Being A River: Women Who Hike Naked & Why They Do It

Warning: this post talks about nudity, yes! If you are offended by female bodies, worried your parents might disapprove of you reading this, misogynist or simply a wanker, feel free to leave my site right now. I don´t think this post is offensive or unfit for young readers (there are no exposed butts in it anyway), but I am quite open-minded, so you (or your government) might feel differently. Ready Freddy? Let´s dive right in.

Nudity is a double edged sword; everybody seems to discuss what women are supposed to wear and how much they should (be allowed to) cover themselves up. You read that right; even in 2017, there are still people in “developed” countries who would like to dictate women what they can (not) wear.

While there are places where it gets dangerous if you show “too much”, elsewhere you are going to receive frowns and bullying in case you dare to cover yourself, be it for religious or personal reasons.

But this article is not meant to be political or sexual in its core; what I want to talk about is how nakedness makes women happy.

I have talked to several women who love naking (compression of naked and hiking) and I have become more open about my own body and nudity in recent years. Let me share what I found out.

If you want, you can even take off your clothes while reading, I don´t mind. No need to send me a photo to prove it.

What is naking?

Naking is a short form of naked hiking. It is really that straight forward – naking refers to people (men, women, couples, groups…) who enjoy going on hikes naked. Some of them do all of the hike undressed, others just take off their clothes on the top of the hill, let the sweat dry and freely enjoy the view.

In this article, I focus on female naked hikers: not because there are no men doing it, but because I want to stress the freedom we as women strive to achieve. The women I contacted to put together this article come from different continents and cultures, but they all share something: they love the nature and they love to freely connect with it, partially or completely naked.

Naking is more about comfortable than sexy in my point of view; it is, as I understand it, about being in tune with yourself and with your surroundings at the same time. It is about freedom, unrestrained by people and buildings. It is about being as you are and remembering that this is what your body feels like. Naking is not about showing, but rather about feeling.

Being naked in the nature is a unique experience and I encourage you to try it before you discard nudism and naking as something creepy and inappropriate.

Read more: Why I don´t love traveling alone

Naking means naked hiking. I have interviewed several women who hike naked and am happy to share their opinions and experiences with being naked in the nature with you. This post doesn´t treat nudity as something sexual, but tries to promote body positivity. Read about women who hike naked and their reasons why on my blog!
Photo credit: Claire / Forever Chasing Wanderlust

Nakedness is natural

When was the last time you were nude?

This is a very easy question: of course, you undressed to take a shower, you were naked for a couple of minutes when changing clothes, you have spent a good deal of time in the arms of your lover too – and you probably weren´t wearing your pajamas.

“This idea is not wild or crazy, we were all born naked and we will die naked. Our society puts so much emphasis on treating nakedness as a sexual thing, when in fact, it’s completely natural! To me being naked is just being as God made me. It makes me feel free and happy, “ says Sarah, one of the women I interviewed for this article.

She continues: “To me it’s very innocent, it makes me feel like a little kid. I feel like I am part of nature, all masks fall down, and it’s just me, as I am, my naked body connecting with the elements. It’s also pretty thrilling, as if I’m on an adventure.”

Daily we wear clothes as our second skin. We dress to impress (said somebody on Instagram), to flirt, to get that job, to hide our fat butt, to have respect, or at least in order not to freeze. Sometimes we (un)dress to make a social or political statement.

Many of us put a lot of thought to what we are wearing and where, watch how the fabrics and colors change our appearance, we hope they make us glow. Our favorite clothes are a little piece of our comfort zone we can carry everywhere.

Maybe that is why it is so difficult to part with them – to be naked and to stay naked.

Read more: No, you really cannot travel for “free”, so sorry. Here is why.

Why do women like naking?

It is the comfort, the freedom and the relaxed feeling after physical exercise. Women I talked to don´t nake because they are exhibicionist – quite the opposite, usually they describe themselves as shy and some would never even go to a nudist beach. Read what they shared with me:

Alishia, Kenya

Alishia is a 32 years old woman from Kenya who works in fashion and design. Her first experience with naking was in Alesund, Norway.

“It’s really fun because most of the time you find there is no one at all or very few people on top of the mountain,” she tells me.

“At least it makes you relax and feel comfortable without feeling shy. I can go with friends or alone to have some me-time. I usually prefer to undress while on the peak of the mountain because when you get on top you just wanna be “freestyle” – I mean, you just want to lie down and relax and breath the fresh air while naked. The feeling is amazing.”

While the repercussions of even wearing trousers deemed too tight in Kenya can be public stripping by random men, the local women rally and protest against this culture more and more, like in the My Dress, My Choice protests.  Alishia told me she would never recommend hiking naked in Kenya – the risk is simply too high. She has done it in France and Norway, the latter being her favorite. “I think I feel much better when I hike in Norway. I don’t have a proper answer but I can say Norway makes me feel better.”

Does she recommend trying naking out? “It’s a personal choice. It’s not that I get any benefits out of it. I just love doing it just like that but there is no harm in trying.”

Read more: Hiking the Lycian way in Turkey

Claire, Australia

Claire is the author behind the Forever Chasing Wanderlust travel blog. She started naking last year in Australia and France. However, she shared with me she plans to continue in Patagonia, South Africa and Brazil which she is about to visit.

At first, her words surprise me:

“I used to really hate being naked. Well, I still do, really. I always think I need to be prettier or skinnier. But this year I have turned a corner and started to just appreciate being me! I’m never naked at home, but when I’m outside and it’s so pretty… why not! I have never been to a nudist beach though – shock, I know…

After sweating up the mountain nothing feels better than standing there naked enjoying the view! It’s so freeing, because when are you naked outside? Never! For me, if there is no one around, clothes are coming off. I haven´t met anyone yet, but I assume it will happen eventually!”

Claire has always been accompanied by her husband so far:

“First time this occurred to me was back home in Australia. There is never anyone around so I said to my husband – when we get to the end of a hike we should just get naked, sit around and enjoy nature. He’s like sure, why not. Then I was telling my Norwegian friend about this and he’s like: Oh yeah, it’s called Naking and very popular in Norway.

Anyway, so I looked it up and I was like wow, yeah, it’s totally a thing. People do full hikes naked. For me I prefer just to be naked at the top of a mountain or in a certain area. If I ever go to Norway again I would totally do it with my friend and his mates! They are always naked somewhere, “ she laughs.

Some places are more relaxed about nudity than others, Australia being at the liberal end: there is even an Instagram account called Get Naked Australia, as Claire mentioned to me. She is careful about where to hike naked though:

“I will only undress if there is nobody around…not everyone is as free and easy about it! And I don’t want to get arrested. In Australia I wouldn’t care at all…no one would really say anything. You might get a look but most people would be supportive. I didn’t do it in the US because there were too many people on the trails and I’m sure someone would be “offended”. I really admire people who can really be naked anywhere and give 0 fucks what anyone thinks! You always think someone is looking at you, thinking, ugh, she is fat, or her boobs are weird, or her stomach is not flat. But most of the time no one really cares. Naking is just fun and something to do… the only problem is the weather! I wanted to do it in Canada but it was snowing and so cold I couldn’t bring myself to take layers off.”

Naking means naked hiking. I have interviewed several women who hike naked and am happy to share their opinions and experiences with being naked in the nature with you. This post doesn´t treat nudity as something sexual, but tries to promote body positivity. Read about women who hike naked and their reasons why on my blog!
Photo credit: Claire / Forever Chasing Wanderlust

Read more: What if I die in a foreign land?

Sarah, Morocco / Canada

Sarah has naked in several countries, but starts off telling me nudity is not something easily accepted within her culture:

“I am Moroccan and Canadian and nudism is 100% taboo in both cultures, especially in Morocco where Islam is the main religion and women are to adhere to a very strict and modest dress code. It is not something that is acceptable at all and I would never be able to tell my family about this activity. I’ve naked mostly in Honduras, but also in Colombia, Brazil, Canada and the U.S.”

Same as other women I talked to, she is not keen on being seen:

“I always avoid it if there’s a chance we’ll meet normal people on the way. I’m not trying to exhibit myself or show my body to strangers, I’m shy when it comes to that, so I avoid it if I’m in a very public and frequented place. I don’t feel like having people seeing me naking or judging.

Thank God, that has never happened or it might have been awkward, but last time, as I was hiking the waterfalls few hours out of Tegucigalpa, it came close. I had time to put my clothes back on before we were met in the forest by about 20 army guards in full uniforms and rifles advising us to turn back because it was getting dark. I don’t even want to imagine the scene if they had found me naking.”

I ask Sarah how she first started:

“My first time was just spontaneous, I was alone with my boyfriend at the time and I was in such a happy state. No one was around, the sun was shining hard, we were surrounded by waterfalls and I just felt constrained by clothing so I decided to be one with nature and strip off! So far I’ve only done it with my ex-boyfriend because we had a connection and came from a place of non-judgment. When I hike with other friends, I keep my clothes on. But I often frequent nude beaches and it is something that is an integral part of my life and has been for the last 2 years.”

Would she recommend other women to try?

“Of course! It’s liberating! We tend to be so self-conscious about our bodies (or at least I am), but you don’t see trees saying “I wish my leaves were bigger” or a river saying “I wish I was thinner.”… when I do it, I become part of nature which means I am perfect as I am, cellulite and all. I’m part of this world.”

Her favorite place for naking might surprise you: “Honduras is definitely a place people don’t visit (usually because of safety reasons) but there are gorgeous forests outside of Tegucigalpa. That’s the most beautiful place I’ve visited. I would just say avoid it if you know you’re in a zone full of mosquitoes!”

Read more: How To Prepare Turkish Coffee (And Avoid Getting Married)

Naking means naked hiking. I have interviewed several women who hike naked and am happy to share their opinions and experiences with being naked in the nature with you. This post doesn´t treat nudity as something sexual, but tries to promote body positivity. Read about women who hike naked and their reasons why on my blog!
Photo credit: Sarah

Forget about the looks and think of the feels.

Your body is part of who you are but nothing you wear can become part of you – that´s why you should strive to make peace with the body and get to know it better. Your body is not “it” but rather you – you feel, you love, you enjoy, or you feel restrained. You don´t need to treat your body as an object.

Speaking with women who hike naked made me realize how close we are: no matter from which culture they came, I felt our experience and feelings are similar. We love being natural without our bodies being sexualized 100% of the time; we long for relaxing without social constraints; we also feel others might not approve of our life choices, but we decide to move on with our lives anyway.

Perhaps getting naked in the middle of the woods or on top of a mountain is not for everyone, but I have started to do it more often recently. I feel happy and I feel love when I do – not only love for being free, but also for my body that, as a river, does not wish to be skinnier or taller, but certainly longs to be accepted and taken care of.

Have you tried getting naked in the nature? Did this article inspire you to do so? Do you have problems with loving your body? What is the best way to relax and be free for you? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Update 5th of July 2017: The full interview with a naked hiker I kept promising you is finally published! Read it here:

Women, nudity and wilderness: Interview with a naked hiker

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Naking means naked hiking. I have interviewed several women who hike naked and am happy to share their opinions and experiences with being naked in the nature with you. This post doesn´t treat nudity as something sexual, but tries to promote body positivity. Read about women who hike naked and their reasons why on my blog!
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Naking means naked hiking. I have interviewed several women who hike naked and am happy to share their opinions and experiences with being naked in the nature with you. This post doesn´t treat nudity as something sexual, but tries to promote body positivity. Read about women who hike naked and their reasons why on my blog!

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Stray story seeker. Hungry hitchhiker. Wannabe polyglot. Aspiring travel writer. Currently bumming around in Turkey.
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58 Comments

  1. Karin, bravo! One of your best pieces out there! I hope this picks of lots of traction and goes viral, because the world needs to be ok with this! I frequently will take my top off at the top of mountains and it is quite liberating! I also had a friend who posts a photo of her bare , shirtless back, with shorts on, while at the top of a mountain and it was reported on facebook 7 times…. I was like people, it’s just a little back! GET OVER IT, it’s time to normalize it.

  2. What a great post!! I love that you talked to so many different women about naking as well, it put a smile on my face to read all of these women’s liberating experiences. Love it, thanks for this awesome and unique post 🙂

  3. When I started reading I thought: I could never hike naked! I cannot even walk in a skirt because of my thights rubbing against each other, let alone be moving and taking my bra off! I actually recently allowed myself to spend some more money on cloths that are more comfortable and easy breathing when hiking.
    But as I read further, I read that most woman do it when they reach a point (and stand still). This I get. In nature there no mirrors (maybe the water) so you see the world and yourself the same way with or without clothes. I think I would be too scared to meet anyone but I do get the feeling of completely being free! Excellent post and I’m sure some people might be inspired now it has a name and all!

    • Thanks for reading and I totally get your point: I am not particularly attracted to hiking with my breasts flying in all directions either! But I love being naked in natural places. Maybe some people won´t be so shocked when they meet somebody naked in the woods next time 😉

  4. Oh My! I love this article! and it would have been so liberating to try naking. Unfortunately I live in the Philippines where people even wear rashguards for swimming. But I might have to convince some friends if ever we get to hike some remote places 🙂

  5. Lia

    I love this! I’m sure it’s quite rare in the USA (we’re such freaking prudes) but I’ve definitely heard of thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail celebrating Hike Naked day. I’m not sure I’d ever participate (that deeply ingrained American prudishness, and all) but I totally dig the idea of other rad ladies doing it!

    • Thanks for reading! I have to find out more about that Hike Naked day! Haha, we are a bit prude too, but I started going to nudist spots and became a bit more relaxed. I even wore no bra last year in Italy by the lake and felt very good because nobody was staring at my breasts.

  6. Meg

    Hey, if you’re in nature do what you feel! As long as it isn’t disruptive to the environment, or harming anyone one or thing in some way. If you’re so overjoyed, hot, sweaty, whatever and you wanna let it all hang out, more power to you. I typically don’t document it, but I’ve been dirty and naked in nature PLENTY. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a good skinny dip?

  7. Iva

    The first time I went backpacking, I was in for a shock cause our friends just went naked. I was not expecting that but I was really impressed with how free they were, and how they did not really care. Although it’s more skinny dipping and then drying out, more than anything. Personally, I do not think I can do it. I don’t have that much confidence, and I also get cold easily too hehe 🙂 But salute to all who are bold enough!

  8. Alaska

    Interesting post! I’ve come across this a couple times before, and I’ve seen some posts of people rock-climbing naked! It’s really cool; I admire such people. 🙂 I’ve been to the beach naked before, and maybe would go naking in a remote area (probably only at the top though). Thanks for sharing this post! I’m sharing this on Facebook!

  9. Ok, as much as I love it that people can do it, I would never do it. haha I love hiking with clothes on. Ideally…full outfit too. Totally appreciate it that some people do it, but it’s not my thing. There, i said it 😛
    It would also seriously weird me out if I would encounter a naked person on my way to the top of the mountain…

  10. andrew

    Are you really serious? If i am hiking in the wild and suddenly come across a naked woman with hot thighs and nice boobs hanging, obviously my dick will get excited and get hard

    The next biological need would be to satisfy myself and it will mean that i will start getting attracted and beg for sex.
    Please dont do this-many men will aroused and it can be a danger to yourself for the men who cant control their urges.Better safe than sorry in the woods

    • Yes, I am dead cold serious. You have to learn to control yourself. Our bodies are not there for you to get sexual enjoyment whenever you please and without consent. We have bodies to carry us around and do plenty of useful stuff, not just for men to look at us and get excited. If I see a man who excites me, I am not going to jump on him and beg him for sex – and you shouldn´t either. It is an awful, disrespectful behavior and sexist thinking. If you want women (your mother, sister, girlfriend etc.) safe, start by yourself. Challenge the sexism in our society. Educate your sons towards respect. Besides, women get raped daily no matter if they wear a short skirt or a burka and most of the time, statistically speaking, the crime is committed by a person they already know.
      You can also try going to a nudist beach – I assure you that it is not common to see people staring at other naked people.

      • Rob (Nytro)

        Great reply Karin! What a woman is or isn’t wearing, doesn’t equal a sexual response from ANYONE! Nudity does not equal sex, period!

        I am a nudist, and feel that we should respect everyone’s right to “bare arms” and legs, and the rest of their body, as they see fit!

        • Thank you, Rob! I believe we should respect other people´s choices – be it to cover or bare themselves. Your body, your choice! It is silly to guilt the “nature” for a response to a naked body because being naked is absolutely more natural than being dressed. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Hi, Karin! Thanks for the great article! I love the term naking — who knew! I’ve been a naturist, someone who enjoys clothing-optional recreation, for 20 years and have been hiking naked as part of that recreation. My husband and I go naking as often as practicable (weather dependent, of course) and enjoy the comfort and freedom it provides. We have encountered many other (traditional) hikers during our adventures and our naking has not been a “big deal” to the people we’ve encountered.

    Thanks for bringing naking to the mainstream. I hope to see more women enjoying body freedom on the trails!

    • Hello Tracy, I´m glad to hear from you! It´s awesome to know that there are more people out there who have a free mindset and positive attitude towards the nudity and their body:-) Thanks for reading and happy hiking!

    • I’m happy to see that Tracy Horgan has found this page before I did! We know each other through the Naturist Society, which you can look up. Some of us have set up a nude hiking group, based in New England (not affiliated with the Naturist Society, but most of us are members, and we’ve written about it in the society’s magazine) and we do several trips a year–this year’s theme was “Hunting waterfalls in the Catskills”. Three of us got home from that trip and headed off to Austria, where we hiked nude for a week with the Naked European Walking Tour, which is also online if you do a quick search. Climbing up to 1500m a day, bare for every step! Just try keeping up with those French ladies.

      Regarding the posting made by one of my fellow males a while ago, I apologize. We’re in it for the nude hiking and fellowship, not to harass women. We haven’t had to deal with any misbehavior and I hope it’s never an issue.

      • Hello John, nice to hear from you! It’s great to hear that there are so many events connecting nudist people, I didn’t know! Seems like you have a nice group of friends there 🙂 As for the other comment, no need to apologize for somebody else’s stupidity. I love to hear from people supporting equality and am really happy to receive your reaction 🙂 Wish you happy hiking for the rest of the summer!

  12. Nice post. While I’ve heard of the term “Freehiking”, I hadn’t come across “naking”. But they pretty much mean the same thing — hiking nude. I think I like “naking” better!

    Your post hit on the key point — being nude in nature isn’t about being seen, sex, exhibitionism, or how you look. It’s all about how you feel. As a naturist, that can be a difficult point to convey.

    I also appreciated the message for women. For….well, pretty much forever, women have had so much dictated to them by men — what looks good, what’s appropriate, what constitutes beauty…. The idea of a woman choosing to go naking, for herself…perfect!

    Thanks for the post

    • I haven´t heard freehiking but I like both terms 🙂 I am sincerely happy to get such a good response to this article as I expected rather a backlash from sexist people! Comments like yours restore my faith in humanity.

  13. Rain City

    What a great story. Thank you. The interesting part about naking, if your male and are on a public trail and nude by yourself…it creeps people out. If you are 2 males…it creeps people out, but if you are 1 or more guys with 1 or more women…no problems..like its accepted.
    Recently, on a hike up in Thunder Bay, I was hiking with a group of 8, 5 guys and 3 women. While we started out clothed, we stripped down after about 15 minutes. About 2 hours into our hike, during a break, A young couple and their female friend came to the same spot we were relaxing and snacking. They were a little frustrated as they were following hiking trail advice from Trip advisor and were not having fun or seeing good sights. As a few of us had hiked in and around Kakabeka Falls before, we welcomed them to join us. After about 30 minutes, the male stripped naked, and the two females went topless. Eventually, they joined in the fun and hiked the rest of the day as we all were. After a cool dip in the falls pools, we parted ways and they continued on….naking!
    Unfortunately, it’s hard to find others who enjoy naking as much as I do in and around Northern IL and Southern WI.
    RC

  14. I’m very much into naking myself. As a usually solo man, I understand what you mean by single men being perceived as creepy. I target lesser used trails and try to make sure nobody is ahead of me. Doesn’t always work. Technically not illegal in the National Forest. County law isn’t being applied on federal land and CA has no anti-nudity law.

  15. I must confess that I clearly live under a rock, as I had no idea “naking” was actually a thing!! But… I have to say, I’m so jealous of the women in this article who are brave enough to do it. It’s really inspiring to think that they’re so comfortable in their bodies. Although I still think I’m too shy to try it myself… maybe when I’m 60 and wanting to feel “young” again? 😉

  16. Awesome!

    I really don’t like being naked (I only shower naked under sufferance!), but I can definitely see why people would hike naked – the liberating feeling, the desire to be closer to nature … I think it’s pretty cool! In a way, it’s no real difference to why I’ll often hike barefoot, just … going that one step further.

    I’d be mostly wary of the weather, to be honest. It gets pretty chilly on the tops of hills, even in the UK, with wind especially!

    🙂

    • Oh, I have no intention of ever naking in cold weather! I hope it is clear from my article that one should do what is the most comfortable option for them. I wouldn’t want to sound like I want to impose naking on anyone!

      • John P

        I think you may have misunderstood the term “naking”, unless it really has changed its meaning. It originated in Norway, where someone had the idea of a stunt involving stripping naked on a mountaintop and striking a dramatic pose, but it didn’t mean they hiked up to the top that way. Here’s a video from 2012, actually a series of still images, which illustrates it. Notice how they’re always shown at the top, never on the way there!
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lFiYT4VihQ

        There’s some history of naturist hikers calling their sport “freehiking”. But mostly it’s just “nude hiking”.

        • Thank you for your insight! All the women I have talked to referred to their naked hiking as naking and it is true that I used the term rather freely. On the other hand, they all do take naked photos on the top so I don’t think it is technically incorrect. I wasn’t aware of the term freehiking before, but I believe I have used nude or naked hiking throughout the article as well if you’ve noticed. Thanks for the link, I’m sure several readers will find it interesting!

  17. I’ve been naking for decades. My girlfriend and I have been at it together for a decade, now. We have a website/blog that we’re inviting you to explore called TheFreeRangeNaturist.org. Most of our adventures are in Arizona so photography of the natural beauty is a component. There are 140 articles, mostly nude hiking stories, with how to’s. Stop by and tell us what you think.
    We are a bit body freedom crusaders, so we dearly appreciate what you are presenting here. Thank-you

  18. I just love the idea of being “up front” about it. As a guy, I have to be a lot more careful. Meeting a nude woman on the trail may be a cause for embarrassment for some – but a nude male on the trail may be regarded as a threat and a pervert. Still, I persevere but only on the more remote trails or in areas known to be accepting of nudity.

    Some guys need to grow up and stop acting like hormone-addled 12-year-olds.

  19. According to the Urban Dictionary, “naking” refers to baking cookies naked. This definition may go back many decades as I seem to remember reading a letter to Ann Landers about it as a child. (With my proclivities, it is the kind of thing that would stick in my mind.)

    More recently it refers to any kind of creative endeavor done naked. So it has gone from naking = “naked combined with baking” to naking = “naked combined with any kind of do-ing”. It would only seem natural for naking to apply to hiking naked as well posing naked.

  20. Mike Klose

    My wife and I work for ClothesFree.com. Your article made me think of this story we ran.

    BTW there’s no such thing as a perfect body. All that stops you is between the ears!

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