Peeing and Pooping can seem to be a daunting task in the woods. Throw in your period and that might be enough to keep you from taking that first step outside. Don’t worry though it’s not as hard as you think.
The First P: Peeing in the Woods
First of all, there are no lines to the ladies restroom in the woods. Just make sure you are away from the trail, you don’t have to go too far, just somewhere where no one will take a break later and sit in your pee! That is usually no problem for women as we tend to go to the ends of the earth to make sure no one catches sight of us. At some point in your outdoor adventures someone will come across you peeing, just give them a wave and ignore, it is much better then getting pee all over yourself. Before peeing, do make sure you are away from water sources. Typically looking for a soft area to pee will eliminate the splash back on your pants- pine needles work great. You can also widen your squat to reduce splash back as well as pee standing up- (that takes a little more practice or a FUD- a female urination device.)
Drying: There are a couple of ways to dry yourself after peeing. You can drip-dry, do a little shake and be on your way. You can use toilet paper to wipe after peeing, just bring a Ziploc bag with you so you can pack out your used toilet paper. A favorite among female long distance hikers is the pee rag or dab rag. Exactly what it sounds like, you can utilize a bandanna or a lightweight pack towel material to dry yourself after peeing. Tie it onto your backpack where it will get direct sunlight and dry out. The pee rag will have virtually no odor and can be used again. When you have an opportunity you can always rinse it off with water and then dry it out again. If you use bandannas for other things differentiating these bandannas by color is pretty helpful. Although you will look really hardcore if your hiking partners think your using your pee rag to wipe the sweat from your face. As a side note, the dab rag method doesn’t work well when there are prolonged periods of rain because your rag will never have a chance to dry out it and will start to smell like urine. Sometimes humid conditions can have the same effect so you might want to rinse your rag more often.
Trimming: Trimming your pubic hair is a good practice, keeping things neat and groomed will help you stay cleaner and cooler out in the woods. At the end of the night (at the very least) use some kind of wet wipe to give yourself a sponge bath, this will help you feel cleaner and will typically get rid of much of the salt build up that encourages chafing. Make sure you get your bra line, underwear line, genitals and bottom too.
FUD’s: You may have heard of female urination devices, these devices allow women to pee standing up. Personally I don’t use them for my backpacking endeavors but know other females that utilize these for backpacking and love them. They are great for canoeing, winter sports, and everyday life with public restrooms. You have a myriad of options with FUDs. The Go Girl, which I have used, is made of a soft plastic, which I like and is easy to use. A couple of other brands out there are; The Shewee and The P Style- both of these are a hard plastic. These are great options for many women so don’t be afraid to give them a try. Disclaimer: Do practice with your FUD before you head out to the woods!
Skirts can make the process of both peeing and pooping a little easier. Find a skirt to hike in that still allows freedom of movement. Some ladies choose to go commando underneath, which allows for great ease with peeing- bring some body glide or your personal remedy to combat chafing when starting out. Even with an undergarment of some kind, the skirt still makes this process much easier and provides some coverage while peeing. Hiking in a skirt also allows everything to breathe, which is a good thing.
Leave No Trace Considerations: Urine has little effect on vegetation or soil but animals may be attracted to the salts in urine. Urinating on gravel, pine needles, bare soil and rocks is less likely to attract wild life, you could also dilute your pee with water if you are in an area where water is readily available.
Keep your eye out for the next installment of The Three P’s: Where we will talk about the best practices for Pooping in the Woods.
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