Let’s face it, ladies, when you’ve planned, packed, and begun preparing for the freedom of being outdoors, nothing is worse than having your dreams dashed by the invasion of that monthly visitor. How do you cope and get through your trip without your creature comforts helping you through the cramps, cravings, and mood swings? More importantly, how do you keep yourself clean while adhering to Leave No Trace (LNT) principles?

The first time our camping trip coincided with my period, I panicked a little. Thankfully, it came the day before we left so I was able to grab a handful of tampons on our way out the door. I survived the short 3-day trip, but as we all know the second day is the worst. Having to stop and change out tampons, panty liners, and pads while hiking is not fun, and it made pulling off the side to pee that much more complicated. I knew that I needed a receptacle to dispose of these things, as I’ve seen one too many dirty old tampons just sitting off the side of trails. Since we go out with our two fur children we always have a roll of poop bags with us, which double as convenient garbage bags. This is easy enough for a short trip, and it’s something I’m familiar enough with that I could maintain a state of relative cleanliness. This method does have its drawbacks though: Extra weight from lots of tampons and pads and having to carry around the garbage.

I spoke with my friend Anna (who will be on an upcoming podcast focused on Women on the Trail!) who experienced the same problem on her first big backpacking trip! We had a great conversation about this on our podcast, as well as some other female specific challenges to hiking, backpacking and camping. She was turned on to using a Diva cup, which she raved and raved about. It’s reusable, relatively clean, and you don’t need to change it out as often as you do tampons. Although her biggest tip with using these are to make sure that you practice before hand! It takes some practice for a smooth, pain-free insertion and extraction, and having it in takes some getting used to. Make sure to “practice” at home by walking around a bit with it in before setting out on a long backpacking trip! Apparently, they can chafe a bit if you’re not acclimated or if it’s not inserted just right.

At the end of the day, don’t let that pesky visitor ruin your trip or force you to alter your plans! Just make sure that you have a practiced routine before heading out, and if you do need to dispose of things, please follow LNT principles. Please feel free to tell us in the comments if you have any further tips, tricks, or horror stories!
(The more embarrassing, the better! ?)

– Pan