Are there women hiking in your group?
In an industry as specialized as the hiking industry it should be no surprise that there are numerous product lines tailored specially to the female hiker.
While not all women's product lines differ significantly from the ordinary product line, there are a few issues that female hikers need to bear in mind before setting off on a trip.
Women hiking should definitely consider purchasing the following items from a line that has been designed with a woman's body in mind. While items from a woman's line may cost a few pennies more, the benefits in both comfort and functionality will out last any “buyer's remorse.”
Women Walk Differently
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- Footwear: Footwear consists of not only your boots, but socks as well. In order to have a successful trek, you need to take care of your feet.
A good way to ensure proper foot care is to purchase and wear good fitting socks. It would be wise to seek both nylon and wool socks designed for women. These socks tend to be a bit narrower than a men's sock and is in keeping with the typically narrower foot of a female. Women hiking in socks that are to wide are more prone to painful blisters that could be caused if extra fabric folds over and forms a crease that then rubs against the foot.
Women's hiking boots tend to be a bit lighter in weight and are typically shorter in the ankle than a boot not designed for women.
Women Sleep Differently
- Women's Sleeping Bag: When compared to a man's body, a woman's body has more curves and is typically shorter.
With this in mind, why should women hiking sleep in a bag that has been designed for men hiking? The answer, they shouldn't!
This is another example of a place that it would be prudent for women to find a bag designed with the female anatomy in mind. Most women are not designed to be football players with wide shoulders but are designed to bear children with wider hips.
A typical woman's sleeping bag is shorter, narrower in the shoulders, and wider in the hips when compared to a man's sleeping bag.
Women Pack Differently
- Backpack: Due to a woman's distinct physical design finding a properly fitting pack can at times be a challenge. Do not get discouraged for a properly fitting pack is essential to a successful trek.
Keep these things in mind.
- There are many styles and brands to choose from. Try on several!
- Get fitting help and advise from an experienced sales clerk.
- Once you have found a possible fit, load the backpack with items similar to what you will be using in the field. Walk around the store wearing the loaded pack while you continue shopping or ogling at all that the backpacking and hiking industry has to offer. Women hiking in a properly fitted pack will be glad they spent the extra time and effort on making their decision.
Now I guess you could say it time to get down to the nitty gritty of women hiking in the great outdoors. There are a handful of issues that pertain strictly to females that, unfortunately, cannot be escaped by running away to the woods. Men, you may be excused at this point.
Women Have Particular Needs
- Monthly Cycle: Despite the best of planning, it seems inevitable that every now and again women will find themselves hiking during this time of the month.
Women hiking at this time have a couple of options when disposing of sanitary napkins and/or tampons. She may burn them at the end of the day, however be cautioned that this method does not produce the most pleasing of aromas. Her second option, as well as the preferred way, is to pack these items out in a zip top bag.
- Soiled Toilet Paper: The most effective method of disposing of soiled toilet paper is to pack it out with you. I have found that the two bag method is quite effective. You have two zip top bags one inside of another. The innermost bag is your “dirty” bag while the outer bag holds your clean toilet paper. This makes for a condensed toilet kit as well.
- Urination: Women hiking in the outdoors often find it difficult or uncomfortable to urinate, especially in the winter months. While the most common method of urination for women is to squat and bear their rears to the elements and all other peeping critters there are a few models of female funnels both disposable and reusable that allow women to urinate from a standing position. A few brand names are Shewee, Urinelle, or Urimate.
Think Hiking Safety
One thing women hiking in the wilderness should never discount is safety. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning your trip.
- Never Hike Alone!
- Bear Spray – This can be used on predators of both the human and animal variety.
- Set up camp out of sight of the trail.
- Consider taking a self-defense course.
For more information on hiking safety, click here.
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