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!

Pooping in the Woods / How to dig a proper cat hole

I HAVE A CONFESSION

When I first started backpacking, I remember I'd dig a hole for my poop (aka: cat hole) that was just barely deep enough. I felt so EwwWwbbBBLAAaahh having to poo outside, I'd want to take care of business and get out of there as quickly as possible. So I'd put a rock over my not-deep-enough cat hole, dust my hands off, and walk away quickly. No one ever showed me what a good cat hole should look like, so I didn't really know. But if my guilty conscious is indicative of anything, I think I always knew I wasn't really doing my best to protect the environment. I'm sorry Sierras! I'm sorry Glacier! I'm sorry!!!

Let's all bury our poop properly so we can preserve the wilderness for the folks coming after us next weekend, next year, in the next 100 years...Agreed? 

HOW TO DIG A PROPER CAT HOLE 

I already covered what you should have in your poop kit and how to poop in the woods, but I wanted to demonstrate what a good looking cat hole should look like. Here's one I dug recently in a really rocky area.  It was super annoying because I kept hitting rocks, so it took me about 10 minutes to dig this one. (That's a lot of minutes if you need to poo baaaaaad. Plan ahead if you're the type that needs to GO when you need to GO.)

TIP: I dig my hole the night before because I usually wake up and have to poo immediately. 

THE DETAILED NOTES

  1. Seriously, look for a spot where someone won't spot you pooping. No one needs to see that. It should be at least 200 feet away from three important things: water sources, your tent, and the trail. (200 feet = ~70 steps)
  2. Dig a hole about 6-8" deep and at least 4" wide. You don't want it to overflow. Ew.
  3. Take your business call. 
  4. Put some dirt back in and stir it up with the poop. It'll help with the decomposition.
  5. Fill the rest of your cat hole with the dirt and try to put it back the way you found it. Make it a game: see if you can make it look like there isn't a pile of shit underneath. That is the gold standard!

*Don't forget that the best thing you can do for the environment is to pack out your soiled toilet paper. Don't just drop it in the hole. #LeaveNoTrace

*The trowel pictured above is the Big Dig, by QiWiz ($36). I used to use a rock or stick, but it's more efficient to dig using a trowel. Another one at the same weight but cheaper is the Deuce ($19.99). I haven't tried it, so I can't tell you if it works well. One other alternative is to use a tent stake to dig your hole. It's not as efficient, but it'll save you 0.6oz and one more thing to think organize. Up to you!

THE JOY OF POOPING IN THE WOODS

I've written about some pretty awesome toilet views, but more often than not we'll have to dig our own cat hole behind some trees. Cat hole views can vary widely, but I thought I'd share my most recent one. This photo was taken while I was in the squat position over my cat hole. The silver lining of having to squat and poo is that I get to enjoy this while I'm at it. Not too shabby huh? 

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FYI, The First 40 Miles Podcast just posted a fantastic toilet episode worth listening to with good advice and a helpful review on the two trowels I mentioned earlier. 

I hope this is helpful to you! If it was, please share the love. 

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

How do you pee in the woods?

Sometimes I hold my pee for too long, simply because it's such a hassle to take off my pack, find a hidden spot, pull down my pants, and make sure I don't splash my shoes and pants while I relieve myself. Do you know this feeling? 

Peeing can be an incredibly wonderful feeling of relief and frankly, annoying to do as a woman. In the woods, there are a few methods for peeing each with their pros and cons. Each option assumes you're wearing pants. As a friend pointed out, peeing with skirt makes it a lot easier! This is definitely true, but I personally prefer pants because I like my legs protected from getting scratched up or bitten (during mosquito season). Do you backpack with a skirt or pants? Anyway....

Option 1: Standard Squatting + Toilet Paper

HOW: After you pee, use your TP as you normally would and then place it into your trash bag.
PROS: I love toilet paper on my chacha. It's what's normal; what I'm used to every day.
CONS: You have to do all those things I mentioned above (find a hidden spot, take off your pack, pull down pants, make sure your butt's not exposed to everyone or poisonous plants, make sure you don't splash yourself), but most of all, you have to pull out your trash bag to carry out that toilet paper. #LeaveNoTrace

Option 2: Standard Squatting + Shake & Drip Dry

HOW: While squatting, shake to try to get those last drops off pee off and then pull up your bottoms. 
PROS: No toilet paper to deal with! WhooHoo!
CONS: Same cons as Option 1, but with shaking and drip drying, there's always still a little leftover pee that will get on your underwear. It's probably not very much, but for some reason it feels like a lot more than I like (as much as I try to shake it off!). Those pee drips add moisture to my chacha where I'm already kinda sweaty from hiking. More moisture = more opportunity for bacterial growth. Ehhh. With this method, I usually feel just a bit dirtier at the end of the day.

Option 3: Standard Squatting + Pee Rag

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HOW: After you pee, just dab dry yourself as you would normally. Hang it on the outside of your pack to dry for next use.
PROS: No toilet paper to deal with AND a dry chachqy! Plus, it's light. Wiping yourself after you pee is a great way to keep your chacha dry and comfy while not having to carry out any trash. Also, urine is sterile, so it's not like you're carrying around all this bacteria.
CONS: If you feel uncomfortable with reusing a rag to wipe yourself, well, there it is. Just make sure your rag drys out well. It'll get stinky if you don't. Let those UV rays soak in!

IDEAS: Use a bandana as your P-Rag. To reduce weight, cut it into four squares, and take just one square. Normal bandanas are usually 22"x22". You could even make your own. I got a soft used sheet from the thrift store and my friend sewed it up for me with a loop for easy attachment to my pack. It's only 10"x10" and weighs a mere 0.4oz.

Stand Using a Pee Funnel

PROS: You don't need to squat, take off your pants or find a place that's too inconspicuous. And you can use it to wipe the extra drips of pee so no toilet paper or P-Rag if you wanted to.
CONS: Extra weight!

Shewee$12.00 + S&H

 The Original Shewee (Image from shewee.com)

The Original Shewee (Image from shewee.com)

Which method do you use? Which method have you wanted to try?