Women’s guide to backpacking hygiene

By Rebecca Hext
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Women’s guide to backpacking hygiene

Rebecca Hext
 
 
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For us ladies hikers, hygiene on the trail is very different than that of our male counterparts. If you are like me and lack female backpacker friends, it is sometimes hard to find good tips and tricks. But fear not lady hikers! I am here with a five-step guide to female hygiene on the trail.

1. Periods

Let’s start out with the big one; periods. Many women that get into backpacking choose to use birth control or IUD’s to manage their periods.  However, if you are going all natural periods can be an issue.

 

 

Tampons are an obvious suggestion, as they are easier to exercise in than pads, but that leaves the issue of packing out used tampons. Not very fun. I would suggest trying out an internal cup. Regardless of what you choose to do, be sure to thoroughly clean your hands before reaching down there!

 

Also, while we are talking about this lets just clear the air: menstrual blood does not attract bears.

2. Peeing

Unfortunately, women do not have the convince of simply unzipping their pants and relieving themselves behind a tree. Some companies have created funnel-like products to assist in urination, but I’m a proponent of the classic squat and pee.

My recommendation is to carry a pee rag, use it to wipe, and leave it hanging on the outside of your bag. The sun will dry it out and disinfect it. Just be sure to remember to not use it for anything else like cleaning your pot!

 

Keeping a simple bandana rag on your pack for wiping is essential to having a clean trip
Keeping a simple bandana rag on your pack for wiping is essential to having a clean trip

3. Pooping

You are in luck ladies! This one is the same for men and women. The only advice I have here is practice makes perfect.  See what you are eating, how it is coming out of you, and go from there.

Be sure to dig your hole at least six inches deep (200 feet from water, campsites, and trails) and pack out any toilet paper you use. Also, if you are thinking about holding it; don’t! If you want to be a backpacker, pooping outside is something you are going to have to master.

 

4. Keeping Bacteria Away

Yeast infections are a definite concern for multiway trips. To avoid any issues, be sure to clean down there whenever possible. Change your underwear daily and keep your lady parts dry. Wet underwear is a breeding ground for bacteria.

Some women also like to use wipes to clean themselves after a long day of hiking. If you remember to bring these, they will make your evenings a lot more pleasant. Just be sure to pack them out!

 

Drying out your clothes if you plan on wearing them again is important to keep bacteria away
Drying out your clothes if you plan on wearing them again is important to keep bacteria away

5. General Freshening Up

These last few tips are for men and women. Personally, I cannot stand having my armpits smell when I am trying to fall asleep. I bring a small bottle of Dr. Bronner’s body wash and a rag to clean my pits after a long day. Likewise, washing my face with a little bit of soap brightens my mood drastically, and helps prevent post-trip breakouts.

 

 

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