People who love to go camping in the woods need to know how to pack light, including all of the necessary equipment as well as some personal hygiene essentials. But should you bring a hand sanitizer with you?
Bears are attracted to anything that is scented with a certain aroma.
Bringing scented or edible essentials like lip balm, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, sunscreen, or insect repellent on your camping trip may pique the bear’s curiosity. Improper storage of any type of food, garbage, and personal hygiene essentials are temptations for any bear.
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What Happens If a Bear Starts Rummaging In the Trash?
Great hiking adventures may lure you away from your camping grounds, and if you are not careful about how you store everything, don’t be surprised if unwanted visitors come to the party. Bears love to go through the garbage, as it is basically a set-up feast for them. It also makes them exhibit bold behavior and potential aggression.
In time bears who have encountered humans and their delicious stacks can become indifferent to their presence. This can cause property damage and threaten public safety. This is why it is very important to report all bear encounters to local officials and camp hosts.
On the bright side, there are some safety tips campers and backpackers should keep in mind during their camping trips:
- Food should be stored in bear-resistant canisters or specifically designed containers.
- Campsites should stay clean. Any food or items that have a smell that might stimulate a bear’s appetite should be safely stored away from the sleeping area. If there are no safety containers, learn how to take your food up a certain tree or in the trunk of your car.
- Garbage should be disposed of frequently and properly. Everything you take with you should be taken out of the area when you leave. Keep the ‘Leave Everything Clean’ code and you will be good to go.
- When hiking, never go alone (unless you are an experienced camper, who knows the terrain and what to do in life-threatening situations). Keep an eye out for the children, and always move in a group.
- Taking your dogs for a camping stroll is loads of fun, but keeping them on the leash ensures their safety and yours. Dogs that roam around may provoke bears in an attempt to exhibit defensive behavior and alarm you of their presence.
- Keep your eyes open on every hike, and look forbear scat on trails, campgrounds, or claw marks.
- Make noise, sing songs or use a stick to hit around things to let all the critters of the forest know that you are on their territory.
How to Stay Clean on a Hiking Trip?
Hand sanitizers are a first aid kit to keep your hands clean and disinfect any surface that might seem suspicious. But forest life is not remotely similar to your everyday public traffic, and many people. The bacteria here can be either life-threatening or immune-boosting.
Going into the backcountry does require some planning ahead, especially if you are going away for the weekend or longer. Staying clean on the trail is a relative term.
Fresh underwear every day changes to a practical rotation, and may even come to the ‘turn it inside-out’ phase. Looking for spots to take a break, and even take a nap is not as impossible. Moss-covered ledges are leisure benches, and the ‘three-second rule’ becomes ‘just pick it up and eat it’.
Hiking and camping require compromise with our daily routines, which means that the concept of ‘clean’ means something entirely different in this environment. Hygiene habits will vary depending on whether you are going on a weekend, or are planning a month-long hike on a specific trail, mountain, or other terrains.
The Chance of an Encounter Depends On the Time of the Year
While the location of the campsite is one of the most important things, people sometimes disregard the time of the year when planning their camping trips. Usually, people go camping or hiking when the weather is mild, from spring until early fall.
Coincidentally or not, this is the time when bears are most active – between their hibernation periods. There are ways you can prevent bear activity to a certain extent. It only requires a good consciousness about bear activity, and at what time are they under more strain due to hunger.
Springtime, after a mild winter, can impose a larger reask because of bears seeking food. A harder winter brings stronger elk and deer, and when they are combined with late winter snows you can have a hungry bear coming from the equation.
Strong elk and deer are more challenging to capture, while late snow will prevent berries from emerging in time. In such a challenging environment, your friendly bears (referring to the calm majestic beast in the distance) can become aggressive in an attempt to get to your food stash.
Avoid Doing Things That Smell
As we have already stated, bears have an extreme sense of smell. Food should be stored in proper containers, or up in a tree. In addition to this, consider keeping ‘odorous activities’ to a minimum.
Cooking over a campfire will send out some smells, and this cannot be avoided because you have to eat. Using cosmetic products such as hand sanitizers, lotions, deodorants, and scented soap should be kept to a minimum, or even avoided at all.
These scented cosmetics can smell like a delight to your neighboring grizzly that just woke up from his beauty sleep.
Toiletries should be packed in double plastic bags or extra containers. It is also a good idea to bring an extra container for packing food scraps and garbage.
Maintain Personal Hygiene
Some people are not able to handle the natural scents of the body and simply need to carry basic hygiene kits with them. If you cannot avoid using toiletries, try making a kit that is wood friendly, and that will have a lesser chance of attracting bears or other wildlife. We compiled a list you can include in your notebook while preparing for your next camping trip:
- Hand sanitizer alcohol-based, unscented
- Biodegradable soap
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Dental floss (that can be used as a string in a pinch
- Cotton bandana or washcloth
- Moist unscented baby wipes
- Quick-dry microfiber pack towel
- Toilet paper in a plastic bag (or use leaves and smooth stones if you feel ‘tough’)
- A menstrual cup, tampons, and a separate sealable plastic bag to carry them in
- A sizeable plastic bag to do laundry in if you don’t have a water stream nearby
Avoid carrying any deodorant, as the smell might attract the woodland creatures. The shampoo and the rest of the beautification kit, such as the razor, a mirror should be left at home because they take up space and can easily break. Leave anything that you even think might be bad for the environment waiting for you at home.
Hand Sanitizer: A Hiker’s Best Friend
People who go hiking or camping often find themselves using common bathrooms and toilets, as well as activities that unwillingly expose our health to bacteria. Hand sanitizers are great prevention for any contamination, and since doctors use them daily between admitting new patients, campers should do the same.
No, we don’t consider campers to be doctors of the wilderness. But hikers have a bad habit of going to the bathroom and cooking, without washing their hands in between. Create an appetizer for the germs before they enter your mouth.
The ignorance of some hikers will not end there. They will always be quick to blame trail illnesses on contaminated drinking water, bad government, and a scrambled ecosystem rather than admitting they lack basic hygienic habits.
Many of them forget that hand-to-mouth causes infections are often around simply because people don’t wash their hands very often. Ironically, we can only hope that people know the importance of handwashing.
So, Are Bears Attracted to Hand Sanitizers?
Bears are attracted to scented things in general. Food, cosmetics, and even a wardrobe that was washed with a pungent softener might attract their curious noses. Because of this, it is important to plan every hiking or camping trip in advance, and prepare the clothes, equipment, and toiletries according to the manuals that all say that nothing should smell nice!
Soap and water are not always available, and because of this, it is very advisable to carry around a small alcohol-based sanitizer. Clear gels contain a small concentration of ethyl alcohol that kills germs of contact. Using hand sanitizer is really simple. The clear gel contains a small concentration of ethyl alcohol that kills germs in contact. A dime-size drop on your palm is enough to clean your hands, and you can also use it to disinfect eating utensils.
Bears won’t be attracted to an ordinary Purell hand sanitizer if it is not scented. You only need to use the simple and straightforward things that serve the purpose and should be alright. Do the preparation and research before wandering around in bear populated areas.