Feminine Hygiene Tips for River Trips
If you are a woman and you are new to multi-day adventures, you may be thinking about the seemingly obvious elephant in the room… It's no secret that hygiene looks different for female and male identifying people, especially when you’re in the backcountry. Here at ROW, we are here to answer your ‘taboo’ questions with ease, and assure you that your adventure isn’t disturbed by your normal functions and hygiene routine.
If you are going on your first multi-day river trip, one of your first questions is likely, “how do you go to the bathroom?” For all human waste, we follow the nearby National Forest Service requirements in compliance with Leave No Trace. For liquid waste, this almost always means it needs to be disposed of in the river. It is best practice to urinate in the river in water levels above (500 cfs). For any commercial river trips, your water flow will be above that mark. Although you may be tempted to pee on land where you can find more privacy, you can think of the sandy beaches along the river as a litter box… If everyone peed there, no one would want to be there.
At ROW Adventures, we recommend all guests pee directly into the river when you are not at camp where there will be a designated tent with a toilet setup for ultimate privacy. If you are a woman reading this, you are probably thinking “you have got to be kidding me!” Fear not, as we have a few tips to make your life on the river easy.
Invest in a Dedicated Pee Cloth
For women at ROW, when going number one in the river, we recommend you face the enemy, and moon the river. It is usually easier to cover up this way when needed. If you see someone likely using the restroom in the shallows of the river, remember, peeing isnt weird, but watching someone pee is! Just look the other way.
If you are someone that is nervous about the potential of going without having toilet paper readily available throughout the day, and rather not drip dry, consider bringing along a dedicated pee cloth. It is best practice to not leave traces of toilet paper, so unless you bring something along with this intention, you will have to go solo. Any bandana you might have works great for this. Alternatively, many of our guides and staff use Kula Cloths. Kula’s are antimicrobial absorbent squares that are designed by women, for women in the backcountry. One side is for wiping any residual moisture and the other side is waterproof, usually with a fun design, that you fold over the absorbent side and snap closed for privacy and cleanliness. You can snap and attach your Kula clean side out to your day pack, jacket, or anywhere easily accessible throughout the day. These are made with non toxic hypoallergenic fabrics that are designed to be in contact with the human body. You can use it multiple times before it needs a wash. If you wish to wash it while on your river trip, you can simply rinse it with some biodegradable soap, and hang it to dry. When you get home, you can throw it in your laundry machine (snapped closed) with the rest of your laundry. Easy pee-zy!
By using a Kula Cloth, or bandana of similar nature, you are reducing the amount of toilet paper that may be left behind in the wilderness, all the while keeping your hygiene happy.
“I take my Kula cloth with me everywhere, hiking, biking, whitewater rafting, and kayaking. It easily attaches to my backpack or in my pocket. Even in my pocket, I don't worry about it smelling or being dirty due to the clean outside material. My Kula cloth came in handy on my most recent trip kayaking in Baja. I was dry and comfortable the entire trip!”
- Candy Bening, past River Guide and current River Sales Manager at ROW Adventures.
Consider Using a FUD (Female Urination Device)
Let us start by answering all your questions about the above topic. A female urination device is a small reusable funnel that allows women to pee while standing up without having to take off clothing. FUDs come in all shapes and sizes and are designed to work inside your fly. Some brand names that you may have heard of before are Shee Wee or Go-Girl.
Now, from woman to woman, these take some practice. We highly recommend you try a few times at home in the shower in the off chance there are some learning mistakes or spills. If some learning curves still catch you on your outdoor adventure, remember that the river is forgiving, and it’s there to wash anything you need. The feeling of going while standing up feels wrong at first. It takes some training and breathing to let your body know it's okay to go. Once you get the hang of these, they are a game changer. To use a FUD, your liquid waste will flow through the funnel and out the open end in front of you into the river and other appropriate grounds. You can think of this aiding your urination experience similar to the plumbing system of a man… Many of our guides who use these express that they feel like they have more privacy, and eases the vulnerability of alternatively squatting in a new environment. Most FUDs come in a discreet carrying case so you can travel with it and stay clean. You can find various kinds of FUDs online, so there is bound to be one that works best for you.
Try Out a Menstrual Cup
If you have never tried one of these before, consider looking into them before you depart on your multi-day adventure. Menstrual cups are a great waste-free alternative to other menstrual products. You can leave them in for up to 12 hours and you can swim in the river without worry all day. A popular name brand of menstraul cups is the Diva Cup.
You will have access to our private bathroom tent setup morning and night at camp, so if you are someone that needs to change their disposable menstrual products often, consider using a menstrual cup. If you choose to bring along disposable products, be sure to bring plenty, as well as a few ziploc bags to create a dirty and clean system as you must carry out anything that you bring in. Menstrual cups are usually made out of a silicon or natural rubber material that is safe for your body. Just like FUPs, menstrual cups come in all shapes and sizes so you can find one that's comfortable for you. These are also important to test out before your adventure.
At the end of the day, it is best to rinse these out with warm water. On ROW trips, we usually always have hot water readily available at camp. Alternatively, you can always clean it at the end of the day with a baby wipe.
Best part about all of this? All of these tips can be used together, to create one awesome, and dare we say, deluxe bathroom experience while on the river, or any backcountry environment for that matter.
Consider Wraps, Skirts, and Dresses
To top it all off, there are a couple articles of clothing we recommend for your next river trip. If you are joining a ROW Adventures trip, you will notice that many of our packing lists recommend bringing sarongs for numerous reasons. Sarongs can be used as a sand free blanket to lay your things on at camp, you can dip it in the river to cool you down throughout the day, and you can wear it on the boat or at camp as a skirt. Similarly, we recommend bringing a skirt with you on your next river trip. Just like the sarong, a flowy skirt will allow you to wade in the water to pee, making it seamless and comfortable throughout the day. You will have plenty of opportunities throughout the day to wade in the river to use the bathroom and enjoy cooling down. You can throw on a skirt, dress, or sarong over your swim bottoms to provide easy coverage and great access for going and using any of the products mentioned above.
No matter how you chose to do your business on the river, remember that ROW provides a private tent with a full groover system for all your solid waste. Our private tent that will be set up at camp every night has a spot for number one and two, all the toilet paper you may need, and a trash can for any other disposables. Your guides will walk you through the camp bathrooms upon your arrival at camp. Your guides are there to keep your spirits high and hygiene happy. If there is something you need to further either of these things, don’t hesitate to ask!