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The Best Pee Bottle is not a Bottle

You can't really pee out the front door of your tent at a crowded  campsite

You can’t really pee out the front door of your tent at a crowded campsite, especially in mixed company

Sometimes you can’t leave your tent to take a pee. There might be a rain or snowstorm outside, it might be frigid cold and windy, or you might be surrounded by other campers at a crowded tent site where you can’t simply pee out the front door at night, and you don’t feel like taking a long walk to the bathrooms, especially if you need to do it several times in one night.

While many hikers, especially winter hikers, carry a carefully marked wide-mouth Nalgene or Gatorade bottle to pee into, both of these bottles take up a lot of space in your backpack that you might need for other clothing, gear or food. My winter pack is jammed tight and there’s simply no room to carry a rigid bottle.

Packit Gourmet Flat Bottomed Cook-in-Bag-1

Packit Gourmet Flat Bottomed Cook-in-Bag

Those are some of the reasons why I prefer carrying a medium or large Cook-in-Bag from Packit Gourmet for peeing into when I don’t want to leave my tent do to foul weather or crowded camping conditions. Weighing just 10 grams (size medium/holds 3.5 cups) or 13 grams (size large/holds 6 cups), these thick gusseted Ziploc bags stand up by themselves and stay tightly locked even if they tip over, preventing messy accidents inside your shelter. In the morning, you can easily slip them under your coat and discretely empty them out of sight and then re-seal them and roll them up for easy storage and reuse at your next tent site.

The Packit Gourmet Cook-in-Bags only cost $0.60 if bought alone – cheaper than most bottles – and you get them for free if you buy one of Packit Gourmet’s delicious Cook-in-Bag meals.

The best pee bottle is not a bottle!

Disclosure: Philip Werner purchased his last Packit Gourmet Cook-in-Bag with his own funds, but was sponsored by Packit Gourmet during the 2010 TGO Challenge

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33 Responses to The Best Pee Bottle is not a Bottle

  1. John G. January 3, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    Great idea for most situations. But, a word of caution! I tried using similar product as a pee bag while climbing Aconcagua a few years ago. It worked well until one night when we had temps down to -21F and the bag cracked and leaked despite the bag having been kept in my sleeping bag inside the tent.

    • Levi Levy July 24, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

      If it is cold outside, a pee bag can be a good foot warmer. Use your body heat to keep you warm!

  2. Ross Gilmore January 3, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    I like the collapsible Nalgene bladders. They have the wide mouth, but fold down almost as small as a Platypus bottle.

  3. Sarah January 3, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    Interesting, men have it a lot easier. I was never in a situation desperate not to pee outside. It would be nice to know if other women use something similar?

    • Liz January 3, 2014 at 10:01 am #

      I think some women use funnels or other similar devices so that they can do this. I wouldn’t bother, as I don’t like the idea of having a bottle of pee in my tent and I’m not so hard-core that I am likely to find myself in a situation where I can’t leave my tent.

    • Allison Simpson January 3, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

      I have for some time used a wide nalgene bottle to P in. I have camped all over and at different altitudes and conditions. I manage fine in a small back packing tent. I have never used a sheewee as they are just something else to buy,carry and clean. I also use a LaserLight tent which I can P between the inner and the fly sheet, very handy on busy MM and in bad weather. I do know someone who uses a wide nalgene bottle to P in and drink out of :(

  4. mike January 3, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    “There might be a rain or snowstorm outside, it might be frigid cold and windy, or you might be surrounded by other campers at a crowded tent site where you can’t simply pee out the front door at night, and you don’t feel like taking a long walk to the bathrooms, especially if you need to do it several times in one night.”

    — Then you simply do not have to pee badly enough. Pee bottles of any sort are kind of disgusting. Just get up and get yourself to an appropriate place to urinate.

    • Alexander January 3, 2014 at 11:00 am #

      When it’s -20 below outside your tent I think you will reconsider this approach. What if you were hiking in a park that required you to pack out your waste? It would be super gross, but what other choice would you have, right?

      • Alexander January 3, 2014 at 11:01 am #

        Whoops, I meant -20 degrees or 20 below, not both. :P

        • Philip Werner January 3, 2014 at 11:02 am #

          plus a -40 degree wind chill. the important parts might break off if you go outside.

          • Philip Werner January 3, 2014 at 11:03 am #

            I’m pretty sure pee is sterile also – not really that gross.

            • Liz January 3, 2014 at 11:04 am #

              It is and it isn’t. It’s sterile when it’s in your body but can get contaminated upon leaving your body. I learned that from listening to Sawbones, a neat new podcast about medical history.

              • Sarah January 3, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

                Isn’t it the case that 98% is water in the urine and the other 2% can have some bacteria or can develop after a certain amount of time, out of your body?

      • mike January 3, 2014 at 11:14 am #

        Well true that. I was thinking only three-season! =)

  5. Karen January 3, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    It’s possible for women to pee into a smaller area than many would think, and I find it can be easier than avoiding peeing on my shoes (slope, rocks, creeping leaves); it requires some .. adjustment. Ever pee on yourself while sitting on a regular toilet? Some of us have, there are usually ways to figure out how to straighten yourself out so you have a stream instead of a fountain. ;) much cleaner finish, too.

  6. Ed January 3, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    Next meal time I’ll be looking at my packet of sup twice.

  7. baz carter January 3, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    Great idea. I never use a pee bottle for the reasons stated but also because if I’m using my Scarp I can always pee in the other porch :)

  8. Louis Brooks January 3, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    Good idea! And it just so happens I have a few of their 2 person meals at the house left over from my last trip. (Yes I packed far to much food again.)

  9. john January 3, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    I’ve been using a collapsible nalgene for a while now, it works good in a hammock. But I may try these to reduce my weight.

    The main thing to me is having to get dressed, shoes, etc… specially when cold, so much easier to use a container, and go right back to sleep.

  10. RevLee January 3, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    An old Gatorade bottle works well. Then at the end of your trip you can just toss it in the recycling (empy, of course).

  11. outdoors January 3, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Philip shaves some more oz’s off my pack. Great idea as I use the Nalgene wide collapsable now. Pretty soon my pack will be filled with just air.

  12. Jay Russell January 3, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    I’ve only needed a pee bottle a few times. One was when I’d injured my knees and couldn’t stand up. A pee bottle saved me from creating across a crowded camp site to a toilet.

    Pee isn’t disgusting, it’s unpleasant. There are many worse things in the world!

  13. Jorgen Johansson January 3, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    If you use freeze dried meals that cook in their packages these usually come with ziplocs and can be used as pee-bottles. I only use this in winter, but a couple of years ago on Finnmarksvidda I lost track of this well filled p-bottle. After some frantic minutes I found it squeezed flat under my sleeping pad… Not my best winter camping moment. Fortunately, snow is very aborbent so I managed to mop most of it up.

    • Philip Werner January 3, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

      Good thing about frozen peas, they don’t smell that bad! harhar!

  14. rob brown January 3, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    a clip n seal is another added layer of spillage protection

  15. Wes January 4, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    Using the cook bag seems risky. When I’m using a pee bottle I’m usually on a glacier and it is usually cold. I don’t want to get out of my sleeping bag and I can easily pee into a nalgene without exiting my bag (I keep the pee bottle in my bag). Doing this with a cook bag seems fraught with peril. Last thing I want is a pee soaked sleeping bag.

    • Jorgen Johansson January 4, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

      It all depends I guess. The advantage of using a food package is that you need not carry an extra piece of gear. I never felt the need to use a pee-bottle in my sleeping bag, but if that is the only practical solution I would certainly go for something bomb-proof.

  16. Matthew Wilson January 5, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    I think that this is a great idea. Of course there are risks–temperature causing the bag to crack–as some have pointed out, but the risks are variable.
    Personally, I think that this is a great 3 season solution. I guess you could lower winter risks if you make a cozy for the bag :-) But something doesn’t quite sound right about making a pee cozy.

    I will definitely consider this for my 3 season backpacking. When the rain and wind are ripping at 2am, I don’t mind making a #1 in a bag in my tent.

    And for those making a fuss about the hygienical concerns, well… keep in mind you have to pack out your own #2 in some places.

  17. Grandpa January 8, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    To pee, or not to pee, that is the question—
    Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
    The Pained discomfort of overfilled Bladders,
    Or to take Aim against a Pee bottle bag,
    Or by going outside? To pee, to sleep—
    Relief; and by a sleep, to say we end
    The Gut-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
    From that cold air out? ‘Tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wished. To pee, to sleep,
    To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub,
    For to get that sleep and dream, we must pee…

    William ShakesPeer

  18. Steve McAllister January 15, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    A two liter milk, juice or other carton can be split at the top for use by women. These can also be used for #2 in those situations where you have to pack everything out.
    They also fold flat when empty.

    Women can also practice the technique that other women use to pee in small opening containers. I won’t go into it here:-)

  19. A. Davis February 27, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    I just use the bag from my MH or BPP dinner. Its about the same size and seals up just as well. In most cases I’ll fill it and just unzip a small portion of the tent and set it just outside. But there’ve been two cases where it was colder than expected so after filling and sealing it, I wrapped it with a piece of duct tape, then used it as a hot water bottle to get some extra warmth. In fact, I always recycle two MH or BPP bags this way… the first one is for pee… the bfast one is used to store all my trash including other MH or BPP bags over the next few days.

  20. j.k. williams May 19, 2014 at 8:51 am #

    It takes some practice, but I’ve used those leak-proof zip-lock bags. After using one, you have to be careful to keep them standing up during the night just in case. It’s amazing how full they will get during the night if you gotta go several times, and this makes them heavy and hard to handle. I worry about them breaking and leaking. Best to dump the bag immediately after a pee into a disposable plastic water bottle, which also takes some care. Next day after you dump them, rinse out the plastic bag and/or bottle. They get stinky in a hurry. I also made a pee funnel from a plastic hand lotion container, which let me pee in the bottle without having to deal with the plastic bag. Ladies, minimize the amount of wiping paper you need by trimming your pubic hair fairly short with a scissors before your trip. DON”T use one of those hair razor cutters! It makes the hair ends sharp and prickly and you will have an irritating itch!

  21. wilawi August 10, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    the next time you’re someplace where they sell a box of Joe(coffee) after they’re done with the box open the box and remove the bladder. It makes for a very convenient urinal for use at night. its huge but doesn’t weigh much it’s made of mylar,so its rugged and has a screw top so you don’t have to worry about it I accidentally leaking.

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