affiliate link. This is just my Public Service Announcement for all lady backpackers.)


Hygiene / Backcountry Dental Hygiene

Have you heard yourself say, "Ehh, I'll just skip brushing my teeth tonight. I'm too tired and I feel so dirty anyway...what's skipping one night gonna do?"

Ha! I've said that a hundred times! (Ok, I exaggerate.)

Even if you might be feeling dirty from a good ole day's hike, I believe dental hygiene (hygiene in general) is important in keeping up your mental game. I really think it's the little things that extend mental longevity in the wilderness. Anyway, I love feeling clean at the end of a physically demanding day. (Who doesn't like that feeling of stepping out of the shower after getting filthy?) It's wonderful! But more importantly, being clean helps me sleep better and feel refreshed at the start of a new day. It's not just about being OCD with cleanliness, it's really about having a long-term strategy to help me keep going so I can stay out longer in the wilderness. 

All that to say, one piece of floss and some easy teeth brushing skills can help your mental game, not to mention your breath.

STEPS

1. Floss your teeth.
If anything, flossing is the least you can do. It's SO good for your dental hygiene!

2. Dab just a tiny bit of natural toothpaste on your kid-size toothbrush.
You don't need a lot of toothpaste. It suds too much and it gets messy if you use a lot. Instead, try just a dash just to get that minty fresh feeling without frothing all over (which means more clean-up).
TIP: Baking soda is also a great natural option!

3. Add a tiny splash of water and brush like normal.
I have my water bottle with me (with potable water) and I put the tiniest bit of water in my mouth before I start brushing. (This is my equivalent to getting my toothbrush/paste wet under the faucet when I'm at home.) Then I brush brush brush. I have a small toothbrush, so it takes a little more effort.

4. Add a little more water in my mouth, swish, and spit. 
Spit into a cathole or have you ever tried the spitting method where you create a really fine mist? (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I really need to make a video!)

5. Final rinse.
One more mouth rinse and toothbrush rinse and voila! Minty fresh....Ahhhhhh! Time for bed. 

This is my entire hygiene kit I used for a 9-day trip. From L to R: Sunblock, toothpaste, lotion, Diva cup, tweezers, comb, kid toothbrush, floss, all-purpose castille soap, small piece of broken mirror. I had too much toothpaste, castille soap, and sunblock. I could've lightened my load even more. (And the lotion was gold!) Total weight: 4.5oz

SHOP*

Buy: Kid-size Preserve Toothbrush
Buy: All-natural Tom's of Maine Toothpaste
Buy: Oral-B Glide Deep Mint Floss

 

*All purchases made with these affiliate links support Snowqueen & Scout. Thanks!

Lighten Your Load / Towels: It's not really about towels

I've gotten a few questions recently about what kind of towel to take on a backpacking trip, so I want to share my take on towels in the backcountry. But the towel question isn't really about towels, it's about getting clean. So here's my take on "what towel you should take." ;-)

First, we need to redefine showers 
When you're going backpacking, you'll need to let go of your notion of a shower. You will not have a clean shower with warm flowing water, suds all over your head and body, a plush bath mat to step onto and a large cotton towel to wrap yourself in afterward. This is okay though, because nature's showers are way simpler, more exhilarating and saves water!

Everyone has different standards of cleanliness in life, and this is definitely true in the backcountry. For me, I can tolerate getting dirty, sweating, and all that, but it's important for me to get that feeling of clean at the end of the day. It helps me wind down, relax, and sleep better.

My "showers" are typically standing under a waterfall, jumping into an ice cold alpine lake, splashing around in a river or trying to dunk my head in a small creek to just get a refreshing feeling on my scalp. If it's a few days on the trail, I don't use soap because it's slightly more complicated. (And I'm all about SIMPLICITY on the trail.) Simply rinsing myself off in a body of water makes me feel clean and refreshed - especially if the water is ice cold!

What I use
Tiny REI towel (15.5"x15.5")
Water source (river, lake, creek, whatever!)

A tiny towel? But how will I cover my valuables?
Since I'm not getting completely naked, there's nothing really to cover up. I used to have a larger lightweight towel because I thought I needed it, but I've gotten along fine with the tiny towel. Notice the size and weight difference.

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How I use my towel
I drench my tiny towel and rinse off my arms, legs, pits, neck, face, etc. (I'm usually down to my sports bra and underwear at this point.) I'm not using any soap in this process because I'm typically standing in or near a small creek or river and using soap in a water source is a HUGE NO-NO. After I'm done wiping down all those sticky/dried sweaty areas, I'll wring out the water from my towel and dry myself using the same towel. Even if I'm just rinsing my feet, I feel a thousand times better washing my feet, drying them, and putting my dry & clean sleep socks on. [Ahhhhh....] This is obviously nothing like drying yourself off with a plush towel after stepping out of a steamy warm shower, but it works! You get dry and that's the point. 

Getting clean (even if it's just washing my feet and face) at the end of the day helps me sleep better. If I'm sticky or dusty, I tend to wake up at night feeling uncomfortable. Good sleep means a refreshing new day and a matching good attitude. 

A couple notes worth mentioning

  • I don't use moist wipes/towelettes because it's more trash to pack out. I've replaced those with this reusable micro towel.
  • If you need to wash your vjayjay, I wrote a quick how-to here. Personally, I don't rinse my vagina in non-potable water because I'm weary of the risks. If I don't drink non-potable water, I definitely don't want it near anything so private. Ever since I got giardia, I'm extra cautious about channels for those little critters to get inside me! 
  • If I do need soap, I use Dr. Bronner's castille soap (repackaged into a tiny container) and will only use a tiny amount, away from the water source. "Biodegradable all-natural" soaps used directly in water is actually harmful to the environment. It was meant to be absorbed directly into the dirt, at least 200 feet away from water sources. 

In conclusion...
Get a highly absorbent micro towel that functions as a cleaning rag AND your drying towel. Because when you can get clean after a hard day's effort, you'll feel better, rest better and therefore your life will be awesome. Haha, something like that.

Oh and hey, some the links above are affiliate links. This means I earn a tiny bit of change if you end up buying something using that link. #MakinSomeChange

Lighten Your Load / Have you considered a kid's toothbrush?

Have you heard those stories of OCD people cutting off the handle of their toothbrush to shave some weight? Those crazy cats!

Well, I'm one of them.

Except not anymore, not really.

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I use Preserve toothbrushes on the daily, so one time, I chopped off the handle and took my severed toothbrush backpacking. I wasn't impressed. It was too short and awkward to hold so I ended up dribbling down my mouth and hand. It became a mess. (Maybe it was the operator and not the tool.) Regardless, the Preserve Jr. toothbrush is a great alternative to sawing your toothbrush in half. It works fantastically well and it's 0.3oz LESS THAN the adult size one. WooHoo! EVERY OUNCE COUNTS SISTA!

What do you use? 

Pooping in the Woods / What's your poop kit look like?

Okay, a couple days late, but here's Day 7: A QUICKIE ON POOPING IN THE WOODS.

I'll be frank here, I (really) dislike pooping while squatting over a small hole, when my nose is closer to my poop than it ever would be if i were sitting on a toilet. This process is both fascinating and gross, but mostly gross. I don't like it. Period. Did I mention I don't like it? 

With that said, I've accepted it as an essential part of my wilderness journey. So why not talk about how to do it effectively. The Pacific Crest Trail Association's WILD page does a great job of explaining it too, but here's my take:

POOP KIT SUPPLIES

  • Trowel (0.6oz, one of the lightest ones out there!)
  • Toilet paper
  • Soiled TP Bag (STP Bag)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bag to hold all of the above
  • Total weight: 1.9oz

STEP-BY-STEP

  1. Dig a cat hole about 6-8" deep.
    • TIP: If you are the type who has to go as soon as you wake up, then make sure you dig your cat hole the night before. When there's urgency, you're cat hole will likely be too shallow because you'll say, "Ahhh, this is good enough!" Well, it's probably not. So plan ahead!
  2. Get your STP Bag open and ready for the next TP deposit
  3. Squat down to take care of business. Make sure to aim into your your cat hole.
  4. Get some TP ready, think about application so you're utilizing all of it. No big wads and wasting here!
    • TIP: Use a smooth rock to do a big first wipe to conserve TP, then use just a couple squares to do the finishing wipes. Toss the rock in your cat hole. 
  5. Carefully fold the dirty TP in on itself to cover up your poopy TP and place inside your STP Bag. (Your quads should be burning right about now!)
  6. Quick, pull up your undies and pants. 
  7. Remove air and seal up your STP Bag.
  8. Give your poop a swirl with some dirt (to help with decomposition), fill your cat hole all the way and do your best to return the earth the way you found it. 

RULES TO ABIDE BY

  • Do not bury your TP. Not cool. 
  • Make sure you dig at least 6-8" deep. If you know you usually have a big load, dig deeper and wider. 
  • Don't just poop on the ground and roll a rock on top of it. That's straight irresponsible.
  • Be at least 200' from water, campground, and trail. The further away, the better. 

TIP: Add some baking soda to your STP bag for odor protection. Want more odor control? Add a half drop of essential oil and rub it on the inside of the bag.

What's in your poop kit? Do you have any fun tips or tricks you've developed for pooping in the woods? Please share them in the comments!

*Disclaimer: I received the trowel mentioned in this post for free, to try out and review. I'll be providing a closer look at how well it digs in a follow-up post.