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Action Wipes Instead of a Shower: How Well Do They Work?

Stinky Hiker? Not Me!

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

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Action Wipes Instead of a Shower: How Well Do They Work?
Photo © Action Wipes

Like most hikers, I use baby wipes as my go-to personal hygiene supply on long hikes or overnight trips. They're good, but not perfect -- first you have to weed out the wipes with scary-looking ingredients like benzyl alcohol and parabens, then you have to deal with the wipes that start drying out as soon as you open the package. Tossing a half-full package because the remainder has dried into crispy towelettes is such a waste.

Anyway. When I stumbled across Action Wipes on Twitter and saw their slogan -- "Your face is not a baby's butt, so don't wipe it like one" -- I had to try them. Could it be that someone had finally remedied the few downsides to using oh-so-convenient baby wipes on the trail? In a word: Yes!

Pros:
  • Strong
  • Gentle formulation (no stinging, use them anywhere on your body)
  • Large and moist enough for a full "bath"
  • The re-closeable package actually keeps them moist
  • Can be repurposed
  • Available in individual packages
Cons:
  • None!

First Impressions

When I tore open the first single-pack of Action Wipes, two things caught my attention:

  1. The towelette is much moister than most baby wipes. It's not dripping or messy; just saturated enough that you actually can take a whole "shower" with just one wipe.
  2. There's no chemical or alcohol smell to these wipes at all. After having a look at the ingredients, I'm pretty sure it's the eucalyptus and frankincense oils you smell first -- the resulting scent is clean, slightly aromatic, and very mildly astringent.

Ingredients

Action Wipes' primary ingredients are water and easy-to-recognize botanical extracts, but I did have to look two of them up to see if they live up to their claim of all-natural ingredients: cocamidopropyl PG-dimonium chloride phosphate and caprylyl capryl glucoside, both of which the EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database describes as a mild surfactant/cleansing agent/foam booster with no known health concerns.

The Test

In order to test how well Action Wipes really work, I went shower free for three days full of hiking, biking, jogging, dancing, and other sweaty goodness. Even a wet washcloth will do the job on day one, but it takes some serious cleaning power to leave you feeling both clean and fresh by day three. I gave myself the same short of camp shower you could discreetly take in company with others -- in other words, strategic dabbing with clothes on.

Baby wipes get me clean-ish, but not really refreshed. I don't know if they actually leave a residue behind or just ... lack something. It's hard to quantify. But whatever it is they're missing, Action Wipes have it. I wasn't quite shower-fresh after three days full of sweat, but it was the next closest thing, and nobody even batted an eye or sniffed twice in my direction. The most noteworthy thing of all for me was that I didn't feel like I needed a rinse after using Action Wipes.

UPDATE: Test #2

I've been stuck with so many half-full packs of dry, crusty baby wipes that I just assumed the multipacks of Action wipes would fare the same. Turns out they actually stay wet! (As long as you reclose the plastic cap, of course.) I've been nursing a single multi-pack along since October and they're still as moist as the day I got them. I also like that the multipack itself is made of flexible material (except for the plastic cap/shutter) -- so it takes up very little space in your pack once it's empty.

The Verdict: Overall, Action Wipes really do live up to their claim of being residue-free; you don't feel like you just replaced your grime with a layer of thin ... something, and you don't feel like you need to rinse afterward. I know it might sound corny, but they actually did leave me feeling refreshed. Supposedly Action Wipes can help remove poison oak/poison ivy oils too, but I haven't had a chance to test that (thank goodness).

The Bottom Line

This is a rare case of truth in advertising. Action Wipes really do live up to every claim I was able to test, and they're a marked improvement over baby wipes. I heartily recommend them and, other than the cost -- which hovers in the high end of the $.10 to $.50 price range for other "all-natural" wipes once you start buying them in the largest quantity possible -- I can't find any downsides to them at all.

The fact that the single-wipe packets never dry out, and are large enough that a single one really does serve for a full "shower," does a lot to mitigate said cost. I also like that you can buy just one to test them out if you're feeling curious, and you really can repurpose the used wipes; when left out to dry they turn into soft fabric as opposed to crispy paper, and mine still look like new after several launderings.

Have you used Action Wipes? Let me know what you think of them!

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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