Can Women Pee in a Bottle While Backpacking?

Tips and Tricks

Two bottles of water
Oscar Martin/Moment/Getty Images

If you’re a woman getting ready for your first long backpacking trip, you may wonder what to do if you need to pee in the middle of the night. Maybe you don’t want to go bashing around in the dark to find a good spot to urinate or you get stuck in the tent because of bad weather. Or maybe you're worried about being able to squat while out and about. Your knees feel fine when hiking, but not when bending at 90 degrees or more.

The Art of Peeing in a Container

Believe it or not, urinating in a bottle is your best solution, regardless of the situation. Although most of us don't have quite the aiming capability that guys do, with a little practice we can develop pretty good control over our urine stream—enough to pee into a wide-mouth water bottle if we can get it up close to us. Other alternatives include using recycled plastic food tubs and zip-close plastic bags. You can even buy special plastic bags that will turn your urine into an odorless, biodegradable gel.

If you want to spend a little extra money, one-time-use "unfold, go, and throw" devices like Stand Up and SaniGirl can be used like funnels to direct your stream into a bottle. If you don't like the idea of using something disposable (even though the Stand Up is biodegradable), you can give any number of reusable devices like these a shot. Their soft rubber means they won't take up all that much space in a backpack, either.

Practice at home to get a feel for what you're comfortable with. Until you’re really confident, go ahead and spread a bandana or small towel beneath the receptacle to catch any stray drops

Of course, dropping your pants to pee once you're in the wild might also be an obstacle. If neither you nor your tent mate is shy, go for it. But if you ever find yourself sharing a tent with someone to whom you don't want to display your bare bottom, explore the fine world of urine directors or this "coat around the waist" pee technique. It works in a tent, too, as long as there's room to turn your back and squat.

After You Go

Once you're done, you can either rinse with a little water or wipe off with whatever you’ve designated as your pee rag. And remember that wiping front-to-back is more important than ever when you're in the backcountry, far from relief for any incipient urinary tract infection (UTI).

Also, at least one urine director—the Lady J—comes with an optional jug for holding urine. We prefer to make existing items multi-task, but if you're worried about peeing in a tent, having this purpose-built interface makes it easy to get a clean catch every time.

Last but not least: If you do pee into an extra water bottle, make sure you clearly label it or can otherwise distinguish it from your drinking water supply!