woman hiker or just hiker?

by Tess Ruso

When sharing my stories about thru-hiking, I'm often asked,


“Is it harder to be a woman thru-hiker?”


Although there are some minor differences in planning and practice, I have found the hiker experience is simply a human experience. Both men and women struggle to overcome challenges and feel the highs and lows of thru-hiking. Many men and women miss their families, some men and women are highly competitive, some men and women take it slow, and all men and women experience the tremendous frustrations and joys of the journey.


The few differences that arise from being a female hiker are simply logistical. In the sections that follow I discuss the possibility and benefits of peeing while standing up, preventing and treating vaginal infections in the backcountry, how to handle menstruation in the backcountry, and the best way to wrangle your hair, as well as tackling the issue of safety when hiking alone as a woman.