Black Girl Hair Tips for Hiking and Backpacking

Until recently, I wasn’t really sure hiking was even a thing Black people really did. I have even found myself thinking, I’d like to hike but what would I do with my hair on these long, sweaty hikes? How am I supposed to look cute for my Instagram pictures? Black girls, I am here to help you slay your edges, rock your twist out, and keep your hair moisturized while still blazing the trail. Nothing should hold a person back from getting on the trail when they feel ready for their next adventure. Not even your hair.

Leave the Conditioner in Your Hair

This is a game-changer! The morning before a long hike wet your hair and put conditioner in but do not rinse it out. This will help keep your natural curl pattern and keep your hair looking moisturized and fresh even if it is really hot outside. The regular conditioner has much better hold than leave-in conditioner, so this worked well for me.  Shea Moisture has a large selection of conditioners that work very well for this. 

Protective Styling is a Lifesaver

Protective styling is great anytime but it is a lifesaver on trail. Twists, braids, and cornrows are great for keeping your hair out of your face as well as showing you are proud of your culture. Braids are great because they can last several days, making you look great for photos even if you are doing a multiple-day hike. Be sure to pack a scrunchy or hair tie if you want to be sure that your longer braids do not get caught in any branches. Another way to keep your protective style fresh is to make sure your edges are laid. My all-time favorite edge control is by Mielle Organics. This edge control comes in a small container so you will not have to add to much weight to your pack. 

Wear a Headwrap

Colorful headwraps can change the game for your trail outfit. Throw on your favorite headwrap and you can protect your hair and be stylish at the same time. There are so many ways to tie them, and it’s easy to cover your whole head or tie it as a headband. A headwrap is a great item to pack because it has multiple uses, like putting around your neck to avoid sunburn. Amazon has a large selection of thick headband and headwraps that will help protect your hair from being damaged. 

Bring a Spray Bottle

Keep your hair looking fresh by bringing a spray bottle along with you. A quick few sprays will have you feeling cooled down and this will allow your hairstyle to last a little longer. Add a few drops of leave-in conditioner or your favorite product mixed with water in your spray bottle. The spray bottle and a hair tie is all you will be able to put your hair in quick bun. Try using a travel-sized spray bottle from Walmart or Target. I like to mix Miss Jessie’s Multicultural Curls moisturizer with water in my bottle.

 Wear a Hat

Hats are almost always the right move when going hiking. Not only do they help protect you from the sun or keep your warm, but they can also cover up a “bad hair day” if you run into that while on trail. Having a hat is always a great thing to fall back on. Any hat will work, but REI has plenty of options and they frequently have sales. 

Stay Hydrated

It is so important to stay hydrated for so many reasons on the trail no matter what, but it’s even more important if you want to keep your curls poppin’ during the whole hike. Being in the heat can make your hair very dry so be sure to have your favorite water bottle with you. 

Stay Moisturized

Put extra moisturizer in your hair if you know that you are going to be outside for most of the day. A great way to keep your hair fresh on trail is by putting your hair in a twist the night before with your favorite moisturizing hair product, then add extra in the morning. Miss Jessie’s Multicultural Curls moisturizer and Jelly Soft Curls gel are a great combination for doing twists the night before a long hike. 

Rock Your Fro

Don’t be afraid to let your hair be free when hiking or camping! I love seeing pictures of black girls rocking their natural hair. There is something so freeing about leaving your hair in its natural state while spending extended time in the outdoors. Be sure to detangle before you head on trail to keep your hair in the best condition possible. 

Bring Your Satin Cap

There has been more than one occasion when I did not bring my satin cap because I was worried what others would think of me! Protecting your hair at night is crucial to your hair health, on and off the trail. Don’t go on an overnight trip without packing your satin cap! 

 Go with the Flow

Love your hair for what it is. Even if it gets a little dry or blows a little too hard in the wind, it’s your hair and you can rock it! Aim to take the best care of your curls, but don’t let your hair get in the way of your next adventure. 

 

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Comments 8

  • Avatar
    Jodie L Kelly : Jul 30th

    Thank you for addressing this. I usually end up putting my hair in braids and covering with a wrap and hat but by day 3 I have either a matted mess or frizz beyond control. I had a really hard time in the military so thank you.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Elizabeth Eubanks : Jul 30th

    Great article…. said the white girl!
    Funny bc fit my first long hike ~ think it was a month or so I decided to get my hair braided~ corn rows and all. My hair was long back down past the middle of my back. A black girl did my hair and Oh My Goodness it was brutal and so tight! So tight! So tight my scalp had welts~ yes they were swollen, red marks on my head and I still vividly recall they were so tight my brain hurt. But after a few days it lightened up a bit and I was glad to have my out of my way. Easy to swim, shower, wash and tie up.
    BUT, I left those braids in my hair fir so long… prob 1.5 months and when I finally took them out I had the most gorgeous kinked hair in my head and then about 1/2 of it came out! … but not noticeably so.
    Anyway, thanks for the story and great memory!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Elizabeth Eubanks : Jul 30th

    Oops my bad for typos.

    Great article…. said the white girl!

    Funny bc for my first long hike ~ think it was a month or so, I decided to get my hair braided~ corn rows and all. My hair was long, way down past the middle of my back. A black girl did my hair and Oh My Goodness it was brutal and so tight! So tight! So tight my scalp had welts~ yes they were swollen, red marks on my head and I still vividly recall they were so tight my brain hurt.

    But after a few days it lightened up a bit and I was glad to have my hair out of my way. Easy to swim, shower, wash and tie up.

    BUT, I left those braids in my hair for so long… prob 1.5 months and when I finally took them out I had the most gorgeous kinked hair on my head and then about 1/2 of it came out! … but not noticeably so.

    Anyway, thanks for the story and great memory! Braids are great for hiking!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Katie Kommer : Jul 31st

    This is such a great article, Kimberly 🙂

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Lauren Tolbert : Jul 31st

    This is so important! I’m so glad you wrote an article about it and are trying to bring awareness to it. Seeing more Black women who love being outdoors on Tik Tok has made me more comfortable doing so myself, because I LOVE it. ¨̮

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Meilssa Maynard : Aug 1st

    Thank you for this, I am white but have curly frizzy hair that breaks easily. When i am on the trail I try to forget my hair is frizzy and out of control, but you are right I want pictures that I’m not afraid to post.

    I like the idea of having a spray bottle with a little of conditioner in it. I also agree with the satin cap, no weight and better for your hair.

    Great ideas!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Nekeisha Girdy : Aug 5th

    Great article! Thanks for the tips. 🙂

    Reply

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