The learning curve can be steep for women in the wilderness and I would love to help alleviate some of those minor inconveniences of being a woman in the wild. As a female white water rafting guide in Grand Canyon, I have perfected my comfort and personal care (including feminine hygiene) while rafting. In the spirit of sisterhood, here are a few tips to ensure your confidence and comfort while rafting Grand Canyon.
Alright ladies, we spend so much time at home on those 6 step skin care regimens. Let’s not undo all that work in 1 or 2 weeks on the river! Our VP, Jennifer, was on a diving trip in the South Pacific off Caroline Island when she noticed that there was only one woman who didn’t have pink cheeks at the end of the day. When Jennifer asked how she managed this amazing feat in the intense sun and glare, the woman gave her the name of this amazing sunscreen: Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50.
In addition to sunscreen, in the late afternoons I always wear a Buff. This is a great tool to protect your face and neck. The sun on its own can be intense and as soon as you add in the reflective glare this Buff is the best protection. I also use my Buff to clean my sunglasses and as a headband!
Hand and Feet Care
Scrub Gloves are amazing; add a little soap and water to these gloves and the layers of sunscreen and sand will slough away.
I always bring a heavy face cream as well as a spray toner. The toner is refreshing and is delightful to mist on in the evenings and mornings.
Your hands and feet will get beat up and cracked. The constant wet and dry exposure to the elements will leave your skin parched. We recommend a heavy salve. Apply this to your feet and hands every night. Bring an extra pair of socks just for sleeping and put them on after you’ve moisturized your feet to lock in that nourishment!
Bring a pair of gloves to protect your hands while holding onto the ropes in rapids and for loading/unloading the boats. I have a rule for myself – never touch a rope or load/unload the boat without gloves on!
Hair ties are a must if your hair is long enough to pull back. Pony tails work to avoid the “nest effect”, but braids are even better.It is a mess out there! Windy and wet, dry and hot, sandy and dirty – your hair is going to feel the elements. I have extra long curly hair and hair serum and braids are my daily go to!
The biodegradable soaps are awesome for the environment but terrible for hair! Make sure to bring an option to detangle. I recommend using a leave-in conditioner or just take a small amount of your regular conditioner to leave in while you comb through the tangles.
Keys to Feminine Hygiene when Rafting
Pack supplies even if you are not planning on starting your cycle on the river. I can’t tell you how many times a female guest has been surprised by her period in Grand Canyon. Being in close proximity with other women can cycle you in!
If you use tampons or pads, I recommend bringing many small, Ziplock bags with wet wipes to clean up and wrap your used item in. The toilet system will have a place for you to place your used feminine hygiene products and there is always a trash available at lunch and in camp.
Consider using the Diva Cup. This has simplified my life particularly when I’m rafting during menstruation. You can leave it in for 12 hours, which means you only have to deal with it in camp in the evening and morning. I recommend practicing and getting used to it a few months prior to the trip as it is not great for every-body.
Using the Facilities
Most women are nervous about peeing during the day while we’re on the river. If you’re up for something different, consider a Go Girl! (Have you stopped giggling yet?) These make urinating in the wilderness simple and discreet, and are great to use while on the boat so that you don’t have to hang off the side or get in the water. The Go Girl! actually works as a squeegee so you don’t need toilet paper. Practice in the shower to see if this is an option that will work for you. Note: If you have bad knees and crouching or squatting is difficult, this device is especially for you.
A two-piece bathing suit is a must so that you can easily take bathroom breaks during the day.
I love bringing a sundress. These will be your best friend in the evening as it makes urinating simpler and they are light and airy, which is refreshing after being in layers and wet clothes all day.
Sarongs are a must have. During the day this will offer great sun protection for legs and feet. It can double as a skirt or dress in the evening or offer some privacy while you are changing. Getting your sarong wet and draping it over you will help to bring down your body temperature at night so you can fall asleep easily. Getting this wet and draping it over your hat and shoulders can cool you off as you hike up into the hot rocks.
Ask Your Guides
Chances are one of your guides will be a female, but if not don’t hesitate to ask your male guides any questions you may have. Trust me, they have seen and dealt with it all and I promise you there is no reason to feel uncomfortable. If you clue your guides in on what you need they will be more than accommodating and the first step is letting them know.
Concluding Thoughts – Have Fun!
Many women are often apprehensive at the beginning of their trip, but more often than not, gals end up having the most magnificent time, expanding in body, mind, heart and soul. We are dynamic beings and once they have a plan and the unknowns are answered, we are unstoppable! I hope these tips help you to feel confident and enjoy your time Grand Canyon river rafting.
If there is anything we can do to help you get ready to raft, please give us a call or shoot us an email! If you want to know our favorite adventure essentials, check out our recommended gear page!
Read our posts about what you will wish you’d packed for your Grand canyon rafting trip, the best rafting rain gear, and our overview of Colorado River rafting options.