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How to go hiking, backpacking, and camping on your period

Has this ever happened to you? You’re planning an expedition into the wilderness … But as you sketch out the perfect weekend full of adventure, you suddenly panic, realizing that you picked the dreaded period week. Can you really go camping on your period, or should you reschedule your trip?

Don’t worry — it is possible to go hiking, backpacking, or camping on your period. And once you’ve done it, you’ll realize it’s not that big a deal. But first, make sure you read over this blog post because there is a right way and a wrong way to deal with your period in the wilderness.

With a little advanced preparation, you’ll be ready to head out for adventure at any time of the month!

How to prepare for camping on your period

The most important thing for a camping trip while on your period is to be prepared and pack everything you need. When you are planning your trip, take the time to think through what you might need on the trail. After all, this is your one opportunity to grab what you need before you are roughin’ it in the wilderness!

One of the best options for camping on your period is a menstrual cup. If you’ve never used one, now may be the perfect time to switch! Many women find that menstrual cups are ideal for camping, because they’re reusable, create less waste, and don’t need to be changed every few hours like pads and tampons.

Menstrual cups are flexible silicone or rubber cups that are worn inside the vagina to collect menstrual fluid. Depending on your flow and other factors such as the size of the cup, a menstrual cup can be worn for up to 12 hours. Then, you simply remove your cup, empty the contents, clean the cup, and re-insert it.

Why use a menstrual cup when camping?

1. Menstrual cups are reusable

You’ll never have to worry about running out of tampons, or forgetting to bring enough pads for your travels! Menstrual cups are durable and accessible. You only need one, and you can reuse it over and over!

2. Menstrual cups are waste-free

If you know anything about camping in the wilderness, you probably are aware of the phrase “Leave No Trace.” The Leave No Trace principles are to keep nature thriving and care for the earth, as well as to be considerate of others who come behind you. One of the principles of Leave No Trace is to dispose of all waste properly. In many cases, this means packing it out with you.

When you camp on your period with a menstrual cup, you avoid the question of “bury it or pack it out?” Nobody wants to lug a ziplock bag of used period waste around. With your menstrual cup, you only have to bury the contents!

3. Menstrual cups give you a lot more time for adventure

A regular tampon holds about 5ml of blood, while the small Pixie Cup Luxe holds 20ml, and the large size holds 25ml! You can wear a menstrual cup for up to 12 hours, so you don’t have to take time away from your adventures to change your pad or tampon.

camping on your period

Cons of using menstrual cups while camping

1. Menstrual cups require some practice

If you aren’t used to using a menstrual cup, you may not want to use it for the first time on a camping trip. If your cup isn’t properly inserted, you may experience some leaks.

If possible, plan ahead and use your cup for a few cycles before your camping trip so you can get used to it. It’s also important to choose the right cup for your body. Every body is different, which is why we’ve designed the Pixie Cup in several different styles and sizes. Learn more about choosing the right cup for your body.

If you’re worried about leaks, you can bring along some thin reusable pads such as our Pixie Pads, which won’t take up much room in your pack.

2. Menstrual cups require sanitary conditions

You’ll want to make sure your hands are clean and sanitized before removing or inserting your menstrual cup. We make this easier with products such as our Pixie Cup Wash and Pixie Cup Wipes.

How to use a menstrual cup when camping

So, how do you use a menstrual cup while camping? As it turns out, the technique is pretty simple!

Step 1: Make sure you sanitize

This is absolutely essential, girls! You’ll want to make sure your cup is well-sanitized with boiling water before you head out on your adventure, and make sure your hands are clean and sanitized before you remove your cup to empty it. Do not forget this step! You can sanitize your hands with some water from your water bottle and a little soap, or with some Pixie Wash and water.

Step 2: Bury the contents

When you empty your cup, empty the contents in a 6-8 inch cathole that is at least 200 feet from a water source. The easiest way to do this is to bring a small trowel with you. Simply empty the fluid from your cup into the hole, and use water from your bottle to rinse your cup. When you are finished, replace extra dirt in the hole, and disguise the area with leaves or brush. Make sure you wash or sanitize your hands when you’re finished!

Step 3: Boil your cup after your period

If your camping trip lasts longer than your period, make sure you sanitize your cup thoroughly with boiling water (be careful!) before packing it away.

Using pads and tampons when camping

If pads and tampons are what you’re used to, or you haven’t gotten the hang of using a menstrual cup, you can continue to use pads and tampons when camping. But you’ll need to make sure to follow backcountry guidelines and dispose of your waste properly.

How to camp with pads and tampons

  1. Make sure you bring enough supplies to cover your entire period. Just like when you’re at home, you may want to bring supplies in different sizes and absorbencies.
  2. Be prepared to pack out your waste. Tampons and pads should not be buried, as they don’t decompose quickly, and animals could dig them up. If you’re using pads and tampons when camping, bring a designated waste bag to keep them in until you reach an area with a proper trash receptacle.

Additional menstrual supplies for camping

Whether you’re using a menstrual cup or disposable products, we recommend bringing plenty of hand sanitizer and extra water for washing your hands. If you’re using a menstrual cup, bring a small bar of unscented soap or container of Pixie Cup Wash, and moistened paper towels or Pixie Wipes to give your cup a quick cleaning during the trek.

You may also want to bring along a few medical gloves to use when removing and inserting your menstrual cup, especially if your camping conditions will make it hard to wash your hands. These will create extra waste, so only use them if absolutely necessary, and put them in your waste bag to pack out with you.

Bonus Tip: Bring essential oils and pain reliever.

As we all know, periods are more than just a pain in the you-know-where to clean up… they are also literally painful sometimes. Make sure you pack some pain reliever, or a few drops of peppermint essential oil (diluted with a carrier oil like coconut oil) in a travel container, to ease bloating and cramping.

We hope this helps you feel equipped to have a fantastic trip! Curious about menstrual cups? Sign up for our newsletter and receive 10% off your first order! Plus, you’ll be the first to know about contests, giveaways, and special promotions!

This content was originally written on April 22, 2019, and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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2 Comments

  1. Jenn on April 26, 2019 at 2:13 am

    I would recommend not trying it for the first time on a camping trip- it takes a few cycles to get the hang of a menstrual cup!

    • Laura U. on April 26, 2019 at 4:06 pm

      This is a great tip, Jenn, and I absolutely agree! It’s best to use your Pixie Cup for a few cycles before taking it on a camping trip! Thanks for commenting!

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