In addition to comfortable beds, hotels offer clean toilets, toilet paper, soap, and a private space in which you can relieve yourself. Mother Nature is not quite as accommodating.
If you’re on a camping trip and wake in the middle of the night needing the toilet, you can’t simply stumble half-asleep to a warm toilet and then clamber back into bed once the chain is flushed.
So, how can you safely use the toilet when you’re camping outdoors and what are your options when it’s cold/wet?
How Do You Pee While Camping?
Before we talk about pee bottles and night-time toilet escapades, let’s cover the basics.
Step One: Create a Boundary
Once you arrive at your camping area, you should establish the boundary of the campsite and make it clear that everyone should do their business outside of this boundary.
Avoid streams and thick foliage and make sure you’re not inadvertently asking campers to squat among dangerous plants or insect nests.
Some digging will be required. You can either dig a communal latrine in advance or inform campers that they must dig their own holes when they use the toilet.
Step Two: Tell Someone
Horror villains often use the call of nature to pick off their victims.
Everyone has a little too much to drink around the campfire, someone stumbles into the woods to pee against a tree or in some bushes, and the next thing we see is the glint of a machete in the moonlight.
In real life, unkillable giants wearing hockey masks are pretty rare, but bears, snakes, mountain lions, and other wild animals are very common.
To make sure you don’t fall victim to any animal attacks or other disasters (abductions, assaults, Jason Voorhees) tell someone where you’re going.
Oh, and don’t do what half of those hapless victims do and tell someone who clearly can’t hear you because they’re too drunk or wearing headphones. You’re just asking to be victim number 1.
Step Three: Gather Some Supplies
Your sex will determine how easy it is to use the bathroom outdoors (unless it’s a number 2, in which case we’re all in the same boat).
Men have it a little easier, but should still take some hand sanitizer to wash their hands afterward. There are no sinks in the wild and it’s important to practice good hygiene.
Women should look into purchasing a female urination device. The SheWee is arguably the most famous of these, but it’s far from the only product on the market.
Also known as “FUDs”, female urination devices feature a funnel at one end and a tube at the other, letting you pee standing up and direct it where you want it to go.
You may also need toilet paper or baby wipes; in which case you should pack them in a rubbish bag that you can dispose of later.
Step Four: Be On the Lookout
You’re very vulnerable when you’re using the toilet. Not only are you distracted, but you may also not be in the best position to run or fight. What’s more, you could be crouched close to the ground, thus making you a potential target for cougars, coyotes, and other wild animals.
One of the first things you should do when encountering a mountain lion is to make yourself big and pick up any small pets or children so they don’t become a target. It’s all about showing the animal that you’re not small and weak and won’t be an easy kill.
If you’re crouched, defenseless, and not even looking, you’ll be easy pickings.
Be very cautious when using the bathroom outdoors in areas known for wolves, coyotes, and cougars. Keep looking around and be prepared to pull up and stand up if needed.
How To Pee at Night While Camping
If you’re camping in the summer, you should consider leaving the tent to pee during the night. However, this becomes very risky if you’re in an area populated with bears, coyotes, and other wild animals.
In such cases, ask a friend to act as a lookout, don’t venture too far from the tent, and take a flashlight with you.
Use the flashlight to scan the ground for spiders, scorpions, and snakes, and to check the nearby area for animals.
If you’re winter camping or just want to stay in the tent where it’s warm and safe, there are a few things you can do:
Empty Your Bladder Before You Sleep
If your bladder is completely empty before you go to sleep, there’s a good chance it will hold until the morning.
Even if you don’t really need to go, do what you can.
Limit Your Fluid Intake Before Going to Bed
It should go without saying, but the more you drink during the evening, the more likely you are to need the toilet during the night.
It’s important to stay hydrated in the great outdoors and you shouldn’t deprive yourself of fluids, but it won’t do you much harm if you stop drinking an hour or so before bedtime.
Don’t Drink too Much Alcohol
Alcohol doesn’t just fill your bladder. It also increases the need to urinate, so you’ll feel a desperate urge even without a full bladder.
Furthermore, alcohol consumption can disrupt your sleep, making you more likely to wake in the middle of the night. If you’re sleeping, the urge to urinate won’t concern you. If you’re awake, it’ll stop you from getting back to sleep and you won’t be able to think about anything else.
Get Warm and Comfortable
A warm sleeping bag and a cozy tent could make all of the difference. As noted above, if you’re sleeping soundly, you won’t feel the urge to pee.
When your body is cold, your bladder is full, and you’re irritable, you’ll wake up needing the bathroom.
Take a Pee Bottle into the Tent
If all else fails, use a pee bottle.
As the name suggests, a pee bottle is just an empty bottle that you pee inside.
It’s generally easier for men than women, but many women recommend using an empty Gatorade bottle as it has a wide mouth. If it’s still not quite wide enough, use a pee funnel or female urination device (FUD).
You could also use a plastic bag or Ziplock bag if you need a wider entry.
When you have an empty bladder and clean hands (don’t forget the hand sanitizer), place the pee bottle/bag outside the tent and deal with it in the morning.
How Do You Pee In A Tent?
You can use a pee bottle or a plastic bag to pee in a tent. You don’t even need to leave your sleeping bag, although you may need to zip it down to give yourself some extra room.