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.

Sarah Joseph
Sarah is a lover of all things outdoors. With a bright sense of adventure and a heart for the mountains, she is always…
Obermeyer vs Helly Hansen: Which puffy jacket is right for you?
Skier at Vail in a puffy jacket

When you’re in the mountains, a puffy jacket provides maximum versatility. On subzero days, you can layer it under your shell for all-day warmth on the hill. Then, when it’s time for après, its wind-blocking fabric and ample insulation keep you cozy around town. Puffys also have a clean, modern style. 

When you’re in the market for a new puffy jacket, Obermeyer and Helly Hansen offer two solid options. Offering top-end materials, an athletic fit, and sweet colorways, the Obermeyer Klaus Down Hoody and Helly Hansen Verglas Icefall Down Jacket are a worthy addition to anyone’s kit. But which one is right for you? Let’s find out.

Read more
The 5 best Apple Watch bands for outdoorsmen
We love these Apple Watch bands for the outdoors
Someone wearing an Apple Watch Ultra 2, showing the Modular Ultra watch face.

If you spend most of your time outdoors, everyday Apple Watch bands might not make the cut. While suitable for everyday use, normal Apple Watch bands may have several limitations for an outdoorsman engaged in demanding activities.

For these reasons, you should opt for Apple Watch bands that are specially designed to withstand the rigors of the outdoors with features like enhanced durability, water resistance, comfort, secure fit, and any additional functionalities tailored to outdoor and sport-specific needs.

Read more
We love this handsome van-life wood paneling, and it’s sustainable too
Lightweight, durable, and eco-friendly, Garnica paneling might be the very best wood for your van life build
Luxury vanlife build using Garnica lightweight poplar wood paneling.

If there's one thing the modern van life movement taught us, it's that living in your car doesn't have to feel like living in your car. The design of today's best custom campervans resembles many luxury studio apartments with high-end materials, finishes, and fixtures throughout. If you're building out your own custom campervan (or even daydreaming about it), you know that few choices can make as much of an impact as investing in good wood for your interior. If you're planning to spend months or longer on the road in your van, you're going to be looking at the walls and floors of your vehicle a lot. So why not invest in paneling you love? That's where Garnica comes in.

Upgrade the look of your van with Garnica's lightweight poplar paneling
The Spain-based company produces some of the lightest, most handsome, and most sustainable paneling that's perfect for RVs, campers, and campervans. Its poplar plywood paneling is available in four varieties: Efficiency, Performance, Ultralight, and Ultralight HPL. Each option is purpose-built with a particular goal in mind. If you're looking for budget-friendly, the Efficiency is your man. For weight-conscious setups (which is most van life builds), the Ultralight and Ultralight HPL are the way to go. If money is no object, the Performance line is Garnica's most premium paneling option.

Read more