Lady Business in the Backcountry
Ladies, we all know the struggle of doing our business in the backcountry. Whether popping a squat, dealing with our monthly cycle, or keeping infections “down there” away, it can be intimidating wandering into the backcountry and trying to figure out the best way to manage when “nature calls”. It may even keep you from going on adventures for more than a few days, or you may avoid going at certain times of the month.
However, staying at home doesn’t have to be our reality. We can enjoy our backcountry experience whenever nature calls! And we definitely shouldn’t let our natural bodily functions keep us from getting out and doing what we love! Here are some tips to help you be prepared, clean, and safe, no matter the time of the month!
Pee Rags: Let’s face it: drip drying doesn’t always cut it. These wonderful “pee” rags help keep your “down under” area dry after popping a squat. Companies have started popping up that have clothes designed for this specific task. They attach to your outer pack and may have bacteria fighting properties. If you aren’t looking to splurge and want to give it a try, a simple handkerchief tied to the back of your pack does the trick. Airing out on the outside of your pack helps keep the pee rag from smelling too quickly and helps it dry faster.
If you plan on going out on a multi-day trip, we encourage you wash your rag every few days to fight smells and keep it clean. You can quickly boil water with your ultralight wood burning camp stove like the Littlbug, and use multi-purpose soap like Dr. Bronners, or something similar that is more natural and doesn’t have artificial scents - you’re in the woods, so try and keep it as natural as possible. Remember that while Dr. Bronners and other more natural soaps are easier on the environment, you should still never use them directly in water sources. Use Leave No Trace principles and stay at least 100 yards away from natural water sources like streams, rivers, or lakes, when using soaps and dilute them with water when finished and dispersing it.
Underwear Management: Having a fresh pair of underwear each day not only feels wonderful after a few days on the trail, but it helps keep you dry and discourages bacteria growth. Thankfully, underwear tends to be lightweight and small. If you’re going into the backcountry for a few overnights, you may consider bringing enough to have a clean pair each night. For longer periods in the wilderness consider washing your underwear on a rotation. Have enough underwear to have one drying, one clean, and one to wear. Follow the washing instructions above under the “Pee rag” heading.
The Menstrual Cycle: It happens every month, so we’re used to it! But who wants to deal with extra trash and waste to carry out? Thankfully, there are plenty of options to manage it, and make it easier for women to take care of in the backcountry.
- Birth control - You’ll want to talk to a physician and make sure you’re doing what’s best for your body, but there are birth control options that stop your menstrual cycle from occurring every month. You may experience occasional spotting, but it’s nothing compared to a regular cycle. We always recommend consulting a physician before going on birth control
- Menstrual Cups - these are becoming quite popular, and not just in the backpacking world. They eliminate extra waste for you to pack in and pack out (we always recommend packing out your femenine hygiene products, just as you would toilet paper). We do recommend trying this at home first to get comfortable with it before heading into the backcountry.
Always remember to wash your hands with clean water before and after removing or inserting your cup, and of course always wash your cup with clean water. Again, you can always boil water quickly with your stick stove to help with the cleaning of your cup. Dispose of your menstrual blood like you would with solid waste - dig a hole 6” deep and cover when done.
Wet Wipes: Wet wipes can help clean your lady area, and again, prevent infections. Consider wipes that encourage healthy pH levels to help fight any potential infections or bad bacteria growth. While these are a little heavier than other options, they can be very nice and refreshing on the trail. On top of this, you can be at ease knowing that you’re taking care of your body by helping it stay balanced and clean. You don’t need to use wet wipes every time, but during #2’s and your menstrual cycle, they can be especially helpful. Again, remember: pack it in, pack it out. Your wipes are just like toilet paper and other trash - don’t leave it on the trail!
Littlbug Tip: Add coffee grounds in your toilet trash bag to help with odor control.
We want you to be as comfortable as possible in the backcountry. If you’re still uncertain about some of these methods, try them out at home first. It’s always best to work through trial and error at home rather than the backcountry. Once your comfortable and ready to go, take these tools into the backcountry and roam freely - and dryly!