At first, multi-day and long distance hiking can seem quite daunting – especially as a woman.
What clothes will I wear, how will I wash, what about my period?
All valid questions of course but the benefits far out way those concerns – all which are easily managed.
Here’s my advice, after a month of hiking on the Heysen Trail, for women interested in extending their day walks to overnight, multi-day or even long distance hikes.
What to wear
In this day and age, every outdoor store offers an over whelming number of options for what to wear when hiking.
The most suitable option will differ depending on the climate, and your personal preference however my biggest tip is to opt for layers and pack as light as possible.
Below is my personal clothing checklist when hiking in moderate temperates and has been perfect for day hikes in the Grampians, 5 days on the Overland and packing for this current journey; 55 days from Parachilna in Flinders Ranges to Cape Jervis on the Peninsula on the 1200km Heysen Trail – plus all other hikes in between!
2x moisture wicking yoga tights
2x running shirts
1x lightweight jumper
1x Puffer vest
1x rainproof jacket (gortex)
1x rainproof pants
2x hiking socks (to rotate)
1x night socks (light ankle socks)
2x sports bras
1x thermal top
1x thermal pants
1x lightweight shorts (for camp)
1x lightweight pants (trackies for camp)
1x lightweight polar fleece (for camp)
1x thongs (for camp)
And of course, my trusty boots!
I prefer the flexibility of yoga tights over hiking specific pants however either are suitable. I rotate socks every day and hang the dirty pair on the outside of my pack to dry along with my microfibre towel and anything else that requires airing!
Showers are often few and far between on multi-day hikes so other methods of keeping clean are often required.
Here are the three options I use:
1) The Bush Shower
When water and privacy are not an issue, the bush shower is my personal preference.
Heat some water (even 300ml will do it!) in your pot, wet your exfoliation glove with some soap, scrub, then rinse!
Finish off with a touch of baby powder to feel completely refreshed. You wouldn’t believe how little water is required to be completely clean and feeling refreshed!
Be sure to have everything you need nearby and ready to go, especially if it’s cold!
2) The discreet tent wash!
Using either baby wipes or a damp cloth, have a quick wipe over within your tent and as always – finish up with a sprinkle of baby powder! I do this quickly every morning to feel fresh for the day.
3) The no-wash
When you’re short of time, ran out of baby wipes and don’t have access to extra water, a sprinkle of baby powder in all the creases will have you feeling as good as new! Make sure you do your feet, behind your knees, under your arms, across your chest and especially in your undies!
My essential hygiene packing list
- baby powder (you won’t regret it!)
- exfoliating glove / cloth
- soap/body wash
- microfibre towel
- roll-on deodorant
- hand sanitiser
Periods and Hormones
When you tell your friends you’re going hiking for almost two months the first question they tend to ask is “what about your period”. And rightly so, when you’re talking about hiking through remote locations for double the length of a typical cycle.
Here’s a few tips to deal with that time of month – and the surrounding issues.
Whether your preference is pads or tampons, or even a menstrual cup/rinse option, be sure to take ample supplies and have a disposal plan.
I wrap my used supplies in a small paper bag and then put that into a medium sized zip lock bag which acts as my rubbish bin. The zip lock bag lives in my small “girlie bag” until I am either able to burn the contents, or we pass a town with rubbish bins.
Note: If paper bags are too bulky you can wrap with toilet paper.
- Discreet dedicated “girlie bag” (I use a small dry bag)
- Ample pads/tampons for the duration
- Toilet paper and wet wipes
- Brown paper bags
- Zip lock bags
- Hand sanitiser
- Pain killers
Hormones, mood swings and energy levels
Everyone is impacted differently throughout their cycle, but my biggest tips would be to pay attention to your body, and allow for rest days and pack jelly beans!
If you’re getting a little snappy or feel small things are getting you down for a few days, perhaps it’s hormone related. Break more often, take time to appreciate the beauty around you, even have a day off if you need.
Jelly beans from the chemist are a fantastic option for an almost instant sugar hit for those days you’re struggling to keep up and if you can afford the weight, oranges are even better. Don’t forget to up your iron and vitamin c intake too.
The idea of dealing with your period during multi-day hiking can seem a little off-putting but as long as you’re prepared and you listen to your body, it’s no more trouble than at home.
There is a bit of planning involved in multi-day hiking but for me, it’s all about going back to basics, getting outside and enjoying the small things… and fresh air each morning makes it totally worth it!
Kirstie McConnell recently completed the 1200km Heysen Trail in 55 days along with her partner Shane (both pictured here with Sally from Emily’s Bistro in Quorn) successfully raising mental health issue awareness in rural communities and funds for Beyond Blue and the MS Society of SA & NT. You can check out their blog, videos and photos at Camp Pack or on Facebook.