Monday, 15 April 2013

The Freedom of the Pee (and a few damp, smelly bits)

Nothing draws more whoops and hollars and the sharing of the trials and tribulations of female life, than the subject of outdoor peeing.

Here, men have it so easy.  With gay abandon they'll whip it out anywhere, behind a tree, or wide out in the open.  No hiding, no perching precariously on the side of a cliff, no fiddling with belts, buttons, zips and knickers.  But the thing that really gets me is that they can just "shake" off and carry on.  No damp, smelly knickers at the end of the day. 


That's a long way to those hills, and I'm getting desperate now!

So what to do?  I've tried not drinking, and therefore not peeing.  Not advised.  I've used leaves and stones - stones are OK but leaves tend, particularly on a hot, dry day, to crumble into a thousand pieces and end up where you'd rather they didn't, and they're not always to hand.  

I've pondered devices like a shewee, tempting but never tried.  I've taken loo roll and a box of matches.  Great idea, burning tissue, but if I'm drinking lots, I'm peeing lots.  One pee an hour is the norm, and setting a small piece of tissue alight every hour, although fun at first, does get a little tedious.


Found cover at last, modesty intact!

Like Eleanor below, drip dry and blowing in the wind is a glorious way to end a pee, particularly if you're on an isolated high peak with far reaching views.  Clean and fresh and free!  

In pondering the question after some random tweets with @SheMovesUK about the skill and trauma of peeing outdoors, I stumbled across on the excellent blog from Emily Chappel and found I was not alone:


"Forgive the slightly graphic description, but men can ‘shake off’ much more effectively than women when going to the loo outdoors, with no loo roll. In my experience (and from talking to other women), women often end up with damp and smelly pants. A friend of mine uses her hand – not great when there’s no water – and I’ve experimented with a sponge (rinsing it through) and loo roll in a plastic sandwich bag. Using loo roll and then burning/burying it after just a wee seems a bit excessive. Any other ideas?


Eleanor Moseman: I carry a wash basin with me. There is nothing better feeling than a good face wash and a crotch cleanse at the end of the day. Also, if I’m not in a rush and after I pee…I just squat there a little longer and let the wind blow me dry. It actually worked really well along the Taklamakan and the Kazakhstan Steppe. It was like my bidet back home that had the air dryer. So fresh and dry.
Sarah Outen: Guys have it so easy! Leaves or pebbles are quite good if available and a sandwich bag to collect the day’s paper until a more significant event warrants burning (burying can also work), though watch out for opening the bag after a day or two… SMELLY!
Loretta Henderson: In my article “Is peeing in the snow really considered artwork?” I laugh a lot about being a proud professional outdoor pee-er. Toilet paper is very thin and disintegrates in the pockets. Travel tissues packs last longer in my cargo shorts pockets. I use tissues and/or water every time and bury the paper or travel with it in a ziplock baggy and and then throw it away.
Emily Chappell: I usually use a leaf, a stone, or whatever’s to hand to blot myself, or just let myself dry off for a few minutes. In parts of China there was so much used toilet paper blowing around that I felt less guilty about adding a piece or two of my own (shocking!). Smelly shorts can be a problem though, and can quickly lead to saddlesore, especially in hot weather. I sometimes go for a week without a shower, but I wash my shorts as often as I can, and no matter how tired I am in the evenings, I’ll clean my saddle area with a wetwipe, sit around naked for a while (given adequate privacy) to let the air circulate, and put on clean cotton boxers to sleep in. After riding through Iran, Pakistan and China, where toilet roll is a rare commodity, I always make sure I have at least one tissue in each of my pockets, just in case!"
By the way, in case you're wondering, the answer I have found is to always carry a small pack of travel wet-wipes and a small plastic bag.  Not exactly eco-friendly (I guess I could always burn my stash at the end of the day), but I do always finish the day as clean and fresh as I started.


Just take care, you never know who might be watching!