Lady Products in the Backcountry

Warning: This post may cause men to squirm or blush.

Back in 2006 I worked at a ranger station that issued wilderness permits. A young couple came in one day to get a permit to go into Emigrant Wilderness. After I gave them the usual run down and handed over their paperwork they headed back to the parking lot. The girl came running back into the station and quietly told me she was on her period and asked me what she needed to do with her feminine products. I made an I am so sorry face and informed her used products need to be treated like the rest of your trash and have to go up the tree in the bear bag or in the bear canister with all of the other scented items. But here’s some good news, you don’t have to worry about getting eaten by a bear. There is no evidence suggesting bears are attracted to menstruating women – they’re much more likely to sniff out your trail mix.

It’s not ideal to have Aunt Flow along for a backpacking trip, but hey all of those tampon commercials show women taking on the world even though they’re on their period, why not a summit or two? Here are a few things to keep in mind though:

  • There’s a bit of personal preference here, but backpacking with a pad sounds awful, I vote tampons. Be sure to pack these out – never bury paper products, especially used tampons. A) They will take a long time to decompose. B) A wild animal may dig it up before A happens. C) If B does happen, that is not something I want to stumble upon while out in the wilderness – gross.
  • Plan ahead and prepare for storage – zip lock bags do wonders in this department. Use a small nylon sack with a zip lock inside or duct tape around a zip lock bag for protection and discretion.
  • Hygiene is essential – wet wipes and hand sanitizer are a must to keep fresh and sanitary.
  • Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. You ladies don’t need me to tell you physical or emotional stresses can trigger your period unexpectedly. In the backcountry you’re not going to find tampon dispensers or a prepared/kind soul in the stall next to you – pack a few feminine products just in case.

I’m not sure if any guys actually made it to the end of this post, but feel free to pass this information on to the ladies in your life. They’ll appreciate the tips and tricks.


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