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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!

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  1. 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.

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

  3. 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?

    • 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.

    • 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 :(

      • I pee in ziplock bags all the time and I don’t even get out of my sleeping bag! Just make sure that the ziplock bag is airtight, then get up on your knees inside the sleeping bag, form the ziplock all around your vulva so no pee can escape, and go. Lower the ziplock slightly and carefully seal it before trying to take it out. I’ll set the ziplocak outside of my tent inside the rain fly. If it’s winter, it’ll freeze and it’ll be easy to empty out.

        • How long did it take you to perfect your technique? :-)

        • Just read this old article. Made me smile! I have been using similar technique. First time I used it was not because of rain or night time emergency but to avoid midges! I was snug in the tent after battling them when preparing food. I could not see myself going out again! I went over everything I had in the tent. Then it struck me that if the food packaging was water tight when rehydrating the food, it was also going to be water tight when using it as a “pee bottle”. Althought that first time, I moved everything aside! Did not want to have any incident, but then realised it was quite easy. Since then I make a point to always have dehydrated food on the first night to ensure I have my “pee bottle” for the trip! And the good thing is that the bag can stand in the vestibule or outside the tent, until the morning. Just need to rince it and it’s ready to be reused.

      • God bless you, Sara, for giving me this idea and the details to execute it.

  4. “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.

  5. 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.

    • Hi Karen. I do a lot of hiking and i do find it hard to wee in public. However due to Kidney problems i have to walk until there is noone around and then go…which is hard at the moment with Mountains packed with people.. do u have any tips of what to use for women to discreetly have a pee. When hiking or camping…

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

  7. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

  14. a clip n seal is another added layer of spillage protection

  15. 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.

    • 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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!

    • Oh god… I did this once and had a back country disaster, with a wet sleeping bag all night in a bad rainstorm! It’ll be nalgene for me, here on out!

  21. 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.

  22. It’s that winter camping that requires you really think how cold it’s going to be vs. the relief you’re about to achieve! Another important note: when it’s very cold outside, your body is using energy to maintain your core temperature, especially with a full bladder. With an empty bladder, you expend less energy to do so.

  23. I use the soft Nalgene 96oz wide-mouth canteen water bottle. It costs around $19. It seems less likely to leak than a zip lock type of bag if it’s tipped over. I marked it as a waste bottle. I fold it up flat and pack it in a plastic bag in the outside rear mesh of my pack.

  24. “Uribag”. A rubber bladder with a capped plastic neck. Very compact. Comes in male and female versions. Not cheap, but extremely effective. Weighs 2.2oz

  25. Box of Joe bladder worked awesome. Supper strong, lightweigth and seals better then a ziplock. You sold me. Someone should market these for that purpose. The only down side is they are much bigger then needed. Does anyone know if they make a smaller size?

  26. Do Bears like the scent of pee?

    • I don’t know about urine specifically, but in regions where bears have learned to associate humans with food, then bears are attracted to any scent left by humans, such as camp fire smoke. In other words, food smells are not the only ones which may attract bears if the bears are trying to find people in the first place. Bears may also be attracted by the noises people make for the same reason. In regions where bears have learned to avoid humans (i.e. where bears are hunted) the opposite holds true. The real question isn’t what attracts bears in general, but how bears have learned to behave with respect to people in specific areas. I agree with Phil that urine attracts deer. I think that is probably the deer seeking the salt from the pee.

    • Salt. They crave the salt.

  27. I enjoy discovering these old threads when someone posts a new comment. I use a pee bottle routinely, since I have old man issues, but have never considered any resealable bag secure enough. But, maybe I’ll try Packit Gourmet just to see. I’ve been using a wide-mouthed bottle that peanuts came in, since the cap screws down tightly but the plastic is lighter weight than a Nalgene or similar bottle.

    • here here. I found the peanut bottle by accident on a recent trip and other than it doesn’t compress, it’s a great size. No missing in the middle of the night and yes, screws down tight. !!

  28. Great idean. Now, what do I do with my yellow Nalgene bottle?

  29. Many years ago while on an expedition in Iceland and camping up high on the main ice sheet Vatnajokull we used plastic bottles that had had powdered milk. But there is added value. Put the pee-filled bottle into your boot and have pre-warmed feet! Ok maybe not, but it did prevent them from freezing up.

  30. What about a bag for #2? :)

    • Idea Re: #2 – “doggy bag”: I would try using the really flimsy plastic bags from the fresh produce section, as these can be put on the ground (put pebbles at the edge of the bag so it doesn’t blow away). This would avoid the (balance and sheer ridiculousness) issue of trying to take a dump while holding a resealable bag under your butt. Then put the produce bag with “product” into a good resealable bag.

      I can’t say that I have tried this in real life. I just don’t camp where you can’t dig a cat hole – locally the winter weather is such that the ground is shovel-proof one month per year. The rest of the winter is a continuous freeze-thaw cycle every few days, so at most there’s a morning frozen crust over mud.

      • What? If you are in an environmentally sensitive place where you need to pack out your poop, then just poop on the ground as normal. Then pick it up with a plastic bag, just as you would if picking up after a dog on the street. No need to aim into a bag. Almost any bag will do, though you might want to double-bag.

      • Just pick it up he says.

        Love to see you try that after a few days of typical bp meals and giardia-laced water, when you’ve just laid down a nice Bristol-scale 6 or 7. Will you cling to your idea then, when there’s nothing else to grab on to?

  31. Just have a hole on the side of your tent. Then when you need to go, pop it through the hole and go ;)

  32. My life hack for women in unsanitary bathrooms, or outdoors to pee is to use an infant/small child dose spoon with a hole drilled at the rounded end. It takes a little practice to perfect, and try not to wait until the need is urgent, but it makes a fine funnel where minimal clothing need be removed and no sitting on nasty toilet seats. It can also double to carefully wipe any drip off without using extra tp or a pee cloth, family cloth, etc.
    As for a container for urine…I’m here to brainstorm that angle.

  33. Unless its a severe snow storm like if you expose youre skin it will get frist bite type weathet..then just pee outside…geeze. ..go a few feet into the bush behind a tree squat n pee …..its called backpacking not glamping!….or if youre that worried about the dark or somekne accidently spotting you peeing….then all ya gotta do is dig a hole in the ground then grab dome branches a bit taller than you are…like 3 or 4 ….some para cord and a tarp n make a tee pee…takes no time to 5 mins…and it gives the other girls that may be with your group a spot to pee also..then when leaving your camp site grab your tarp n para cord off it , put sone dirt back over thd hove n move on ….duh!

  34. Hydrapak “Stash” collapsible bottle for me, 750ml. Wide mouth to accommodate the larger man, enough volume for 2 normal or one big pee. Secure lid for non spillage in the tent, packs down small when not in use. Physically different than Nalgenes, so no unwanted doppelganger surprises to the taste buds.

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