It’s recommended that climbers drink four to five liters of water daily when climbing Kilimanjaro. This high intake helps with acclimatization. The side effect of drinking so much and taking Diamox is that you will have to pee – A LOT.
It is not uncommon to have to pee 4-5 times overnight. That’s not so fun, having to put on your jacket and boots, exit the tent, and find the toilet every time. This is where the pee bottle comes in.
What is it?
A pee bottle is a bottle, any bottle, that you use strictly to urinate in while inside your tent. Though this may sound appalling, climbers do find pee bottles very convenient once you can get over any feelings of shyness or embarrassment.
What should you look for in a pee bottle?
The most important thing is capacity. Get the largest pee bottle possible so that you don’t have to get out to empty it any more than necessary. A 16 ounce bottle is definitely too small. A 32 ounce bottle will work. But a 48 ounce bottle is the best.
Next, make sure the opening has a wide mouth. This is not target practice. You want to be easily pee into it without any splashing outside. A large, collapsible, wide mouth bottle like the Nalgene Cantene is great. It has a large opening, large capacity, and you can see where the water line is while using it.
A collapsible Nalgene can be rolled up and stored in a small space when not in use whereas a hard bottle is bulky.
Clearly mark the bottle so it doesn’t get confused with regular water bottles.
Nalgene water bottles can be found here.
How do you use a pee bottle on Kilimanjaro?
As long as you can get the pee into the container without making a mess, one method is as good as the next. But here is what we suggest.
First, have your head lamp illuminated so you can see what you are doing. Then angle your body away from your hopefully sleeping tent mate if you have one out of respect. Your partner most likely does not want to wake up to that sight. While kneeling on the ground, find a stable position where you can secure the bottle below you and pee into it. Note that we house our clients in spacious three person tents but limit the occupants to two people, so there is room to move around.
Have a tissue, wet wipe or handkerchief nearby to dab up any errant drops. Once you relieve yourself, close the bottle tightly and put it in a safe spot where it won’t be accidentally knocked around or crushed.
In the morning, empty the bottle on the ground away from the campsite or in the public toilet. You could also empty it in the portable toilets we provide, but to have the whole trekking party do this at once can overload the toilet. So please dump the urine elsewhere when possible.
Can women use a pee bottle?
Females can use a urination funnel, also known as a “she wee.” The funnel is placed under the body to create a full seal and directs the pee into the bottle.
This device can also be used to urinate on the trail without having to expose your bare bum. To use while standing up, undo the zipper on your trousers and place the funnel against the body. Aim the point away and down from you. Practice makes perfect so give it a shot at home before you depart for Kilimanjaro.
The Sani-Fem Freshette Feminine Urinary Director costs about $23 and can be found at REI.
You can find all your outdoor gear at these preferred retailers:
See What Should I Wear to Climb Kilimanjaro?