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The DAILY DIRT - The nitty and the gritty of outdoor news

Ask A Bear: Ditch The Deodorant In Bear Country?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Q: I am getting ready for my first long hike. I was wondering if the smell of deodorant attracts you or any of your family?  Do I need to use a crystal deodorant or can I stick with my regular stuff?  —Lori Bartlett, Gunnison, CO

A: Ooh—are you wearing Secret? I hear it's strong enough for a bear, but made for a woman.

But seriously, humans: Like all cosmetics, I could potentially be attracted to deodorant, especially the fruity, heavily-scented kinds. If you're just dayhiking in bear country, I wouldn't worry about it, because I'm hopefully going to be alerted to your presence by noise or another sign before I detect deodorant.

But there is some cause for concern if you're camping or backpacking in bear country. My recommendation is to skip the deodorant. Besides, you're camping after all, and the sooner you accept your own natural musk, the better a time you'll have. This will save you from having to store another superfluous smelly item in the bear canister.

If you absolutely can't go without deodorant while camping, I'd recommend an unscented baking soda variety. But try to ditch the deodorant. You'll smell more like me, and I think I smell great.


—BEAR

Got a question for the bear? Send it to askabear@backpacker.com.

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Jim Brown
Oct 30, 2010

Back in civilization I tend to shower once a week need it or not. (also after daily workout and before social occasions.)

When backpacking I try every week or so when washing my three changes of cloths to wash myself as well. When I am with someone (I prefer solo) we all smell the same. I do warn folks before coming into the PO to pick up food mailings. How ever that is usually in rural areas where my comment gets more funny looks then my midday farm labor aroma.

Relax enjoy forget about the artificial guilt caused by advertising agencies. Hygiene is a health not social issue on the trail. (Wash your hands after ... Wash your dishes etc.)

Roostertail
Oct 14, 2010

Spent 2 weeks in the Canadian wilderness on a canoe trip and used Mitchum Unscented. Had no problems and we saw grizzlies on a regular basis where we traveled.

sophia
Oct 14, 2010

i'd like to contest the claim that no deodorant can match the smell of a hiker a few days out - try Keihl's Superbly Efficient Anti-Perspirant and Deodorant. It's unscented, comes in a small 1.7oz tube, and works AMAZINGLY. I spent 11 (very hot sweaty) days out on the wonderland trail this year with this stuff, and I never smelled like B.O. (and no, I didn't sponge bath daily). Of course, after a few days the sweat on your clothes doesn't smell great...but I smelled ok (: Only thing is this stuff isn't cheap - a 1.7oz tube will cost you $12.

Anti-Pilgrim
Oct 14, 2010

Dear Pilgrim,
Please don't make your mate bathe by jumping into a lake. Instead, haul some water out and take a sponge bathe. Or, suck it up. His stink won't kill you.

RevLee
May 02, 2010

Try a deodorant stone. They have no odor, no residue on clothing, and work fairly well on the trail. There is even a travel size that only weighs 1.5 oz. And they last forever compared to regular deodorants. The full size ones last over a year.

Anonymous
Apr 22, 2010

No deoderant on the market will kill the stink of a hiker a few days out
have done many bandana and water bottle baths at the car so clean enough to go back to civilization, including flights home

Anonymous
Apr 22, 2010

No deoderant on the market will kill the stink of a hiker a few days out
have done many bandana and water bottle baths at the car so clean enough to go back to civilization, including flights home

Lorna
Apr 22, 2010

When I was backpacking, I did not bring deoderant, and chaffing was my problem. So, I would let my underarm hair grow out and that solved it!

Lorna
Apr 22, 2010

When I was backpacking, I did not bring deoderant, and chaffing was my problem. So, I would let my underarm hair grow out and that solved it!

Trail Boss
Apr 22, 2010

Dear Griz: Ain't no question that my nether parts is far more ripe on trail day three then any parfums knowed to man so the contest of ripeness between my pits and the rosiest of deodorants is meaningless. The real question is whether you want to carry it, bear bag or canister it. Somehow I bet all my trail buddies would say, "We'll carry it if you'll use it, and by God, we'll risk the bear."

Pilgrim
Apr 22, 2010

Lewis and Clark noted in their journals how the Nez Perce indians were the most noble of native americans and particularly noted their habit of the sweat lodge and bathing. They contrasted this with other people they encountered who did not have the same bathing habits and held the Nez Perce in high regard.

Pilgrim
Apr 22, 2010

Dear Bear, While you get along with all of your bear friends smelling musky, we humans males are put off by other human male pheromones (aka: stink) and tend to get annoyed faster and more agressive when our trail partner's fumes burn our eyes. The 'leave no trace' ethic probably includes fellow backpackers who emit noxious odors so bad that others want to leave him behind. Besides, that would be like dumping toxic waste in the woods. My biggest argument on a trip was with a guy would had not bathed or cleaned up in a week. We made him jump in a lake before letting him in the van to go home. We know that we should follow your example since you get along so well with other bears...wait a minute, aren't you the solitary creature who gets incensed (pun for fighting mad) when you smells another bear in your territory? Maybe the other bear needed some scent-free deodorant....or a bath.

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