Your period can be an uncomfortable experience and the thought of dealing with it while hiking and backpacking can keep even the most adventurous girl off the trail. With a few tips though, dealing with your period while on a backpacking or camping trip isn't any different from dealing with it at work or school. In fact, according to WebMD, exercise and hiking can actually help reduce the pain and discomfort of cramps.
I was on my period during my first backpacking trip. We hiked into Lunch Lake in Olympic National Park where black bears are a common sight. I was terrified that I would attract hungry bears from all over the park but my boyfriend assured me I had nothing to worry about. He insisted that it was a myth that bears are attracted to women on their period. Luckily, he was right and when we did encounter a bear a few hundred yards off the trail, it showed no interest in eating me.
More Info: Yellowstone National Park's Bear Safety Tips
When backpacking and hiking opt for tampons over pads. Tampons are more comfortable and less messy, ensuring you have a great day on the trail. Look for a tampon that is unscented because although your period might not attract bears, scented products can. If you want to reduce how much waste you pack out you can also opt for a tampon without a plastic applicator. And for the ultra-light backpacking Ladies who want to minimize every ounce in their pack, consider a reusable menstrual cup.
If the weather is warm, nothing beats jumping in a mountain lake and washing away the sweat and grime accumulated from a day of hiking. However, when that isn't an option unscented wipes are a woman's best friend. Whoever said it was diamonds obviously wasn't outdoorsy! Keep unscented wipes and hand sanitizer in your toiletry kit so you can easily clean up as needed.
You know your body, if you usually take a pain reliever or other supplements to help with discomfort and cramps, a backpacking trip isn't the time to go without. Most first aid kits contain some form of pain killer, but you should add your favorite option to your kit as a backup.
Anytime you hit the trail you should be doing your best to leave no trace. When dealing with your period that means packing out tampons (paper products should never be buried). The easiest way to do this is to place them in doubled ziplock bags. This will ensure there are no leaks or odors escaping. For added privacy give the inner bag a quick coat of spray paint, so if you need to pull everything out of your pack, no one will see the contents.
More Info: The Principles of Leave No Trace
Sara is a Seattle native and enjoys hiking and exploring in her Westfalia Van with her dog Wally.
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