Camping & Hiking During Your Period: Everything You Need To Know

Menstruation and the Outdoors: Normalizing what is Nature
Women can safely hike while menstruating with added preparation. A little extra preparation, women can continue to enjoy hiking during menstruation.

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Worried about how you’ll handle your period if it coincides with an outdoor adventure? Your camping trip or hiking adventure doesn’t have to be put on hold! Rest assured that with a little planning and being prepared, activities like hiking and camping on your period are no trouble at all.

Our Top 6 Tips For Hiking And Camping On Your Period

  1. Choose reusable menstrual products for less waste
  2. Consider your planned activities and what you’ll need to manage your period during them
  3. Think about what facilities you’ll have access to (toilets, sinks, waste disposal, or none of the above)
  4. Wear quick-drying underwear that will wick away sweat, and that you can rinse and easily dry in the case of leakage
  5. Keep a camping and hiking period kit with your outdoor gear (check out our list below)
  6. Listen to your body and don’t be afraid to alter your plans — the outdoors will always be there

Common Questions About Hiking and Camping on Your Period

After you’ve been hiking or camping on your period successfully one or twice, your worries about doing so will likely disappear. In the meantime, we’ve got answers to questions that those who’ve never

Can I Still Hike During My Period?

The short answer is YES, of course you can hike during your period. While there’s nothing wrong with a little downtime during your monthly cycle, there’s also no reason you can’t enjoy the same outdoor activities you normally would.

What If There’s No Running Water?

Not all campgrounds have running water — or even bathrooms for long backpacking trips that take you deep into the backcountry. Carrying an extra water bottle, wipes, and hand sanitizer will be a huge help to you in keeping things clean.

What If There Are No Bathrooms At All?

If your outdoor adventure takes you away from established campgrounds, there might not be a toilet or a privy in sight. In this situation treat menstrual waste like you would human waste number two in the backcountry, and follow the Leave No Trace steps for disposal.

If you’re using a menstrual cup, this means digging a cat hole at least six inches deep, emptying period blood into it, and filling the cat hole back in. You can rinse your menstrual cup with clean water, or give it a thorough cleaning with boiling water once you get to camp.

If you choose to use disposable period products, keep a waste bag with you and treat period waste like any other trash. Always pack out wrappers, used pads or tampons, applicators, wet wipes, and used toilet paper with you.

Will My Period Attract Bears?

Let’s be clear about busting this myth right off the bat: no, your period or the smell of menstrual blood will not attract bears or other wild animals.

The National Park Service has done research into the responses bears have to the scent of menstrual blood and found their reactions to be extremely minimal. In short, you won’t attract bears if you go camping on your period.

Bears can, however, be attracted to the smell of some toiletry items like toothpaste, perfumes, or scented pads and tampons. Properly store good-smelling menstrual supplies like these in a bear canister to avoid attracting unwelcome wild animals.

What Do I Need To Go Camping On My Period?

You won’t have all the comforts of home while you’re immersed in the outdoors, but bringing a few essential items will make activities like hiking, backpacking, or camping on your period much easier.

What To Put In Your Camping And Hiking Period Kit

Just as essential as any first aid kit, an emergency period kit is something you should have even if you’re not expecting your period during your adventure.

You’ll be glad you were prepared should you or a friend have a period emergency. Keeping a backup period kit with your hiking and camping gear. Here’s what your period kit should include:

  • A menstrual cup, tampons, or pads
  • Clean wash water
  • Sealed container to wash and keep your menstrual cup clean
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wet wipes
  • Period pain relief
  • A small amount of toilet paper
  • Backup period products (period underwear is a great choice to catch potential leaks)
  • Waste bag or another waste container (if you’re choosing non-reusable menstrual products)

Keep your period kit in a Ziploc bag or another clean bag to keep everything dry and organized. It’s also worth keeping a mini version of this kit in your backpack even for day hikes to be prepared if you get your period hiking, too.

While you probably won’t want to lug it along on a backpacking camping trip, if you’re car camping and can afford to bring a few comfort items like an extra pillow or a hot water bottle you can fill with boiling water to help ease cramps can also be helpful.

The Best Period Products For Camping, Hiking, and Backpacking Trips

There are more than a few options for menstrual products on the market these days. The period products you choose are totally subject to your personal preference and comfort level. Whether you choose a menstrual cup or tampons, certain products may work better for you while camping on your period than others.

Here are some options to consider for hiking and camping on your period:

Menstrual Cups or Menstrual Discs
Using a menstrual cup or menstrual disc is one of the easiest ways to have an environmentally friendly period while on a hiking or camping trip. They’re comfortable and reusable, and create no extra waste to pack out at the end of your adventure.

Unlike disposable pads and tampons that absorb menstrual blood and get thrown away, a menstrual cup collects menstrual fluid and needs to be emptied but gets reused.

Since a menstrual cup collects instead of absorbing, you can wear them for up to 12 hours without having to change them, and without the risk of absorbing bacteria that can cause a yeast infection or toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

Period Underwear or Period Panties

Period underwear or period panties are specially designed with moisture-wicking fabric and absorbent layers to soak up menstrual blood. They’re great reusable options for people who prefer free bleeding, or for folks who don’t want to insert products like a menstrual cup or a tampon yet still avoid dealing with used pads while in the wild.

They can be a little tougher to clean in the backcountry than a menstrual cup, but period panties can be washed in a container with unscented biodegradable soap. Follow the same steps as you would for a menstrual cup to dispose of period waste by digging a cat hole and pouring the period wash water into it.

Reusable Pads
Reusable pads work similarly to period underwear in that they absorb period blood without being inserted into the vagina. They’re usually made of absorbent, breathable cotton that doesn’t get heavy like plastic-lined disposable pads.

When hiking or camping on your period, wash reusable pads the same way you would wash period underwear — in a clean container with soap and hot water, and by emptying period wastewater into a cat hole.

Traditional Pads or Tampons
Used for many years, traditional pads or tampons are also an option for camping or hiking during your period. These can be the most comfortable for some folks and there’s nothing wrong with that.

While you have to pack out the trash that results from using disposable products, you won’t have to deal with disposing of human waste since these products absorb menstrual fluid and simply get tossed in the trash.

While doing fun outdoor activities like camping, hiking, or even swimming, make sure you change your pads or tampons often to avoid sweat or dirt building up and causing discomfort or possible infections.

Ready To Go Camping With Experienced Guides?

If we’ve got the answers about hiking and camping on your period, imagine everything we know about hiking and camping trips overall!

My Outdoor Joy’s guides are experts in all things outdoorsy and have all the know-how needed to lead you on an amazing outdoor adventure. Whether it’s your first camping trip or your 50th, we’ll provide the plans and help teach you the skills necessary for astounding outdoor adventures.

Check out our calendar of events and join My Outdoor Joy for exclusive member discounts and more!

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