Tips for Hygienic Hiking
We’re all rejoicing on the re-opening up of outdoor recreation following Coronovirus restrictions. Trails and have started to open up again across Washington (for a list of open parks please visit here). However, in order to keep yourself and others healthy, there are some tips for hygienic hiking that are wise to follow. Before hitting the trails make sure you’re prepared to do that wisely and safely.
Tip #1 – Bring a face covering
When passing others closely or when in crowded areas, you will want some sort of mask or face covering to use. If you’re within 6 feet, cover-up. You can choose to use a cloth mask with elastic straps or ties, a bandana or a buff. For a bandana, fold a clean bandanna into a triangle, creating two layers of fabric, and secure it behind your head with a knot. A buff may be a familiar and comfortable option – pull it up over your face and it will hug the contours of your nose and mouth, making a good seal. This option is also easy to pull it down around your neck and then up over your face when needed.
Tip #2 – Keep your face covering clean
Bringing some sort of face covering is the first step, the second step is to keep that covering clean. You want to be sure not to contaminate the clear outer side when not in use. There are several options to stow it safely:
- A clean stuff sack: Before you stash it, fold it so the clean inner part is folded in on itself.
- Clip it to your pack: Use a big binder clip or carabiner to attach your mask to your backpack strap and it will be easy to grab when you need it.
- Wear it around your neck: If you opt for a bandanna or buff, your face mask will accessorize your outfit as a stylish scarf when not in use.
- Waist strap pocket: That little pocket on some backpack waist straps makes a great place to stash your face mask when not in use.
Tip #3 – Avoid Touching
Being in the great outdoors is freeing. There are not quite as many things you need to worry about touching (hello grocery carts). However, there still are some surfaces that you want to avoid touching if possible. Handrails, signage or kiosks, benches or rest spots, privies and obstacles along the trail could potentially be high-touch surfaces. Now might be a great time to try out trekking poles – they will give you stability without having to reach out to touch something.
Tip #4 – Clean eating
Your goal while hiking (even with no coronavirus!) should be not to touch the food you eat. Plan your meals ahead of time, and portion everything into a container that will make it easy to eat. Instead of plunging your hand in a bag of snacks, pour them into a small bowl and then shake it into your mouth from there. Cut fruit ahead of time and use a utensil to eat it. Wrap sandwiches in plastic and just scooch them out to eat without touching the sandwich.
Tip #5 – Be prepared to potty
Many restrooms are remaining closed right now, so be prepared to use the great outdoors while using Leave No Trace principles. You’ll need to pack out your toilet paper, so bring a bag not just for the clean TP, but a bag for dirty TP as well. Make sure to bring a potty kit with you on all hikes.