This year was the first year of the Ultimate 4wd Challenge in outback NSW. Over a week in the desert watching winch trucks send it and break things. What a dream…except for a few things. How do you keep clean and what do you do when it’s that time of the month? Lucky for me I’m well accustomed to the lifestyle and with a few simple things you can leave the anxiety at home and the good times at camp. If you have ever camped in the desert, it is dusty and hot. Dirt gets everywhere leaving you wondering if you are tanned or just dirty. As you can imagine staying clean is not easy. To add to that, water is precious.
Here are my top items for all the female adventurers out there:
- Dry shampoo
- Wet wipes, lots and lots
- Body spray, perfume, scented deodorant. Whichever you prefer
- Menstrual cup
- Extra underwear
Now when you are in the middle of the desert, you can’t just pop down to the river for a dip to refresh yourself, so there is a bit more prep needed. This is where wet wipes come into their own. They are so multi-purpose, they are your shower, your saviour from the messiness of your period, the best thing to use to clear that dirt out of your nose and a good way to keep your friends not BO. The dust was the worst part of the week honestly, the colour of our snot was not pretty and made our noses bleed a little bit when we blew them. We found that a tissue didn’t cut the mustard, however a wet wipe, heaven! I think the wetness of it helped to loosen up the boogers and soothe our noses. Now I was lucky enough to get my period right in the middle of the week, so good. Right when you are hanging for a shower you get to feel extra dirty and gross, but once again wet wipes to the rescue! A trip to the bathroom, a change of underwear, a wet wipe shower downstairs and my menstrual cup and we were feeling good.
If you don’t use a menstrual cup, I highly recommend it. I know a lot of people use tampons, but I always found they made me cramp and feel clogged up which made me feel pretty shit. Now, I know not everyone will agree and some may not feel comfortable using one because well if you weren’t well familiarised with your cooch well you will using a menstrual cup. If you don’t know what I mean, go give google a spin.
Here are my pros and cons of a menstrual cup:
- Only needs to be emptied in the morning and night (this obviously is dependent on your flow, but most are able to hold more than the average female will bleed a day and can be left in for up to 11 hours) If you do have a heavy flow one day, which I do occasionally, you may need to empty it in the afternoon, I know when I do because well, you start to feel it. The weight of it makes it move lower in your vagina and you feel it.
- So long as cramps are playing nice, I forget I have my period because when properly inserted you can’t feel it
- Makes me feel cleaner since it catches all the period
- It’s reusable and easy to pack, since all you need is the menstrual cup. No worrying about disposing of a tampon or pad or not bringing enough
- It can be easily cleaned by boiling it so it can be put away in its bag for next month
- It takes a few periods to learn how to insert it properly so you don’t get any leaking. It’s an art to get it to pop open at the start
- Can be messy when emptying and inserting it. Wet wipes to the rescue AGAIN
- You might need to try a few different brands as they are different sizes, no two bodies are the same but all are beautiful
- Kind of a tip but can be a con. I find if you put some toilet paper in the toilet first and pour the contents on the toilet paper and flush straight away it stops a trail of period in the bottom of the toilet bowl which can be awkward if there is a line for the toilet. It is even more awkward when it’s a portaloo since it has that flap you do your business on and folds down when you flush. Period skid marks, no thanks. Now if you are bush, this isn’t a big deal, cover it with some dirt like when you do a poo and you're sweet.
In addition to my menstrual cup, I also usually bring a few pairs of period-proof underwear. I don’t always use them but I like to have them as an option and peace of mind for when you are feeling like it’s coming on and have a bit of leakage freakage. I also wear a pair to bed when my flow is at its peak because well who wants to deal with cleaning a sleeping bag with period on it. Now I haven’t leaked from my menstrual cup at night for a very long time but I get leakage freakage bad and I find I just sleep better when I do.
That’s my take on dealing with periods while out exploring, but everyone is different so do what works for you.
Let’s tackle showers next.
On this trip we brought extra water, a 12v cigarette point powered shower and a shower tent. We planned to heat some of the water so we could enjoy a warm shower. When you use this kind of shower it is best to not leave the water running because well you don’t have endless water. What I do is wet my body and hair, soap up and shampoo up then rinse. I have recently moved to using bar shampoo and conditioner for camping. I like it for camping because you get an entire bottle in the size of a soap bar and it can’t spill. If you let the bar dry in the sun after it will last even longer. I find the shampoo is really good, but the conditioner is harder to use because you don’t know how if you have enough on until you start rinsing, but saves on space. We had a shower about halfway through, and yes this was before my period. If only I had known the next day it was coming!
To keep us somewhat human between the showers we used our trusty wet wipes to wash the important bits and made sure we reapplied deodorant and gave ourselves a quick spritz of perfume or scented deodorant. It’s amazing how good a wet wipe shower and deodorant can be, not to mention a fresh pair of socks and underwear. To keep our hair sort of reasonable we gave it a brush, dry shampoo and plaited it. Since it was so dry in the desert I found my hair didn’t get that oily so I didn’t use dry shampoo as much.
Overall, it was a great trip with great company. Hopefully, you found my tips helpful, but at the end of the day. The most important part is getting out there!
At Offmain, we believe that 4WDing and outdoor adventure is for everyone, and getting started should be easy. Founded by a team of female 4WDers and a rookie hiking adventurer, Offmain is a positive and inclusive community for people of all experience levels, from those researching Vehicles, Camping and adventure options - all you need is the love to explore.
Come on an adventure with us 🥳
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/Offmain22