It happens. Nonetheless, we strongly believe that it shouldn’t put you off the backpacking trip that you and your friends have been planning. Granted, it can be an uncomfortable experience backpacking while on your period, but with a few hacks and tips, you can make it far easier to deal with.
If you have never done it, you will likely be worrying far more than you need to. If you do some preparation beforehand, you’ll be able to get through your trip with no bother at all and you’ll wonder why you were worrying in the first place.
In fact, it is believed that performing a physical activity while on your period can actually help to alleviate pain and cramps. Oh, and that thing about bears being able to smell it? That’s a myth.
Tampons, Pads or Menstrual Cups?
It is a popular belief that it is better to opt for tampons rather than pads. Tampons are generally more comfortable than wearing pads and they will be less messy as well. Additionally, tampons take up very little space, which is ideal if you’re stuck for packing room. On the downside, you’ll have to pack both pads and tampons out after use until you reach the nearest town. It can be a bit of a pain carrying a used tampon around with you.
You should consider using a menstrual cup, which is a silicone/rubber cup designed to catch the blood. It will take up slightly more space in your backpack, but the major advantage is that you can clean and reuse it many times. Did you know that you can actually use the same one for years if you clean it properly? Furthermore, they can be kept in for longer; generally, it is up to 12 hours. The downside? It can be a bit fiddly to insert/remove until you’re used to the process.
If you’re not using a menstrual cup, you should take care when disposing of your tampons or pads. The best thing to do is pack them out and take them to the nearest village or town where you can get rid of them properly. This is especially true for pads as those are generally not biodegradable.
It’s good practice to carry a zip-lock bag for storing used pads and tampons. This will help to avoid any unwanted smells and keep the rest of your items clean. In addition, wrapping them in toilet paper and using a dried tea bag in the zip-lock container will also help to absorb the smell.
Of course, nobody would ideally like to carry used tampons with them, however, it is far better for the land and wildlife around you that you dispose of them safely and with consideration.
Practicing good hygiene throughout your trip will help to prevent any issues like urinary tract infections, which are more likely to occur on your period. Wash your hands frequently and make sure to use soap.
Consider taking hand sanitizer with you so that you can wash your hands while out on the trail during the day. Furthermore, make sure that you thoroughly clean out your menstrual cup before each use.
Finally, medical gloves will come in handy when you are inserting tampons and menstrual cups. Your hands can get nastily dirty on even the tamest camping trip!