Toiletries, tools, repair kits

Shampoo or other liquid soap

For washing up body and clothes, both outdoors and during town stops. Stored in 125ml Nalgene bottle, which is large enough to allow inserting the thumb or little finger and thus removing only a tiny amount of soap. Using only a tiny amount of soap is essential to system of bathing outdoors using a minimal amount of water. Some shampoos and liquid soaps cause problems: (a) too soapy and thus hard to rinse off using small amounts of water; (b) strong or unpleasant fragrance; (c) too strong, and thus deplete the skin of oils. Pantene-classic shampoo with conditioner has none of these problems, and so that is what I normally use, even though it is the most expensive brand. Since I typically refill my bottle less than once a month, price is not a major concern. There are also cheaper store-brands which advertise they are similar to Pantene, and I will use these if available. Empty bottle weighs 25 grams, soap weighs about 140 grams for full bottle, thus total of 165 grams for full bottle, which is sufficient for at least a month of use. Plastic tends to crack after year or so, perhaps because something in soap damages plastic, so inspect before each trip. Because bottle is essential to my method of bathing outdoors, but is hard to find while traveling, I use same size bottle for holding some repair kit items, so as to have a spare in case the shampoo bottle is damaged or lost (such as by leaving in a hotel bathroom).


Originally, I cut an inch off my toothbrush to save a few grams, but now I no longer bother. 15 grams.


Because of receding gums, I use Sensodyne or equivalent toothpaste (5% potassium nitrate, plus fluoride). I transfer the toothpaste from the tube into a 30ml jar (25 grams empty or 60 grams full), since the jar encourages me to carry and use less toothpaste, which offsets the additional weight of the jar versus a tube.

Dental floss

In the past, much floss in France and Spain was low-quality (broke or shredded easily) compared to American floss, maybe because cheap nylon-6 rather than nylon-66. As of 2018, I was able to find high-quality floss at Mercadona in Spain. 15 grams for 50 meters.


For cuticles of fingernails, where the skin tends to dry and split due to washing away natural body oils while washing clothes in the sink at hotels. Sometimes needed for small areas of face in dry climates. Lubricate o-rings on flashlight. 20 grams for full 15ml jar.

Lip balm with sunblock

(optional) Only needed when bicycling in open terrain in warm months. In winter, sun is not intense enough to cause sunburn. When hiking, wide-brim hat provides sun protection. Whereas when bicycling fast or against wind, hat brim tends to get blown back, exposing lower face. 10g for small tube.

Foot powder

For killing fungi that cause foot odor. Desenex and other foot powders, with Miconazole Nitrate 2% as the active ingredient, work quite well for me. Other people, with different body chemistry and hence different fungi, might need something else. I used to not carry foot powder in Europe, and wasn't able to find Desenex or anything else with Miconazole Nitrate 2% there when I developed a fungus infection (presumably, from the showers at a cheap hotel). Instead, I bought a mixture of boric acid, talc and some sort of zinc compound which inhibits perspiration, which is widely available at pharmacies in Spain and which seemed to work well enough. But this mixture is not my first choice, since I prefer not to inhibit perspiration in my feet. In hot dry weather, perspiration is desireable, so as to keep feet cool and moisturized. 50 grams for full 60ml Nalgene bottle.


By McNett, ordered from Backcountry Gear. Supposedly, works better than anything else (including the old standby of tomato sauce) on skunk smells, though I haven't tried this. For ordinary smells (such as underarms and crotch of polypropylene underwear) put 1 capfull in bucket or bathtub with 10 liters of water or thereabouts. Use stronger solution for heavy smells. 45 grams for full 30ml Nalgene bottle.


Multiple uses: sear edges of nylon fabric to stop fraying; sterilize needles before using to clean out wound; cauterize wounds that won't stop bleeding (twice happened to my nose); start emergency fire (though normally I see fire as more likely to cause problems than solve them). Use strike on box matches, with striking part of box cut to fit into bottle. 10 grams, including plastic bottle.

Water purification tablets

Either Katadyn Micropur or Potable Aqua tablets, whose active ingredient is chlorine dioxide, or MSR Aquatab tablets, with active ingredient sodium dichloroisocyanurate, which generates free chlorine. Both chlorine dioxide and free chlorine are powerful oxidizers. Kills bacteria and viruses and possibly protozoa cysts (with enough waiting time) but probably not helminth eggs. Can also be used to sterilize water bottles and water bladder. 20 grams for 30 chlorine-dioxide tablets plus 20 grams for flip-top bottle, for total of 40 grams.

Ear plugs

Silicone style is more effective and longer-lasting than wax or foam. For noisy hotel rooms or campgrounds. 10 grams for 2 ear plugs (one pair) inside small plastic case.


Carried in neckpurse and thus easily accessible at all times. Includes wrist cord to prevent dropping while carrying in hand, or for attaching to keeper cord on shirt, if necessary to have both hands free while defecating at night while camping. ARC Flashlight brand ARC-AAA Premium single LED flashlight. (Fenix brand appears similar.) About 5 hours high level white light output using a single AAA battery (1.7V lithium works better than alkaline in sub-freezing weather and is less likely to leak, however avoid 3.6V rechargeable lithium, since the higher voltage may overheat the LED), and perhaps an additional 5 hours of lower level output. In Guatemala, I once had a bad experience when the lights went out while I was using a filthy indoor toilet and I didn't have a flashlight available. Ever since, I've been sure to carry a flashlight with me at all times. Smartphone can also be used as a flashlight, but is much less convenient: flashlight mode runs down battery quickly on smartphone; smartphone cannot be held in teeth or hung by wriststrap like flashlight; sometimes I turn smartphone off at night to conserve battery, and turning back on is slow, whereas flashlight is always ready to use; smartphone more fragile than flashlight. 15 grams for flashlight with lithium AAA battery.

Plastic whistle

Ordered from BackpackingLight. Emergency use. Carried hanging inside neckpurse. 5 grams.

Acrylic mirror

Coghlan's brand, ordered from REI, measuring 2.75" wide by 4.25" high. For tick inspections and checking appearance of face. Carrying case (to protect from scratching) details here. 30 grams (20 grams mirror, 10 grams case).

Scissors with plastic blade cover

Purchased at Walmart in the crafts section, but no longer available there. (Tools case can be used for carrying scissors without blade cover.) For trimming nails, among other uses. 25 grams.

Disposable razors

Only used when staying in hotels, and hence could be purchased at local store before checking into hotel, but more convenient to always have a couple on hand. 20g for two.

Nail file, cuticle trimmer

Swiss army knife also contains a nail file, though not as good. Carried in the tools case. 10g.

Titanium spoon

Used for eating oats, ice-cream, sardines, yogurt, canned beans and vegetables, etc. Handle can be used for opening/closing bear canister screws. 20 grams.

Titanium cup

From BackpackingLight. 550ml capacity. For preparing instant rice (holds about 200 grams instant rice, when filled to about 1 cm from rim), instant potatoes, oats (holds about 170 grams rolled oats, when filled to about 2cm from rim), couscous. Also useful for obtaining water from sinks or springs or other sources where there is not enough clearance for the water bottles. Together with a stuff sack and a length of cord, could possibly be used to get water from wells, though I have never tried this. 45 grams.

Swiss-army knife

Wenger spartan model, ordered from Includes knife, nail file, can opener, bottle opener, cork screw and hole punch. 55 grams.

Can opener

Coghlan's brand P-51 (some people mistakenly call it P-38) military-style can opener, ordered from REI or Campmor, plus carrying case (sewing details here). Works better than swiss-army knife can opener on some types of cans. Also allows me to replace the swiss-army knife with a regular knife while traveling, without losing can opener capability, which is essential. 10g.

Universal sink stopper

Useful for performing laundry in the sink at hotels and campgrounds. "Universal" means stopper is flat round piece of rubbery plastic, and so works with any size drain opening. 15 grams.

Sheath knife

(optional) Cold Steel Double Agent with Clip Point blade. Carried in handlebar bag of bicycle during day. Kept in bugbivy at night. For defense against cougar or black bear attack while bicycle touring in forested areas of the United States. 100g.


(optional) For long periods of snow travel. I use cheap polycarbonate sunglasses and replace when lenses get scratched. Screws on cheap sunglasses are sometimes loose, but can be secured as follows: unscrew, apply a drop of superglue, screw back in, allow glue to dry. Glue bond is weak and breaks when arms are folded, but the glue residue is sufficient to tighten up screws and prevent them from falling out. 25 grams typically.

Inverted rowing rope

7m mil-550 nylon rope, .5m cordura tunnel for abrasion protection. Doubled rope and tunnel (for abrasion protection) wrapped around tree or pole and attached to hiking stick by clove hitches, allowing for inverted rowing by leaning backwards and pulling with one or both arms. Mil-550 rope has static load rating of 550 lbs, so maybe 110 lbs dynamic load for rowing exercise. Doubled rope would thus support dynamic load of maybe 220 lbs, or more than my weight of 170 lbs. Doubled rope also provides backup for case where one rope breaks but other doesn't. 50g.

Repair items in bottle 1

Repair items stored in bottle 2

Repair items stored loose