While camping in the arid regions your skin and hair need extra care so you don’t feel like a dried out piece of jerky by the time you get back to civilization. Here is my list of top ten practical tips to deal with camping in the dry outdoors.
1. Keep cool
Carry a large cotton bandana which is handy for everything from wiping your face, or blowing your nose, to making an emergency bandage or sling. I like to soak my bandana in water to wear around my neck to keep my skin cool on a hot day. You can also soak your hat in water during the blistering heat. These simple actions can really make a difference to stay more comfortable on a long hot hike.
Wear light-colored clothing in a cotton blend fabric that breathes. Once you become overheated, it takes quite a bit of time and rest to recover, so prevention from heat stroke or hyperthermia in the backcountry is especially important.
Bandanas are practical and versatile for staying comfortable while camping. Check out this Sunset video on the many ways to use a bandana:
You can never have too many bandanas! Now with the threat of COVID-19 your bandana can come in handy for a face mask. I have also used them for cloth napkins as they are absorbent and easy to wash. Choose from lots of pretty colors and get yours made in the U.S.A. and sold by Vets here.
2. Protect your eyes
UV-rated sunglasses will protect your eyes from sun and glare. I really like the polarized bifocal sunglasses with “cheaters” so I can see to tie a lure on my fly rod or to take out a cactus sliver. The 1.5 magnification works well for me, but the bifocal comes in various magnification strengths. The nose pads are molded into the frame so they won’t catch in your hair when flipping them up to rest on top of your head.
My eyelids will sometimes get itchy or develop a hive from sand in the desert wind. Good ‘ol coconut oil is soothing and easy to bring along in a leak-proof container or single packets from Trader Joe’s. Gel-style eye drops can help with sandy feeling eyes but can make your vision blurry, so I find it best to use at bedtime.
3. Avoid nosebleeds
After a few days, I get what I have dubbed “desert nose” in which the inside of my nose can crack and bleed. To prevent this, my favorite remedies are to use a good saline spray to rinse out the dust and then simply apply olive oil or coconut oil in the nostrils using a cotton swab. Simple but effective.
4. Stop dry skin
Bring a good hydrating hand and face lotion and apply it before going to bed. Again, Mother Nature offers coconut oil as a soothing solution to dry skin. Seba Med moisturizing face cream has a pH of 5.5 and is gentle on sensitive skin.
5. Use sunscreen
A desert essential, choose a sports sunscreen that won’t run into your eyes and sting with SPF45+ for maximum protection.
6. Apply lip balm
Protecting your lips throughout the day is essential to keep them from cracking and peeling. Many brands offer a sunscreen in their balm. I carry one in my pocket to keep it handy.
7. Cover your head
My hubby and I both like to have a light-colored, wide-brimmed hat to protect the top of our heads as well as our neck and face from the harsh sun. Pres’ favorite is the Tilly Hat which is very durable and lightweight. In winter a felt hat offers more warmth and some protection from the rain.
A warm beanie is great to protect against the cold night air and is soft enough to wear while sleeping. When especially cold we wear a beanie underneath the hood of our jackets. We really like the Redess slouchy style skull cap.
8. Tame your hair
Static electricity is common in the desert and can make it hard to brush your hair. Bring a rub-in conditioner to make combing out tangles easy. Apply a little olive oil to your hands to run through your hair for those flyaways.
Braids are an excellent way to prevent tangles. Put your hair up and off of your neck with a Lilla Rose Flexi clip. This lightweight clip won’t break your hair and stays put all day while hiking or riding the bumpy back roads. I also like that the clips are “flat” and don’t hit the backrest or camp chair like a claw clip. I have actually forgotten I was wearing one and slept with a clip in my hair. Find out what a Flexi clip is at my personalized website.
9. Fuel your body
Choose food and snacks wisely to ward off fatigue and illness. A balance of protein and carbs can help you maintain good energy levels. Oranges, nuts, and dates are easy to carry and eat for a boost of energy on a hike. I hard boil eggs before the trip to keep in our cooler, along with cheese sticks for an easy protein snack.
10. Stay hydrated
And last but not least drink plenty of fluids to keep your skin and body hydrated. Remember that coffee, tea and alcohol are natural diuretics and not as hydrating as water. Water with electrolytes will help ward off dehydration, fatigue, and muscle cramps.
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