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How can I take care of my skin while I'm backpacking?

That sun will get you if you don’t take a few simple steps to protect your skin while backpacking. See more extreme sport pictures.

We expose our bodies to a wide variety of conditions, not all of them skin-friendly. If you pay attention to your skin, you probably follow some kind of skin care regimen. This process probably centers around the climate you're exposed to on a daily basis and involves a number of products that come in containers of all shapes and sizes. Taking care of your skin is a good thing, but your skin care regimen isn't always portable. Such is the case with caring for your skin on the hiking trail.

Two things become apparent when you're backpacking on the trail. First, a light pack makes a happy hiker. Second, you're in another world -- one that rarely lies near stores and shopping malls.

It's still a good idea to take care of your skin despite -- and because of -- these tenets of backpacking. Your daily regimen will probably look a little different while you're out on the trail; it will involve fewer products with specific purposes like defending skin from insect bites and other hiking-related injuries. The ultimate goal remains the same, however: to keep your skin healthy and beautiful.

The best way to protect your skin is also the simplest. Wearing pants, long sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat can prevent sunburn, biting insects and other harm from coming to your skin. Sunburn isn't fun on the trail, since you're likely to scrape against brush frequently. Mosquito bites aren't a picnic either, and they can transmit disease. Keeping them off of you is a big task in wet, wooded areas, where as many as 10,000 larvae can grow per square foot [source:].

They may be more expensive, but it's worth it to invest in good clothing designed for backpacking. Lightweight shirts made of synthetic materials like nylon can block more ultraviolet (UV) rays than cotton, and are often designed to wick moisture from your skin as you sweat. This will help prevent rashes.

Clothes and hats alone aren't going to protect your skin, though. Depending on where the trail is, your skin will be exposed to a number of threats. The sun, wind, temperature and insect bites can cause problems. Keeping in mind that packing light is a must and that you'll be off the beaten path, supplementing the protection provided by your clothes with skin care products that can pull double or triple duty is a big help.