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Camping: To Pee or Not to Pee…. 

… in pee bottles? That is the question. 
I’m not as young as I once was (an obvious statement) and, as I grow older, I find my physical attributes changing. For one thing I now need to wear reading glasses – something that is certainly taking some getting used too! Another, more pertinent example for this blog post, is my recent inability to sometimes last the night without having to get up for a pee! 

Now, whilst this is an inconvenience, I don’t see it as a real problem when at home. I mean, it’s not all the time and, if I don’t drink too much before bedtime I usually get a night’s uninterrupted sleep. And if I DO need to ‘go’ then it’s only a short trip to the bathroom in a warm, carpeted house and the process doesn’t disturb my sleep pattern too much. However, when I’m camping out, waking up at 3am just to have a pee is rather more of an inconvenience. 

You see, apart from my underwear (micro skin trunks), I’m a nude sleeper and, whilst this isn’t a problem for warm weather wildcamping, on colder nights I have to put on my down jacket and some footwear before I can exit my tent to pee so as not to reduce my  body temperature too much. What’s worse than being all snug and warm in your sleeping bag and then having to put on cold clothing and footwear, unzip your tent letting in cold air and having to go outside in the wind/rain/snow just to take a pee? By the time you climb back into your bag you’ve woken up from the effort and cold and now need to try and sleep again!

Who wants to go outside in this to pee at 3am?

I recently Tweeted that I had purchased a dedicated pee bottle and received numerous replies – many humorous –  offering their  views on night time wild camp peeing. You can read the thread here on Twitter. I had never used a pee bottle until a couple of years ago when my good friend and sometimes hiking companion Stuart Greig ‘introduced’ me to the convenience of carrying one and I haven’t looked back since. I previously used an old sports drink bottle I had lying around and, whilst this served the change of purpose I used it for, it was rather large and bulky and not too discreet. 

My previous pee bottle. Bulky and not too discreet.

I had read various backpacking blogs before deciding on what system to use for my nocturnal sojourns and some were interesting to say the least! From simply peeing in a corner of your tent or peeing out your tent door to digging a dedicated ‘latrine’ 60ft away from your shelter – none were appropriate for my needs. After all, who pees inside their home? I’m certainly not going to pee on the floor inside my tent, especially in winter when the ground is hard and won’t soak up the liquid! Nor am I going to pee outside my tent door: if the wind is blowing the wrong way….? Not pleasant! And a dedicated latrine or hole is overkill for a pee in my opinion. Also the UL (Ultralight) options I’ve read are just too fiddly and, whilst saving weight is something we all try to do, not all UL solutions work in practice. Read my post about weight v practicality here

An example of the UL approach to ‘pee bottles’? is from the excellent Philip Werner’s blog SectionHiker – a very good resource for all backpacking related information. However, I’ve tried this system before and it really is not practical for my needs thus the weight saving that the article is all about isn’t practical. Read the article here though as it may work for you. 

My solution.. 

The Clode® Urine Funnel
A dedicated pee bottle. The Clode® Urine Funnel

So.. with none of the various options suggested by other backpackers being suitable for my needs I decided that an actual, dedicated pee bottle was what I needed. After all – my previous change-of-use drink bottle worked well, I just needed it refined. A larger aperture to avoid ‘mistakes’and remove the need to’ aim’, something  more discreet and an expandable bottle for those long winter nights when I may need to pee a couple or more times was what I needed. And I think I found it in the Clode® Urine Funnel. It’s not a UL solution, but at 72g it’s not exactly heavy, and with its wide aperture I don’t even have to get out of my sleeping bag to take a pee now. It’s lid closes strongly and it expands so no matter how full my bladder I don’t need to empty the bottle until breaking camp. Compacted it’s about the same size as a fizzy drink can and can be stowed discreetly in my pack and it can’t be mistaken for any other bottle I may carry. It’s easy to clean – use boiling water or sterilising solutions/tablets and finally, for those who like their gear to be multifunctional, you could always use your water purification system/filter and recycle your pee! 

What is your solution to nocturnal toilet needs when wildcamping? Comments welcome 🙂 

4 replies on “Camping: To Pee or Not to Pee…. ”

On my most recent backpacking trip, I found myself using the empty pouch my dehydrated dinner came in. It was so successful that I hung onto it for the rest of the trip. So a bit like Phil Werner’s solution. The only time I used a dedicated bottle was a disaster. Suffice to say that there may have been some overflow and there may have been some pee stains on some gear.

Hi Matt. I have used pouches and bags before, but found them too messy and fiddly. The ability to use the bottle whilst still in my bag without spillage was a major deciding factor for me. Wake up, pee, go back to sleep.. all without leaving my bag is a luxury I won’t give up easily 🙂

I’ve never been THAT cold in my bag Stuart ;). A good idea though – as long as there’s no chance of the bottle accidentally opening!

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