This guest post was kindly contributed by inmate @Orangecicle.

How often have you pulled up to your nightly accommodations on a trip and popped open your toiletries pouch to find it full of goo — shampoo, toothpaste, or some other liquid that has oozed its way out of the container you so carefully stowed the night before?

Yeah, me too.

Goo

Goo

I’ve tried all of the allegedly bombproof silicone travel bottles and have found flaws in them all. I knew there had to be a better solution. My COVID-19 confinement has finally given me the time to do some research and test out a few products. Hopefully some of what I found can be of benefit to the community.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation to any of these businesses and I have not received anything from them. I just bought their products and continue to use and recomend them today.

Let me first set out some parameters of what I was trying to accomplish. First, I really wanted to get away from liquids where possible. All of my prior issues have related to bottles of liquids that rattle free, so I am looking primarily at solid products — solid shampoo, bar conditioner, solid toothpaste, etc.

Second, I wanted to get away from using plastics where possible. In 2019, the world produced more than 300 million tons of plastic, 50% of which is for single-use applications. A lot of that waste ends up in our oceans.

Realistically, water is generally the main ingredient in your store-bought liquid soaps. Why not just ditch the water and the plastic container? I want to do my part where I can, so I want environmentally friendly products that result in less plastic waste.

With that in mind, here are the products I’ve currently settled on and the reasons why I use them.

Soap, Shampoo, Shaving & Cream

I’ve always carried some type of liquid soap on bike trips, usually a 3-in-1 guys bath gel. The secondary benefit of carrying one of the 3-in-1 products is that you have something to help seat a bead in the unfortunate event of a flat on the trail, and the same stuff can be used to do a quick wash of clothes in a pinch. I started looking for a solid soap and shampoo in bar form. There are a number of products on the market, but the one that I found that I really like is Bravo Sierra.

Bravo Sierra advertises their bath bar as an “anti-soap” because, as I understand it, the product isn’t actually a “soap.” {I reached out to Bravo Sierra’s PR person on multiple occasions without success, so the following is from my own Interwebs research.} Soaps are generally sodium or potassium salts of fatty acids. Soap molecules acts as surfactants that encase oils and allow them to be washed away in water. Bravo Sierra’s cleanser bar is different. The main ingredient of the bar is sodium cocoyl isethionate or “SCI” — a coconut-derived sodium salt that acts as a mild surfactant. You find SCI in some soaps and in many cosmetics, but I gather that SCI alone is not a “soap.” This compound is known to provide great foaming characteristics, and you really see this when you use the bar in the bath. To me, the Bravo Sierra product foams up much better than regular soap.

I have to say, I’ve used the Bravo Sierra bar continuously now for over two months, and it’s definitely a good product. The bath bar doesn’t dry out your skin, and it works equally well as a bath bar and as a shampoo. Moreover, because the product has a somewhat silky feel and foams really well, it works well as a shaving cream in a pinch. I’ve yet to use it to seat a beam on the trail, but I doubt that will be a problem.

Bravo also promotes its products as good for the oceans. I gather this comes from the fact that the products are free of phosphates or nitrogen-enhancing compounds that contribute to algae blooms. Harsh surfactants also lower the surface tension of water and are known to decrease oxygen levels, which is bad for ocean life. In that the Bravo Sierra product only uses SCI, which is considered a mild surfactant, I gather it doesn’t have these negative consequences. {Again, it would have been good to hear from their PR person, but hey – Covid-19 – I get it.} The Bravo Sierra products are also generally plastic free. I say “generally” because the bars are shipped in a thin plastic covering, but all other shipping containers are recyclable paper or cardboard.

The only concern I have with the Bravo Sierra product is the cost. If purchased in bulk (3 or more), the bars cost $9.00 each. The cheapest route is to sign up for a subscription of three bars that ships every three months, which cuts down the price to $8.55 per bar, and orders over 25 bucks ship for free. The price makes this soap substitute a somewhat tough sell when you can buy a box of Irish Spring bars for about $1.00/bar. Still, I like the product, so I continue to buy and use it. I’ve gone with the subscription plan to cut the cost down as much as possible to keep the household Chief Financial Officer only mildly annoyed.

Conditioner

I usually carry liquid hair conditioners on bike trips as well. It’s not really necessary, but anything that makes the helmet smell even a tad bit better can’t be a bad thing, right? And anything that keeps me from getting an itchy scalp on a long ride is worth the extra weight.

After a lot of searching online, I ran across a solid conditioner on Etsy made by Rainwater Botanicals.

I bought a one-ounce bar from them to see how well I liked it. I was shocked how small a one-ounce bar was when I received it. I felt that I would use that amount up in a week or two. Well, it’s been two months, and I’m still using the same stupid little bar. The picture above shows the larger round bar that I bought later on, which is still in the original wrapper. The smaller bar above is the one-ounce bar that I’ve been using for over two months now.

The main ingredient of the bar is coconut oil. All I can say about the product is that it works as advertised. I’ve stopped using all other conditioners as this one does the job, and a small bar lasts forever. Rainwater Botanicals ships its conditioners using 100% recyclable materials as well. Because the tiny little one-ounce bar lasts so long, I tend to believe that the cost of the conditioner bar is comparable to store-bought alternatives. I might actually be saving money by using the bar. The one-ounce bar is $5.50, and it really is the perfect size for a travel bag.

Toothpaste

Next on my list of liquids to take off of the bike is toothpaste. I can say from first-hand experience that a toiletries bag full of toothpaste is a pretty miserable experience. There are a ton of “paste” alternatives on the market. The one I tried initially and continue to use is Bite.

Bite makes a solid toothpaste alternative in pill form. You simply put a tablet in your mouth, bite down, and then brush. Brushing with Bite “bits” is a little different, but you get used to it.

Bite ships in either a one-month glass bottle or a four-month subscription. The initial subscription setup ships in a glass bottle, and future shipments are sent out in compostable pouches and in otherwise fully recyclable packaging.

I’ve been using Bite for about two months now, and I’m sold. I just switched over to the Bite subscription, which runs $7.50 per month. That’s probably a bit more per month than I would spend on regular toothpaste, but I like the fact that I no longer will have to carry tubes of goo on the bike, and I really like the fact that I’ve done my part to take one more bit of plastic out of the environment. Rather than carry a glass jar on trips, I just put the amount of Bite bits I need in an Altoid tin cushioned with a piece of a paper shop towel. A little blue painters tape wrapped around it keeps it shut.

Deodorant

I also started searching for deodorant alternatives along with everything else. Here is where I’ve somewhat broken from my goals of non-liquids and environmentally friendly products. The first alternative deodorant I tried was Native. Understand that most deodorants use compounds that try and stop sweating one way or the other. Native uses much more natural compounds to contain odor but does little to try and stop perspiration. Native really works. I wore Native while putting up a tin roof under an overhanging deck in 100°F heat. I was drenched in sweat, but never once did I smell.

That said, I got the impression that Native might have stained a couple of my shirts. I’m not 100% sure, and I would need to go back and run some tests to make sure my impression was correct. Also, Native is shipped using a typical plastic applicator, which I was not excited about.

Then I ran across Lume deodorant.

Lume is entirely different. Lume controls odor by stopping bacteria on your body from consuming. These bacteria are the source of body odor, so paralyzing the bacteria stops the smell. Lume is a paste-like compound — somewhat like watery clay — and it is sold in either tubes or your more typical deodorant applicator. Yes, both the tubes and applicators are plastic; I wish they would find an alternative. The advantage is that Lume is sold as a 72-hour deodorant. I’ve not tried that myself, but the product purportedly lasts for a full three days. Because I shower daily, I apply the absolutely smallest amount that I can get out of the applicator each day. The end result is that an applicator of this stuff can last for months.

Not only does Lume work as a deodorant alternative, it also works on any part of the body. Stinky feet? Just apply a bit on your smelly bits, and the smell goes away in a few days once the bacteria are under control. I have some adventure boots that give off a rather inhumane smell after a ride, and I’m curious to see if socks lightly treated with Lume fixes them. More to come on that front, but it really is pretty amazing stuff, so I think it might actually work.

As with the Native deodorant alternative, the Lume product is less focused on stopping you from sweating than it is on stopping you from smelling. Therefore, you will sweat under your arms, which is how nature made you. It’s a natural cooling mechanism. If you don’t want sweaty pits, pick store products. They use aluminum compounds to contract sweat glands and petroleum compounds to stop them up.

The applicator pictured above is $13.99, but as mentioned, you can stretch the product out for a very long time.

Helmet Freshener,Visor Cleaner

Visor Cleaners

Visor Cleaners

I’ve really struggled to find the perfect visor cleaner for travel. Some years ago, I had a relative who gave me a stack of single-use Ban Total Refresh cooling body cloths. These things had a light powdery smell, so they were good to just wipe through the helmet during trips. They also worked extremely well as a visor cleaner, as they left no streaking at all on the visor. Like many good products, Total Refresh never really found its market, and it is now out of production.

Since then I’ve tried just about everything I could find. I’ve found nothing that is a replacement for the Total Refresh wipes. Most products work well inside the helmet but do a terrible job on the visor.

Shield

Shield

I don’t like carrying around large packs of things like wipes, so big packs of things like Windex wipes just don’t work for me. The products I’ve found that work the best in my book are Zeiss Lens Wipes and Bravo Sierra Antibacterial Body Wipes. The Zeiss single-use wipes work perfectly on the visor, and they come individually wrapped and are they’re easy to carry. For inside the helmet, my favorite product so far is Bravo Sierra’s single-use antibacterial wipes. Again, these are individually wrapped, so I don’t have to worry about carrying a big packet of wipes around. Just having one or two of these around for long trips is a nice luxury. Zeiss Lens Wipes come in a big box and can be found at many box stores. Bravo Sierra Antibacterial Body Wipes run just over a buck apiece and come in a pack of 10.

In the end, my search for a set of new products that will work better on the bike has led me to quite a few new products that I really like and now use on and off the bike. In addition, I’ve found some companies that are environmentally conscientious and give the buyer very reasonable alternatives to typical department store packaging. I hope some of this is helpful to others in the forum. If you have travel-friendly products that you’ve tried, please pass along your experiences in the comments. If you have a product you would like travel tested, please reach out. I can promise an honest opinion as well as randomized crash testing of all products:

Crash Test

Crash Test

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