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The Keeper

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Most outdoorswomen are grateful for tampons; they are pretty damn convenient. But who wants to pack them out from a backpacking trip? Yes, that’s a rhetorical question. Enter The Keeper, a menstrual cup made of flexible, natural latex. Its sister product, The Moon Cup, is made of silicon for those who are allergic to latex.

It’s remarkable and not entirely clear why menstrual cups aren’t in the medicine cabinet of just about every woman’s home. For starters, there’s cost. At $35, The Keeper will earn its keep (sorry) compared to tampons after just a few months. Its life expectancy is 10 years, bringing down the cost to literally pennies per month. Then there’s the waste you’re no longer producing. You can flush the contents at home and bury them in the backcountry.

Finally, there’s ease of use. Just as comfortable as tampons (though larger), The Keeper comes in two sizes: for those who have had babies and those who have not. Both sizes hold two ounces of blood and can be easily folded and inserted, removed, emptied and washed. Then repeat the cycle. Be aware, the only place that’s inconvenient for Keeper use is a public restroom with multiple stalls and shared sinks. So plan accordingly. Try The Keeper; if you like it, tell all of your friends.

Downside: The Keeper can leak at times; it’s a good idea to have a thin panty liner as backup. Try a product from Glad Rags (www.gladrags.com) – also cheap and virtually waste-free in the long run, though not as convenient to clean.

Price: $35

Buy it at: www.keeper.com or 1-800-500-0077 (U.S. orders only); ask your local outdoor gear store, health food store and pharmacy to stock it.