Wander Wipes in the field, Photo by Jamie Siebold
Pee rag, pee cloth, peedana, wee rag, I’m sure there's more...
What do all of these have in common? They are each a handy piece of material used to replace toilet paper after you pee. It’s a simple concept, but with personal preference, ladies can be quite picky about what they choose to use. I’ve seen a 17-year-old pee rag that was made of heavy flannel, It’s user spoke about it like an old friend. Then there's the faithful bandana, camp towels, a cut up tee shirt, wool sock, and the newly marketed upgrades, complete with antimicrobial qualities. Do some research and find what works for you. Or, ask a user, we LOVE to talk about our pee rags!
I am very picky about what makes my gear list, as well as what makes the cut when pack weight is precious. I have found using a pee rag keeps me feeling clean(er), is super convenient, saves money and takes my leave no trace game up another notch. After 1000’s of miles hiked with a pee rag, I’ll never go back. In fact, I’m such a fan, I use one at home and have a business making and selling them. Here are some of my reasons for carrying one.
The benefits of carrying a pee rag.
- No packing out toilet paper for #1.
- They are lightweight. Worth the few ounces to not have to pack out pee TP.
- Hygiene. Your clothes and underwear won't get so funky. It will also help with chafing and odor build up.
- Eco-friendly. Pee rag = less waste and toilet paper consumption. This doesn't end on the trail, use your pee rag at home too!
- Longevity. Single-use is on its way out. Pee rags last for years and will be a favorite part of your gear.
- Cleaner trails. “Toilet paper blooms” can take months, even years to decompose. Pee rags eliminate this waste.
Using a pee rag is not a new concept. If you can imagine, there was a time before toilet paper. Women used corn husks, bark, leather, moss, cloth and whatever they found to be absorbent. We now have toilet paper in abundance and on average will use about 23 rolls per person a year. I won’t go into the woes of toilet paper use, but I will praise the pee rag. Exploring the outdoors is the perfect time to try going TP free. Whilst “shaking it off” is a solution, over long distances, keeping dry and sanitary has proven to be beneficial to personal hygiene. As always, pack it out. If you’d like to try one, here are some tips.
Pro-tips for pee rag peefection.
- Air it out. Hang it from your pack and let the wind and sun do the work. I like to let it bake in the sun on a rock during a snack break.
- Wash often. Give it a rinse with filtered or boiled water away from water sources. You can still use them if they are wet.
- Test it. It's always a good idea to test gear at home first, even your pee rag. The trail isn't the best time to find out you are sensitive to the chemicals used to make the bandana.
- Keep it close. I like to keep my wipe in reach or on a retractable leash. Taking my pack off is time-consuming and it's a breeze when you can grab and go, or… go and grab.
- Have it in reach for midnight motivation to get out of your bag to pee.
- Keep it separate. Urine is sterile, but go the extra step to keep your wipe tidy.
- If you love it, tell people. Any way we can get TP off the trails is a win for everyone. If someone asks, “what's that?”, be proud to tell them how much you love saving trees.
- Secure it well. Branches love to silently steal your pee rag off your pack. Secure it well so you don’t lose it.
- Be proud. You are making a difference. If someone says that it's icky, kindly remind them that toilet paper is a complete waste and you made the choice to lessen your impact.
Wander Wipe with a retractable leash. Photo - Jamie Siebold
This is an incredible time to be a woman in the outdoors. There are many women-specific products out there that have been created for women, by women to make our lives even more awesome. Women have the chance to be better stewards of the outdoor places and lessen our impact with pee rags. If you look up at the tree you are squatting behind, I think you will see it smile back at you and say “thanks”.
Jamie Siebold “Nurse Betty”, PCT 2013 with her pee rag.
About the Author
Jamie "Nurse Betty" Siebold is the owner and creator of Wander Woman Gear. As a thru-hiker and backpacker Jamie quickly learned that less is more, and on her 2013 thru-hike of the PCT discovered a pee-rag was an essential piece of her gear list. With her vision to not only help more women enjoy hiking while also helping the environment, Jamie founded Wander Woman Gear