Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Overland Journal, Gear Guide 2019.
I recently had the privilege of leading an amazing group of women from Montana to Idaho on our very first all-ladies overland trip for XOverland. The seven of us all had different experience levels, and it was a great opportunity to plan, film, and execute this adventure on our own.
With this trip came the chance to use some of my beloved items I don’t leave home without and a few new ones I’ve been waiting to get my hands on. And Idaho was the perfect place to test them out.
I love sand dunes and the desert. Maybe even more than mountains, which sounds sacrilegious, being born and raised in Montana. Ever since my first race in Morocco, I was captivated, yet terrified of the endless sand dunes I was expected to traverse without dying. I failed miserably, but with a determination to conquer them one day. It was a big lesson in understanding personal limits, respecting nature, and realizing we can surmount failure.
Fast forward six years and four rallies; I couldn’t wait to introduce the dunes in Idaho to my dear friends, along with a few tools and skills on how to begin to conquer them. My perfectionism and lack of patience can make it hard to give myself permission to make mistakes, so my goal was to provide a safe place for us to have that freedom.
Do you know what happens when a group teams up and agrees to fail and learn together? It’s pretty incredible to witness because after the failing comes the growing. At the end of our short weekend, we all held our heads a little higher. The following products made life a little easier along the way.
I love trying new things, maybe to a fault (no, I don’t use QVC). So, if there is a new item that could potentially save me time and change my life for the better, I’m ready to sign up. When the creators of Shower Pouch sent the team at XOverland a few packages of their full-body wipes to try on our trips this year, I was eager to see how they performed and packed them for our Idaho trip. Made in Los Angeles, California, and designed to remove body odors, sweat, and make your skin feel fresh and moistened without feeling sticky, the wipes have a vegan, hypoallergenic, and pH-balanced formula without parabens, dyes, or sulfates.
We decided to save these for the last day of our trip to get the full effect of how useful the product was. After three and a half days of rain, mud, sand dunes, heat, bug spray, and everything else that comes along with living outside, to say we smelled a little is an understatement. The seven of us tried one wipe each (they measure 2 feet by 1 foot), and the results were impressive. It felt a little shocking and cold at first, but quickly dried and left our skin clean and smelling great with no stickiness whatsoever. A lot of attention went to our feet, as many of us wore sandals, and we couldn’t believe the positive results. We were all in agreement that this would be a must-have item on our next adventure.
$40/PACK OF 10 | THESHOWERPOUCH.COM
This is a piece of kit I have not traveled without since my second Morocco Rally in 2014. This awesome little belt is very affordable, and I use it every day without fail. These “better belts” are elastic with no metal parts and a no-show plastic buckle made from recycled water bottles; they are also packaged on 100-percent recycled cardboard. The Jelt has the perfect amount of tightness around your waist without the bulkiness of the usual belt, it can be worn through airport security, and it is invisible under fitted shirts. Available in several colors and sizes, this little gem has never let me down, despite my best efforts to destroy it. Another bonus is that the Jelt is compact and lightweight and easily packs in carry-on bags.
This company has received their B Corporation certification. This process requires rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. In addition, the owner moved production from China back to Montana and employs women through the Montana Correctional Enterprises (MCE) program at the Montana Women’s Prison. Workers are accepted through an application and interview process and then learn the skills and confidence needed to take them forward in life. With that in mind, I think I need one in every color.
$32 | JELTBELT.COM
I understand that even though bathroom talk is not the most fun thing to address, it’s a factor that we have to deal with when in the backcountry. The most common question I get asked is, “What do you do when you have to go to the bathroom?” I even know of many women that are unwilling to try overlanding or camping due to the anxiety they have around this issue. My usual answer is, “Find a tree, a bush, car door, or any place that makes you feel comfortable, then take care of your business.” I’m gladly going to change my answer.
The company describes their USA-made product as “a female accessory that allows women to urinate discreetly while standing up,” with the promise of eliminating squatting and the need to partially disrobe. It was created by a group of women in Northwest Montana who were tired of the endless bathroom search on their adventures, so they decided to solve the problem.
Since the bulk of my time is spent traveling in third-world countries, I couldn’t wait to give it a spin. They sent each of us a unit with a carrying pouch and asked us to report back on our experience. Some of the group were a little skeptical at first, but all were willing to give it a shot. Being as it is anatomically designed for women, most of us found it very user-friendly on the first try, with the second try being a solid win for everyone. The freedom and ease the Tinkle Belle provides allow the user to focus on the adventure at hand. I even noticed the team as a whole increasing water intake because the usual bathroom issue was, well, no longer an issue. The product is foldable, and there are no leaks or collapsing issues even when you’re in a hurry. What sealed the deal was the convenience of not needing toilet paper or wipes due to the curvature of the device and hydrophobic and antimicrobial materials used.
The Tinkle Belle has legitimately changed my travel, overlanding, and rallying experience for the better. So bring on the water, coffee, and drinks around the campfire; this is a #gamechanger, and I’m never going back.
$28 | THETINKLEBELLE.COM