Everything you thought you knew about camping is wrong


If you’re a chick with a backcountry bent, you’ve probably heard more than once that packing off into the woods while it’s your time of the month is akin to chumming the water while swimming near great whites. Only with hungry bears. (Or maybe shark bears.)

Indeed, bears have such super noses that we’ve all been taught to leave any food-smelly things far, far away from our tents. But really, are they Jaws-like in their blood lust, following the faintest whiff to a speedy and gruesome kill?

Unsurprisingly, the answer is no. According to the National Park Service’s recent roundup of relevant scientific literature:

  • Menstruation was not a factor in any of hundreds of grizzly bear attacks reviewed by one researcher. In Yellowstone, in fact, 34 of the 43 people attacked by grizzlies in the last thirty years were men (hmm… sound familiar?) Menstruation didn’t appear to be a factor in any of the nine attacks on women.
  • In one set of experiments, black bears presented with used tampons and menstruating women ignored both. There has also never been a case of a black bear attacking a menstruating woman.
  • Polar bears are an exception, apparently responding strongly to used lady products. (They’re the closest among bruins to being shark-like – swimming in the ocean, eating seals, etc. Coincidence? I think not.)

Anyway, all this tampon talk got me thinking: What other annoying camping and hiking myths refuse to go away? Plenty, it turns out. Here are a few (and readers -- I hope you’ll weigh in with your own in the comments section) :