Hiking Hygiene: Periods (and other things).

by | Feb 21, 2023 | Hiking and Travel Tips

If you’ve been around a while, this post may sound familiar. We published this a while back but decided it needed a refresher.

Ladies, this one’s for you! We know there are a ton of badass babes killing it on the trails and really, there isn’t much that needs to be directed towards one gender or the other, however, experience has taught us there are some unique needs for women in the wilderness. Also, it seems concerns over hygiene keep people, particularly women, from committing to a longer, overnight trek, especially if you’re talking back country. I know it made me nervous at first so we will call this the post I really wish someone else would have written before I had to learn all of these things for myself.


So, let’s jump right in. Periods. Yeah, I’m going there. My first and most important piece of advice is simply to throw a few pads/tampons in your backpack. You know the “pad pocket” in most purses, have one in your backpack. Another great option is packing a few pairs of period underwear like Thinx. My only caveat here is make sure you try hiking in them a few times prior to any trip to ensure comfort and minimal chafing. Even if you think there is no way in hell you will be starting your period during the trip, traveling and nature can do weird things to your body when you least expect it, trust me. 

Hopping on the bus to the middle of nowhere (AKA Wonder Lake in Denali National Park)

If you happen to find yourself in a situation where a bus just dropped you off 90 miles from any sort of civilization for 2 nights and mother nature thinks she’s being funny and you did not come prepared. . .socks. You’re going to have to sacrifice your least loved pair of socks (or some article of clothing). Use a pocket knife to cut an appropriate size rectangle and well, you can figure it out from there. Is it the most comfortable thing in the whole world. . .hell no, but I made it through 2 days worth of camping and hiking just fine. And learned a valuable lesson, always be prepared. I would also recommend storing some zip top bags in the pocket to ensure you’re able to sanitarily secure any waste for your hike out.

Most importantly, don’t dwell on it. Yes, it can be a huge bummer when your period aligns with an epic vacation but I assure you when all is said and done, it’s the epic vacation you will remember. A few moments of “this f-ing sucks”, 20 minutes with some socks and a pocket knife and what I remember most from that trip were the incredible hikes and the most amazing campsite I’ve ever stayed at. A huge part of trips like these are being able to go with the flow and improvise as needed. (Also, NO, having your period will not attract bears. I’ve googled that more than once.)

The bear don’t care. He won’t eat you just because you’re on your period.

Other Useful Items

Now that you know to always have a “pad pocket” in your pack, a few other hygiene items that I always have with me are wet wipes, dry shampoo, a scentless moisturizer and castile soap. There are a few forms of wipes I like to keep handy. The flushable ones are perfect for freshening up “down there” and using in place of toilet paper. Remember to follow all rules of wherever you are hiking and camping. You likely will need to hike out with these wipes if there are not trash receptacles which is where having extra resealable plastic bags can be useful. I also like grabbing the wipes that are meant for makeup removal. A bunch of brands make them and they are perfect for wiping the dirt and grime off your face. You can use them all over the rest of your body as well. Especially after a sweaty hike, it can feel incredibly refreshing to take a “wipe bath”.

Dry shampoo and scentless moisturizer are more luxury items but they help make me feel good if I’m going multiple days without a shower and especially if my skin is baking in the sun. There’s some great travel size dry shampoos that are easy to toss in a pack and same with moisturizers. I like ones that can be used on my face and body just to save on how many little containers I’m bringing.

The other item I have found really helpful is a small thing of Castile Soap. I have a travel size of Dr. Bronners and it can literally be used for anything. If you do end up where there are showers or water it can be used as a body soap or shampoo. You can use it to wash dishes, we’ve used it to get stains out of clothes, literally anything. Even adding a drop to a wet washcloth works great in place of a shower.

My biggest piece of advice:  just embrace the no shower, no makeup, no hair dryer life. Don’t let that scare you from getting outside and enjoying everything nature has to offer. If you have any other tips or tricks, please leave a comment below!

Would never let a little dirt, grime and cramps stop me from seeing this view!
Alison Glowinski

Alison Glowinski

Alison is a co-founder of Happy People Hike, THE Head Happy Hiker, usually lost, and always hungry.

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