Yeah, it's been around 136 years for a reason
A guide’s first application of Gold Bond Medicated Powder was a rite of passage at Adventure Whitewater, the rafting company in Northern California where I worked throughout my teens and twenties. I clearly remember my first time. Rashes from dirty water and soggy skin were a constant scourge for us guides and capable of ruining the best trips in the world. Directly following an after-dinner swim, one older member asked if I had ever used Gold Bond. No? “Well, it feels like the breath of a thousand ice angels,” he said. He handed me the bottle and encouraged me to be liberal. When I applied that menthol-spiked talcum powder beneath my swim trunks, I realized he wasn’t exaggerating. It was magic. I was medicated and totally hooked.
Since then, I have used this relief powder thousands of times to stave off countless cases of crotch rot, trench foot, and boater’s butt. All of those rash-like maladies have humorously benign, disgusting-sounding names, but believe me: Each has its unique brand of itch and burn. Gold Bond uses a mystically perfect concoction of menthol (to cool), zinc (to heal), and talc (to dry out) that somehow manages to soothe or outright cure every minor skin ailment that moisture throws at me. The good doctors who developed it at the Rhode Island State Medical Association in 1882 were nothing short of alchemists.
I grew to crave that intense cooling sensation. The other guides and I talked about it like addicts, calling each other out when catching someone white-handed after an application. When I came back to civilization and my parents’ house (with a working shower and a closet containing more than just two pairs of swim trunks), I still found myself applying nightly. By the next summer, I had graduated from Original to Extra Strength.
But it isn’t just about that icy-wind-on-your-junk feeling, I promise. There are real health benefits of having a big old Costco-sized bottle in the trunk of your adventure rig and a smaller bottle in your drybag or backpack at all times. Persistent moisture is the biggest enemy of foot and undercarriage hygiene (neither area gets a lot of open-air time) during long periods in the backcountry. Gold Bond is a powdered silver bullet for drying them out. Distance-backpacking legend Jennifer Pharr Davis told me that the hiking company she runs always keeps travel-size bottles of Gold Bond in its first-aid kits. A single mini-bottle can serve guides and an entire group. “Powder goes a long way,” she says.
And, of course, Gold Bond isn’t just for us outdoors folks. Anyone dealing with irritated skin or excess moisture—or just looking for a little extra menthol in their life—can reap the rewards of a little more Bonding time.