Ockham’s Razor: Opting for Shaving Simplicity in the Wild

Ockham’s Razor: Opting for Shaving Simplicity in the Wild

Whether you’re backpacking, camping, or survival training, a time will come when you must decide: will you or will you not shave while in the wild? While some men like to valiantly immerse themselves in the experience of the outdoors, letting their beards grow, others find that shaving can be a way to centre themselves and maintain basic hygiene in the midst of gritty conditions. And some find that beards are problematic for sensitive skin, leaving their faces with a lingering irritated feeling. For those men who find benefit in routine shaving, we’ve come up with a number of practical tips to keep in mind while shaving and braving the elements.

What You’ll Need:

    1. keep it all together

First, you’ll want a container to safely hold all of your grooming implements in one spot. If you’re opting for the low-budget route, try a freezer-sized Ziploc bag. These seal shut, they’re water-proof, and they hold everything in one spot. If your grooming tools are of higher value, you may want to consider a wash bag. These are typically made with leather or polyester, and they come with a number of zipped pocket compartments, ensuring the safety of your possessions. Many also contain a portable mirror and can conveniently be hung up by a handle at the top of the bag.

Daines & Hathaway Military Wet Pack, Attacama Cyan Leather with Black Lining

     2. something sharp

Depending on what kind of shave you prefer, you could opt for the cheap disposables, or you could pack along your more dependable safety razor. The travel sized safety razors are a great option, and a number of men in the armed forces opt for these, since they’re compact and durable enough to withstand rough treatment.

Merkur Travel Double-Edge Safety Razor in Travel Case

     3. protect that skin

Next on the list is shaving cream: If you really want to narrow down what you’re carrying, go for either a tubed shaving cream or a soap stick. Both of these can be cleanly applied directly to your face, obviating the need for a shaving brush. If bringing a shaving brush along is no trouble, then any traditional shave soap should do the trick. Note: unscented shaving soaps and creams might be your best option, since fragrances could attract all kinds of wildlife, from bugs to bears. You’re also best to find a shaving cream with special moisturizing properties, so that you don’t need to pack an extra moisturizer for after your shave.

Speick Shaving Soap Stick, Unscented


    4. brush off the rush

If you do decide to bring a shaving brush, you’ll want to find a travel brush with a handle that attaches to a screw-on cap. Edwin Jagger’s Super Badger Shaving Brush with the Ebony Travel Case is a good option, and several other brands make brushes with similar casing. The plastic cap protects the bristles from picking up dirt or moisture, ensuring that things stay as clean as possible.

Edwin Jagger’s Super Badger Shaving Brush with the Ebony Travel Case

    5. protect and serve

Since you’ll be left with either a very small portable mirror, a car-side mirror, or no mirror at all, you’ll want to pack a styptic pencil along with you. With it being harder to self-monitor and track your razor movements, you might encounter nicks and cuts, in which case you’ll want to be prepared with some kind of styptic, especially one that can also be used to treat insect bites.

Colonel Conk Styptic Pencil

6. a hot shave, anywhere

Lastly, you can use your stainless steel cooking cup or a boiling pot to warm water over your campfire. This creates warm water to dip your washcloth in, to wet your face pre-shave, and also a basin to dip your shaving brush in, before applying lather.

Snow Peak Titanium Double Wall Mug


And that’s all there is to it! Now get out there, and enjoy the ruggedness of nature – clean shaven.

1 Comment

  1. When I’m in the field with the Army, or interior camping with my family, I use a similar set up to what you’ve described in your blog post. A double edged razor is nice and compact on its own, and tends to avoid breakage when packed tightly and banged around, unlike disposable razors that snap and break.

    Using the Speick soap stick and the Edwin Jagger collapsible brush are the key to a proper shave, with cold water or hot. A nice lather makes the shave fast and easy. If water is hard to come by, you may have to de-gum up the blade by pulling apart the razor and blade and wiping the blade off, but it’s worth it the extra 20 seconds when compared against using an electric razor in the woods that tend to break, get soaked or have their batteries die.

    As for the mirror, a small plastic mirror of approximately the same dimensions as your razor can usually be found in camping stores and works just fine for roughing it.

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