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Avoiding chafing

Image of the February 2018 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
February 2018 Issue

Reduce the risk of an excruciating day’s walking with these top tips.

Put heat, sweat and movement together and you’ve got the perfect environment for developing painful chafing.

Think about your smalls: Wearing moisture-wicking underwear goes a long way towards preventing chafing around your butt and thighs. Leave cotton undies at home, and wear merino or synthetic ones instead. Some people find that boxer or boyleg styles are more comfortable than regular undies.

Avoid tucking it in: It might be tempting to look smart by tucking your shirt into your shorts, but there are no uniform inspectors in the hills. A shirt tucked into a pair of shorts will direct sweat from your back down to your nether regions, so take the opportunity to let some air in and leave the shirt hanging loose.

Check fit and seams: Flat-locked or offset seams won’t rub painfully under a pack. Women may need to experiment with sports bras to find one that sits right without rubbing. If you’re chafing in the same spot regularly, it could be that your pack doesn’t fit properly. Try adjusting the fit of your pack or adding some extra padding in troublesome spots.

Keep up with the laundry: It’s easy to get into the habit of wearing the same clothes on a multi-day tramp, but sweaty, grimy, salt-encrusted clothing is more likely to start rubbing in sensitive areas. Synthetic clothing can easily be washed at the end of a day’s hike and be dry by morning.

Prepare for hot spots: Just like blisters, chafing gets worse the longer it’s left. If you feel a hot spot coming on, take a breather and apply some lubricant like Vaseline or a specialist anti-chafing cream from a pharmacy.