Why you should keep a tampon or two in your survival kit

The Art of Manliness makes a good case for carrying tampons in your camping/survival kit, with ten woodlands uses for them, ranging from sterile field dressing to kindling to blowgun-dart fletching. They call it "Tactical Adventure Medical Preparedness Outdoors Necessity (T.A.M.P.O.N.)."

Yes, I have a tampon in my mouth — don’t laugh! As a last ditch water filter, you can make an improvised Survival Straw from the plastic housing and cotton from a tampon. As you can see in the photos below, just tear off a bit of the cotton and stuff it into the plastic housing. I find it better to leave a little bit sticking out to make the housing pieces wedge tightly together.

Of course, it goes without saying that a tampon might also be useful if you or someone you know is menstruating.

Yes, That’s a Tampon in My Mouth: The Swiss Army Survival Tampon — 10 Survival Uses (via Crazy Abalone)


  1. I once worked for a former drill-sergeant-turned-Boy-Scout-camp-director. The position suited him, in part because he still got to wear the big-ol’ Smokey the Bear style campaign hats.

    Inside the band, he always kept a maxi-pad positioned for his forehead. Not only did it always ensure that he could put the round hat on facing the right way without really looking at it, it also meant that sweat never got into his eyes or soaked the felt. He confessed that it was one of the little drill sergeant tricks he used to make sure no matter how hot or hard he worked, the grunts under him would never see him sweat.

    1. My grandfather did the same thing with all of his hats. He was a career Marine, and he taught hand-to-hand at Camp Lejeune, so he must have learned it there.

    2. I once worked for a former drill-sergeant-turned-Boy-Scout-camp-director.

      Dear Drummer Forum,

      I never thought that I’d be writing one of these letters….

        1. Believe me, I didn’t go in for group activities as a child. But that certainly sounds like a set-up for a porn movie.

          1. I was just wondering about Drummer.  Sometimes I’m afraid to Google things.  Tubgirl scarred me for life.

            Edit: Ah, thanks Antinous! Not to my tastes, but probably not eyeball-searing.

          2. It was a hugely popular leather BDSM magazine that was published from 1975 to 2001. It had fiction, photos, illustrations, a long-running cartoon, personals, gear, letters, etc. The earliest issues are notable for having both drag queens and gay Nazis show up occasionally. Eventually it fell to the internet and the fact that BDSM became mainstream.

  2. Every dojo or boxing gym I’ve ever trained in has tampons in the first aid kit. You put ’em up your nose to staunch the bleeding from getting your nose popped. Although I’ve read that raw bacon is more effective…

    1. Every dojo or boxing gym I’ve ever trained in

      Knowing that, you should have gone with Combative Douchebag.

      1. Ha! Perhaps. The “combative” is sort of implied in the “pedantic”, I suppose.

  3. The Carl Hayden High School underwater robot team from inner-city Phoenix used tampons to keep the water leaking into their cheesy PVC pipe ROV from fouling the electronics. They won that contest, and really ticked off the teams that spent $20k on their slick machined-aluminum ROVs.

  4. Sounds like you have to make sure to grab the plastic-applicator kind.  I hate those things and would prefer not to have to use them for their stated purpose, but I’m glad they’re good for something.

    1. Hi dolo54, I don’t think Boing Boing is the right place to ask that question in that form.

      Try asking /. instead. I think you’ll get a lot of answers there.


  5. My dad used to keep a thick maxipad in the bicep pocket of his slick nylon pilot(-style) jacket. Individually packaged, sterile, perfect for a heavy bandage, designed to absorb blood.

    1.  Yup . . .  learned about that at an Earthquake Preparedness class.

      I once used a pad in my sock, to cover a sore/ blistered spot. (Rotten ill-fitting dress shoes I used to wear at trade shows . . .)

  6. OK. I have always assumed “the art of manliness” site was a joke, and roared at the “survival shotgun” and suchlike.  It’s kind of the opposite of manliness to read up on what you should be doing – manly men just jump right in there and win, or get kilt.  Women read the manual or ask for directions, because they are smarter.   Manly men don’t do either, because we are stupider, and also more resistant to blunt trauma.

    But I had no idea tampons could be used as firestarters…

    1. Well, if by “a joke” you were assuming that many of the commenting members regard T. Roosevelt’s very name as an incantation and believe strongly in the value of having conversational knowledge of various production and survival techniques without *shiver* prosaic experience, you got it. 

      There are a lot of decent people on there, of course, but its forums and discussion groups are best perused when one is feeling up for some wry amusement.

  7. “Of course, it goes without saying that a tampon might also be useful if you or someone you know is menstruating.”

    In that case, experts recommend ditching the straw.

  8. I would not assume that a cotton “filter” is going to filter out to .5 microns.  I guess it will filter out floating raccoon turds and what not… but not rocky mountain spotted fever and all sorts of other nasty stuff.

    1. First tampon gets used to start a fire to boil the water.  Second tampon is the filter to drink through.

      …That’s what I’d do anyway.  Not boiling stream water is just begging to end up with the hemorrhaging shits.

  9. Tampons (OBs have no applicators) are also handy for soaking up heavy oils. I jammed them between the frame and engine casing of my ’72 BMW R75/5 motorcycle until I could deal with pushrod tube gasket failures. The blue strings hanging down gave an odd effect. I also used a Revlon nail file to dress the ignition timing points. Women, the tool-using animals.

  10. Tampons and maxi-pads have many, many uses, but please note that they are NOT sterile, despite being individually wrapped. Nor do federal regulations require it — toilet paper is actually more tightly regulated.

  11. There’s a great story in Year’s Best SF17 (about bird’s nesting habits and climate change) in which a cut is staunched using a maxipad.

    The story is called “The Middle of Somewhere”, and it’s by Judith Moffett.

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