Hair Care on the Trail

Side braids and shaved heads are equally badass.

Side braids and shaved heads are equally badass.

I have always prided myself on having long, healthy hair. I think the inner-hippie in me liked having long hair. Naturally, when I decided to do a thru-hike, taking care of my hair was a big concern for me.

  • I used Dr. Bronner’s Magic Liquid Soap (2 oz. bottle, lavender scent) for shampoo. It also makes a good body soap, shaving gel, and dish washing soap.
  • Hair conditioner is essential! Get travel-sized bottles at the grocery store or Wal-Mart. One travel-sized bottle should last about a month.
  • Get a wide-toothed comb and use it every day. Combs are much more light-weight than hair brushes, and they won’t give you any extra split ends. It sounds gross, but combing my hair everyday helped evenly distribute the greasy-ness from my roots. So, my hair looked way less greasy than it would have if I hadn’t combed it.
  • I liked to do my hair in a side braid. It kept my hair from blowing around in the wind too much. If your hair is too short for a side braid, learn how to do a french braid (Katniss Everdeen style).
  • I had a Buff headband on the trail, and I loved it! It kept my hair out of my face, it hid my greasy roots, and it kept the ticks off of my scalp. Get a fun print since you’re going to be wearing it everyday!

    Try rocking a french braid like Katniss.

    Try rocking a french braid like Katniss.

  • This is also a good time to consider an alternative hairstyle. Dreads on the trail are a good way to go, although it will take much more time than the six months of hiking for them to lock up and look good. Maybe start on them before you get to the trail. I had a friend who went all out and shaved her head. Mohawks were a popular trend among the SoBo girls.

I don’t mean to break anyone’s heart, but I still had a few inches of split ends that needed to be cut off post-trail. I decided to go all out and cut about ten inches off because after walking 2000 miles, my hair seemed less important than it had before.

9 thoughts on “Hair Care on the Trail

  1. I’m thinking of cutting my hair pretty short (maybe some random new color pieces, too – I’ll no longer need to be corporate on the AT). I’ll definitely look into a wide-toothed comb. Weight is everything! I love your posts, thank you!

  2. Your blog is awesome, thank you!!! I’m planning to thru-hike the AT this year and I really appreciate this blog- what a great resource! Thanks for the girly tips, I will definitely be utilizing them. I was just googling what to do with my hair on a thru-hike (I’m pretty sure I’m going to cut it all off) and I stumbled across this -thanks again!

  3. i wish i would have read this before i left for my 2013 thru-hike. i ended up having to cut out huge mats of hair once i got back lol.

  4. Did you have a merino buff headband, or just a regular one? Do you think it matters? Great blog!! I am hiking the JMT this summer and your blog is making me feel so much more prepared than I felt before.

  5. hmmm…yall might laugh at me but I have a huge beard, multiple feet actually by the time I conquer this hike…this article has helped! ;) and yes I am a man but I’ve enjoyed your blog! Keep it up!

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