Lightweight Sunscreen for Hiking and Backpacking

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Lightweight Sunscreen for Hiking and Backpacking

Viewing 8 posts - 26 through 33 (of 33 total)
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    AK Granola
    BPL Member


    Cancer is a wily beast. My mom smoked a pack a day for sixty years, ate tons of sugar, tanned deeply every summer from hiking and gardening, and never had cancer. (She did lose all her teeth, but not from the sun!). My dad was out in the sun all the time, all over the Southwest, winter snowshoe trips in Minnesota, lots and lots of field work and tons of sun exposure. He rarely wore sunscreen, and his face was thick and leathery and wrinkly in his older years. No cancer. Good genes? I burned and tanned constantly when young, lay in the sun as a teenager covered in baby oil. Yep, that’s what we did! It was fun hanging at the outdoor pool all summer! No regrets. So far so good, although my skin isn’t picture perfect at 55.

    But, I watched one of our long time customers while he was treated and suffered and eventually succumbed to melanoma, and it wasn’t nice. Not nice at all. By the end he was spending $10,000 a month on chemo! He was in a lot of pain, all the time. He had never worn sunscreen. Not the way I want to exit the world. So I wear sunscreen, cover up, whatever it takes to avoid deep tanning or burns. I can’t help but darken a bit during the summer, how can you if you’re a backpacker?! Plus gardening, cycling to work, paddling. But I’ll avoid sun-caused skin injury if at all possible, because cancer really sucks.

    Sean P
    BPL Member


    Locale: S.E. Australia

    Melanoma gets all the attention because it is lethal (which is fair enough) but squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC) are far more common and there is a direct dosage relationship with intense sun exposure and incidence.  BCC and SCC are not lethal in western countries 2019 as they can be cut out or frozen off but this can be disfiguring and expensive.

    2/3 of Australians will get skin cancer by the time they are 70.

    Stats in the US are less (20% will get skin cancer) but still sobering, especially as rates are increasing.

    yes,  sunscreen is sticky and annoying.

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    Bruce Tolley
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    “BCC and SCC are not lethal in western countries 2019 as they can be cut out or frozen off but this can be disfiguring and expensive.”

    In reference to BCC and SCC “Not lethal,” depends on early detection and access to health care. Basal cell carcinomas can go deep.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    “yes, sunscreen is sticky and annoying.”

    chemo is worse. so is a scalpel on your face.

    We have excellent spf fabrics that can cover you up and not make you sweat. You can always look beautiful at night when it matters.

    Sean P
    BPL Member


    Locale: S.E. Australia


    it was irony.  read back… someone in the thread was railing against sunscreen.   I pointed out the stats for skin cancer.


    oh, nevermind.

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    Emylene VanderVelden
    BPL Member


    I think if you are willing to cover up with a burka you can probably skip the sunscreen, but a bull cap probably doesn’t cut it. Which is why I spend a bit more on lower SPF cosmetic sunscreens and apply more often. I actually also tend to use natural products because my skin is allergic to sulphates, phthalates, some scents and waxes. I can’t come up with a good reason to skip sun protection. Even at all that, I still got a bit of a tan just from length and amount of exposure in the ‘land of the midnight sun’ all summer. No burns though which I think is probably the most beneficial outcome.

    David Thomas
    BPL Member


    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    Nine basal-cell cancers carved off so far after a California childhood for this Celtic-ancestry kid.

    My dermatologist says I’m now living at the right latitude (60N) for my genetics.

    After a few second-degree sunburns (all day on Mount Whitney with crappy 1970s sunscreens that sweated off), I’ve used a lot of silly-looking hats.  I finally sprung for a Tilley ($90 at REI) which works well for shading my face, ventilates better than most and, if not stylish, at least isn’t dorky.

    I wear a lot of t-shirts so the tannest, red-est part of me is the base of my neck.  Applying sunscreen there, carefully and in front of a mirror before I start out really helps.

    I should do more around the yard and around town, but on the water or at elevation, I wear a collared shirt and that helps a lot.

    I’ve long liked a Chrome Dome / Sunbrella at 8,000 feet in the Sierra – it feels 10-15F cooler under it in the full sun.  I’ve taken to using a big stadium umbrella ($4.95 at Home Depot) when walking the dog in the rain.  I like the better hearing and visibility (think moose on the trail) and ventilation compared to a parka hood (horrible) or even a Seattle Sombrero (okay).

    On Baja kayaking trips, we’d pull out in the heat / max sun of the day and take a siesta under a bush.  But it was always a scraggily desert bush offering 30-40% shade at most.  Spreading a ground cloth over the bush made a little island of 100% shade which really helped with the heat and the UV.

    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I read somewhere that 2nd degree burn episodes can cause cancer later in life.

    I did one of those on Mt Hood in the snow.  I’m just a little dark skinned so get tan without burning normally.

    Baseball caps are not good.  Wide brimmed boonie hat is good.  Or one of those like Sunday Afternoons that has fabric draped down on the back.


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