How to Be a Diva Hiker (Gear Review: The Diva Cup)

Hiking long distance is hard; hiking long distance while on your period is brutal. I have long felt that menstruation is the ultimate ill-humored joke of the universe. As a woman who has never wanted children and has long been obsessed with the outdoors, my period is nothing but a dreaded difficulty (though admittedly sometimes a cause for relief). Thankfully two months before my first long-distance hike, I Google-searched information about dealing with periods on the trail. Thus did the Diva Cup enter and forever change my life!

The Diva Cup is a silicone menstrual cup that gives up to 12 hours of protection. It is an actual cup that you have to actually put in your actual vagina, but once you’re past the initial “ick,” you’ll understand why my Diva Cup is my most valued possession, on or off the trail. So, next time you get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach thinking about packing out used tampons or trying to find a place to change your pad in just four hours, think again! The Diva Cup will solve all your monthly problems (or at least most of them; cramps are still the bane of my existence).

Diva Cups

 

Reasons to Love Your Inner Diva (Cup):

1. 12 Hours of Protection for .5 Ounces!

No one wants to start a day of hiking heading uphill with 20+ pounds on your back already worried about your next outhouse break. Likewise, hiking long-distance is expensive enough without the added cost of tampons and pads at most town stops. Then there’s the weight! Don’t forget- every ounce counts! The Diva Cup boasts 12 hours of protection, and they are not exaggerating! I know, because I’ve been swearing by my Diva Cup for 5 years.

I do have to admit that on day 2 and 3 I have an extra heavy flow. Those days I have to empty my cup every 4-6 hours, but that’s a far cry from changing a tampon every 4 hours for 7 days in a row! As you use your Diva Cup more and more, you’ll learn how often you have to empty it. We are, after all, unique butterflies, or monsters depending on the day of the month!

This would be the monster day.

This would be a monster day.

 

2. It’s Comfortable!

This might be a slight exaggeration on my part, but compared to a tampon, the Diva Cup is barely noticeable. You have two size options and there is a little stem on the end of the cup that has to be clipped to your comfort level. Both of these aspects of the Diva Cup are covered on their website.

I have never been a fan of tampons. They’re unwieldy and uncomfortable. Maybe I’m just shaped wrong, but as a budding young hiker I resented the fact that I had to use tampons to enjoy my usual activities. This is a large reason I was so skeptical of the Diva Cup when I first saw one in person. It’s a cup, for crying out loud! There’s no way that will be acceptable to my lady parts! Oh, how wrong I was. I’ve even forgotten I’m on my period since starting to use the Diva Cup, because I totally forgot it was up there! Of course, the inevitable cramping is always sure to keep me on my toes.

My reaction towards hubby when having to use tampons on trail.

My reaction towards hubby when having to use tampons on trail.

My reaction towards hubby when I get to hike with a Diva Cup!

My reaction towards hubby when I get to use a Diva Cup on trail!

 

3. It’s Environmentally Friendly Loving!

To say the Diva Cup is environmentally friendly is an understatement. Tampons and pads are horrible for the environment. The Diva Cup can be used for up to a decade, and you never have to buy another tampon or pad again! This is helpful to both the environment and your wallet. The Diva Cup costs about $35. Once. For up to 10 years. Think about how many tampons that is. Go on, think about it. #mindblown

Some Things to Consider/Downsides

  • The Diva Cup is difficult to get used to.

    There’s no way around it. Sticking a rubber cup into your vagina with your bare hand in the middle of the woods with few sanitary facilities is, frankly, gross and, at first, difficult.
    The website does a great job at describing how to insert and secure your Diva Cup. I’ll let them show you, but I will say the “twist” noted in Step 4 is very important. The Diva Cup must create a seal to provide 12 hours of leak-free protection, and the twist during insertion does this. If inserted incorrectly, the cup will not provide much protection.
    I suggest getting your Diva Cup a few months before your hike to get used to using it.

  • You need to be comfortable with your vagina and your period. 

    Again, plastic cup, vagina, bare hand, woods, little sanitation. I know, it’s a little disconcerting, but so is a period in general!
    Inserting a Diva Cup requires much more personal contact than some women are comfortable with, especially when on their periods. I was never very squeamish about this, but I’ve heard from friends, reviews and other Diva hikers that they had a hard time getting over the insertion technique. It gets easier the more you practice, I promise!

  • Cleaning your Diva Cup on the trail isn’t easy.

    The website says to clean it after each emptying (if you’re in a public restroom, they say to wipe it out but clean it with soap the next time you’re able). However, I found this just wasn’t possible on the trail. I didn’t carry soap with me, so I just wiped mine clean after each use and cleaned it with soap at my next town stop. This would cause me to go 4 or 5 days in a row without cleaning my cup with soap, but I never had any issues. (To be clear- I always cleaned it thoroughly with TP, not leaving any residual blood.)
    The cleaning process could be time consuming, but it still beat the alternative of carrying tampons or pads on the trail! I also kept hand sanitizer readily available, because removing and inserting the Diva Cup can be messy, too.

My overall assessment on the Diva Cup is all thumbs up. All of them, even my husband’s and my dog’s, if he had thumbs. After 5 years of backpacking with my Diva Cup, I’ll never go back. I appreciate it even when I’m not backpacking. It’s cheap (really, it’s free for me at this point!), easy to use and convenient. Every woman should get to be a Diva hiker!

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Comments 12

  • Ashley Smith : Jul 31st

    How do you empty the cup on the trail? Do you dig a hole to put the contents into?

    Reply
    • High Five : Aug 2nd

      I tried to plan my period days around available outhouses when I was on the AT, but, obviously, that wasn’t always possible. Also, now I live in Colorado where they don’t believe in shelters with outhouses (or bridges, apparently, but that’s another matter). So, yes, I dig a hole. When I’m on my period, I carry a full roll of TP (remove the cardboard center by squeezing and sliding you finger between the TP and cardboard- it squishes down easier) and a trowel to make digging a hole easier. I don’t want any extra difficulties on my period hikes! When I’m not on my period, I don’t bother with a trowel and just dig a hole with a stick or rock if I need one. Also, hand sani is always packed when I’m on my period.

      Reply
  • Ashley UpChurch-Kreykes : Aug 2nd

    I tried to plan my period days around available outhouses when I was on the AT, but, obviously, that wasn’t always possible. Also, now I live in Colorado where they don’t believe in shelters with outhouses (or bridges, apparently, but that’s another matter). So, yes, I dig a hole. When I’m on my period, I carry a full roll of TP (remove the cardboard center by squeezing and sliding you finger between the TP and cardboard- it squishes down easier) and a trowel to make digging a hole easier. I don’t want any extra difficulties on my period hikes! When I’m not on my period, I don’t bother with a trowel and just dig a hole with a stick or rock if I need one. Also, hand sani is always packed when I’m on my period.

    Reply
  • Katie Brown : Nov 11th

    I carry wipes as well, makes clean up (both of the cup and down there) much easier. I also carry extra water when I go to empty the Diva as well. It’s nice to give it a quick rinse, especially when you’re out on trail for longer stretches.

    Reply
  • Lisa : Nov 11th

    I’m trying to convert but am not yet convinced. It’s much more sanitary and fast to swap a tampon. I’ll probably end up using birth control that allows me to skip periods during my hike. But cups are still a good idea for home to cut down on waste.

    Reply
    • Heather Adams @ Not Quite Wild : Nov 19th

      Is it faster to swap a tampon? I mean yes, you don’t need to rinse off or wipe off like with the cup, but then you have to carry the additional rubbish. Pretty icky as well, right?

      Reply
      • High Five : Nov 20th

        At first I definitely found that it took me longer to swap my Diva cup, and I guess in the long run it still is longer than swapping a tampon. The weight savings and environmental impact are what really swayed my opinion of the cup. The time difference after a couple years of practice was negligible in my opinion.

        As I mentioned in another comment, now I have an IUD. It’s taken the entire period debate out of my hiking life, and I LOVE it!

        Reply
  • Erin Tuveson : Nov 11th

    100% behind the menstrual cup. There are different brands of cups out there, the Diva being the most widely know. I use a Lady Cup (company out of the UK), their sizing fit was the best for me.
    I found a routine when it came to emptying my cup. I actually stayed clear of privys as I felt they were way less sanitary than the woods. I would bring a bottle of water, hand sani, TP, and a trowel. I’d dig a hole, wash my hands with water and sanitize them. Remove the cup, empty it and wash it out with water, reinsert, rinse my hands and finish wiping up and burying anything. I’d then rinse my hands and sani them again. NEVER had any problems on trail.

    Reply
  • Lisa Charlotte : Nov 12th

    I absolutely support the moon cup / diva cup and I had been trying for several months before the trail to get my cup to work efficiently. I read and tried everything, tried a different size cup, I just couldn’t get it not to leak.
    My first cycle on the trail arrived hiking out of Fontana Dam, into the smokies in great timing! Because of my issues with the cup I was having to change or reposition energy couple of hours, not comfortable in extremely cold conditions! My first morning I was awake about 4.30am, I knew the cup was full, I knew it was leaking, I knew I had to just get up and go dig a hole in the snow covered frozen ground, also I knew I was just going to have to wear a pad as well as I couldn’t trust the cup atall. Just a couple hours down the trail my cup is super uncomfortable, my pad is super uncomfortable, the trail is a snow covered frozen tunnel of paradise yet I feel guilty that all I can think about is how massively uncomfortable I am. That was the first time I full on cried on the trail. I took the moon cup of next chance I got and I resolved to use pads for the rest of that cycle.

    I tried to use the moon cup again for my next cycle, again it just wouldn’t work right and I found myself struggling with tissue and insufficient supplies. I gave up on the moon cup and went to tampons.

    While I do desperately want the moon cup to work for me it just doesn’t. So for anyone out there who like me has tried and tried, you are not alone, maybe it is just not for some of us inspite of all our best intentions 🙁

    Reply
    • High Five : Nov 13th

      That’s so unfortunate, Lisa. I have heard from other cup users that different brands fit women better and worse. Maybe try a Diva instead of a Moon? Or the Lady Cup from the UK, which Erin Tuveson mentioned? I had trouble with leakage before I figured out the twisting motion after insertion. It seals my cup, and I haven’t had problems with leaks in a while.

      Reply
    • High Five : Nov 20th

      Lisa, I know what you mean- I have friends for whom it doesn’t work. I guess I got really lucky, although in the beginning I definitely had problems with it as well. Now I have an IUD which has taken hiking as a female to a whole new level- haven’t had a period on trail or otherwise in almost a year! Maybe I’ll need to write that blog post next! So sorry the menstrual cup option didn’t work for you!

      Reply
  • Joy Sheehan : Dec 22nd

    Hi! I came across this post and I’ve decided to link it into my own post about solo female hiking safety (not yet published at the time of leaving this comment). I have a travel and outdoor lifestyle blog and for this post on solo female hiking safety, I go through all of the what-if’s what a new solo female hiker would be concerned about. One of the topics is what if i have to poop or I’m on my period, and I’d like to suggest investing in a diva cup though I’ve never used one myself (yet!). So I’ll be linking this post for my readers to see a review of what one is and how to use it here! 🙂

    Reply

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