Camping and Hiking on your Period

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By Oceana Setaysha

Don’t let your period slow you down!

If you’re an active, outdoorsy type, there’s nothing more annoying than trying to schedule your hiking and camping around your period. It always seems to arrive at the least opportune time, and nobody wants to miss out on their fix of outdoor adventures.

But who says you have to miss anything?

It’s actually totally possible to both camp and hike while you’re on your period, and there’s no reason to cancel or reschedule a trip just because you happen to be on ‘shark week’. Here are some simple tips for dealing with your period on an outdoors trip.

Choose An Appropriate Sanitary Option

Period 2The first thing you need to do is choose a sanitary option that is going to work for you. Now you pretty much have three choices: pads, tampons and menstrual cups. The one that you use is going to be dependent on your personal preference above all, but it’s also important to consider how long your trip is. When we’re thinking about tampons and pads they obviously create waste when they are changed that cannot be burned or buried so it needs to be carried with you, which might not be appropriate for a longer trip. On the other hand a menstrual cup is reusable and simply needs to be cleaned, but in wild areas with lots of animal activity you will need to bury your period blood away from your camp and at depth.

Bring Lots Of Unscented Wet Wipes

Period 3If you’re hiking and camping in an area where there isn’t a lot of water it makes sense to take unscented wet wipes. You want to be able to stay hygienic during your trip, and these are a great way to do this. Despite some wet wipe companies advertising that they are biodegradable, many are not and should not be disposed of outdoors. Unless you can find a reputable, natural material based wet wipe you will also need to carry that waste with you. Alternatively you could take a cloth that could be used to clean yourself at the end of the day, and then rinsed and dried for use again the next day.

Take Ziploc Bags For Waste

period 4It’s not pretty to think about but the pads, tampons and wet wipes that you’re taking with you need to be disposed of. In most places that don’t provide rubbish disposal along the trail or in camping spots, you’ll need to carry them yourself. Obviously these items will start to smell very quickly, so a smart idea would be to take a number of Ziploc bags. Small Ziploc bags are great for each item of waste (i.e. one tampon or pad) but you should also bring a larger bag to contain these smaller bags. Remember to pack the waste in tightly, and squeeze the air out, so that you aren’t loosing too much space.

Pack Carefully

When you need to carry extra items like pads, tampons and wet wipes you may need to sacrifice space in your pack, particularly for extended hikes. Take some time in your trip preparation to really think about what is going into you pack to make sure you aren’t overburdening yourself. Consider whether you can cut out some of the larger clothing items you’re bringing and wash overnight, or other space saving ideas. Remember that as well as the menstrual items, you’ll need to leave enough space for your waste bag which, on a longer trip, can get big very quickly.

Consider Your Privacy

period 5One thing that you might need to think about, particularly if you’re hiking with others, is your own privacy when hiking and camping on your period. Although there’s a lot to like about sleeping with nothing more than a mosquito fly or a hammock, you’ll be grateful for your own privacy if you’re on a trip during your period. Remember, you’ll want some space to organise your trash bag, clean yourself up, and change your sanitary items in peace.

Bring Extra Underpants

The one thing that you shouldn’t be worried about bringing too many of is underpants. If you happen to dirty your underpants you want to change them as quickly as possible to avoid smell, insect activity and infection. You may not end up using your spare underwear, but it’s still a great idea to have it and it’s absolutely worth packing even just for a shorter trip.

Extended Hiking Options

If you’re planning on taking an extended trip, and by extended we mean several months of hiking and camping, perhaps in the pursuit of one of the many stunning monster trails the world over, you may need to think beyond your monthly period. You can choose to go on birth control, which can be used to artificially avoid periods. Some birth control options like the pill can be a lot to carry, but others like the implant or injections, can be taken care of before you leave and will halt your period.

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14 thoughts on “Camping and Hiking on your Period

  • March 17, 2017 at 2:57 am
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    Thanks for the useful and honest post. Having your period certainly does put a lot of people off, but often it’s unnecessary to totally cancel trips!

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  • March 15, 2017 at 6:00 pm
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    Such a useful post about stuff that is seldom discussed. I often skip hikes during my periods…also cos I feel so drained out on the first couple of days. Its just so nice if camp sites have good washrooms…life gets easier. Thanks for the tips!

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  • March 14, 2017 at 11:25 pm
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    Thanks for touching on this ! It is not talked about that much and very helpful!

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  • March 14, 2017 at 2:06 pm
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    I’ve been fortunate because I take a monophasic birth control and skip the sugar pills. That said, I’ve talked to many women who are afraid to go on long trips for this precise reason. And there are myths around bears and scents. It’s a misunderstood conversation that needs to be talked about more and better understood. Thanks for opening up the dialogue!

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  • March 14, 2017 at 12:47 pm
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    well, thanks for sharing this. I have had many worst encounters before as well. but after reading your piece, I thought there are certainly few ways to make it better. Cheers

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  • March 14, 2017 at 12:18 pm
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    I have been so lucky to not have my period on any of my longer camping trips. These are very good tips though and some people might totally forget all these things when planning a trip! Thanks for the suggestions!

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  • March 14, 2017 at 7:15 am
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    I have camped while on my period, but fortunately it wasn’t necessarily completely in the woods without any garbage disposal. Great tips. It can be such a pain to try to hike or camp with your dreaded period. But definitely not something you should reschedule just because of it.

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  • March 14, 2017 at 2:56 am
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    I like to plan trips around my period or go the method of skipping with birth control because I’m pretty down for the count when I do have it. However, these are great tips and I will have to keep them in mind cause every once in awhile it is necessary to still go. I usually use a menstrual cup when traveling but it sounds like the safest option might be disposables since they will attract less wildlife. Good stuff to know!

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  • March 13, 2017 at 11:16 pm
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    This is great! Love that it’s honest and talks about everything

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  • March 13, 2017 at 10:12 am
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    Wow that is an interesting subject. I hike a lot and will definitely consider thise tips. Very useful each one of them

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  • March 12, 2017 at 8:05 pm
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    I consider anyone camping to be very brave, I can’t even imagine burying your period blood. I guess this type of life is not meant for everyone. I do have many friends who go camping though, I am sure they’ve needed this type of a resource once in their lifetime. 😉 Looking forward to reading your other posts.

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  • March 12, 2017 at 7:49 pm
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    I’m a sloth when I’m on my period. The most active thing I’ll probably ever do is to walk from my couch to the toilet. (Too much information lol). I have been seeing a lot of menstrual cups post recently, I’m not sure if I’d be comfortable with that but it does look interesting. :p

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  • March 12, 2017 at 1:20 pm
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    I’ve gotten very lucky in that all of my backpacking trips happened during non-period times. Of course now, thanks to ablation I don’t have to worry about it anymore.

    Reply

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