Internal Frame Backpack | Hikers Chafing; No If’s, And’s or Butts!

internal frame backpack
Hiking Is A Favorite Nature Activity

Internal frame backpack hikes can produce some painful irritations IF you don’t protect yourself. AND, longer treks make you more susceptible to skin chafing. BUTT…this part of your anatomy can really make your backpacking trip an uncomfortable experience.  Ok, I’ll talk about the embarrassing topic for you. Here’s how you can eliminate the chances of monkey butt and thigh chafing while you’re on your hiking excursion. Yes, it’s a real thing!

Hikers; Start With The Skivvies You Wear

100% Cotton Is Not Advised

The underwear you choose can make a huge difference in your comfort and to eliminate skin problems that will make walking unbearable. Absolutely say “No” to 100% cotton.  Normally, everyone loves the feel of cotton, but for a hiker, it means your sweat won’t be absorbed and the cotton material will stick to your skin.  This will cause the seams of your skivvies to bunch up between your thighs.  The result will be friction from walking that will cause your skin to be rubbed raw. Can you say ouch?

For internal frame backpack treks instead, choose lined running shorts, compression shorts or synthetic underwear. Your undies should have at least a 6” long leg for protection against thigh rubbing. Men or women should ever go commando, wear a thong or bikini underwear while hiking. Form fitting undergarments are most effective in a cotton/synthetic blend material.  For chafing prevention, avoiding rayon, viscose, lyocell and modal is key because these materials are made from wood fibers that resemble cotton for absorption and are not moisture wicking.  Many hikers swear by wool during all seasons, but it’s slow to dry when you rinse it out.

Backpack Hiking Requires Good Skin Care

internal frame backpack
Men And Women Hikers Are Prone To Skin Chafing

Prevention is always the best medicine for hikers. If you pre-treat your skin with an anti-friction lubricant such as Anti Monkey Butt or Body Glide, you can avoid the chances of your skin rubbing to the point of a painful stage and enjoy your hike more.  Anti Monkey Butt comes in a powder, paste or cream.  Body Glide is a balm which provides long lasting, non-greasy skin protection and repels sweat whenever your body rubs in the wrong way causing irritation. 

The reality is that when you hike, your butt and your thighs are the most vulnerable areas to rubbing. This can lead to painful inflammation. Once you’ve become sore in these areas, trying to power through your hike with healing creams and other remedies is much more difficult. Some products you may use for rashes or chafing will sting badly upon application.  Doesn’t it make sense that if you protect these areas before hiking, you’re more likely to eliminate the misery?

Trekkers; Choose The Right Hiking Backpack

internal frame backpack
Backpacking Will Make You Sweat

An internal frame backpack is the most popular backpack for hiking. This type is one which uses aluminum stays (long flat bars) that provide a rigid framework against your back for support and stability.  Internal frame bags tend to be much more lightweight.  The suspension on an external frame backpack has an external rigid frame designed to carry very heavy loads for extended hiking trips.

A hiking bag that has a ventilated mesh back will eliminate sweat from dripping down your back.  The mesh backing is designed to let air flow so you don’t sweat as much.  You’ll also find that tucking your shirt into your pants can lead to sweat dripping off your shirt down your butt crack onto your underwear, which is not good because you’re trying to keep that area dry.

Backpackers; Stay Clean During Your Hike

internal frame backpack
Internal Frame Backpack Hikers Enjoying The View

When you make camp for the night, as tired as you may be, it’s really important to clean your skin before you sleep and head out the next day.  Your butt and thighs are important, but also cleanse your feet from sweat and dirt.  Sweat produces salt, so it needs to be removed from your skin at night.  Sleep in clean dry clothes, not the ones you hiked in all day.  Thin synthetic clothing, will dry quickly when you rinse it off. It will also have a cooling effect when you put it back on after washing it.

Pay attention to your toilet habits.  It’s wise to carry a plastic squirt bottle to rinse your privates after a BM.  Dried on poop can be a bad skin irritant, especially when mixed with sweat and friction.  After wiping well with a wet wipe, you can apply some Anti Monkey Butt Powder, or a similar product for extra protection.  Ladies, do not risk infection by wiping with a leaf or a rock; leave that to the guys. Make sure you pack out any wipes or feminine products. Sorry to spell these things out so graphically, but these are facts of life that hikers have to deal with.

Another great preventative is to reduce the amount of hair in your nether region.  Hair increases sweat retention, which makes you more prone to chafing.  Trim extreme body hair in your crotch area, including your butt crevice and testicles (if you’re a male)

What If My Hike Gives Me “Monkey Butt?”

internal frame backpack
Hike Wisely And Protect Your Skin

When an internal frame backpack hike ends for the day, you may discover soreness or redness on your thighs or in your butt crevice.  This term, “monkey butt” refers to something baboons get from sitting all day.  Hikers walk all day but the sweat that drips down your buttocks can cause itching, redness, swelling and a painful irritation.  This form of chafing can spread to testicles, vaginal areas and thighs, and is caused by the friction of rubbing wet skin while hiking.  This may happen due to be skin-to-skin or skin to fabric contact during your hike.

Trekkers; Clean And Treat The Area As Soon As You Notice Discomfort

Wash these areas well with soap and water if you have access to water.  If not, this is the time you’ll be glad you packed a plastic squirt bottle with water for cleaning up. Rinse well. This area will most likely sting so be gentle when washing or applying treatment. Gently pat the area dry.  You can apply petroleum jelly or Aloe Vera if you have it in your hiking pack to soothe the chafe.

I recommend A & D ointment which is petroleum based and has vitamins A & D in cod liver oil added.  Carry it in your backpack for multi first aid purposes. Leave chafed areas free of clothing or anything that will rub while you sleep.  Small areas that are badly chafed can be covered in gauze pads for further protection.  If the chafing is intense, take a day off from hiking to enhance healing.

Backpacking Can Be Pain Free With Prevention

On an internal frame backpack trip, start prevention of chafing before you even leave home.  I seriously doubt you want your hiking time to be ruined or delayed from something you could have prevented.  At Nature Trail Backpacks, we welcome hiker’s input regarding products, tips or information that can be sensitive or uncomfortable yet help a fellow hiker in some way.  Please comment below methods or suggestions that you have tried and had good results with.  We strive to make every hiking trip a comfortable and awesome experience for everyone.


We love the great outdoors, backpack hiking, fishing, camping and experiencing nature's beauty.

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