Yeah, seriously. I'm going there.
When I first started backpacking, I wondered what women did to keep things fresh downstairs. Well, no need to wonder anymore. I'll share how I do it and hopefully more women will chime in and share their tips and tricks.
MENSTRATION: No need to change your plans because of your period. Period.
- Diva cup or the keeper are environmentally friendly waste-free options. If you use this method, Leave No Trace (LNT) recommends packing out the blood if possible, but burying it in a cat hole 6-8" deep and at least 200ft from a water source is okay too.
- What you'll need: Menstral cup, drinkable water
- How to: Since pulling out the cup can be messy, I recommend having your water readily available. First, hover over your cat hole, pull out the cup, and pour out the contents in the hole. Then use the water to rinse the cup and then insert it back in. The cup won't be 100% clean, but that's okay. (While I'm at it, I'll rinse my vjayjay a bit.) Now use some more water to clean your hands and voila! Hand sanitizer could come it handy here too. (I'll note here that you could use hand wipes, but that just means more to pack in and pack out.)
- A must: I've said it already, but I only use potable (drinkable) water for anything related to my vagina. I do not want to risk getting some water-born parasite like giardia. (I've had it before and it's horrible.)
- In the past, I've used O.B. tampons. It's nice because there's no applicator = less waste to pack out, but it means you need to be comfortable inserting a tampon without an applicator. (If you haven't tried one, I'd say give it a try at home. It's easy peasy.) The used tampon will need to get packed out with your waste. I know, ew right? It may seem gross, but it's not okay to bury it in the same way you need to pack out your soiled toilet paper. This is best for the environment and most aligned with LNT policies.
- What you'll need: Small hand sanitizer, O.B. tampon, resealable waste bag.
- Tip: Take a durable/resealable bag for your tampons and toilet paper waste and put a little kitty litter or baking soda in it to absorb odor. Don't put it too much, you don't want to carry too much extra weight.
YOUR VJAYJAY: After hiking all day, honestly...things can get tired and hot downstairs, and I'm not talking about my feet. Also, since I use the "wiggle-dry" method after I pee, I am ready to clean up my vagina at the end of the day. You get me?
- During my clean-up routine at the end of the day, I will use my washcloth and drinkable water to wash my privates, and then get into clean underwear. This happens while hiding behind some tree or bush. ; )
- I also wash the underwear I wore that day and let it hang dry as soon as possible. This allows me to have a clean and dry pair ready for the next day. I swap between two pairs of underwear so there's no need to carry more than that.
What do you do to keep your vjayjay clean and protected on a backpacking trip?