Don’t let your menstrual cycle defeat your backcountry dreams!
The weekend is finally here and you’re just about ready to pack your gear and blissfully disappear into the wilderness when suddenly, you feel those dreaded sharp cramps. Sound familiar? It does to us!
Thankfully, you don’t have to cancel your backcountry plans just yet. Here are our tried-and-tested recommendations on how to manage your period in the back-country.
Best Backcountry Menstruation Product: Menstrual Cup
After testing tampons, pads, panty-liners and period-proof underwear, we think the a menstrual cup is the easiest period solution for the outdoors. There are a few different products out there, including the Cora Cup, the DivaCup and Saalt. We recommend picking one that works for your flow and budget.
The menstrual cup is small, reusable and, depending on where you are, may not require you to pack out your waste. Its small size makes it versatile enough to use for most backcountry sports. The biggest downside is it can be messy to clean, but we think the size and reusability still makes this the best menstruation product in the back-country.
Learning how to use a menstrual cup takes a little bit of time, so make sure you read the instructions carefully before you head out on your adventure!
As for cleaning the cup, you should follow the same process as you do for pooping outdoors. Depending on where you are, you can either bury a 6 inch deep cat hole at least 200 feet away from any body of water or you can dispose the blood into a Wag Bag. (Need a refresher on poop etiquette outdoors? We love this helpful REI video featuring Miranda in the Wild!) Check with your local ranger or park’s office on what the recommended poop etiquette is for that area. Some wilderness areas, like Mount Whitney, prohibit cat holes and require Wag Bags for all waste. To clean the cup, use your personal water or a wipe. Do not clean the cup in a stream, creek or any other body of water.
Alternative Products: Tampons, Period-Proof Underwear and Panty-Liners
Tampons can be a good alternative to a menstrual cup although they take up more space.
Make sure you have a plan for carrying out used tampons. You should not bury or wash used tampons outdoors. We recommend bringing a Wag Bag or a separate Ziploc for waste (you can duct tape over the ZipLoc if you want to conceal the contents and add a layer of tea-leaves to help with the scent).
We like the idea of period-proof underwear, but we struggled finding a comfy fit that would work for a heavier flow. Not our first choice, but may work for you if you have a light flow. Unlike tampons, these are easier to pack. Just remember to bring a separate bag to put them in once you’re done wearing them!
Like period-proof underwear, panty-liners may not work for a heavier menstrual flow, but we still recommend bringing a couple as a back-up. Make sure you bring a Wag Bag or ZipLoc to pack out any used liners!
Some Packing Tips
Whether you go with the menstrual cup or an alternative product, keep it in the brain (the top lid) or front-pocket of your pack for easy access. If you are bringing a waste bag, we recommend keeping the two together, along with hand-sanitizer, wipes or a Kulacloth.
If you struggle with cramps, bring pain-killers or natural alternatives like ginger or turmeric tea.
Come up with a back-up plan in case you feel pain or discomfort, like taking more breaks or opting for an easier route.
Last but not least, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!
Have any questions on how to deal with your period outdoors? Know of any products or tips we missed? Reach out to us here.