Have you planned an epic family adventure, only to realize the dates you've chosen are the exact days your "Aunt Flow" is making her monthly visit? Many women cancel all of their adventure plans once they realize they will have to manage their menstrual cycle with next to no formal rest areas in sight. Finding privacy for these matters is hard enough in the back country, let alone dealing with symptoms like fatigue, irritability and cramping. And how are you supposed to dispose of used feminine hygiene products if you have no access to trash bins? For centuries, women have dealt with this very same issue, yet managed to voyage across oceans, travel through mountain ranges and endure the worst possible conditions. Thankfully, modern day products make it possible to lessen the severity of symptoms, while also effectively and hygienically controlling menstrual flow.
Menstruating & Leave No Trace
Remember those seven Leave No Trace principles
? They're really important! One principle specifically comes to mind when dealing with menstruation in the back country: pack it in, pack it out! Whatever you bring with you in your pack, must also be packed out with you and disposed of properly.
This means all feminine hygiene products, wipes, wrappers, etc. Most trails and back country campsites don't have trash bins, which means you will need to have your own version of a trash bin in your pack. One of the best, most inconspicuous and hygienic trash containers I have seen on the trail is something you can easily make at home!
DIY Trail Trash Bag:
1 Gallon ZipLock Bag 1 Roll of Fun, Colorful Duct Tape Directions: Lay ZipLock bag flat and carefully cover the outside with duct tape, making sure to fix wrinkles in the bag and/or tape as you go. Cover entire bag until you can no longer see through any cracks.
Many women find that packing tampons and pads into the back country is a hassle. It also takes up space in the pack, and may fill up your trash bag quickly. For these reasons, adventurous women have turned to using a menstrual cup while venturing into the back country.
Using a menstrual cup is easier to pack, lightweight and simple to clean. Please be aware that when cleaning, the same LNT standards apply as when you're using the restroom outside. Simply dig a small hole at least 200 feet from any water source, rinse with water (and if you have it, biodegradable soap) over the hole you dug, and cover it back up with soil. Put it back in place immediately and get on with your adventure! It may seem odd to use at first, so try it at home before using it in the back country or on a camping trip. Most outdoor retail stores carry at least one version of a menstrual cup, but it always helps to ask around for recommendations as well! As far as keeping yourself clean, it always helps to bring baby wipes on outdoor trips. Just place dirty wipes in your DIY trash bag when you're done!
Women in the back country have become extremely open about adventuring while menstruating, so speak up and never be afraid to ask your fellow adventure friends about it. Pack what you need to feel comfortable, clean and happy. Be prepared and go have fun!
Featured Image PC: Lionello DelPiccolo Written by Lindsay Helm