How to Pee Outside - A Comprehensive Guide

How to Pee Outside - A Comprehensive Guide

Hello dearest Kula Cloth friends! This is Anastasia Allison, the founder of Kula Cloth -- and I am here today on a very special pee-related mission...

In the words that follow, I’m going to attempt to do what has never been done before: I’m going to write the most comprehensive guide to peeing outside that has EVER BEEN WRITTEN. Keep in mind that there are NO affiliate links… no advertisements…we are not getting paid for clicks or views. This is all based on information that I have learned over the course of being a backpacking instructor, mountaineer, and the owner of a gear company that teaches multiple hygiene classes per month.

Ok… so, now that we have that out of the way… let’s talk about the matter at hand:


Option 1: The Drip Dry Method

The procedure: Find a spot, 200ft or more away from water sources and on a durable surface (don’t trample that meadow or bust the crust!). Pull down your pants and pee. Stand up. Begin to aggressively ‘shake’ your nether regions in an attempt to dislodge any stubborn pee drops. Once you feel like you’ve air dried that monkey properly… pull your underwear back up, and continue with your day.

Pros: This is the least expensive option because you do not need any special gear or hygiene products. It’s quick and efficient, so if you are a trail runner or if you are covertly attempting to pee in a public location, this might be the best option for you to choose. It’s also the most ultra light and ‘leave no trace’ option of the bunch — because it weighs nothing and because you don’t have any toilet paper to discard.

Cons: The vagina is a fascinating body part with lots of places to hide, which means that pee drops will hide there. I’ve never once ‘twerked’ hard enough while attempting to drip dry that I’ve actually felt dry. So, ‘drip dry’ might be more like… ‘drip moist’. Every time I drip dry, it feels like my underwear becomes a de facto pee cloth — which is gross. I’d much rather have my pee droplets away from my body… rather than taking up residency in my underwear for a multi-day hike. If you’ve ever tried this… well… let’s just say — it gets funky. And not the good type of funky. In addition, moisture and dampness in the crotch area can lead to some nasty chafing, UTIs or yeast infections. None of which are pleasant to experience — let alone trying to deal with them on a backpacking trip.

Option 2: Toilet Paper — Ye Ole Standard

The procedure: Squat to pee (using Leave No Trace principals as mentioned above), and then pull a few squares of toilet paper out of a bag. Wipe like normal. Place the used toilet paper squares in a small trash bag so that you can pack them out.

Important note: Do NOT… I repeat… DO NOT leave toilet paper in the backcountry. It can take 1-3 years for toilet paper to biodegrade, and even toilet papers that are sold in outdoor stores that claim to be ‘biodegradable’ will not magically disappear. Literally everything on this planet (with the exception of maybe Styrofoam) is technically ‘biodegradable’. The question we should be asking is more like: How long will it take to biodegrade? And what impact will it have on the environment if we leave it behind and don’t pack it out?

Pros: Toilet paper is relatively lightweight and easy to carry. Toilet paper is also very inexpensive. Every single time that you wipe with toilet paper, you are using a clean piece of toilet paper to wipe, which might appeal to people who are squeamish about the idea of a pee cloth. You absolutely will feel drier if you wipe after you pee with toilet paper. It’s easy to use, because most people are very familiar with using toilet paper.

Cons: On a single day trip, the amount of toilet paper you need for peeing will not be significant. However, on a multi-day trip… if you are carrying toilet paper for peeing and pooping… you will need to haul in and out quite a bit of toilet paper. Some people are not comfortable with the idea of carrying around a lot of dirty toilet paper, and the idea that toilet paper is ‘biodegradable’ makes it tempting for folks to leave toilet paper blooms in the backcountry. It is time consuming and inefficient to retrieve a toilet paper bag… select a few squares of toilet paper… wipe… and then put toilet paper back in a designated trash bag. If you are a person who wants to maximize their efficiency, toilet paper is one of the ‘slower’ options.

Option 3: A pee rag or pee-dana

The procedure: Find a microfiber rag or cloth or an old bandana and attach it to your backpack. Squat to pee and then use the rag or cloth to pat dry after you pee. Tie the pee cloth or rag back to your backpack or clip it on using a carabiner. If you are going on a day hike, wash the cloth when you get home. If you are on a backpacking trip, use a water bottle and a tiny amount of soap to wash your pee cloth at least 200 ft away from natural water sources. Washing 1x per day is recommended (in the evening before bed works well!), but use your own judgement about what feels best to you.

Pros: Using a pee cloth is a zero waste/leave no trace option that is shockingly easy to do. Using a pee cloth is a quick process — simply take it off your pack, pee, and pat dry — that’s it! You don’t have to mess around with bags of toilet paper, and it will cut the amount of toilet paper you are hauling into the wilderness pretty dramatically. This is an inexpensive option — you can use a rag or a piece of fabric that you already have at home.  

Cons: This option is not as appealing to folks who might be a bit squeamish. It’s hard to tell which side of a rag has been ‘used’, so you do run the risk of grabbing onto some pee (or having a friend grab onto it) and/or having some pee touch your backpack. Depending on where you attach the pee cloth to your backpack, it also runs the risk of getting dirty when you set your pack down on the trail (just be mindful of this, and it shouldn’t be a problem!). Most conventional fabric is not specifically antimicrobial and/or designed for hygiene purposes. Cotton and/or most rags and bandanas are not particularly absorbent.  

Option 4: A Kula Cloth (or other brand of pee cloth)

The process: Unsnap the Kula from your backpack and find a leave no trace compatible location. Pop a squat, and pee on a durable surface. Use the antimicrobial/absorbent side of the Kula Cloth to pat dry. Snap the Kula back to your backpack. Double snap the Kula if you don’t want the ‘pee side’ to touch your backpack. Wash in a standard washer/dryer with the snap fastened (so it doesn’t get snagged) when you get home or just handwash in your sink. If you are on trail, use a water bottle and a small amount of soap to rinse at least 200 ft. from natural water sources. Hang to dry.

Cons: The Kula Cloth is the most expensive option available (currently, we have some Kulas for sale… so price ranges from $14.95 - $23), so if you are on a budget, this might not be the option for you. Some people are disgusted by the idea of using a pee cloth in general. Some people are uncomfortable with the idea of a visible pee cloth, and prefer to be more discreet about their hygiene.

Note: there are other pee cloth brands. Kula Cloth does not sell on Amazon, so the ‘Kula Knock Offs’ on Amazon (i.e. Circe Care + The Piss Off Cloth) are not affiliated with Kula in any way (except that they are attempting to copy our exact design lol). These companies pop up and disappear overnight, and my best guess is that they are not manufacturing in the USA. I’ve also heard from folks that their ‘fake Kulas’ fall apart very quickly — namely, you get what you pay for.

Pros: The Kula Cloth is made in the USA from a special fabric that was designed specifically for the purpose of hygiene. The fabric is antimicrobial and contains 2 different layers — a waterproof layer which is bonded to an absorbent layer. The waterproof layer protects your hands from getting urine on them. The Kula Cloth is easy to attach to a backpack with a strap and snap and it also snaps in half, which prevents the ‘pee side’ from touching your pack and/or allowing the Kula Cloth to get dirty if you set your pack down on the trail. In addition, snapping the Kula Cloth in half also makes the product more discreet — sometimes folks can have a ‘discharge’ when they pee, which can be visible on a pee cloth. Snapping the Kula Cloth in half does allow for more privacy. The Kula Cloth has reflective thread so that you can find it at night with your headlamp. Most Kulas benefit artists and/or non-profits. There is one ‘stealth’ option available in all black, for those who would prefer not to have a brightly-colored pee cloth.  The Kula Cloth is more likely to appeal to folks who are squeamish about the idea of a pee cloth, but who do not want to drip dry and/or carry lots of toilet paper.

Option 5: Make your own pee cloth!

The procedure: Find some fabric that you like… use a serger… and sew or design your very own pee cloth! Companies like Contrado or Spoonflower could make this really enjoyable, because you could easily upload your own art… purchase fabric… and make something that you feel excited about using. You can also upcycle fabrics from used clothing and/or gear. Once you have your pee cloth design finalized… use it in the same way described above in option 3.

This was my first attempt at ever making a Kula Cloth - ha!  

Pros: It’s fun to DIY things, and the option to select your own patterns/prints is fun and exciting. You will end up with a unique, beautiful pee cloth!

Cons: You need to know how to sew and/or have access to a sewing machine or serger. Purchasing fabric to test for your product can be more expensive than just buying a pre-made pee cloth and/or using an existing bandana or rag.

Now, Let’s talk about peeing outside.

I’ve already alluded to the ‘proper’ way to pee outside… but, guess what? Many folks don’t know that there is a proper way to pee outside. So, I think that this article would only be half-finished if I didn’t discuss backcountry pee methodology.

First, always pee at least 200ft or more away from natural water sources (streams, lakes, etc…). If possible, pee on durable surfaces. Think: trails, rocks, gravel, etc… Some folks will automatically assume that they need to ‘get off the trail’ in order to pee — and, in some cases, that might be feasible. However, if you are walking through a delicate alpine meadow… the best place to pee might be on the trail itself. Your urine contains salt, which is very enticing to many critters, such as deer or mountain goats. When you pee directly onto the local flora, it will often encourage nibbling of plants that would otherwise not be nibbled upon.

Note: there are a few exceptions to this rule. For instance, in The Grand Canyon, it’s actually more impactful to pee on the fragile desert terrain on the riverbank than it is to pee in the very high-flow Colorado River. So, always check the regulations with the land management agency who is responsible for supervising the location where you will be recreating to see if there is a preferred method for handling human pee and waste.

A really beautiful toilet on Hidden Lake Peak.

Once you pee, use your wiping (or drip drying) method of choice. If you are a pee cloth aficionado who feels frustrated at the idea of having to remove your pack each time you need to access your pee cloth … I’d highly recommend using something like the Kula Leash (which is made of a biodegradable material!) or any other retractable badge holder. If you are bushwhacking through very thick terrain, I’d opt against the leash and stick with the strap or a carabiner, as the leashes are more likely to get snagged and dislodged on brush.

Here’s one of my favorite pee cloth tips: If you are hiking in the rain and/or when you wash your pee cloth or Kula Cloth off at night, it’s going to be wet or damp. Wring it out as best as you can, and then before you go to bed… place your CLEAN pee cloth against your skin inside of your long underwear. It’ll be clammy for a second, but then you won’t notice it. When you wake up in the morning, your pee cloth will be perfectly dry. This tip works for gloves and damp socks too!

In some locations, you will be fortunate enough to have a backcountry privy to use. If these are holes in the wilderness — they can be a great spot to pee or poop with ease. However, there are certain locations where ‘box shaped toilets’ are carried into an area with a helicopter. These toilets are highly expensive to haul in and out and they also have very limited space inside of them. The Enchantments area in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness is one example of a place that uses these box toilets. If a box toilet is your only option, and if you have to pee only… it’s preferable that you find a durable surface to pee on (away from water) so that your urine is not ‘taking up real estate’ in a box toilet. If you do have to poop … and you end up peeing while you are pooping… that’s totally fine… but, if you have to pee only, it might be the best option to simply look for a granite slab to squat over.

There are also some locations where privacy can be an issue, and it makes the already awkward task of finding a spot to pee… even more awkward. For these situations, you can use a product like a pee funnel and/or a special pair of pants that is designed to unzip in the crotch for easy peeing. The pee funnel and the Gnara pants/shorts are also a great option if you are wearing a climbing harness for any reason. My only recommendation with these options is that you simply must practice first. Do not let the first time that you ever use a pee funnel be at 13,000’ on the side of Mt. Rainier in the middle of a windstorm. I’m only relaying that story from a friend. I ‘heard’ that she got drenched in her own urine when the pee funnel backfired on her, because she had no idea how to do it and/or how to direct it in 80mph winds.

And yes, if you’re curious, that was me. It wasn’t pretty. Now I own a pee cloth company. The universe, once again, has a funny sense of humor.

I use and recommend two different pee funnel options… the pStyle and The Freshette:

And, if you are interested in checking out the Gnara pants, you can find those here:

Confession: I don’t always use a Kula Cloth

Now that I’ve provided all of the options and ‘pee methodology’ for those of us who squat to pee in the woods… I have a confession: I don’t always use a Kula Cloth — and I want to give you all permission to do what feels best for you, no matter what that is.

Every single morning I go on a really long walk… and I live in a remote area — most of my walk is up a dirt road in the middle of the woods and there are never any people around. And guess what? Sometimes I have to pee. I don’t usually carry anything with me on my morning walks — which means that I will usually end up *gasp* drip drying. Is this my preferred method of peeing outside? Absolutely not. If I know that I’m going to be taking a shower in about 1/2 of an hour… will I do it? Of course! My house sits in the ‘middle’ of my walking route up and down a hill, and so if I know that I’m not going to have time to shower off afterwards, I’ll stop at the house to pee… but if I know that I will be changing my clothes and showering within the next hour, I’ll squat to pee without a Kula.

On backpacking trips or hiking trips, I use my Kula 100% of the time. I’ve forgotten it on a backpacking trip once, and it was devastating… not only because I felt stupid, but because I realized what a difference it made for me. But here’s the thing — how you handle your hygiene is entirely up to you. In the history of Kula Cloth, I have never forced anybody to purchase one. I have never said that anybody must have a Kula Cloth — but there is one thing that I believe holds true for every single person who pees outside: Follow Leave No Trace principals and do what feels best for you. That might be drip drying… it might be toilet paper… it might be a Kula… it might be a bandana — it doesn’t matter what it is… what matters is that you are prioritizing your hygiene so that you can have a better experience during your time outside.

My greatest wish for all of you is that you can embark on incredible adventures while feeling confident and empowered about how to handle your hygiene when you are outside. The less that you have to worry about things like toilet paper and peeing -- the more that you can fully embrace the presence and the stillness of our awe inspiring planet.

I am sending you all so much love and genuine wishes for beautiful, joyful and remarkable adventures. You ALL deserve to experience the beauty of the wilderness -- which is also a reflection of the good that lives within YOU.

Be well friends, you are loved!

P.S. If you have any questions, never hesitate to reach out to me -- 


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