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).
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!
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.
3. It’s Environmentally
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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