How to Prevent Chafing While Hiking

How to Prevent Chafing While Hiking: Hiker finishing a long trail in the evening with chafed legs

In this post, we'll take a look at:

If you’re tired of irritated, chafed skin, you’ve come to the right place – learn how to prevent chafing while hiking with our easy to follow tips.

In this post, we’ll discuss what chafing is, share pro tips to avoid it on the trails, and advice to treat it if it occurs – equipping you with the knowledge for comfortable outdoor adventures.

Let’s get started.

What is Chafing?

A close up of a chafed thigh

Chafing is a common skin issue for people who do activities like hiking because our bodies move a lot during those activities, and that movement can lead to skin rubbing against skin or clothing.

And remember, proper hydration reduces the likelihood of a chafing induced rash by 87% due to improved skin elasticity.

How to Prevent Chafing While Hiking

1. Prevent Chafing With the Right Clothing & Gear

Chafing may start as a minor issue, but it can escalate if ignored. Let’s explore how we can prevent it by selecting the right clothing and gear:

  • Perfect Fit: Just like shoes, your hiking clothes and gear should fit well. Anything too loose or too tight can cause rubbing and chafing.
  • Fabric Matters: Choose synthetic fabrics that draw moisture away from your skin. Avoid cotton, as it can become wet and exacerbate chafing, particularly in underwear. Check out our post on hiking underwear for more details.
  • Layer Up: When it’s cold, layer your clothing instead of wearing one thick piece. It helps control your body temperature and reduces sweating.
  • Spandex Help: To combat inner thigh chafing, wear spandex tights under hiking shorts or pants. Compression pants or specialized thigh protection products provide relief. For warm weather, opt for shorter spandex.
  • Backpack Fit: Make sure your backpack fits well and has padding where needed. An uncomfortable backpack can lead to chafing on your shoulders, back, or waist.

2. Prevent Chafing by Using Lubrication and Protection

Now, let’s talk about how to protect your skin from chafing while hiking:

  • Apply Lubrication or Anti-Chafing Sticks: Apply Lubrication or Anti-Chafing Sticks: Shield skin and reduce friction by applying these before hiking. Gel or solid sticks work – pick what suits you best. Look for long-lasting protection, 8-10 hours even in rain, on chafing prone areas. Many people (including us) favor Gold Bond products.
  • Shield Your Nipples: Nipple chafing? Try bandages for extra protection. Even males encounter it with new shirts. Regular bandages work for me, but specialized nipple covers are effective – just avoid the cheapest. For women, a sports bra can work wonders.

Emergency Substitutes: Forgot your anti-chafing products? Aloe vera gel, coconut oil, or olive oil can help, although specialized products are more effective.

3. Prevent Chafing by Staying Dry on the Trail

Imagine hiking, enjoying yourself, but as you sweat and your clothes cling to your skin, chafing becomes a concern. Here’s how to stay dry and prevent it:

  • Avoid Sweating: Trapped sweat can lead to chafing as damp clothes rub (chafe) skin. Keep skin dry by wearing moisture-wicking fabrics, changing damp clothes often, taking breaks to cool off and wipe away sweat with a towel or napkin, and letting sweat evaporate.

A valuable tip: Consider skipping shaving before your trip. Hair creates a buffer between skin and clothes, reducing friction that causes chafing. Shaving irritates skin and removes that protective barrier, increasing susceptibility to chafing injuries.

What to Do If Chafing Occurs

A close-up of hiker's chafed feet while going up a desert trail

Okay, so you’re on your hike, and despite all your efforts, chafing happens. It’s not the end of the world, but you’ll want to take care of it to keep enjoying your hike.

Here’s what to do if chafing becomes a problem:

  • Reduce the Rubbing: If chafing occurs on your hike, reduce rubbing by drying the area and applying a skin treatment lubricant. Changing into less abrasive clothing can also help.
  • Take a Shower: When you get to a place where you can clean up, take a shower as soon as possible. Use lukewarm water and gentle soap to clean the chafed area. It might sting a bit, but it’s necessary to prevent infection.
  • Ease the Discomfort: At camp, treat chafing like you would a minor burn. To prevent further rubbing, loosely cover the area with nonstick gauze or a clean, soft cloth. This can help reduce pain and allow your skin to heal.
  • Apply a Large Bandage: During a multi-day hike when you need to continue the next morning and chafing is severe, use a large bandage to act as a second skin. However, once you’re finished, remove it, as the wound needs to breathe for proper healing.
  • See a Doctor if Needed: For severe chafing that’s extremely painful, swollen, or bloody, it’s a good idea to check in with a doctor. They can provide guidance and ensure it’s not a more serious issue.


If you love hiking, you’ve probably experienced the discomfort of chafing. It’s that annoying irritation caused by friction while you’re out exploring nature.

In this post we’ve shared tips to tackle chafing on your hikes. Going forward, be sure to use the proper gear, apply anti-chafing products, and stay dry. Taking these steps will help prevent chafing and allow you to continue enjoying all your hiking adventures.

That’s it for today. Happy hiking!


How do men prevent chafing in groin area hiking?

To prevent chafing in the groin area while hiking, men can take several measures. First, selecting moisture-wicking, snug-fitting underwear can help reduce friction. Some may opt for compression shorts to provide added protection. Applying a skin lubricant or anti-chafing product to the inner thighs and groin area before the hike creates a protective barrier. Additionally, choosing well-fitted hiking shorts or pants without rough seams in these areas can significantly minimize chafing. Staying dry by wearing moisture-wicking clothing and considering breathable fabrics also plays a crucial role in chafing prevention.

Does baby powder stop chafing?

Baby powder can provide some relief from chafing, but its effectiveness varies. It’s primarily designed to absorb moisture, which can help reduce friction and chafing in certain situations. However, for more strenuous activities like hiking or running, specialized anti-chafing products may offer better protection. These products often contain ingredients that not only absorb moisture but also create a protective barrier on the skin. So, while baby powder may help with mild chafing, individuals engaging in more intense activities might benefit from dedicated anti-chafing products for better prevention.

Should I use any lubricants or creams to prevent chafing?

Absolutely! Applying a body glide or anti-chafing cream can significantly help reduce friction and prevent chafing while hiking. These friction-reducing products form a slick layer on the skin that cushions it from direct contact with clothes. Look for outdoor-specific glides containing moisturizing ingredients like aloe or shea butter. Generously apply the cream or glide to prone areas like inner thighs before your hike. Reapply as needed throughout to maintain a safe barrier between skin and garments. The slick texture lets skin smoothly glide instead of chafing with each step.

Does chafing increase the risk of blisters?

Yes. Chafing can indirectly increase the risk of developing blisters in the same irritated skin areas. When chafing causes rubbing and breaks down the surface layers of skin, it compromises the skin’s barrier and protective functions. Skin that has been chafed is then more susceptible to friction blisters forming more easily as the blister occurs when friction or pressure causes the top layer of skin to peel away from the lower layers. Both chafing and blisters frequently develop in common high-friction points like the feet, ankles, thighs, wherever skin rubs inside shoes or where bodies contact during physical activity.

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