It's the summer of hitting the trails, and we're here to share our best tips and tricks for zero waste camping and backpacking!
Start simple with utensils
When choosing a reusable utensil set for your next outdoor adventure, ease of use is key. Our very favorite set is from To Go Ware. We love it for many reasons, but the first is that you can clip it right onto your pack and keep your utensils clean, and readily accessible for any snack break, lunch stop or meal on-the-go. Plus you'll have the small luxury of having a full set of fork, spoon, knife and chopsticks. It’s the little things!
For longer backpacking trips, our foldable metal spork is the way to go. It's so lightweight and tiny that it takes up almost no space at all, making it a breeze to bring along on a hike. Bonus, swapping these in for their plastic counterparts is so much more enjoyable when eating hot food just off the fire!
Toiletries for your mess kit
Toothpaste tabs are perfect for travel in general but they're especially perfect for camping and backpacking. They're easily stored in a tiny jar or tin (so no leaking to worry about) and great for when you're away from running water - just chew one up and brush!
Another little hack we've found is to keep vitamins and painkillers in a screw top tin to save space and keeps things organized. First Aid is an essential when you're on the trail, but that's a topic for another day! Alternatively, you could pack a small vial of a homeopathic pain killer instead, like Arnica Montana which works wonders for headaches, sprains, cramps or general pain.
As far as contact lenses go, did you know that you can pop the top off of those travel size contact solution bottles and refill them? Genevieve is a big fan of packing light and has now been doing this for years!
Skincare in the great outdoors
We like to keep our skincare routine super simple when we're spending a few days outdoors, but over the last few summers we've found ourselves hard-pressed for an easy and zero waste way to wash our face and keep our skin happy while hiking or camping. On top of that, SPF was its own problem! Here's our tried and true, bare minimum routine for happy skin on the go.
CLEANSE - It took us a long time to find a zero waste solution for washing our face while camping, and micellar water turned out to be the answer - it removes dirt, grime and sunscreen, for clean, hydrated skin after a day in the lake or on the trail. It's also way easier than using bar soap, less wasteful than face wipes and all you need is a clean cloth to wipe it off.
HYDRATE - We are also mindful that we need to create a barrier between our skin and the elements with moisturizer, but still want to keep it simple. We love to bring a catch-all oil for all of our face, skin, and hair needs. Carrier oils can really do it all, from providing easily absorbed moisture to the skin without clogging pores, and/or conditioning and taming your hair in the wild.
PROTECT - SPF is a must for outdoor recreation. Even if the sun isn't out, you're still being exposed to harmful rays. This face and body sunscreen is compact, easy to apply and biodegradable! Turns out we might have a love affair with travel tins...
We also love traveling with a few reusable cloth wipes because they're super versatile. They can be used as a bandana, handkerchief, napkin, paper towel, hand towel, or even to wash dishes! Genevieve likes to bring a few tinctures or elixirs as herbal first aid and wellness supplements, too. We have a varied selection of tiny dropper bottles and serum pumps to hold zero waste travel toiletries.
We love mesh bags for camping and backpacking. They come in handy all. the. time. Whether to organize clothes, separate dirty laundry, or hang a wet swimsuit outside your pack, these are a must to throw in your camping kit. We also like them for organizing outdoor cooking equipment like pans, dishes, utensils and camp stoves. Genevieve usually nests a pot, pan and plate together and keeps an MSR camp stove (a pocket rocket), a couple of sporks, a cloth wipe, and some seasonings and EVOO all packed inside. Toss it all in a mesh bag and voila! Camp kit.
Suds - the pros and cons
Biodegradable camp soap in your mess kit or cooking stuff is a must, but what kind do you go with?
A good ol' bar of soap can be used for pretty much everything - hand washing, rinsing off in the lake or campsite showers (it's biodegradable). It's not as easy to wash the dishes with, but totally doable. Store it in a tin for easy transport.
We also love the Cruising Bar shampoo because it's super moisturizing so you can use it as a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner or even shaving soap. Plus, it doubles as hand soap in a pinch (fits in a soap tin)!
By the way, if you want to bring a conditioner or styler, our 2 oz. solid-to-liquid packs are perfect for a weekend - just pour a little in your hand, add some water and put it right in your hair!
Now for our all time favorite camp soap - Castile soap in a mini glass pump bottle. Great for hand washing, bathing, doing the dishes, you name it. It's nice to have liquid soap when you aren’t near running water too. The little bottle is easy to leave in your camp kit so you never have to think about it. This one is the winner in our book, so there you have it! The pros and cons of four types of zero waste camp soap.
This is always a tough one! There's so much waste involved with dehydrated meals and trail snacks but we've figured out that these cotton produce bags are the perfect way to pack dry goods like oatmeal or rice.
We'll also bring a sheet or two of beeswax paper to keep food fresh for longer if we're not bringing a cooler. It'll help keep produce crisp and prolong the freshness of cheese or bread by letting it breathe.
If you're car camping or have the room in your pack, these tins are great for general food storage or leftovers because you can place them directly on the camp stove to reheat. And finally, our go-to for trail snacks - Stasher bags. They pack down super well and are perfect for grab-and-go fruit, nuts, and trail mix.
That wraps up our zero waste camping series for now! If you have any questions, drop them below and happy trails!