How is backpacking different for women than men? Series intro

While reorganizing and streamlining the blog categories late last year, I found two lonely posts that demanded their own section — For women — and that also highlighted the need for more related content.

On this website I generally stick to subjects about which I’m an expert, so historically it’s been light on female-specific subjects and has lacked a female perspective. No matter how much time I spend in the backcountry with women — whether it be my wife, my guides, or my clients — I will never develop the same level of expertise in this area.

To help fill this content void and to provide a helpful and holistic resource for beginners and intermediates, today I’m launching a 10-part series about backpacking for women.

Series objective

At least some — and maybe most — elements of a backpacking trip are gender-neutral. For example, our sex does not influence the fuel efficiency of an alcohol stove, the direction of true north, or the odds of getting a John Muir Trail permit. So a lot of informational content about backpacking is equally applicable to all genders.

I wanted this series to focus on areas that aren’t gender-neutral, and gave the writers two guiding questions:

  1. What unique concerns do women have about backpacking? And,
  2. In what ways is backpacking different for women than men?

Each installment covers one answer to these questions.

Installments

The first half of the 10-post series will be published on a weekly basis, and the second half will probably be a little slower.


Outdoor Women: How to Find Your Community

Say “yes” to all opportunities presented to you, and use internet groups to find your people and encourage a more inclusive outdoor community.


Societal Challenges: Yes, I Can Hike Solo, Thanks

Societal norms should be broken to encourage more women to venture into the outdoors solo. We’ll talk about why people shouldn’t be worried about women being vulnerable in the outdoors.


Facing Your Fears: Wild Animals, Insects and Injuries

We explore skills and tools to manage and reduce the risk of these off-cited concerns so you can confidently hit the trail.


Facing Your Fears: Other People

What can you do if you experience inappropriate physical contact, verbal harassment, or discrimination while adventuring in the outdoors? Also, how can you safely have an impact if you witness harassment?


Women Specific Gear

How is women-specific gear actually different, and do you need it?


Fitness & Training for the Female Outdoor Athlete

Tips on training for outdoor endeavors both inside and outside the gym.


Feeding the Female Athlete: Nutrition for Outdoor Endurance

Trail food is not one-size-fits-all. We’ll explore how to plan backcountry meals, adjust “standard” meal plans, and fuel the female outdoor athlete for the long haul.


Women Specific Hygiene: Peeing, Pooping, and Menstruating on the Trail

Learn how to successfully poop in the woods, properly use a pee funnel, effectively manage your period, and care for your lady bits.


Dirtbag Gorgeous: Embracing Dirt Under Your Fingernails and On-Trail Self-Care

Women wear makeup for various reasons, and that’s okay. Let’s talk about why it shouldn’t matter if you adventure while wearing make-up or not.


Mentoring & Giving Back

The greatest gift you can give to the outdoor community is yourself. Inclusivity, encouragement, and empowerment for women in the outdoors starts with us. We change the world, and further the cause of equality in the outdoors, one woman at a time. It’s your turn.


The writers

Teresa Hagerty

Teresa is a Seattle-based hiker, backpacker, cyclist, climber, and glacier mountaineer. She brings over twenty years of experience in outdoor adventures and mentorship, and is founder of Cascade Mountain Adventures, a Pacific Northwest outdoor guiding service dedicated to women taking their first steps into outdoor adventure.

Teresa on the summit of Mt. Rainier

Alexandra Lev

Alexandra Lev is a Portland, Oregon-based freelance writer and content developer. As a passionate outdoor adventurer and mental health advocate, it’s her mission to inspire others to connect with themselves, their communities, and the planet in a deeper way. When not writing about the outdoors or speaking about mental health issues she can usually be found skiing or hiking in the backcountry with her husband and their two Siberian huskies.

Posted in on April 13, 2020
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12 Comments

  1. Allie on April 13, 2020 at 9:38 am

    Andrew, Teresa, and Alexandra,

    I’m looking forward to this series. I’m new to backpacking and I’ll admit, there were some concerns over what I personally would have to contend with while on the long trail. I tried to research before attempting my first hike-thru in March (cut short by Covid) yet info was lacking or Google just wasn’t showing me the results.

    I LOVE hear from all hikers, all levels yet I’m really going to savor this series.

    Thank you,
    Allie

  2. Stacey on April 13, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    Great idea….can someone talk bras for larger ladies (dd+). I struggle with enough support for all day but not too much (like what you would use for a run) and a material that dries quickly… its been my issue for years.

    • Lee Ann on April 14, 2020 at 4:32 am

      This looks like a great series. I’m concerned I’ll miss the various topics. Do you have an event page or announcement process so I will be notified when a topic is released? Thanks!

      • Andrew Skurka on April 14, 2020 at 7:08 am

        You can subscribe to the blog with a reader like Feedly, or you can follow one of my social channels like Instagram or Facebook, where I will plug any new installment.

    • Caroline on April 14, 2020 at 6:14 am

      Hi Stacey,
      just a personal recommendation: I use the Shock Absorber Active D+ Classic Support, as it’s one of the few models in my size (36 GG/J). I tend to use a tighter fitting one (technically it’s just one that is too small, so it’s uncomfortable when I put it on but is fine during the activity as it becomes somewhat less tight as it gets warm and moist from sweat, wouldn’t want to wear it for much longer than 1-1.5 hrs though) for high impact activities like CrossFit and Running, and one that would be true-to-size or somewhat looser on the band for hiking so it doesn’t get too restrictive.

      Re: quick-drying: I sweat more than average so mine is not drenched but definitely somewhat moist after a few hours of hiking. I take it off as soon as I get to my destination for the day and it dries till the next morning. However, if you wash it in the evening, it won’t be fully dry the next morning, so I take alternates…
      Hope this helps!

      @Andrew: I think it’s great that you’re having this series, this is something that’s definitely been missing on your page. Thank you!

      • Stacey on April 15, 2020 at 8:09 am

        Thanks!

  3. Devin R Zoller on April 13, 2020 at 10:20 pm

    I’m super excited for this series. My wife has been talking about going backpacking with me this year and looking for some guidance, so this couldn’t come at a better time- thanks to all three of you and stay safe!

  4. Roo on April 15, 2020 at 1:17 am

    I literally teared up slightly when I saw this. I read a lot of backpacking content and I’d unscientifically estimate that at least 90% of it is produced by blokes. THANK YOU for giving a forum for a female perspective. Agree a lot of stuff is gender neutral but sometimes it would be nice to be able to just click straight on the clothing recommendation link, instead of always having to google the female equivalent.
    For me personally, I get cold really easily as soon as I stop moving so I’m always struggling with what is enough in terms of insulation vs. not carrying unnecessary weight. Difficult to tell from male posts because our temperature control is so different. It’s small details like that that make a female perspective so valuable. Super excited about this series. Again, THANK YOU!

  5. Claire on April 16, 2020 at 2:52 am

    Can I make a suggestion? As a follow up to: “ Facing Your Fears: Other People
    What can you do if you experience inappropriate physical contact, verbal harassment, or discrimination while adventuring in the outdoors? Also, how can you safely have an impact if you witness harassment?” A blog post for Men that talks about the behaviour women find inappropriate, harassing or discriminatory and how men can help prevent that or do something if they see it?

    I think it needs to be clear the onus is mot just on women to prevent this or cope with this, men need to stand up against it too, and also be aware of what women find threatening, so many seem clueless of how they’re being perceived.

  6. Nicole on April 16, 2020 at 2:58 am

    I don’t know why we always talk about differences. I can’t see them. Whoever hikes alone faces some challenges and risks different to a couple or group.

  7. Estel on April 19, 2020 at 5:25 am

    Under Women specific gear: I’d love to hear what people think about the pros/cons of hiking in a dress or skirt. It seems practical for toilet stops and ventilation, but impractical for bug protection, thigh chafe and lounging around in “un-ladylike” positions.

  8. Dianne Lynn Grimmett on April 27, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks so much for this series! Looking forward to every one of these topics.

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