Periods can be tricky at the best of times, but when you’re out hiking or off on an adventure the time of the month can seem almost impossible to deal with. But that isn’t the case at all. With a bit of forward planning and a few tips, hiking on your period will be as easy as saying your ABC…well almost.
The key is forward planning
Like most things in hiking, forward planning is essential. In the same way, you need to pack a sleeping bag, food provisions, a whistle and a torch, you need to pack a few essentials to deal with your period. The main concern around this is cleanliness. While out in the forest or up a mountain, you probably won’t have access to clean running water, toilets or bins. So pack all your toiletries in a series of zip lock bags.
- Tampons are smaller and easier to use than pads. Likewise, they won’t rub your legs when walking or if your trousers get wet in the rain.
- If you’re using pads, some women recommend using tissue paper to cover it and then changing this regularly rather than the pad underneath.
- Bring and use unscented wet wipes.
- Bring a specific zip lock bag for ‘rubbish’ and, if possible, keep this in a separate compartment in your bag.
- Use purifying water tablets to purify water collected from streams or rivers. Use this to wash your hands before and after changing.
Another option is a menstrual cup. These are a relatively new sanitary product, but they’ve proved immensely popular with female hikers. One of the main reasons being that they don’t produce waste that you need to dispose of and they take up a lot less space. Youtuber and adventurer Alyse Brautigam talks about the ease of using one in her recent video.
Typically, menstrual cups can be left in for about 12 hours, meaning hikers like Brautigam can hike for the better part of the day without having to change it. One of the key things to bear in mind is that when a menstrual cup is taken out, it needs to be emptied and rinsed. Brautigam empties the contents into a privy, which is like a toilet stall in nature. But if you don’t have access to one of these you can dig a “cat-hole” to bury the menstrual blood.
Another important part is cleaning the cup with purified water. While water purifying tablets can be used, Brautigam uses a Steripen, a purifying device that she sticks inside a water bottle for 90 seconds.
While cups are proving popular, they certainly aren’t for everyone and every adventurer has their own way of dealing with their period. If you do choose to use a cup, most people recommend practising with it before the big hike as it can take time to get used to.