Five years ago, my husband and I were preparing to visit the Ozark National Forest and make the most of our 1 week vacation. Filled with joy and enthusiasm, the inner adventurist in me was yelling with excitement knowing I would be away from the daily hustle and surrounded by nature.
Going through my checklist, I packed my bag and got ready to explore the journey ahead of us. I thought I had packed all the essentials in my hiking backpack and didn’t realize I had left out several important feminine hygiene products until….
My camping trip turned into a nightmare when I found out that I had forgotten everything I needed for my period. While packing, I overlooked some of the essentials to take care of my hygiene. No Amazon delivery guy to come to my rescue. It was painful for sure.
Anyways, how I managed the rest of my trip with and without some of these staples is another story. When we returned home, I had learned a life-long lesson and come to you with with a complete and research-backed guide for all the females out there, to help prepare a your daypack with essentials before your next adventure.
So, let’s dive straight into the guide for female hygiene essentials for camping and backpacking.
How to Pack a Backpack Including Every Hygiene Essential?
Backpacking essentials for female hygiene can be different depending on the place and duration of your trip. What might be needed for a week-long camping trip out in the wilderness might not be required if the campground has bathrooms.
On second thought, you might be better packing your own hygiene products.
Here’s a list of products that you should pack to ensure you can stay clean in the backcountry.
What to Bring:
- Pee Funnel is a must-have. You’ll know the reason if you read until the end.
- Kula Cloth or any antimicrobial fiber cloth to wipe your private parts.
- Hand Sanitizer and wipes: use an unscented & alcohol-based one.
- Camp Soap Sheets– for when wipes just won’t cut it.
- Biodegradable Camping Waste Bag– makes the job of carrying out waste and your period
- Backcountry trowel – to dig a cat hole if you don’t plan on carrying out your waste
- Menstrual Cup is always a better choice than pads.
- Biodegradable Soap comes in handy for multipurpose.
- Small Quick Dry Towel
- Hair Ties to keep your hair aside and out of your way.
- Oral Hygiene Kit Is there even an argument here? An essential, even in the wild.
- Sun Block Cream and Moisturizer You don’t want a sunburn to ruin your adventure.
What Should You Not Bring?
- Scented Deodorant to not attract pests, pesticides, and wild animals like bears.
- Shampoo (unless its may bring harm to the natural environment. If you can’t stand not washing your hair, try a rinse-free shampoo.
- Mirrors can be easily broken, and those broken pieces may cause an injury to the wildlife.
- Non-biodegradable products are harmful to the ground.
- Disposable products that you’ll have to carry out.
What is the Best Way to Pee & Poop in the Woods?
Okay! Let’s get real here, when nature calls, and you can’t avoid it. First and foremost, don’t HOLD it. Holding your pee can cause irritation down there, potentially bring on a UTI and leave you uncomfortable for the rest of your trip.
There are several ways to pee and poop out in the wilderness without having to hold it. I have listed some simple and practical steps to stay clean and enjoy yourself without worrying about digging your next hole.
Use a Pee Rug
You can’t leave toilet paper behind for the safety of the environment, so how do you wipe your “V” and keep it dry?
Skip the backpacking toilet wipes and go for the ultimate savior, “pee cloth.” “The Kula Cloth is a reusable antimicrobial pee cloth keeps your hands dry on one side while sopping moisture into the absorbent, antimicrobial side that won’t show stains” .
The kula cloth also has reflective threads to easily locate with your headlamps, no more guessing which side it the right one to use! After you wipe off, attach it to your bag and let it dry. The benefit is that the sun and antimicrobial fiber works together to remove the germs.
View Kula Cloth on REI
Use Pee Funnel
Female urinal pee funnel is a holy grail to serve as a portable urinal device.
How To Pee Using a Pee Funnel?
It might be tough a chose to find a place to pee without exposing yourself if you’re in desert or wide open areas, and squatting adds to that problem. We can make it easier and pee like the boys! This pee funnel is the solution to making your camping trip easier.
With a pee funnel, you use it standing up! No need to squat, remove your shoes, clothing, angle yourself so you don’t pee on yourself, and look for snakes or other critters that can bite you, and the list goes on! Pee standing, what more can you ask for!
View PeeBuddy on Amazon
How To Poop in the woods?
Disposal of your Waste. How do you dispose your waste properly and follow the Leave No Trace principle and mantra of outside adventurers is “Pack it in, pack it out.”
You need to look after your hygiene, but you also need to ensure you take care of the environment by making it clean and safe.
Well! There is no escape from squatting here and taking your waste everywhere untreated isn’t the best idea. We found this Cleanwaste Go Anywhere Toilet Kit™ that contains toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disposal bags contain poo power that turns waste into gel for safe and easy disposal. Is it me or do you also have the fear that your waste will leak out because that zip-close seal isn’t completely sealed?
Cleanwaste GO Anywhere Toilet waste bags are recommended by the Leave No Trace program in conjunction with the National Forest Service, as long as you take all your products out with you.
Leave No Trace Method
- Dig a cat hole about 6 to 8 inches deep to bury your human waste and 200 feet away from water, camp, and trails. This trowel or this potty trowel will make digging holes a bit easier.
- When you have done pooping, cover the hole.
- If you are pooping into a portable toilet, carry waste with you using the Cleanwaste Go Anywhere Toilet Kit™. Turning your waste into a solid makes transporting it a bit less gross.
Backpacking on Your Period
You might consider being on your period as your set back, but trust its not that bad. If you take precautions beforehand and prepare yourself accordingly, then you can comfortably enjoy your camping trip without worrying too much.
Use Menstrual Cup
It’s time to switch to the menstrual cup from the pad if you have not already. It not only provides you extra protection out there, but it is safe for the environment as well. Remember to always wash your hands before inserting it inside. Keep it clean; we don’t want foreign germs inside our vagina, do we? Rinse it off with water after every use.
I have always used Lena Menstrual cups for this purpose. These are reusable and lightweight with a filling capacity of 3-4 tampons. This means that you don’t have to pack tampons or pads and carry them with you. You can leave it inside your vagina for up to 12 hours.
I also like Saalt Menstrual Cups which will has a filling capacity of 3-4 tampons.
Same principle of Leave No Trace here. If you plan to dispose of it on site, 200 feet away from water, camp , trails, and drainages. Use that trowel to dig a cat hole 6-8 inches deep.
Keep Waste to a Minimum
Always keep extra bags to carry your period products with you, following the disposal rule from the Leave-no-Trace principle. It might sound gross to you, considering the smell and irritation you might feel. But hey! Have some trust; I won’t leave you without a solution.
The best way is to keep your disposals in a zip close bag and carry some baking soda in it to keep the smell away. Put your used products and throw them away (or wash them if you plan to use menstrual underwear) when you reach home. You can also bring a lightweight stuff sack to keep your unused item in it.
Birth Control Pills
On the pill? Don’t forget to pack them.
If you can plan your trip around your period, that would mean you would carry less in and out. Plan your trip before or after your periods to makes hiking a lot less complicated. Let’s get real, PMS, period, cramps, always makes camping less fun. Add the gassiness, bloating, mood swings and bloody mess, staying at home during this time in a comfy sweats is a good idea.
If you decide to go camping or backpacking on your period, it should be your priority to keep clean during your period to avoid contracting infections during this time.
How to Keep it Clean Down There?
It might seem complicated to maintain your hygiene as a female compared to boys during all-day hiking or dusty campgrounds. When you are backpacking, you get sweaty, and you don’t have enough room to carry an extra pair of underwear. You need extra care; otherwise, you can catch a vaginal infection or Urinary Tract Infection(UTI).
According to Stanford Medicine, UTI is the most common and increasing infection for females. It can lead to complicated situations like irritation, itching, or soreness. If you don’t want a UI to ruin your camping trip, prevention is key.
Precautions you can take:
Keep it Dry
Don’t leave your private parts moist. If your underwear did not get a chance to dry, it might attract germs. To avoid any uncomfortable situation, clean it carefully and let that part dry properly.
Wear Moisture-Wicking Underwear
Cotton underwear can cause a yeast infection. To avoid it, it’s best to wear moisture wicking fabrics that breathe well. If you can’t decide on what type of underwear to pack, check out our article on Synthetic or merino wool underwear, and see which is the best for you. Change your underwear every day and wash your dirty one with biodegradable soap.
Is it Safe to Take a Bath in Nature?
If you are wondering, is it safe for you to take a plunge into pristine clean water? Then the answer is, NO! Because it might be wonderful for you, but It’s not safe for water creatures and the ecosystem.
When you bath into the water in a wilderness area, you may induce harmful chemicals and germs into an already delicate water stream. You tarnish that water source with sunscreen, beauty products, and, worst case, the oils from your skin. So please watch and enjoy but don’t plunge in.
Sometimes you’ve got to bathe after a long day in trial or hiking, needed some relief from the tiredness of the day, and that’s understandable. If are setting up camp for the day, hang a camp shower on a warm afternoon or use a portable shower with a heater and enjoy a warm shower at the end of the day and using a quick-dry towel. It is an excellent way to stay clean and fresh for the day.
For a brisk camping shower, clean your face, feet, armpit, and nether region, then use one side of the towel as a sponge and another one to dry yourself. Finally, put the towel out to dry.
What Else Can You Do to Feel Clean?
If you will be skipping a shower because you’re winter camping or its just not an option take a pack of Sea to Summit Wipes, Surviveware, or Combat Wipes Gaia along with you to wipe down your face, body, and especially the armpits to keep the foul odor away.
Remember, wipe from top down. Use a new wipe to clean your privates from your feet and hands.
Use deodorant to cover the bad sweaty smell but make sure to use only unscented ones to avoid attracting wild animals. I like Lume Natural Deodorant. It’s free of parabens, aluminum, baking soda and comes in either tubes or sticks. You can use it on your arm pits, privates, and feet.
If using a whole body deodorant, don’t apply the stick directly on your privates or feet. Apply on clean hands before applying elsewhere.
How much to drink? It depends on weather, terrain, how long you’ll be hiking. If you are leisurely camping, at least 2-liter waters. Backpacking or going for day-long hikes in hot weather will need more water , and make sure to carry a hydration bladder if possible. Pre-hydrate by drinking 1 L of water before you get started and you’re trekking through hot weather and rugged terrain, at least 1L every hours.
The idea is to prevent yourself from dehydration on those sunny and hot hiking days. If your main source of water will be lakes and stream, you’ll need to filter and purify your water. Plan accordingly.
Keep Your Hands Clean
Always make sure to wash your hands or use hand wipes, or sanitizer before eating and after contact with your private parts. Unclean hands are the easiest way for bacteria and germs to get onto your gear, eyes, mouth and food.
Use a Sleeping Bag Liner
A bag liner cannot only make you warm, but it also helps you to keep your sleeping bag cleaner. If you aren’t sure where to get started, here are tips on how to choose a sleeping bag liner.
Tips and Tricks for Unruly Hair
Do you know what will save you from a bad hair day in the woods?
Braids! Yes, braiding your hair will keep your hair looking neat, keep it from tangling and make it stylish for the pictures. You can protect your head from the sun or cold weather with by wearing hats, and beanies.
Taking Care of Your Feet
Happy feet mean happy trails. Stinky feet are likely to attract mosquitoes which can be a hassle to struggle with. Preventing blisters are key but if you do get them, always treat blisters on time. Choose hiking socks to keep your feet happy and healthy and give you the comfort of a cushion and keep you fresh day-in and day-out. The best way to prevent injuries is to change your socks regularly when you are backpacking.
At the end of the day, what’s most important is to enjoy yourself without stressing about other things too much. It’s always better to take precautions before your trip to avoid any undesirable circumstances because you never know what might happen. With proper tools and tricks, you can enjoy your trip without freaking out at when you spot that first drop of blood. You’re all covered with this guide- Take care of your hygiene and leave no trace. Happy traveling!
Last update on 2021-03-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API