What to Do When You Have Your Period in the Backcountry

Ladies, let’s talk about periods! For far too long, the outdoor industry has shied away from this topic: it seems to either be an afterthought, or not even talked about at all. We think it’s so important to openly discuss healthy feminine hygiene habits while you’re in the wilderness, and hope to help normalize camping on your period.

Too often we have heard of women who are too embarrassed to go hiking or backpacking because of it. Alpine Sisters wants to change that! You should never change your backcountry plans because of your period: period.

There are going to be some people who instinctively think (or say) “eww, this is gross!” We invite you to explore why exactly you feel this way. Whatever that reason may be, here at Alpine Sisters, instead of ignoring conversations about a normal and healthy biological process, we believe in educating everyone (not just women), about menstruating, especially in the backcountry. 

So what do you do when you have your period in the backcountry? 

What to Do When You Have Your Period in the Backcountry

Step 1: Walk 200 feet (roughly 70 steps)  away from your campsite, any trails,  or a  water source, and try to find some soft soil (it’ll make the next task much easier! Bonus points if there’s a view).

Step 2: Take your backcountry trowel and dig a cathole. It should be at least 6 inches deep and around 4 inches across. Mike from TheTentLab has a great video here about how to dig it.

*Pro tip: once you set up camp for the day, dig a cathole (or maybe even a few!) so you’re ready to rock-and-roll when you need to go, and aren’t having to dig when the need is dire.

Step 3: We recommend sanitizing your hands first so you don’t accidentally introduce any of mother nature into you vagina, either with hand sanitizer or a little water from your water bottle and some biodegradable soap.

Step 4: Remove your menstrual cup, pour the menstrual blood into your cathole, and rinse your cup with filtered water.

*If you’re using a tampon instead, please remember to pack your tampons out with you, as they will not decompose in the soil, even your nice deep cathole).

Step 5: Wipe with your pee cloth—it’s totally fine to use even for menstrual blood! Wet your pee rag with a little filtered water, add a few drops of biodegradable soap, rub, rinse, and you’re set! Give your hands a wash too while you’re at it 😊

*If you’re using a Kula Cloth, grip the pretty side that’s waterproof and wipe with the black, antimicrobial side … and remember, it’s not for poop!

**If you choose to bring toilet paper instead, please make sure you bury it in a 6 inch cathole each time you go (even pee!) or pack it out. Leaving toilet paper in a shallow hole will attract animals who will easily unbury it, preventing it from decomposing in a timely manner and posing a health risk for other hikers in the area.

***If you choose to use the ‘drip dry’ method instead of a pee cloth, pack extra underwear to keep your privates dry and avoid a UTI.

Step 6: Cover your cathole with soil again, (and if you’re using a pee cloth, snap it onto your pack to dry) and be on your merry way!

We recommend carrying period supplies with you on every outdoor adventure, just in case your period arrives unexpectedly. Whether you build your own, or use our Feminine Hygiene Kit, we hope that you’ll share about your period experiences with those you travel with (women and men alike) and join us in our efforts to de-stigmatize discussions about periods. 

Feeling extra courageous? Tag us @alpine_sisters—we would love to hear about your experiences (both the funny, frustrating, and everywhere in between) about your backcountry periods and the conversations you’ve had about it.

Embrace and enjoy your period, wherever your adventures take you—happy trails!

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