Here are the basic toiletries you will need for hiking the Appalachian Trail. Like all pieces of equipment, test and see what works best for you.
- A small pill bottle: Keep pain relievers like Ibuprofen, a few antihistamines like Benadryl, and anything you think you might need.
- Fabric band-aids: Keep about 10 fabric band-aids in your pack. The sports band-aids don’t let your blisters breathe and they really need to.
- Mole skin: Cut just a small strip to try out on blisters. Some people like it. Some people don’t.
- Needles (2): These needles will be used for popping blisters. Before using it, sterilize your needle by lighting it with your lighter. Needles can be stored by folding a piece of duct tape and threading the needles in it.
- Pocket Knife: A small pocket knife with scissors is sufficient.
- Body Glide (.45 oz): If you have chaffing problems, Body Glide is very helpful.
- Gold Bond (1 oz): Again, if you have chaffing problems, having Gold Bond on hand can help.
- A roll of toilet paper: Some hikers carry half a roll, but you might need more, so start out with a full roll. Some hikers remove the middle tubing before packing and flatten it. Others use the tubing to light the campfire.
- A tiny bottle of Purell (1 oz): These bottles are easy to find in towns, so just pack a lightweight one to carry on the trail.
- A cathole shovel: A cathole shovel is used to dig a 6-inch hole for you to use the restroom. You can chose from plastic or lightweight metal.
- Comb: A small comb is helpful for long-haired individuals.
- Toothbrush (travel size): Carry a small toothbrush with a cap
- Toothpaste (travel size): Carry a small or medium tube.
- Bug spray (1.25 oz): Pick up a small bottle of bug spray in town when the weather is warmer. Make sure it can protect against ticks.
- Sunscreen (travel size): Some fair-skinned hikers need sunscreen throughout their journey. Get a small sample size.
- Handi wipes (travel size): It’s really nice to clean your arms and legs after hiking at the end of the day, especially in the summer when you are applying bug spray.
- Chapstick with SPF: You might need this early on then later find that you are not using it as often.
- A disposable razor: Females are more apt to want a razor. You can buy this in town to save on weight or carry one with you.
- Small nail clippers: You will want to keep your toenails trimmed to prevent soreness and black toenails. Also, you will want to keep your finger nails trimmed for hygienic purposes.
- Earplugs: For light sleepers, earplugs might come in handy.
Things You Don’t Need
- Tissues: Use your toilet paper or blow your nose by closing one nostril.
- Lotion: Unless you have a skin condition, your skin will be just fine.
- Shampoo/Conditioner: These items are located in hostels and hotels. It’s not worth the weight.
- Soap: You’re not going to be bathing on the trail. Additionally, you can clean your dishes sufficiently with a little water and your fingers.
- Towel: Carry a tiny towel to store with your cooking pot, but you don’t need something to dry off with. Your bandana will be sufficient.
- Deodorant: It won’t help and it will just take up space. Go ahead and sweat.
- Make-up: Take a break from make-up. It will wear off quickly and make a mess. Leave it at home.
- A toiletry bag or dopp kit: These are too heavy. Use Ziplock bags so that you can see what’s inside.
- Some hikers send a package to themselves in town with toiletry items (e.g., nail clippers, deodorant, razors, extra band-aids, etc.) and bounce this package to their next destination.
- Check out the hiker boxes in hostels for extra toiletry items like extra razors or band-aids. Deposit your extras into these hiker boxes as well.
- If you have chaffing problems, experiment with longer and fitted underwear like boxer briefs made of nylon. Try Body Glide and Gold Bond to see if these products can help before you hike. Chaffing can be quite painful and debilitating to some hikers.
- Pack your toilet paper and Purell in its own Ziplock bag. Pack it in an outside pocket of your backpack to access it easily throughout the day.
- Pack your other items together in a Ziplock bag. Keep this bag handy just in case you get a blister or some other issue comes up on the trail.
- If you carry handi wipes, place them in a small Ziplock bag of their own since they could leak.
- For females needs, please see <Female Issues>
Disclaimer: This list contains items that worked for some thru-hikers. A lot of the items are lightweight and bare minimum. In other words, you might want to add some things to this list. It’s important to test each item before you start your hike.