I don’t talk about my favorite piece of outdoor gear. None of us girls do. There’s a silent contingent of outdoorswomen who, every 30 or so days, feel thankful to have found a solution to one of the most frustrating aspects of being a girl in the backcountry — periods.
There’s no sugarcoating it: It stinks. You try to predict the day it’s going to strike, but the change in environment and more active lifestyle make it as regular and consistent as snowfall in Tahoe. Which means have no choice but menstruation management, which can be difficult even with unlimited front country amenities.
I remember the first time I went on a month-long backpacking trip. My sister gave me a navy stuff sack and told me to put two plastic baggies inside and to fill one with double the tampons and panty-liners that I thought I’d need for the month because other people would run out. The other baggie was for the used goods. And I should bring a dark bandana just in case. Huh? What do you do with the bandana? What bag goes where? I’d have to carry the bloody trash around for a month? Gross.
Then a friend introduced me to the DivaCup, a two-inch silicone bell that collects menstrual flow instead of absorbing it. You only have to empty it twice a day. For $34, I found a solution to my biggest outdoor headache. After putting it in each morning of my period, I could forget about it until I got to camp and not worry about leaks. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after, clean it out with some water, dig a cathole, and make sure to bear bag. It’s awesome.
And the benefits go beyond escaping the hassle of pads and tampons. It’s cheaper long term — as long as you take proper care of it and sterilize it in boiling water at the end of each cycle, the DivaCup allegedly lasts for a decade. Not to mention the environmental benefit. No product consumption and purchasing, no extra plastic in landfills.
The DivaCup doesn’t solve all period problems. It definitely took some getting used to in terms of…ahem…placement. But it’s allowed me to be fully present in my hike, paddle, ride, swim, or climb without worries.