Hiking With Your Period: Product Breakdown
By Kailani Ameele, Girls Who Hike South Carolina Ambassador
This is probably one of the most avoided topics in the outdoor world, but I guarentee almost all people who menstruate have asked the question - “Wait, can I hike with my period?! Aren’t there… BEARS?!”
The answer to your first question - YES you can hike with your period. I promise with some planning and preparation it will not be as uncomfortable as you think. As a health coach and educator, I may know a bit more about this topic than the average gal, but I am not an expert. I will share my own knowledge and research, but remember that everyone’s preferences are different! Whatever works best for you is the best option you can choose.
To answer your second question - Yes, there are bears. They can quite abundant depending on the region you are hiking in. However, they will not attack and eat you because your period blood lured them in. Read more about this topic from a National Park Service article here.
So let’s chat about menstrual products.
First things first, you should know what menstrual products are available to make the most informed choice for your lifestyle and preferences. Do your own research and experiment with different products to find your favorite method. We will review some options here, but there are certainly more options out there for you to explore!
I know pads are a classic “go-to” and are super easy to use & find, but when you’re hiking for more than a few hours day, they can be very bothersome and cause some serious chafing. Also, while using pads, ethically you should still practice Leave No Trace- so every used pad needs to be packed out with you. If using pads is non-negotiable, make sure to add some anti-chafe cream and baby powder to reduce chafing/soreness. You may also want to check out these reusable pads for shorter trips which are kinder to the environment.
The ease of finding tampons in any grocery, drug, or convenience store makes this product of the easiest things to use on the trail. Be careful, as Toxic Shock Syndrome is a real thing and can happen to anyone. Remember to change your tampon every 4-6 hours, and check out this article to learn more about the prevention, symptoms, and treatment for Toxic Shock Syndrome. Also, the same Leave No Trace rules apply to tampons, so don’t even think about burying these babies in cat holes.
3. Menstrual Cups
These little trinkets are gaining popularity with people of all ages, especially in the outdoor world. The Diva Cup is one example of a menstrual cup, but there are many other brands that can be found online in places like Amazon. While I’ve never personally used a menstrual cup, a lot of hikers rave about it. No extra weight, no packing out, and it is super easy to use.
4. Thinx Underwear
Underwear & a pad all-in-one?! Wear these reusable underwear specifically designed to catch blood & uterine lining that are quick drying, stain-proof, actually pretty cute, and comfortable. I think these are a wonderful substitution for pads because they won’t lead to chafing as much, and you don’t have to pack out anything! However, these can get pretty pricey for a pair - $30-40.
No matter what product(s) you choose, remember to wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer before and after replacing your menstrual product of choice. This will help prevent bacteria growth and illnesses associated. Research, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to share what works for you! Don’t let your period keep you off the trails!
Disclaimer: I do not know all of the tips/tricks/products in the world, so please feel free to comment, share, and talk with your local GWH chapters to share your own advice for hiking while menstruating.