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Hiking on Your Period

It’s every female hiking enthusiast’s nightmare: you’ve planned out a great weekend of exploring the outdoors and bagging peaks. You’re packed up and ready to go the next morning when all of a sudden, it hits you. You suddenly realize why you felt the need to pack five chocolate bars and cried when you finally found your favorite pair of socks at the back of the drawer. Mother Nature has come a’callin’, and she was not the “nature” you wanted to spend your weekend with. Now, this is not the most pleasant blog post ever, but I think every woman reading this will agree that it’s something we all deal with and worry about.

Photograph: Patricia Wong

For some of you lucky, gifted women who don’t experience cramps and can wear diva cups, this revelation might not be a big deal. Even if you do have cramps, a reusable silicone menstrual cup is ideal if you are going to be spending a significant amount of time outdoors without access to a proper bathroom. You can typically leave it in for 12 to 24 hours, there is no risk of toxic shock syndrome, and if you do need to take it out, you can just dump it and put it back in. Unfortunately, many women have atypically-shaped interiors, so to speak, and the seal that the cup is supposed to form… doesn’t, meaning it might turn and get stuck, leak, or whatever else that may happen that prevents some women from using them.

The rest of us who fall under the category of diva-cup-challenged, we’re left with very few options. Nobody wants to feel like they’re waddling around in a diaper trying to wear a pad while doing physical activity. Plus, they start to smell after a while, which could be dangerous depending on which mountains or forests you’re wandering through, because BEARS PEOPLE. Tampons require access to a bathroom every 4-6 hours, because toxic shock syndrome is also real and not a joke, and leaks also are not fun. But how do you change a tampon if you’re in the middle of the woods with no access to a bathroom?

Well, it can be done. It isn’t particularly pleasant or dignified, but you can do it. When packing for a hiking trip on your period, be sure to pack extra tampons (obviously) and at least one spare Ziploc sandwich bag, and maybe a pack of tissues. You might also want to bring a bottle of hand sanitizer. Like you would when just popping a squat, head out away from the trail a bit and find some place kind of private. Then do your business as you normally would, but absolutely do not leave any garbage behind. Used tampons, applicators and tissues should be stowed in the Ziploc bag until you can reach a proper garbage can. Seal it tight so it’s not emitting any smell, and LEAVE NO TRACE.

Since cramps are real, be sure to pack any of your preferred supplies for mitigating them. Moderate exercise is in and of itself great for relieving cramps, which is a big part of why you should go hiking even on your period. Just maybe wear your black hiking pants instead of the tan ones…

Hopefully you ladies found this article helpful. Do any of you have tips or tricks you might add to this?

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