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This feature article was snagged from mountainwoman.com.
Click here for the previous articles

NOTE: We at WomenClimbing have also found a few other "gadgets" that are similar to those found in this article. Please check out our Misc. Gear - menstration cups (MC), pee free (PF) tools Page. We now have Diva Cups (MC) as well as pStyles (PF) also listed.

Peeing on a Rope. . . And Other Bodily Functions

(Author's Note: Leigh, who is a free-pee-er, wrote this article completely on her own. Nobody else would be associated with it!)

Yes, I'm a radical about peeing in the woods, on the glacier, on the rock, and anywhere else where too many of us feel exposed and insecure dropping our pants. I can modestly say that one of the few outdoor activities in which I have attained mastery is peeing. And I am a zealot about it because I have seen too many women sacrifice enjoyment of the outdoors because of modesty, embarrassment and simple lack of peeing skill and instruction. If you don't drink enough, at best you won't function well and at worst you'll put yourself at risk. If you drink, you pee. It's as simple as that.

For maximum freedom, get a Freshette. This body-shaped funnel with a tube attached will quickly become one of your most important pieces of gear. Once you learn how to use it, you will be able to pee standing up, without dropping your pants, untying your rope or hiking a mile to hide behind a tree. You can simply turn away and assume the universal male pose. The Freshette functions as a little artificial penis, which makes for great jokes. There are other devices that work similarly.

Using a Freshette or similar device takes a little practice. Try it at home first. First, be sure that the tube is pulled out fully and seated well into the funnel part. Next, be sure the funnel part is well seated against your body. Finally, think about the effects of gravity. When you practice in front of the toilet, you'll be on flat ground. Think about pointing the tube down so that the funnel part is directing the liquid into the tube.

Then take the Freshette outside and enjoy your new freedom. You can use it through a fly–just unzip the fly and pull your underwear down from the top. You can also just lower the front of your pants and underwear together, which is often a little easier. Beware of the tendency to stand facing uphill, which can easily happen if you are standing up to big boulders or trees to pee. Remember the physics of the thing and keep the tube pointing downhill. When you forget this, you end up with pee running down your leg. It dries.

What about wiping, you say? Forget it. When you remove the Freshette, just keep it against you as you pull it forward and very few drips will remain. Store the Freshette in its plastic case, in a baggie, in a small stuff sack, or in your pocket. I've modified mine by cutting down the tube a little, which makes it a bit easier to store and doesn't seem to affect its functionality. (Size doesn't matter!)

Some women mountain climbers use the Freshette in their tents to direct pee into their pee bottles. If you master this, you can use a collapsible or small mouth bottle for a pee bottle. I use a wide-mouth liter water bottle for a pee bottle and pee directly into it, which works best for me. Be aware that sometimes you have to empty a one liter bottle in the middle of the night if you are hydrating well at high altitude.

What about those who are inveterate squatters, or for bowel movements? A good solution for hikers or trekkers in warm weather is to hike in a long skirt, no underwear. Another good solution for colder weather is underwear and pants with full front to back zippers. (We'll have these available in the fall.) If you climb mountains where you rope up, you must be ready to squat while roped to your team. If you joyfully announce that you have to go and ask the guys to look away, this can almost always be done without embarrassment, and they'll be happy for the role model.

When you have your period, consider the Keeper. This is another revolutionary device for women. I admit, when you first look at it your reaction is "This goes where??" But it's really easy and comfortable. The Keeper is a flexible, natural rubber cup that sits just inside your vagina and catches menstrual flow. Unlike a diaphragm, which sits up next to your cervix, this thing stays low down, so you don't have to go fishing for it. You just take it out from time to time and empty the cup and, if water is available, wash it out. I tried it, somewhat skeptically, in the line of duty (what I won't do for the mythical MountainWoman!), and now it has replaced tampons. It needs tending much less frequently than tampons, and there's no trash to deal with. It leaks a little on a heavy flow day - usually at night, which also happens to me with tampons. The Keeper has been sold for a number of years now, without any problems, and comes with excellent instructions and a money back guarantee.

A short word about low impact practices. How many of us have had our outdoor experiences marred by piles of used toilet paper? If you must use it, pack it out or burn it, depending on the conditions and situation. If you plan to burn it when you use it, have a lighter with you and realize this is harder than it sounds if the climate is damp. Usually it burns best if you spread it out and light both ends. I find it easier to pack it out. Experiment, if you haven't, with leaves, grass, rocks and those little soft pine cones you find in some places — you may be surprised how well they work. Tampons should always be packed out. Use ziplock freezer bags for nasty stuff — they are significantly stronger than sandwich bags. Toilet paper and tampons can be burned when you get to a good hot fire.

More suggestions? Different views? E-mail MW.

Visit the Gear pages to take a look and/or buy!

 

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