Skin Protection on Trail: Sunscreen, Clothing, and Supplements with Dr. Katie Manno (BPR #259)

In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are joined by dermatologist, and my old pal, Dr. Katie Manno. This is a chat I’ve been wanting to highlight on this podcast for years now, and it lived up to my lofty expectations. Dr. Manno gives us a thorough runthrough on all things skin health related and how it pertains to extended time in the outdoors, including why sun protection is so important, the difference between chemical and mineral sunscreens and which is better for the trail, how much and what SPF sunscreen hikers should use, the safety profile of chemical sunscreens and what chemicals specifically to avoid, sun protective clothing and the science behind UPF ratings, vitamin D considerations when using sunscreen and/or sun clothing, what supplements and skin care products she recommends to optimize skin health, and much more. Needless to say, you will come away from this chat smarter than you entered it. 

We wrap the show with why one former guest always uses a bear canister when thru-hiking, we opine on whether donating hair can land you in the slammer, I give an update on my 175-mile lap around Denver, and the triple crown of dog breeds.

apple podcasts backpacker radio


Download this episode.

Backpacker’s Pantry: Use code “THETREK” for 20% off at

Gossamer Gear: Use code “SNUGGLEBUG” for 20% off shelters at

Interview with Katie Manno

Time stamps & Questions

00:04:40 – Reminders: The Trek is hiring a full-time marketing position! Get notified by subscribing to the newsletter. We’re going to Austin and support us on Patreon!

00:08:55 – Introducing Katie

00:09:50 – When did you know you wanted to be a doctor and dermatologist?

00:12:30 – Do you analyze people’s skin when you’re talking to them in the real world?

00:13:40 – What are the risks and consequences of not taking sun protection seriously?

00:15:15 – How does your skin color impact how careful you need to be with sun exposure?

00:17:32 – Can you totally eliminate your risk of skin cancer?

00:18:20 – Is avoiding a sunburn enough?

00:20:10 – What’s the perception of spray tans from the dermatology perspective?

00:21:01 – Is there any reason to be skeptical about the chemicals in sunscreen?

00:25:18 – Do you avoid any chemical sunscreens?

00:26:58 – Discussion about Elta MD and chemical vs. physical sunscreens

00:30:18 – What sunscreen would you recommend to backpackers? 

00:32:23 – Is it true that above an SPF it’s all the same?

00:35:35 – Do you have a preference between sun protective clothing and sunscreen?

00:37:16 – Does body hair protect against sun damage?

00:38:42 – Is something being covered by clothing enough protection?

00:40:30 – Discussion about SPF and UPF ratings

00:42:30 – What are the main factors that determine the UPF rating?

00:44:14 – If someone applies sunscreen perfectly, do they need protective clothing?

00:45:10 – What would you send out a new PCT hiker out with?

00:46:34 – Walk us through what the various types of skin cancer

00:51:12 – Does sunscreen block vitamin D absorption?

00:53:19 – Is there a safe way to get vitamin D through sun exposure without sunscreen?

00:55:12 – What is the UV index?

00:57:27 – What is the correlation between vitamin levels and skin cancers?

01:01:38 – Are there other supplements we should be taking?

01:04:15 – What are the options for people who’ve had a lot of past skin damage?

01:10:44 – Do you have any favorite skin products?


Trek Propaganda: Why I Always Carry a Bear Canister When Thru-Hiking by Moose Juice

QOTD: Can donated hair be used as DNA evidence in a crime?

Denver Orbital Trail Update

Triple Crown of dog breeds

One Star Trail Reviews

One Minute Gear Review

Mail Bag

5 Star Review

Check out our sound guy @my_boy_pauly/.

Leave us a voicemail!

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (and please leave us a review)!  Find us on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play.

Support us on Patreon to get bonus content.

Advertise on Backpacker Radio

Follow The Trek, Chaunce, Badger, and Trail Correspondents on Instagram.

Follow Backpacker Radio, The Trek and Chaunce on YouTube.

Follow Backpacker Radio on Tik Tok. 

Our theme song is Walking Slow by Animal Years.

A super big thank you to our Chuck Norris Award winner(s) from Patreon: Alex & Misty with Navigators Crafting, Andrew, Austen McDaniel, Austin Ford, Brad & Blair (Thirteen Adventures), Brent Stenberg, Bryan Alsop, Christopher Marshburn, Coach from Marion Outdoors, Dayne, Derek Koch, Eric Casper, Erik Hofmann, Gillian Daniels, Greg Knight, Greg McDaniel may he bring honor to his name, Hailey Buckingham, Liz Seger, Patrick Cianciolo, Sawyer Products, SPAM, Timothy Hahn, and Tracy “Trigger” Fawns.

A big thank you to our Cinnamon Connection Champions from Patreon: 12 Trees Farms, Bonnie Ackerman, David, Dcnerdlet, Emily Galusha, Jeanie, Jeanne Latshaw, Joann Menzer, Katharine Rudzitis, Keith Dobie Jr, Merle Watkins, Peter, and Ruth S.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?