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HomeNL-2018-05 Pee Bottle

The Pee Bottle
May 2018
by John Rich

I'm inspired!  Yes, I've been inspired by Harmon Everett's articles in the last two newsletters dealing with the dirty and uncomfortable subject of human waste while river camping.  And his articles have inspired me to write one of my own, and you are the lucky readers!

This article will be about what I call a "pee bottle".

When camping out on the river or elsewhere, sometimes nature brings forth an urge to urinate at inconvenient times.  Like in the middle of the night when you're comfortable in your sleeping bag in your tent.  So, then you have to get out of your warm bag, put on shoes, and stagger over rocks to some private place to relieve yourself.  Ahhh!  

But have you ever had to do this in the rain?  When the temperature was 40 degrees?  When hordes of mosquitoes would attack the most sensitive parts of your body during the time it took you to vacate your bladder?  Yes, all experienced campers have faced this horrid task.  But what else can you do?

You can have a pee bottle.  That's what else you can do.

A pee bottle is a watertight bottle that you keep in your tent with you.  When the urge to pee strikes, you just kneel and urinate into the bottle, then screw the lid back on, and go back to sleep.  No cold, no shoes, no rain, no mosquitoes.  Easy!  

Desert camping   The pee bottle

Sounds good, right?   Well, it is.  But there are few warnings that go along with this camping technique.  

First of all, and most importantly, the bottle must be watertight. You don't want the contents leaking out into your tent after you've taken care of business.  Test this at home with your prospective bottle by filling it part way with water, and then laying it sideways on your kitchen counter for a few hours.  Is the counter still dry?  If so, then you're good to go.

Second, you'll want a wide mouth bottle, so that you can accomplish the necessary task without any accidents that cause ugly spillage.

And third, I recommend you choose a bottle with a different look and feel from your water bottle.  The thought of getting the two mixed up in the middle of the night when you reach for a drink, is too horrible to contemplate.  Clearly label your bottle.  Make it a distinctive shape and color from your water bottle.  Keep it separate inside your tent from your water bottle, like down at the foot of your sleeping bag, where you won't accidentally reach out and grab it in the middle of the night when you get thirsty for a sip of water.

Having made it through the night without having to leave the comfort of your tent, the only thing you have to worry about now is disposal.  You can save the contents until you get to a toilet where you can dump it out in the bowl and flush it, or you can pour it out on the ground somewhere. If you choose to pour it outside, don't put it directly in the water - let the earth filter it. I used to pee on plants in the desert thinking that I was providing much-needed moisture, but it turns out that, although pee can be a great fertilizer, it also contains acids and salts which can be harmful to plants. So don't pour a large quantity right on top of a plant - spread it around on the ground around the plant and let it soak down into the roots.

And that's it.  I hope that this little article will improve the quality of your camping experience, and save you from the cold, rain, rocks and very personal experiences with mosquitoes, in the middle of the night. 

Happy camping!

Of course, if you need to do #2, then you're still on your own.  The mosquitoes are waiting...

And then there is this: The case for carrying a pee rag while hiking

The author, John Rich