Starting your period before an upcoming camping trip is stressful but it doesn’t mean you need to end your outdoor adventures.
With a little bit of planning, you can easily create your own period kit and enjoy your trip worry-free.
In this post, I’m going to share 10 essentials for backpacking and camping on your period, period hacks, and answer some questions to help you have a good time outdoors!
While enjoying the outdoors, it’s important to follow Leave No Trace guidelines to help protect the environment, wildlife, and ourselves. I share eco-friendly and sustainable tips so that we can all reduce our impact together.
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Essentials For Camping On Your Period
The first thing that to add to your camp period kit is a menstrual cup. The greatest benefit of using a menstrual cup while camping is that you don’t have to carry any tampons and pads.
This means you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to carry or pack out all of your smelly period waste.
Also, tampons and pads are not biodegradable and if you bury them a bear may smell them and dig them up. And we don’t need that.
The Saalt Soft Menstrual Cup is the menstrual cup that I personally use and recommend, especially for first-time users.
All you have to do is insert it before you leave (in the comfort of your home) and change it every 12 hours (depending on your flow) while you’re in the woods or sitting in a kayak all day long.
Click here to read my detailed review.
One of the easiest ways to clean your hands and body parts after changing your menstrual cup in the backcountry is by using a wet wipe.
I’m a big fan of the Sea to Summit Wilderness Wipes. These wipes are super soft and gentle on the skin and will leave you feeling refreshed after a long day of being on the trail.
The wipes come in two different sizes: compact and extra-large body wipes. The extra-large body wipes are amazing when you need to give yourself a wipe bath. They’re tough but you can still tear them in half if you wanted to use less of it.
Both come in a nice small package which makes it super easy to carry with you.
You’ll definitely want to wash your hands at camp if you’ve had to change out your menstrual cup or other period products.
The Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash is the only soap you’ll need during your camping trip. This soap is very versatile and you can use it to wash your body, dishes, and period panties.
This soap is biodegradable and super concentrated, so a little goes a long way.
Always make sure to follow Leave No Trace principles when using soap in the backcountry.
When you’re on the trail, you don’t want to spend too much time taking care of business. Hand sanitizer allows you to quickly and conveniently kill any bacteria when there’s no soap and water available to wash your hands.
Everybody has a bottle of hand sanitizer these days so this is simply one of the easiest things to add to your period kit.
If you’re looking for a hand sanitizer that actually smells nice, check out Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hand Sanitizer. It has a light lavender smell.
Whether you have to poop or dispose of blood from your menstrual cup, you’ll need to dig a “cat hole” to properly bury your human waste.
The easiest way to dig a hole in the backcountry is with a trowel. TheTentLab The Deuce #2 UL Backcountry Trowel is one of the lightest trowels out there weighing only 0.6 ounces!
You basically use the handle part for harder ground and the wide end for softer ground. The four teeth on the bottom help to cut roots while you’re digging.
Some people don’t find using the handle too comfortable but you could easily wrap a bandana around it while you’re digging.
Carry it clipped to your pack or tucked in an outside pocket.
If you’re unable to use a menstrual cup or tampons, I would highly recommend getting period underwear. 4period Period Panties can be worn all day long and will absorb heavy flows.
The soft, top layer is made with organic cotton for absorbency and the layer underneath is PUL (leakproof) fabric.
This means that you won’t leak and embarrassingly ruin your clothes on the trail.
Just put on a pair, go hike for the day, and then rinse them at camp. You can give them a proper wash when you have the appropriate facilities.
These panties can also be used with other products like tampons or menstrual cups, as an extra layer of protection during a heavy flow.
You’ve probably heard of Thinx Underwear, but they’re twice the price! That’s why I recommend these from 4period.
So, how do you carry all of this period stuff? Well, all you need is some sort of opaque bag or stuff sack to keep your things private (if you care).
I prefer a roll-top dry sack like the Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack so that you can roll it to the size you actually need.
Within the stuff sack, you can add a clean bag that will contain all of the period essentials that I’ve listed. Then you should also add a waste bag to carry all of your used items out, like wipes, tampons, etc.
It’s better to make a waste bag using something with a zip-top in order to help control odors. Some people reuse foil coffee bags (coffee helps to contain odors) or a quart-sized zip-bloc bag and line the inside with foil or duct tape the outside for privacy.
If you want something that will really contain odors, check out the Sea To Summit Trash Dry Sack. It comes with a replaceable liner and after you use it, you can change it out with biodegradable trash bags.
I personally don’t like to take Ibuprofen all of the time to try and alleviate my painful period cramps. These HotHands Body & Hand Super Warmers are the perfect thing to help with your period camps while camping.
You can use one while you’re sleeping, but make sure to place it on a layer and not directly on your skin.
Having the extra heat is also just great to have if you’re a cold sleeper and want to go winter camping.
I love a good camp snack but dark chocolate will actually become your best friend while you’re camping on your period. And yes, chocolate is essential!
Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and magnesium, which reduces mood swings by regulating serotonin. A higher percentage of dark chocolate also means less sugar.
I’m a fan of the Theo Chocolate Organic Dark Chocolate Bar. It’s organic and 70% pure dark chocolate.
And, if you want to relieve cramps, find chocolate that contains almonds. Almonds are also a great source of vitamin E, which can help relieve period cramps. Yay!
Okay, this is for those of you that are weed-friendly. I started taking edibles during my camping trips earlier this year to help me sleep during the night. I get super anxious and find it hard to get a good night’s rest. Bears in Alaska, ya know?!
These gummies are great for combating period cramps. They work amazingly, the dosage is spot on, and they actually taste good.
The package contains 10 gummies, so each gummy is 10 mg. Take one gummy about an hour before going to bed. It’s the perfect amount.
Camping On Your Period Hacks
You naturally lose fluids during your period. This can cause you to feel lightheaded when you stand or move too quickly. The best thing to do is to stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water. In the evening, drink herbal tea like chamomile and peppermint. These teas have anti-inflammatory properties which can help with period pain and cramps.
The Hot Water Bottle Trick
You can make your own camp-style heating pad with a water bottle. Just heat up some water, pour the hot water into a Nalgene Water Bottle and place it on your lower abdomen to help relieve cramps.
Skip the Applicators
Seriously, if I haven’t convinced you yet, a menstrual cup is the (only) way to go. It will totally change the way you experience the outdoors during your period. But, if you have to use tampons, get the ones without the plastic applicators. Not only is this creating unnecessary plastic waste, but it will add extra weight to your pack.
**Do NOT bury your tampons or pads in the backcountry. Always pack them out because bears may smell them and dig them up.
Enjoy a Relaxing Massage
There’s always time for self-care so get into a relaxing position and gently massage your lower abdomen area. Laying facedown on the floor in child’s poses is a great way to alleviate cramping. This is great to do in your tent before you go to sleep because child’s pose always tends to put you into a slumber.
Things get smelly over time. When you think about how you will pack out all of your waste, there are ways to help control the odor. You can add a dry tea bag or ground coffee to your waste bag and this will help cover any bad smells.
Track Your Period
There are a ton of period tracking apps out there these days. Tracking your period will ensure you know when your cycle will start and end and how many days of feminine products you need to pack.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to go camping on your period?
It is absolutely safe to go camping on your period. Don’t let your period stop you. If you are going to be on your period during a camping trip you can stay safe by being prepared and brining the essentials that I listed above.
Does camping on your period attract bears?
Camping on your period around bears is one of our biggest fears, but you can relax because grizzly and black bears are not drawn specifically to scents related to people with menstrual cycles. Bears have a powerful sense of smell but there is no evidence that grizzly and black bears are overly attracted to menstrual odors more than any other odor. Polar bears are a different story…
If anything, try to use unscented products and properly store your food, toiletries, garbage, and other odorous things safely and securely.
Can wild animals smell period blood?
Anything scented will attract wild animals, but your period will not make you more vulnerable to wild animal attacks. There have been plenty of studies that show that wild animals are not more attracted to menstrual blood.
How do you dispose of blood when using a menstrual cup?
When disposing of blood from a menstrual cup while outdoors, you can’t simply toss it in the woods. You will need to dig a “cat hole” or empty the contents into a waste bag, depending on your environment.
How do you change your menstrual cup while camping?
Here’s how to change your menstrual cup while camping follow Leave No Trace principles:
- Dig a “cat hole” with a backcountry trowel
- Use hand sanitizer to clean your hands
- Remove cup
- Empty blood into the cat hole and bury (or into a waste bag if you’re in a sensitive area)
- Rinse cup with clean water
- If you don’t have clean water, it’s okay to reinsert your cup as is
- Some people pee on their cup to rinse it off
- Clean hands and body with wilderness wipes (Do NOT use these to clean your cup)
- Make sure to pack out wipes
- Wash your cup with warm water and soap at camp, if possible
All in all, you can still have a really nice time hiking, biking, climbing, or camping on your period. You just need to be prepared and carrying the period kit essentials that I listed in this post will definitely help you do that.
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Did I miss an essential for camping on your period? Let me know in the comments.