7 Tips on How to Prevent Chafing When Hiking in Backcountry

Add seams to clothes, body parts, a shoulder harness, and a hip belt coupled to a hefty pack, heat, and humidity, and what do you get? The ultimate chafing recipe. This annoying red rash produced by rubbing may turn a good trip into a terrible one.

When skin rubs against clothes or other skin, it causes damage, known as “chafing.” Chafing may be worsened by humidity, wetness, and pressure. Chafing is most frequent under the armpits, beneath backpack and bra straps, the foot, nipples, and, most often, the inner thighs. Here’s how to prevent chafing when hiking by preventing friction before it occurs.

How to Prevent Chafing When Hiking

What Is Chafing?

Chafing is due to the exposed skin, clothing, shoulder and hip straps, sweat, and a heavy backpack. Friction causes annoying, superficial skin damage.

It occurs due to repetitive rubbing of your skin against damp or sweat-soaked clothes or equipment. It causes a mixture of redness, irritation, and itching. The wound may sometimes get deeper after continuous rubbing, and it might cause bleeding and scorching!

Chafing happens more likely in body parts that are constantly in motion. Consider the hips, inner thighs, and armpits. These body areas are susceptible because the skin is pressing on flesh, with some clothes in between. Foot, nipple, and hip problems are also standard. Anywhere your clothing or gear may come into contact with your skin.

No one wants to chafe when hiking, particularly on lengthy walks. So, let’s have a look at chaff relief options.

7 Tips to Avoid Chafing While Hiking:

1. Get Properly Fitting Gear:

Long backpack straps will produce much friction and scrape into your shoulders. Shorten your backpack straps if they are too long. Just keep in mind that your bag should suit you well.

If you’re going on a long trek, your backpack straps will almost certainly dig into your shoulders. Chafing may be avoided by placing something between your shoulder and backpack straps, such as extra clothes(Padding).

We would recommend investing in a wicking base layer shirt. It’s similar to leggings, but for your upper body, they wick away sweat and protect backpack straps from chafing your shoulders.

2. Avoid Cotton:

To minimize chafing, avoid wearing any cotton clothing. Cotton likes to absorb water and sweat, and it takes an unusually long time to dry once wet! Cotton, once wet, will adhere to your skin like glue, which you should avoid.

Many people are unaware that jeans are composed of cotton! Do not take any denim on your next outdoor adventure. Wearing cotton in the cold may seem wise, but sweating happens with any activity, regardless of temperature. You might feel cold yet still sweat excessively.

What is the solution? Wear synthetic or wool clothes instead of cotton. They both dry rapidly and absorb very little sweat.

Leggings, spandex shorts, and long underwear are excellent for covering your inner thighs. Wearing loose shorts over leggings or spandex shorts is relatively frequent and entirely acceptable for males.

3. Wash Your Body:

Keeping your body clean is beneficial not just for cleanliness but also for reducing chafing. It is due to the salt in your sweat rubbing against your skin, which causes chafing.

If you do not shower regularly, dried sweat, dead skin cells, and germs will collect. All of these things contribute to increased friction on your skin. Remember that germs multiply quickly, so shower just before you go out!

It implies that you should pack everything before bathing. Showering and then packing your bag or engaging in any light exercise may cause you to sweat. With additional care, wash your sweaty spots, such as your armpits, buttocks, and crotch.

If you come across a river or a lake on your trek, we suggest bathing in it or taking the occasion to wash your body. If you don’t come across any lakes or rivers on your hike and need to clean up, you may use disinfecting wipes.

After a swim in a lake, a shower, or wet wipes, be careful to dry off thoroughly because chafing will occur if your clothes are wet.

How to Prevent Chafing When Hiking

4. Don’t Tuck Your Shirt:

Almost everyone gets a sweaty back (mainly if they carry a backpack). Sweat from your back will be absorbed into your underwear if you tuck your shirt into your pants. Tucking your shirt into your jeans can also create chafing at the waist. The easy remedy is to avoid folding your apparel!

5. Keep Your Clothes Clean:

You should clean your clothes as often as possible to remove sweat and germs. Please try not to wear the same shirt or clothes for more than a day without washing them. Not only are unclean garments unsanitary, but they also contribute to chafing.

Wash bags may be purchased if you go on a multi-day hiking or camping trip. Place your clothing in them, add soap and water, and mix them up. Once they’ve dried, you’ll be good to go. Lakes and rivers may also be used to clean your garments. Just make sure you have some soap on hand.

6. Lubricate Yourself:

Many lubricants, such as Vaseline, are available to reduce friction. Be careful to wash your hands and let them dry before applying anything. If you don’t want to use Vaseline, try zinc oxide ointment.

We suggest lubricating heavily in a few critical areas if you’re going on a long trek. Chafing is expected in your inner thighs, waist, back, and feet.

Remember to take excellent care of your feet since they absorb most stress. Blisters affect almost everyone who isn’t cautious. Foot Glide is an excellent product on the market that will assist in lubricating your feet.

You may also use powder to make your skin dry. If you don’t have any powder, you may use corn starch. Numerous excellent anti-chafing powders on the market will also keep you dry.

Remember to apply lubricants or powder to your skin before it dries up! Using lubricants on raw skin can cause severe pain!

7. Hydrate Yourself:

Drinking extra water dilutes the salt content in sweat. Drink plenty of water before embarking on a trek to cut the salt in your sweat.

Also, drink enough water to maintain your urine light yellow or clear throughout the hike. The less salt in your sweat, the less chafing your skin will experience, and salt is drying and irritating on the skin!

How to Avoid Chafing When Hiking?

How Do You Treat Chafing?

Even if you follow all the chafing prevention methods listed above, you may still get this unpleasant rash. Chafed skin should be handled; do not disregard it!

How can you cure chafing when hiking? Below are three methods to help you feel more at ease and heal your rashes.

1. Clean and Dry the Affected Area:

You should wash the damaged area immediately after trekking (or cycling or running). Use lukewarm water and antibacterial soap to clean the chafed area. After that, gently massage the area dry. Do not massage it dry, as this may cause discomfort.

2. Apply Lotion at Night:

Use large quantities of lotion or ointment to help your skin recover as you sleep. Zinc oxide lotion, coconut oil, and Vaseline are excellent for this purpose.

There are also a few unconventional therapies. Applying udder ointment, used while milking cows, is one of them. Horse ointment, used to cure saddle sores in horses, also works good on people.

3. Take It Easy:

It takes time for chafed skin to recover. So, rest up before getting back to work or hiking. Continuous rubbing will worsen the condition and may result in an infection.

On a long trek, you may not have time to rest for a whole day. Do your best to keep the skin clean and lubricated in this scenario. Take frequent pauses. When you arrive at the camp, wash your hands with soap and water.

Additional Resources

If you are looking for more tutorials, walkthroughs and troubleshooting about camping and enjoying the outdoors, here are some additional posts to check out:


I hope this article has been helpful, I hope your days on the trails will be much happier and you will be less likely to be plagued by the scourge of chafing. I am confident that your adventure will be memorable if you follow our advice on how to avoid and treat chafing. If you think I forgot something or if you simply want to share a story or some advice, feel free to leave a comment below. But for now, Be Safe and Happy Adventure.!

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