Blog petra: The real adventure…starts in your toiletry bag!
With a sigh of relief you close the last buckle of your overly crammed backpack, and then you come to realize… you’ve forgotten your #@%$#% toiletry bag. A common scenario for the writer of this piece. That darned toiletry bag: never light weight, always heavy (and heavily indispensible!). Because where some outdoor fanatics thrive on minimal personal care with additional bonuses such as ‘involuntary dreadlocks’, ‘deadly armpit ooze’ and ‘grotesque dragons breath’, I strive to remain ‘fresh as a daisy under all circumstances’! Which in reality comes down to: ‘As long as I don’t stink.’ And that noble pursuit sometimes comes with a little extra beauty ballast.
But, true luck is with the daisy fresh ones! Carrying around a well-stuffed toiletry bag turns out to be not that bad after all. Did you know some of your everyday toiletries are pretty nifty gadgets in mountain and outdoor sports? The last few years I’ve come across the most remarkable solutions for a variety of outdoor problems and situations. All solutions made possible by the ‘good old’ toiletry bag. So, the next time you’re frustratingly trying to stuff it in your backpack, remember: it’s more than a toiletry bag. It’s a toolkit!
Especially with the following super functional items in it.*
An obvious one, probably, but if you want to keep stuff 100% dry, put it in a condom. In extreme circumstances a condom can also function as a water reservoir. But in that case I’m talking about hardcore survival situations in the category ‘prime time documentary on Discovery Channel’. We’re not going there (yet). There are more amusing ways to use this product, as you know. So keep it in your toiletry bag, ‘cause you never know.
Except for keeping a fresh mouth and a spinach free smile, dental floss can also be of great use in outdoor situations that call for a rope. For instance tying loose items to your bag. As a sewing thread to close holes in bags or clothing. Or as an emergency solution for snapped shoelaces. (Tie a few threads together for a stronger lace, in that case J). It’ll probably never win a fashion award, but it’s definitely functional. A typical case of ‘something is better than nothing’.
Chapstick or lip balm
Forget a pocket knife, tie-wraps and ducttape! If MacGyver** would have been a woman, he would never have left the house without a decent chapstick in his pocket! One stick can not only save your chapped lips, but also your life in emergency situations. To name a few purposes:
- It protects your skin from the elements. A thin layer of grease can prevent (or at least delay) frostbite or dehydration.
- It stops the bleeding of little scrapes and wounds.
- It prevents blisters if you preventively rub it on the critical areas.
- Put it on your zippers to keep them running smoothly.
- Put it on your pocket knife to prevent it from rusting.
- Put a little balm on the inside of your ski goggles and rub it out gently. The grease prevents your glasses from fogging up.
- Use in combination with a tampon to create the perfect tinder for a campfire (see: tampons).
- Give your leather shoes some extra protection against moist.
- Use the empty container as a dispenser for medication, toothpaste or matches.
Not only perfect to conceal your dirty ‘haven’t-had-a-decent-shower-in-three-days’-nails, or covering up your worn-down climbing nails. No, nail polish also serves a whole different purpose during your adventures. It’s a very effective marker for your (aluminium) gear and materials. Give your carabiners, thermos bottle or walking sticks a personal touch. Guaranteed that no one will take off with them unnoticed!
Small, compact, prepacked and highly flammable! (Do we even want to know this?!) Anyway; pull a tampon apart and you’ve got the best tinder to build a campfire. Got a spare chapstick or lip balm? Rub the chapstick or lip balm into the tampon before lighting the combination on fire. The fire will continue to burn a least five times longer than just a tampon without the grease. Ideal when you’re dealing with damp firewood, or if you just want to take your time building a campfire.
Zinc oxide ointment
I have to admit, it sounds like something out of your granny’s medicine cabinet, mixed with high chemistry, but zinc oxide ointment is really a miracle worker in your toiletry bag. Next to a cooling effect on itchy skin and a calming and drying effect on blisters, this product is also a perfect and cheap sunblocker. So if you ever find yourself crackling in the burning sun on a snow slope, rock formation, open water, or in the desert? Zinc oxide ointment is your pal. Rub it, or burn!
Besides in your bag of toiletries, there are also a lot of outdoor solutions to find in your kitchen cabinets. What about:
Indispensible for every outdoor person who has to deal with humidity. Wether you end up in a monsoon, have to wade through a river, or just forgot to close your thermos bottle properly; wet gear makes no one happy. Keep your phone, snacks, passport and valuables easily dry in a re-sealable, waterproof ziplock bag. Ziplock bags usually come in variable sizes. The biggest ones you can even use to pack your clothes airtight and dry. Super convenient! And simply for grabs in your kitchen drawer…
A treat for your entire internal and external wellbeing! Camomile tea is a naturally calming tea and therefore beneficial for your digestive system. Next to that, camomile tea functions as a mild desinfectant, which makes it perfect for washing your hands (if you’re carrying enough tea with you, that is…) or cleaning out scrapes and wounds. In my opinion the best tea to take along in your thermos bottle when you’re out and about.
Sigg-bottle (or any other –aluminium- water bottle)
A handy drinking bottle, but filled with hot water (careful: not boiling water, that can damage the coating), a nice and comfy hot water bottle for freezing feet. Put the bottle in a sock (preferably a clean one…) and ban the cold from your sleeping bag.
Do you have any additional tips and tricks? Share them with us!
*Attention! All the mentioned products and purposes are emergency solutions, created and used by inventive outdoor people. Testing them is at your own risk.
**MacGyver: television action hero from the 80s and 90s, who saved the world from total destruction by the clever and ingenious use of various household items.