Pads are not ideal for outdoor activities. Cons:
- Uncomfortable and Bad Odor – Walking for a long time can be really uncomfortable if using sanitary napkins, especially in hot and humid weather.
- Cannot Get Wet – Obviously, no one will use pads for swimming, diving and river tracing.
- Need to Change Frequently – For a long walk, it’s impossible to take a break every four hours and with enough time to change your pad.
- Big – It’s big. It also means pads waste a lot of space in your backpack.
Tampons are the smallest period products here. In general, you can leave a tampon in for up to 8 hours, which is quite okay for outdoors, especially backpacking.
For water activities, you might need to change a tampon right away once you leave the water.
It’s light and small. However, you will get a little messy. Since there’s no clean water in the wild, you might need to use wet wipes to clean your fingers.
Tampons with Plastic Applicators
It’s light and small. However, you will get a little messy. Since there’s no clean water in the wild, you might need to use wet wipes to clean your fingers. Applicators are quite easy-to-use for beginners. With applicators, you can change your tampon without the mess and with efficiency. Nevertheless, It’s three times bigger than non-applicator tampons. The worst thing is it creates lots of plastic garbage and cannot be compressed in your backpacks. It’s light and small. However, you will get a little messy. Since there’s no clean water in the wild, you might need to use wet wipes to clean your fingers.
Tampons with Paper Applicators
Paper can be easily compressed in your backpacks. However, the applicators might be broken if you didn’t well-organized them in your bags.
I had used tampons on my period in the past. A few months ago I had a heavy period I’ve never expected on the mountain. It was quite a bad experience because I feared for the usage of tampons and I couldn’t find anyone for help. After that, I start to consider using menstrual cups for backpacking on periods. It’s non-disposable, and can leave in up to 12 hours. But, your hands can be messy.
Menstrual cups require clean water while pulling it out. It can be a problem in the wild. Alternatively, you can use wet wipes instead. Considering your hands might get really messy, this might not be a good solution because we then use more wet wipes, which creates as much garbage as other kinds of period products.
Cups with Discharge Valves
At the end of the stem, there’s a release valve which allows you to empty the discharge without removing the cup out of your body. This design is brilliant. Why turns menstrual period a trouble to woman is that we cannot control the discharge like how we control to piss. With the valves, you can squeeze the valve to empty the cup with just a little bit messy. You can put the cup inside your body in the whole trip. No garbage, no weight and no space in your backpack.
My Best Choice: Menstrual Cups with Discharge Valves
A menstrual cup is about four times heavier than a tampon. That is, for an outdoor activity that is more than a day, a menstrual cup is definitely the best if you just consider weight and volume. Adding sanitary conditions, the traditional menstrual cups might not be suitable for wildlife anymore. In short, my personal priority to bring period products to outdoors will be:
- Menstrual cups with discharge valves
- Non-applicator tampons
- Applicator tampons
- Traditional menstrual cups
It not that common to see cups with valves. I only found two company selling this kind of cups:
- Victoria’s Love: Their official website is no longer available but I found out they still sell their products on Taobao.
- AiwoBeiBei: No English version on their official website even if they display the icon on the header. Seems like they only sell on Taobao.
Hummm…seems like these two products only facing the Chinese market?
My experience with AiwoBeiBei is quite good. However, on the basis of other user’s reviews, I surmise that this cup might not suitable for low cervix because it has thicker and longer stem for discharge valves.