Skip to main content

How being stinky when hiking in the deep woods might actually save your life

Why being stinky when hiking may save your life

A man hiking in Yosemite
Luke Pamer / Unsplash

Imagine you’re lost in the wilderness. The trails have blurred, the woods are dense, and the only thing you have in abundance is worry. However, in this scenario, your natural body odor could be your ticket to safety.

Yes, you heard that right. When lost in the great outdoors, the unique scent produced by your body can play a crucial role in your rescue. Let’s dive into the science and strategy behind this intriguing survival tip.

A man hiking

How to maximize your scent profile in case of emergencies

Humans have a unique scent fingerprint, a combination of chemicals emitted through sweat and other bodily processes. This scent is as unique as a fingerprint and carries distinct characteristics that can be detected and followed. In survival situations, particularly in vast, open spaces like forests or mountains, this scent becomes a beacon for search and rescue teams.

The real heroes in utilizing human scent for rescue are search dogs. These specially trained canines have a sense of smell that is thousands of times more sensitive than that of humans. They can detect and differentiate between a wide range of human scents, even in challenging environments. When a person is lost, search dogs are often deployed to follow the scent trail left behind.

To make the most of this natural tracking system, it’s advised to minimize the use of strong perfumes, deodorants, or scented lotions when heading out on a trail. These artificial scents can mask your natural odor, making it more challenging for search dogs to pick up your trail.

Before heading out, you can take proactive steps to assist potential search efforts. Leaving items with your scent on them, such as a piece of clothing, at your campsite or car can give search dogs a starting point. This practice is akin to leaving a breadcrumb trail but with scent.

If you find yourself lost, it’s crucial to stay in one place if safe to do so. Moving around not only exhausts you but also disperses your scent, making it harder for rescuers to locate you. By staying put, you concentrate your scent in one area, creating a stronger signal for search dogs.

Awareness about the role of natural body scent in rescue operations is vital. Before embarking on a hike, educate yourself and your group about this aspect. Additionally, always inform someone about your hiking route and expected return time.

Being lost in the wilderness is a daunting situation, but understanding the role of your natural body scent in rescue operations can be reassuring. By working with the incredible abilities of search dogs and taking simple steps to maximize your unique scent profile, you can significantly increase your chances of being found. Remember, sometimes, being a little stinky can be a lifesaver.

Editors' Recommendations

Sarah Joseph
Contributor
Sarah is a lover of all things outdoors. With a bright sense of adventure and a heart for the mountains, she is always…
This is the North Face jacket I’d buy this winter (if I had to pick just one)
Stay warm with our favorite North Face
The North Face Nuptse Jacket on a plain background

Over a decade ago, when I worked in an outdoor store, one standout company lined the walls. The North Face has a long-standing tradition of making some of the best jackets on the market, and of all the North Face jackets you can get your hands on, there's one that stands out above the rest.

Nuptse. The name means different things to different people — as does the jacket — but as part of the triple crown alongside Lhotse and Mount Everest, this jacket would always have to deliver to even begin to live up to its name. Nowadays, the Nuptse jacket's reach goes well beyond the mountains where it made it home. This jacket is equally at home on the runway as on the belay. So why is this North Face jacket the best out there?

Read more
The new Insta360 Ace Pro looks almost exactly like a GoPro, and has specs to match
The new Insta360 Ace Pro looks a lot like a GoPro
The Insta360 camera detailed picture.

When capturing the big moves in life, you need a camera that will keep up with the pace. If you want that jump out of the plane, the views as you climb up that mountain, or the speed of that player to not be a blurry mess in every shot, an action camera is a must-have item. The GoPro has been the dominant choice on the action camera scene, but the new Insta360 Ace Pro is here to give it a run for its money. With a similar look and almost identical specs to the GoPro, thrill seekers and capturers of adventure have another option to make sure they get the shot to match the energy of the activity.

Insta360 Ace has entered the chat
The specs that make it top-tier

Read more
The loop on the ring finger of your ski gloves is actually really useful
It's not just there for decoration
A man standing on the mountain wearing ski gloves.

It's time to dust off your snow gear! Amid all the excitement, however, it's easy to overlook some of the more fascinating design work that went into your snow gloves. For example, if you pay attention to your ski gloves, you may realize that there is a little loop on the ring finger of each glove. This is a clever design element that offers several practical benefits, whether you're skiing or snowboarding. Here's how to use them.
Here's how to use the loops
Hang your gloves to dry
One of the most immediate and useful applications of the loop on your ski glove's ring finger is its role in drying your gloves. After an exhilarating day on the slopes, your gloves can become damp from snow and sweat. The key to maintaining comfort and warmth for your next run is ensuring your gloves dry thoroughly. Here's where the loop comes into play.

To expedite the drying process, you can use the loop to hang your gloves with the fingers pointing upward. This method is more effective at drying your gloves compared to laying them flat, as it allows air to circulate freely inside the gloves, which helps moisture evaporate more rapidly. Drying with your gloves fingers up prevents them from becoming musty and keeps them fresh for your next snow adventure. By using the loop for this purpose, you'll be ready to hit the slopes with dry, comfortable gloves in no time.
Easy carrying
The loop on the ring finger of your ski gloves can also serve as a convenient means of carrying your gloves when you're not wearing them. You can attach a carabiner to the loops, allowing you to hook your gloves onto your ski or snowboard jacket, backpack, or belt. This can be particularly handy when you're transitioning between skiing and other activities or when you're in a cozy ski lodge, giving your gloves a designated place to hang without the risk of misplacing them.

Read more