Being a Girl in the Backcountry

This post is for the ladies...or the few guys out there willing to take a few minutes to read it just for a better understanding of the women in their life! I won't go all "girl power" on you, but there are a few things that women get to deal with in the backcountry that men would never let's address those issues!

Pretty Faces: Is it okay to wear make-up in the backcountry?

I swear there are usually only two takes on this: heck yes and absolutely not! Personally I'd like to add the "do whatever you want" option. Because, really, you can do whatever you want. I have friends who love the opportunity to avoid make-up while others can't stand the idea of going make up free, even for a day. We won't get into the social norms of body image, instead I'm going to share a few tips on how to find a balance between going make-up free and still feel comfortable posting trip photos on Facebook [and Instagram and Twitter and...every other social platform!].

1.20141018_174029 Photo by Lynne Petre

Paula's Tip: For my face I'm a huge fan of some form of BB cream with SPF. You don't feel like an idiot for wearing makeup on a camping trip but it provides some coverage and correction so you still want to share trip photos later!

Natalie's Tip: I think makeup is acceptable if it is important to you. I, personally, love the excuse to not have to wear it for a few days!

At the end of the whatever you feel most comfortable with. If you're willing to carry the weight of make-up and take the time to put it on, go for it. If you're excited to go make-up free while wandering the woods don't judge those of us who can't seem to give up concealer and mascara!

Hat Hair: A Crazy Hair Day, er...Week!

Nearly every guy has it easier than us ladies when it comes to managing their hair in the backcountry! Seriously, most of them don't even bother combing their hair on a daily basis so a few days away from running water and electricity don't affect their noggins in any way.

20141008-195138-71498104 Photo by Michelle Eady

Those of us with long locks; however, have to get a little more creative when showers and flat irons aren't available. As the days in the backcountry tick by a woman's hairstyle seems to follow a pattern. At first a single ponytail is enough. But before long a braid shows up and it is followed closely by a hat or Buff that never leaves our head. And this isn't necessarily a vanity thing — unruly hair falls into our eyes as we hike or droops too close to the fire while cooking!

Heather's Tip: I always bring backcountry shampoo for trips longer than 3-4 nights. It requires minimal work and keeps me from feeling absolutely disgusting. My go-to is always a cute hat though.

Michelle's Tip: I shower the day we leave then French braid myhair. The next day it will be pretty and curly without any effort, the day after that I wear a hat. We always camp by water though so I usually bring eco-friendly shampoo and conditioner and wash my hair in the lake or river.

One perk to dirty hair in the backcountry? If you lose your hair tie after a few days in the wilderness your hair will be able to hold a braid without one!

LNT: Pack it ALL out! Period.

As women there are two biological factors that we have to consider when heading into the backcounty — it's more complicated to pee and sometimes our periods show up when least expected [or we're just not willing to plan a trip around our monthly visitor]. No guy will every understand this, and some will even mock it. But it's a real concern for women who have never spent quality time in the backcountry so I think it's worth addressing. After a few trips into the wilderness you'll find a method that works best for you but here are a few tips to get you started:

Heather's Tip: I've learned that the backcountry dry-freeze food bags work great to pack out any tampons. They seal tight so nothing leaks and they aren't clear so you don't have to look at anything, which is a huge win!

Heidi's Tip: Take a one-quart ziploc bag [the good quality ones!] and wrap it in duct tape. If you are like me and have five different designs of duct tape color coordinate your ziploc bags — regular trash, bio bag, lady bio bag, etc.

IMG_1006 Photo by Natalie Ford

The biggest thing to remember — everything needs to be packed out with you! Leaving behind any evidence of our presence is bad for the environment and just plain disgusting for other people on the trails!

The Weaker Sex: Um, no...

We've all heard this over and over...women are the weaker sex! Are our biomechanics different from men? Well, duh...that is kind of what makes us women! However, that doesn't mean we are weaker than or less able to take on wilderness challenges. It just means that sometimes we have to try harder. We're genetically shorter and leaner than men and our centers of gravity are different, too. Scrambling over boulders may be more challenging and make heavy packs more taxing...but don't let that deter you from getting outside and exploring the backcountry! If it's your first time backpacking take this advice into consideration:

Lynne's Tip: I'd suggest the Go Girl as an easy way to pee while camping. [It's a silicon contraption use to making it possible for women to pee standing up!] It's especially handy when strapped into a climbing harness or winter camping.

girls in the backcountry Photo by Natalie Ford

Paula's Tip: I always pack lip balm with SPF and face wipes so I can feel fresh without putting too much effort into it. And I jazz up my camp hair with fun headbands from Sweaty Band and Sparkly Soul.
Get out there and give it a try, but don't be overly ambitious on your first [or second, or third...] trip! Be realistic about your skills and head out with a group of people who are su
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