Put A Cup In It

How To Deal With Menstrual Cramps While Camping

woman sitting on a rocky hill overlooking her camp and a sunset

Worried your period will ruin your camping trip? It certainly doesn’t have to. Whether you’re pitching your tent in a developed campground or hiking your way into the wilderness, here are a handful of simple ways to handle PMS symptoms and have a better period while camping.

3 Things To Know Before You Go Camping On Your Period:

1. A Camping Trip Can Be Good For Your Symptoms

We know sometimes the idea of exerting yourself or a big outdoor endeavor like camping can sound like way too much work during your period, but working up a sweat with exercises like hiking, swimming, and nature walks can help increase circulation and reduce bloating, which happens when your body retains water during menstruation. Doing activities you enjoy like camping and being in nature also releases endorphins, and can be a big boost to your mood during menstruation and may even help with your menstrual cramps.

2. Be Prepared To Pee Outside

Really you’re going to do almost everything outside, especially if you’re camping in the backcountry where there aren’t always public bathrooms with flushing toilets — or even toilets at all. This means you’ll also be emptying your menstrual cup or managing period products (and packing them out) without access to running water or waste disposal.

3. Do You Need A Bear Canister While Camping With Your Period?

While it’s a total myth that bears are more attracted to menstrual blood than any other scent, if you’re camping in bear country you should absolutely use a bear canister for any and all toiletries, hygiene products, and scented items — this includes period products. If you’re choosing reusable period products like period panties or a menstrual cup, you’ll need to follow Leave No Trace principles to properly dispose of menstrual blood. If you’re using disposable period products, you’ll have to secure your trash while you’re among wildlife and pack it out with you from the backcountry.

Camping Period Kit Checklist:

  • One or two menstrual cups (a backup never hurts!)
  • Backup tampons or pads
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Baby wipes or cleansing wet wipes
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Toilet Paper
  • Pain Relief

Ways To Ease Menstrual Cramps At Camp And On The Trail

Stay Hydrated, Stay Nourished

Staying hydrated will make a huge difference in how you feel during your period, and of course it’s important to hydrate while hiking. Making conscious food choices to benefit your menstrual health is also important when you’re outdoors and on the go. Try to avoid salty, fatty foods and alcohol as much as possible (hey, we’re all human) and choose foods high in nutrients and protein.

Foods Improve PMS And Symptoms of Menstruation:

Consider these foods in the weeks leading up to your period:

    • Dark Chocolate
    • Greek Yogurt
    • Avocados
    • Almonds
    • Pumpkin Seeds
    • Eggs

Try Sipping Herbal Tea

Bringing a few extra tea bags to sip something warm can bring you the relief you need for a nice relaxing evening at camp. Teas like chamomile, peppermint, and ginger have natural anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce menstrual cramps and ease the discomfort that comes with them.


If you’re not up for intense outdoor activities like hiking or kayaking, light exercise like yoga and stretching helps to reduce stress and increase circulation, both of which help with menstrual cramps. The best yoga poses for relief from cramps are Child’s Pose, Cat-Cow, Cobra, and Reclining Twist.

5 Extra Items To Pack For A Better Period While Camping

Hot Water Bottle

The warm soothing comfort of a hot water bottle for cramps exists because it helps to relax the muscles of the uterus and abdomen that are tense from contracting, and increases blood flow which helps tissue and muscles recover more quickly. It may be a little harder to warm up your heating pad at camp, but an empty hot water bottle can be compressed to fit in your pack, doesn’t add much weight to your load, and boiling water is easy even in the backcountry.

Wipes And Water For Hand Washing and Cup Washing

It can be tough to insert and remove your menstrual cup without getting any menstrual blood on your fingers, so carry a little extra water or wet wipes for washing your hands before and after inserting and removing your cup to avoid any chance of infection from dirty hands. When emptying your menstrual cup in the backcountry without a sink or toilet, Leave No Trace principles specify that you should dig a cat hole roughly six inches deep, four inches wide, and 200 feet away from trails or water sources to empty blood and wash your menstrual cup into.

Extra Pillow

There’s nothing like a little extra comfort of home while camping, and what’s cozier than an extra pillow? When car camping (driving up to your campsite) it’s easy to pack extra bedding, but if you’re headed into the backcountry and carrying your wares on your back you may want something a little more compressible and lightweight. Inflatable camping pillows are perfect for this, and fold up light and tiny in your backpack.

Extra Pain Relief Medication

Even if you’re not typically someone who needs pain relief medicine during their period, it doesn’t hurt to pack a little aspirin or ibuprofen in your first aid kit. It’s easy to get dehydrated while camping and hiking, and even more so when you’re menstruating because of the nutrients your body is shedding along with menstrual blood. You’ll want to be prepared

Period Underwear For Sleeping

Not everyone likes to sleep with their menstrual cup in all night, and it’s not recommended to sleep with a tampon in for more than ~7 hours (we don’t know about you but we like at least a full 8 hours). Period panties are the perfect solution for extra protection at night or to give your vagina a break from a cup or tampon.

NOTE: When washing and rinsing period panties in the backcountry, follow the same Leave No Trace guidelines for emptying a menstrual cup. So no, while you can camp there, you can’t wash your period underwear down by the river.

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