I’ve been dealing with chafing my entire life. Throughout the years I’ve tried every anti-chafing product I could find. Some of these products worked while others left me in extreme pain. I thought I had tried every anti-chafing treatment on the market, but boy was I wrong.
I had never heard of Chamois Cream until I took up biking. Chamois cream is really popular in the bicycling community, and for good reason. It’s been around forever and works really well. While I won’t completely ditch Zinc Oxide based creams, chamois cream has earned a spot in my medicine cabinet.
What is Chamois Cream?
Chamois cream(My Favorite on Amazon) has been around for decades and it’s most commonly used in the bicycling community. It’s a cream-based product that’s really good at preventing chafing. Though not quite as effective as Zinc Oxide based creams it’s so much easier to use.
Chamois cream(Pronounced Sham-ee) was developed back in the 40s to prevent chafing on long bike rides. It was originally designed to condition the leather seat cushion so it wouldn’t rub against the biker’s leg. It worked so well that they started mass producing anti-chafing creams.
Chamois Cream vs Zinc Oxide
Chamois cream and zinc oxide both provide excellent blister/chafing prevention. Personally, I think zinc oxide is better at preventing chafing, but chamois cream has one major benefit.
Unlike most other anti-chafing creams(zinc-oxide, petroleum jelly, etc), chamois cream is easy to clean. It’s easy to wash off your clothes and get off your skin. Just rinse off your clothes/hands with soap/water and you’re good to go.
Desitin(On Amazon), my favorite Zinc Oxide based treatment, works better than chamois cream at preventing chafing, but it’s so hard to get off your skin/clothes. Desitin leaves a white greasy stain on your clothes that’s hard to get off. I guess white underwear stains are better than brown, but it still sucks.
Chamois Cream: Not Great on The Go
Chamois cream works more as a pre-treatment to prevent chafing rather than something to use on the trail. Most of the creams just aren’t designed to be used on the go. The only exception would be BodyGlides Chamois Stick(On Amazon), which is basically like a deodorant stick.
Not All Chamois Creams are The Same
Make sure you read reviews before buying chamois cream. Not all forms of Chamois Cream have the same ingredients. These are a few of my favorite chamois creams.
- Anti-Inflammatory Anti-Bacterial: Assos Chamois Cream(On Amazon)
- Menthol and Witch Hazel: Chamois Butt’r(On Amazon)
- Vegan Option: Button Hole(On Amazon)
- Natural Option: Gooch Guard(On Amazon)
- Deodorant Stick: BodyGlide Chamois Stick(On Amazon)
It really doesn’t matter which of these 3 creams you choose. Just pick whichever one is cheapest, because they all work the same way.
Benefits of Chamois Cream For Hiking
|Chamois Cream Benefits|
|1. Eliminates Friction: Chamois cream works as a lubricant forming a protective layer on your skin. It reduces friction caused by skin on skin and skin on gear contact.|
|2. Reduces Risk of Infection: Most creams have anti-bacterial properties that will help prevent infection caused by bacteria.|
|3. Anti-Fungal: Have you ever had jock itch? Trust me, it feels terrible.|
|4. Anti-Inflammatory: Most creams have anti-inflammatory properties that heal most minor aches and pains.|
|5. Heals a Rash: It doesn’t matter what caused the rash chamois cream will reduce inflammation.|
|6. Easy to Wash: Unlike zinc oxide, chamois cream is easy to wash. It cleans up easily with soap/water so you don’t have to worry about staining your clothes and fingers.|
How Hikers and Backpackers Should Use Chamois Cream
I will never completely ditch Zinc Oxide creams. Products like Desitin(On Amazon) are just way too effective at reducing chafing on hikes. That being said, chamois cream has its place in my pre-hike regimen.
Where Can You Use Chamois Cream?
Apply chamois cream anywhere you have chaffing and sweating. The most common areas are inner thigh, butt cheeks, crotch, underarms, chest and underboobs.
Make sure you cover any areas that could possibly rub. That could mean rubbing against skin or rubbing against backpacking gear. Rub it across your shoulders, chest, neck, and anywhere else your pack touches your body.
It Can Be Applied Directly to Clothes
Since chamois cream won’t stain it can be applied directly to clothing and gear. You can apply cream directly to your underwear instead of rubbing it on your skin. Before heading out on the trail I always rub a little bit on the top of my pack where it rubs against my neck.
How to Apply Pre-Hike(It’s Easy)
- Apply the cream to your skin/clothes before you head out. Use a liberal amount of cream anywhere you have skin/skin and skin/gear contact.
- Use a quarter-sized glob of cream and apply liberally. More cream is almost always better(up to a point).
- Rub it liberally all over your body and on your underwear. I also rub it anywhere my skin comes in contact with my pack. It’s great on my shoulders and back of my neck where my pack occasionally rubs when there’s too much weight.
- Reapply every couple hours or as needed. It’s kind of a pain to apply the cream on the trail. You’re better off using one of those body glide sticks that look like deodorant(On Amazon).
- At the end of the day wash off your clothes with soap/water or just toss them in the laundry. Unlike with zinc oxide based creams you don’t worry about chamois cream staining your clothes.
Picking a Chamois Cream
Natural vs Oil and Petroleum Based Creams
Most of the popular creams on the market are either petroleum-based or oil-based. Personally, I prefer the petroleum-based creams because they tend to be better all-around lubricants. Petroleum tends to stick to your skin while oil-based products wear off.
There’s also natural and vegan products on the market that don’t have parebens, petroleum and other common allergens. Gooch Guard(on Amazon) is probably the most popular natural chamois cream on the market.
Tub/Tube vs Stick
Almost every product on the market comes as a small tub of cream that you can apply with your fingers. Just scoop some out and rub it all over your body. Make sure you wash your hands before/after application so you don’t contaminate the container. Other companies put the cream in a tube(like Neosporin) so it’s a little more sanitary.
BodyGlide’s Chamois Cream(On Amazon) comes in an easy to use deodorant stick. It’s so much easier to carry in your pack and apply on the trail. Plus you don’t have to rub your hand all over your sweaty thighs and butt.
Women’s Creams Lack Fragrance
There’s one major difference between men’s and women’s chamois creams. Men’s cream tends to have menthol/mint which gives you that tingling sensation. It kind feels like the cold version of Bengay.
Obviously, that’s not gonna work in sensitive female areas. Women should definitely opt for unisex creams or ones designed specifically for women. Female chamois creams also have special ingredients to help prevent UTI’s on the trail.