How to hike and camp while on your period

How to hike and camp while on your period 1

By Krista Karlson

When my partner and I go for weekend trips, we pack like this: throw everything we might need in a pile on the living room floor, transfer the pile to the back of the car, and start driving north.

Last week, as Friday approached, I knew I’d be adding one more thing to the pile: tampons.

Having your period can be rough. If you’ve already got cramps, low energy, and high flow, spending your weekend outside without access to a bathroom can seem daunting and miserable. But with the right preparation, your period doesn’t have to derail your adventures. Use this guide to get out there and show your period who’s boss.

 

  1. Pack the essentials.

First, grab three Ziplock bags. The first one is for feminine products: pack a few more than you think you’ll need for the length of time you’ll be on the trail. (Click here for more information about menstrual cups.)  The second bag is for toilet paper: a small roll will help keep things tidy on the trail. The last bag is most important: this is for packing out all your waste, including used feminine products, wrappers, and toilet paper. If you want to be more discreet with your waste bag, wrap it in duct tape to make it transparent.

Next, pack a few anti-inflammatories like Aleve or Advil to keep you cramp-free and comfortable.

Make sure to pack one pair of underwear for each day. Changing into a clean pair when you get to camp will keep things smelling fresh.

Finally, be sure to pack hand sanitizer. Things can get messy, so it’s important to clean your hands afterwards.

 

  1. Plan a comfortable route.

You know your body, so if your period doesn’t usually inhibit daily activities, you might plan the same route that you would have sans period. But for some women, having their period can be debilitating, making it hard to even get out of bed. If you’re one of these people, don’t fret: plan a realistic route, and don’t worry if it’s not far.

How to hike and camp while on your period 2

 

  1. Practice makes perfect.

When you’re on the trail and you think it’s time to change your feminine product, here’s how:

Tell your hiking partners you’re taking a bathroom break. You don’t have to tell them you’re on your period; just take your backpack and find a spot 200 feet from the trail (and water sources) to set up shop.

If you’ll be using the bathroom in addition to changing your feminine product, be sure to dig a cathole 6″ deep for solid human waste.

Start by opening all your Ziplock bags and having them accessible. Remove the existing feminine product and place it in the waste bag. Tidy up your lady parts with toilet paper and put the used TP in the waste bag. Insert the fresh feminine product and place the wrapper in the waste bag. If you dug a cathole, fill it in and place a stick or rock on top so the next hiker knows to avoid that area. Seal all your bags, wash your hands with hand sanitizer, and head back to the trail feeling fresh and clean.

How to hike and camp while on your period 3

Most outhouses ask that you only use them for going #2, because liquid waste slows down the composting process. Outhouses are a great place to change feminine products as long as you refrain from going #1 and pack out all your waste. Never throw used feminine products or wrappers in the toilet; trail crews have to dig through the sludge and pick them out by hand.

Hiking and camping while on your period is not only doable, but easy once you get the hang of it. Give yourself time to practice and be gentle with yourself if the first few times are awkward or frustrating. Pretty soon you’ll be an old pro.

 

About the author:

How to hike and camp while on your period 4

Krista Karlson is a freelance writer and curiosity follower based in Connecticut. Her latest adventures involve learning to camp with a dog.  She is a contributor at Peak Explorations/Brown Gal Trekker.

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38 thoughts on “How to hike and camp while on your period

  • February 27, 2018 at 7:27 pm
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    I love this blog! Good tips on a topic I probably wouldn’t think about if I was going camping lol. These are good tips for traveling on your period too

    Reply
  • February 27, 2018 at 4:48 pm
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    So great that I found this! It’s not often people want to talk about this subject but it is really helpful to have something like this written in such a helpful and straight-forward way. Thank you.

    Reply
    • March 2, 2018 at 7:10 pm
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      Hi Liyin,

      Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad you found this article helpful, and I hope you’ll share with others who might also find it helpful!

      Happy trails,

      Krista

      Reply
  • February 26, 2018 at 6:00 pm
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    Great, great tips. As we all know, having a period can be sometimes irritable, really irritable. Gonna share this post to my younger siblings.

    Reply
  • February 26, 2018 at 3:35 pm
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    Hi Nicole, great travel site! I definitely think you fulfill an interesting niche on traveling. I contacted you via email, so I hope it finds you well! Thanks and keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • February 26, 2018 at 10:21 pm
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      Thank you so much for your kind comments Corrie. I received your email and have just responded. Great that you love the site and we look forward to continuing to share great content from proactive women like this one from Krista Karlson.

      Reply
  • February 26, 2018 at 2:41 pm
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    Just the initial idea of doing any kind of long-term outdoor activity on my period seems like a no go. But you really have created an efficient system and such a calm way of looking at it. I think I could do it with this attitude 🙂

    Reply
    • March 2, 2018 at 7:13 pm
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      Hi Christina,

      I think you could do it, too! For me, the key was starting small with a day hike or a single overnight to get the hang of my system. Good luck, and don’t give up if the first few times aren’t great.

      Happy trails,

      Krista

      Reply
  • February 26, 2018 at 12:13 pm
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    GREAT tips! I love this as it’s something I have worried about in the past! Your period really shouldn’t stop you doing anything should it?!

    Reply
  • February 26, 2018 at 12:43 am
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    Yay, finally someone is not afraid to blog about travelling and period at the same time. Your tips are very useful and I am sure young girls will find it useful. It`s so convenient sometimes to research online than to ask closest friends, mums or sisters.

    Reply
  • February 25, 2018 at 4:36 pm
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    Such great tips! Great tips!I think its smart to pack feminine products this way, have toilet paper and an extra ziplock bag with you even if you aren’t on your period when you leave! You never know when mother nature will decide its time lol.

    Reply
  • February 25, 2018 at 4:36 pm
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    Great tips that I could have used years ago. I’ll share with my daughter who just recently started her cycle.

    Reply
  • February 25, 2018 at 5:10 am
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    What a great blog post. You’d think you’d need to cancel plans if you get your period but you don’t have to. Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • February 25, 2018 at 3:44 am
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    Great tips, I really feel uncomfortable when I’m on my period. Especially, I need water to wash sometimes, worse case, wet tissue. Not sure if I can do these tips though, since I tried avoiding hiking and with period too. 🙂

    Reply
    • February 25, 2018 at 2:46 pm
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      Hi Laurence,
      You can add water to the kit I describe above, especially since you’ll be hiking with a water bottle anyway. I think short hikes are a great way to start!
      Happy trails,
      Krista

      Reply
  • February 25, 2018 at 3:37 am
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    Wow you’re a trooper, I would be a hot mess🤦🏽‍♀️

    Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 8:48 pm
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    I was on my period for a few days once while backpacking….I made it work but it wasn’t that much fun putting my used products in ziplock bags. I know some women swear by the Diva cup, so I may give that a try even though it grosses me out a bit.

    Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 7:15 pm
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    Great tips! I think packing your feminine products this way and having toilet paper and an extra ziplock bag can come in handy for any activity you may plan while on that time of the month!

    Reply
    • February 25, 2018 at 2:57 pm
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      Hi Angie,
      Very true! It can never hurt to be prepared, even if it’s a walk around the city.
      Happy trails,
      Krista

      Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 6:19 pm
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    I haven’t been hiking since college and your article made me get in that wild mood, there is nothing better than connecting with the nature ! also great tips thank you ! need to go camping and hiking this summer !

    Reply
    • February 25, 2018 at 3:00 pm
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      Hi Denni,
      I’m so glad you’re inspired to get outside. Nature is everywhere! Hope you have some wonderful adventures this summer!
      Happy trails,
      Krista

      Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 5:58 pm
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    Glad you’re not letting it stop you! Great tips! Nothing will hold you back from that hiking trip!

    Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 4:58 pm
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    planning a comfortable route is the best of all and this is what I do when I go hiking

    Reply
    • February 25, 2018 at 3:03 pm
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      Hi Puneet,
      I agree– a comfortable route makes all the difference, and gives you the flexibility to take care of your period as needed.
      Happy trails,
      Krista

      Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 4:50 pm
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    I have been lucky enough to never be on my period when i was hiking or doing that kind of activities. I had my period while on holiday at the beach and that was tricky too! great tips! xx corinne

    Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 4:39 pm
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    I absolutely hate doing things like this on my period. Without access to a real facility its hard to remain thoroughly clean. I think all your tips are really good though!

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    • February 25, 2018 at 3:07 pm
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      Hi Komal,
      I totally understand– it’s hard to remain completely clean in the wilderness. I think packing toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and water can help keep things clean enough to stay comfortable for a few days. I always recommend starting with day hikes and short trips while on your period before trying bigger hikes.
      Happy trails,
      Krista

      Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 10:52 am
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    I’ve been a hiking fan for years, and I am so very thankful I never have to worry about this. I have never considered what camping during that time would be like for a woman…can’t even imagine.

    Reply
    • February 25, 2018 at 3:12 pm
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      Hi EG III,
      Thanks for your comment. I think it’s valuable for men to know what women are dealing with on the trail, because it allows them to be supportive of their female friends/family and to help de-stigmatize periods. Thanks for engaging with this topic!
      Happy trails,
      Krista

      Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 12:28 am
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    I think these are great tips for women who plan to go camping while on their period. Aside from the essentials, a comfy route will definitely make things easier.

    Reply
  • February 23, 2018 at 11:20 pm
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    It’s tough to go on a trip when you’re on your period, which is why you need to make sure you have all the essentials. Love your tips on how to do this when camping!

    Reply
  • February 23, 2018 at 10:21 pm
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    I use menstrual cups, which are pretty awesome when it comes to outdoor activities. I highly recommend giving them a try. Plus there’s no use of disposables, no waste.

    Reply
    • February 25, 2018 at 3:16 pm
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      Hi Marysa,
      I’ve heard wonderful things about menstrual cups, and I don’t personally use one, but I’d like to give it a try. Thanks for giving me the nudge– I’m gong to do some more research about it!
      Happy trails,
      Krista

      Reply
    • February 25, 2018 at 3:21 pm
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      Hi Alyssa,
      I totally understand your apprehension! It can be daunting to go outside in the first place, let alone go outside with your period. I recommend starting with short hikes to get used to it, and then working your way up to longer trips. And if your period is causing too much pain or fatigue, there’s no shame in postponing the trip!
      Happy trails,
      Krista

      Reply
  • February 23, 2018 at 8:12 pm
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    I feel the same while on my period. I’d stay home if only I could. You’re right it might be a problem when you plan a trip. I love your tips. 🙂

    Reply
  • February 23, 2018 at 7:37 pm
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    Great tips, I’ll keep these in mind the next time I go hiking.

    Reply

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