Kula Cloth Review (psst women’s pee rag, pee cloth)

Kula Cloth Pee Rag Pee Cloth Review

The Kula Cloth is a pee rag (also called a pee cloth) used by many female backpackers and hikers as a zero-waste alternative to toilet paper when you have to pee. While you can use a bandana for this purpose, a Kula Cloth is a purposefully designed and hygienic piece of cloth that takes this concept to another level of convenience and cleanliness.

What is a Pee Rag?

Before I rave about the Kula Cloth, it’s important to talk about why it’s a wise idea to use a pee rag/pee cloth in the first place. On my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2016, I started off with A LOT of toilet paper. A day or two into my hike, I started noticing many women had bandanas hanging off their backpacks and started asking why. I quickly learned about the concept of the pee rag as an alternative to carrying an arsenal of toilet paper in and then packing it out when done using it.

The idea is that you use the cloth to wipe when you pee, then hang it on your pack to dry and let the sun’s ultra-violet rays sterilize any bacteria. I thought this was just dandy and adopted it right away; I cut a bandana down to a small piece, and I tied a knot at the end so it would hang from my pack.

The waterproof print side of the Kula Cloth keeps your hands clean. The other black side is the business half.
The waterproof print side of the Kula Cloth keeps your hands clean. The other black side is the business half.

Why Use a Kula Cloth Instead of a Bandana?

The Kula Cloth is an antimicrobial pee cloth made of 90% polyester and 10% PUL on the face/picture side, and 100% polyester that is silver-infused on the back/absorbent side. The absorbent fibers are bamboo viscose, organic cotton, and cotton – all non-toxic and eco-friendly. It’s specifically designed to be in contact with the human body and antimicrobial, where a bandana isn’t created for that sole purpose.

Although I’d been content with my bandana as a pee cloth, I didn’t love it for a few reasons, and the idea of a better product intrigued me. Even with rinsing the bandana regularly while hiking, it still always smelled like urine. And if it got wet from rain, it was just a nasty piece of yuck hanging off my bag.

When I started my hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2019, I actually ended up ditching my trusty bandana pee cloth after 100 miles because I just couldn’t take the smell anymore. I decided to use the old-fashioned ‘drip-dry’ (aka ‘shaking’) method. I like this tactic because it’s fast, no fuss, and I can pee without taking my backpack off. However, even with the fancy, antimicrobial hiking underwear I’ve used, you never really get all the drips to dry and I don’t like the way wet knickers feel. And to be honest, the smell factor isn’t great.

The Kula Cloth does not smell even after days and days of use.
The Kula Cloth does not smell even after days and days of use.

Kula Cloth Features

This is where Kula Cloth stands out as a solid piece of gear. I was very pleased to not smell any urine odor after many uses over a few days. In terms of urine, there was no discoloration or staining at all when I used it because the black absorbent textile ‘wipe’ side is infused with antimicrobial silver.

A key feature is the waterproof ‘clean’ side (the side that has the picture on it), which means your hands don’t get wet and stay clean when handling.

I like that it can quickly snap to my backpack, which is way easier to do than tie a knot with a damp piece of fabric like a bandana. It has a double snap for privacy and cleanliness on trail; this means that if you use it when you have your menstrual cycle or you’re concerned about any visible body fluid, just snap it and the black usable side is enclosed.

I’m also a fan of how light it is – only 0.4 ounces. Now if you consider how much toilet paper can weigh and the space it takes up, that’s a valid trade-out.

The antimicrobial, absorbent 'wipe' side has a reflective thread so you can locate it in the dark with a headlamp
The antimicrobial, absorbent ‘wipe’ (dirty) side has a reflective thread so you can locate it in the dark with a headlamp.

There’s a reflective thread on the corner of the Kula Cloth, placed there so you can find it with your headlamp. When I up in the night to pee, it’s easy to locate.

Another perk is that it can still be used if it gets wet, such as in rain, when it takes on the character of a wet wipe.

How to Use a Kula Cloth

  1. Choose a spot to go that’s at least 200 feet from a water source.
  2. When you squat to pee, handle the print side which is waterproof to keep your hands clean.
  3. Pat dry with the black, absorbent wipe side. Make sure to keep the Kula Cloth entirely in the pee zone rather than wiping back and forth. It’s meant only for pee.
  4. Snap it to your backpack to dry either with the single-snap or double-snap option for more privacy and cleanliness.

How to Clean a Kula Cloth

When in the backcountry on a multi-day trip, simply rinse the Kula Cloth with water and hang it to dry on your pack or a tree. The website for Kula Cloth says it’s okay to use a couple of drops of a biodegradable soap (like Dr. Bronner’s), but I prefer to not use any soap in the wilderness. When I got home, I double-snap it so it won’t get snagged in the washer and used my normal detergent. It’s also important to keep it snapped when you put it in the dryer for the same reason, although I chose to hang it to dry. It’s recommended to hand wash if you can, to preserve the life of the product. Don’t use fabric softener or bleach!

The snaps on the Kula Cloth make for easy attachment, and can be double-snapped to a backpack for privacy and cleanliness.
The snaps on the Kula Cloth make for easy attachment and can be double-snapped to a backpack for privacy and cleanliness.

The Kula Cloth

Sanitary
Portable
Smell-Free
Low Impact
Ease of Use

Better Than Toilet Paper

The Kula Cloth is a sanitary alternative to toilet paper that is ideal for all outdoor activities when you need to pee but there isn't a toilet around. It's discrete, doesn't smell, and self-sterilizes in the sun so you can relax outdoors.

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Recommendation

The Kula Cloth is made for those of us intentional adventurers who are conscious about our bodies and the impact they have on the natural environment. Feminine hygiene and peeing in the outdoors shouldn’t be considered a taboo or dirty topic, and the people behind Kula Cloth have designed a legit and powerful piece of gear in an itty-bitty package.

Some of the top advantages of using a Kula Cloth:

  • It’s better for the environment and supports Leave No Trace Principles.
  • It’s cleaner and more sanitary for your body than the drip-dry method, which I
    also find makes hiking underwear smell.
  • It’s reusable!
  • Anyone can use a Kula Cloth and you can take it on any type of outdoor
    excursion, ranging from backpacking to a music festival.
  • You don’t have to carry a huge, bulky roll of toilet paper if you pee a lot (like I do).
  • It’s easier to pull the snap of the Kula Cloth off your bag than dig around for your
    toilet paper and trash bag to store the waste in, which saves time.
  •  Your hands don’t feel gross when you use it because of the waterproof side.
  • If privacy is a concern, you can snap up to conceal the black, wipe side.
  • It doesn’t hold odors like other fabrics can do, meaning it’s more pleasant for you
    and the folks around you.

The big selling factor though is I feel more clean and comfortable using the Kula Cloth than I do with a bandana or drip-drying. When I do backpacking trips, or even when on a day hike, having that feeling of cleanliness in areas that matter most can be a game-changer to me. Kula Cloth is made with advanced textiles intentionally designed for hygiene and being resistant to odors, which means it’s a high step up from using any old cloth. I highly recommend it if you want to care for your body and the land while hiking.

Disclosure: The author owns this product.

Editor's note: If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed or recommend on SectionHiker, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we may (but not always) receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides. Thanks and we appreciate your support!

About the author

Heather Daya Rideout has been a life-long outdoorswoman. Her pursuits and passion for hiking and camping have taken her around the world for many long-distance trips; such as backpacking in Nepal, India, South America, Morocco, Europe, and North America. Heather has hiked the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and a route of 1,500 miles combining several Camino routes through Spain and Portugal. On any given day she would rather be outdoors than anything else and her lifestyle is a direct reflection of that deep love affair with nature. Heather currently lives in Idaho and she’s having a wondrous time experiencing the beauty it offers. You can read some of her other writing at www.wanderyoga.com.

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16 comments

  1. Oh, man, I’ve been eyeing this product for months now and I think this review has cinched it for me! Going to visit the website now….Only downside I see is that it won’t arrive in time for this weekend’s backpacking trip. Oh well, plenty more of those in the future (knock on wood). Thanks for literally kicking me in the butt to get one of these! (Do you have only one? Is one enough?)

    • Hi Slow Gin Lizz (great name by the way) and I’m stoked you’re convinced to order a Kula Cloth! One is all you need because you can reuse it and wash it. Actually, having one is encouraged- less excess to carry and living in a minimalist way. I know you’ll love it!

      • Thanks, Heather, for your response! I’m already SO EXCITED and CAN’T WAIT until my Kula cloth arrives!

    • I have two because I thought I lost mine, ordered a replacement, then I found the other one.

      I keep one in my truck, hanging from the gun rack with my trekking poles & fishing rods. One never knows when the opportunity to get on a trail will arise, and I’m definitely prepared. You also never know when you’re going to have a find a place to pee because you don’t want to wait until you encounter an available bathroom.

      (I run trails, too, and I’ve peed on almost every trail I routinely use. (I’m marking my spot!) It’s handy to have a Kula hanging from my hydration pack.)

  2. Thanks for the review and the discussion of the advantages. I’m a guy, but I often go backpacking with my 3rd grade daughter, so hearing the thoughts of experienced female backpackers is invaluable to me. I’m going to get a Kula cloth for my daughter now, because it sounds like a really useful product for our trips.

    On a similar note: do you know of any good resources demonstrating how to pee in the woods for women and girls? It’s something that my daughter has really struggled with, particularly doing it without peeing on her pants or shoes. What I’ve found so far doesn’t go into enough detail to help her. At this point, this is the only real “problem” for her with backpacking; she loves hiking, she loves sleeping in the tent, we have lots of backpacking food that she likes, she’s fine with bad weather, etc. This is the one last thing that can still put her on the verge of tears or make her want to go home when we’re backpacking.

    • Dang, Tom, that’s too bad about her peeing situation but I love that you take her backpacking and that she loves it! I still find this tricky but one thing that helps me is to make sure I’m facing uphill when I pee so that the pee falls behind me and not onto my shoes (this is the opposite of what guys have to do, if I understand correctly). Your stream has to be pretty strong too or else, yeah, you’re gonna pee on your pants. And squatting more can also help.

      “How to Shit in the Woods” does have a special section for women about peeing but maybe you’ve already read that.

    • Hi Tom, and thank you for commenting and sharing about your adventures with your daughter. I think it’s wonderful you hike and backpack together and I applaud you for wanting to make her more comfortable while peeing in the woods.

      I read Slow Gin Lizz’s reply to you and she gave good advice. I find if I really make an effort to NOT pull my skirt or pants all the way to my ankles ( so keeping them around my knees as a I squat but pulling the fabric out so it won’t get hit by the stream of pee) this prevents getting my clothes wet. Having a rock or tree to hold on to may also help her for balance and so she can squat more deeply.

      Section Hiker has an article from Kathleen Meyer who shows a few photos and talks on this topic a bit, so do check it out.

      https://sectionhiker.com/uh-oh-by-kathleen-meyer/

      • Thanks to everyone for the tips. We have another trip scheduled for later this month, so I’ll definitely be passing your advice along for her to try.

    • Hi Tom, I had a similar problem when I was a little girl. That was me crying in the Catskills back in the 60’s. I was under the mistaken notion that I needed to do a half-squat, as if I were hovering over a dirty toilet seat. That doesn’t work too well if the toilet isn’t there! A wider stance, and squatting as low as possible works the best. Maybe have her practice in the shower to increase her confidence.

    • Terry Hargraves

      Tom, you might look into devices for your daughter to pee standing up. In my testing I’ve ruled out the soft silicone ones like Go Girl because they collapse. The PStyle works wonderfully well, but it’s a little awkward to store because of its length. My favorite is the Tinkle Bell, which works much like the Pstyle but can be folded to fit in my hip belt pocket. I love love love not having to bare my butt while hiking with other people.

    • Hi Tom, in regards to your daughter I use a plastic cup with a handle to pee in. (Like a small mug style) I hardly have to squat and after I’m done peeing I just empty the cup. I was so tired of peeing on myself, my shoes etc! I have a caribener attached to it so I can just clip it to the back of my pack. Good luck!

  3. While you ladies are waiting for your Kulas to arrive, here is what I have been doing. Splash just enough water on yourself to make sure no urine remains. Then use a small terry cloth to pat yourself dry. Since the pee is gone, the cloth shouldn’t smell.

    This sounds like a great product, thanks for mentioning it! I think I will get at least two (one for my daughter).

    • Thanks for sharing your tip, Beckie. It’s always good to know other ways of taking care of things. I hope you and your daughter like your Kula Cloths!

  4. I love my Kula Cloth! I keep it on a retractable clip on my backpack so I can pull it forward and use it and then it goes back without having to unclip it!

    • Kristina, I LOVE this idea and think I’m going to adopt it! Thank you for sharing. I’m all about efficiency and ease when I pee!

  5. The only really gross thing is if you vaginal discharge. It just sorta sits on top of the fabric and doesn’t go away or dry, and needs to be washed each and every time. Otherwise I love it, it drastically reduces the amount of waste and weight to carry on a weekend trip.

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