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(Photo: Wes Siler)
Indefinitely Wild

I Never Go Anywhere Without Sea to Summit’s Wilderness Wipes

Keep your body and the planet clean

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The multi-purpose tool I reach for most often outdoors isn’t my Leatherman (though I do use that a lot); it’s the little 12-pack of eco-friendly wet wipes I keep in one of the cargo pockets of my pants. The Sea to Summit Wilderness Wipes ($5) are thick, durable, and positively spoil your skin. But the best part is that they’re made from wood fibers, so they won’t clog up landfills for centuries to come. 

On a packraft trip to the remote backcountry of Alaska’s north slope in August, I used the Wilderness Wipes the entire time to keep my body fresh and to clean up after going number-two. Compared to normal wet wipes, the Wilderness Wipes are substantially thicker and made from a much stronger material. They don’t tear as you use them and provide plenty of separation between layers, which means you can wipe and fold it in half, and wipe again and again.

On a surprisingly cold hunting trip last weekend in southwest Montana where I live, my nose started running. Using (and re-using) a Wilderness Wipe kept snot off my sleeves and gloves, and the wipes’s mixture of aloe vera, moisturizers, and vitamin E prevented the cracked, irritated skin I often develop around my nostrils. 

Using an ATV to access my hunting camp way back in the local mountains can be a dusty ride. Dirt that gets in my eyes is expelled by my tear ducts, gathering in thick, crusty dribbles. That dust also clings to my skin and fills up my facial hair. I usually look like an extra from a Mad Max movie by the time I’m back at the trailhead. But a single Wilderness Wipe was enough to get rid of all the dust, and make me look fit for human civilization by the time my friends and I got to the dive bar we like to frequent on the way home. As a bonus, the cleansers in the wipes are scent-free, so I don’t show up at the bar smelling like a baby’s bottom. 

Standard wet wipes are made from petroleum by products that pollute oceans with microplastics and clog up landfills with fibers that can take 100 years or more to decompose. Wilderness Wipes are made from Veocel, a special blend of wood-derived fibers that’s biodegradable and compostable, and designed to disappear in only a few weeks when exposed to the elements. 

That’s not to say that it’s compliant with Leave No Trace guidelines to leave Wilderness Wipes in the backcountry. When it’s time for a poo, I’m still careful to walk at least 200 feet away from any trail or water source, dig a six- to eight-inch hole, then bury my human waste in that. On shorter trips, and in higher use areas, I carry a heavy duty freezer bag, and pack out my Wilderness Wipes so I can later dispose of them in the garbage at home. On longer trips through remote areas that don’t see many humans, I will use my judgment and follow local regulations to determine if it’s appropriate to bury a wipe or two in that hole, too. 

(I should note that the strength and bulk built into the Wilderness Wipes probably means it’s a bad idea to flush them into a sewer system or septic tank.)

A less wasteful alternative to traditional wet wipes, Wilderness Wipes are simply a better choice for any of your outdoor cleanliness needs. 

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