Anecdotal evidence suggests that it’s reasonably common for bushwalkers to engage in skinny-dipping, upon encountering an inviting swimming hole. Why not take it to the next level and try “free-hiking”?

I’ve been going nude in nature since about age 13. I can recall being nude by myself many times out in the Blue Mountains, hiking nude up creeks, and exploring the many swimming holes. I suppose I was a bit of a loner, but that’s what I preferred. I could go anywhere and do what I wanted.

Some people may cringe at the thought of going nude outside of the bathroom, let alone in the great outdoors. So what’s the attraction? To be totally honest, I have trouble describing it myself. I’ve been doing it so long that I kind of take it for granted, and feel weird if I bushwalk clothed.

My wife summed it up nicely when I took her for her first nude walk. “This feels amazing… I can understand why you rave so much about being nude in the outdoors, the feeling of the breeze and sunlight all over your body just feels so nice”

My wife and I seldom get much time to go nude together in the great outdoors, but we have managed to have a nude Christmas Day picnic beside a remote waterfall, as well as go skinny-dipping in a few streams.

It can be a lot more comfortable than walking clothed. You perspire less, which means you don’t get as smelly, and therefore attract fewer flies.

Nude bushwalking - Michael Connolly

Don’t get me wrong, it has its drawbacks. For example, when trekking through thick scrub, you may get lacerated by spiky undergrowth (“ouch!”), but with some common sense and prudent choice of hiking trails, you can avoid collateral damage.

When I go nude hiking, I travel very light and only wear a bum bag, but I tuck some light, bike-pants-type shorts into the waistband near the front. These can be quickly flung in front of my genitals for protection in the event of spiky undergrowth or clothed homo-sapiens (“textiles” in the Naturist parlance).

This brings me to the question of etiquette when out nude hiking… Upon encountering clothed walkers, do you dive into the bush while trying to rapidly put your pants on? Do you run away, hoping you were not seen? Do you proudly saunter past the clothed walkers with your head held high and your genitalia proudly on display?

I have had several instances where I have been seen nude in the bush, and reactions have ranged from the curious to the too shocked for words.

An example of the former was a time when a mixed-gender group of elderly bushwalkers suddenly appeared on the trail before me, and I only just had time to sling my shoulder satchel in front of me as we squeezed past each other. I heard some low whispers and giggles, and when I glanced back at them, I noticed that the last lady in the group was craning her head to catch a glimpse of my bum.

Another time, I encountered a man who was walking his dog ahead. Without time to cover up before passing him, I said “sorry mate” and covered my genitalia with my hand. He didn’t even react but had a look on his face as if he’d seen a ghost.

Nude bushwalking - Michael enjoys a skinnydip

I am a firm believer that if you act like you are doing something wrong, people will think that’s what you are doing. I always make sure that I only get nude when there is the smallest possibility of encountering other people, so I go to remote places mid-week when there are no school or public holidays.

For the newbie free-hiker with whitish skin, who burns easily (like my wife), I strongly suggest liberal application of sunscreen. Forgetting to apply sunscreen can result in being badly burnt in the most undesirable of places.

I am mostly a solo nude bushwalker, but there are groups who nude bushwalk together semi-regularly. Fat Canyoners is a group of (mostly) University students. As their name implies, they aren’t super-athletes, but they love to get out into canyons in the bush and, along the way, they also get nude whenever possible. In fact, they have produced a nude calendar to help fund the purchase of hiking equipment for the club. There are also a couple of Yahoo and Google Groups dedicated to the discussion of nude bushwalking, and to organising nude bushwalking activities.

So there you have it, my take on nude bushwalking… it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s definitely not the domain of perverts. So if one day you happen upon a nude bushwalker, please don’t be offended. Just say hi and carry on, because although it may not be for you, hopefully, you now can comprehend what drives the free-hiker to go nude in the bush.

Have you ever hiked in the nude? What do you think about others who do? If you have anything to say, please let us know by commenting below.