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
The 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
If 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
It’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.
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 your 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
One 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 the 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.