Hey girls: Have you ever been jealous that, unlike your male companions, you can’t pee standing up? Baring your bootie during inclement weather, or through multiple layers and a climbing harness can be a total pisser when trying to take one.
Full disclosure: This test started off as a joke. We’ve been barraged in recent months with press releases from companies who claim to have solved an age-old problem for women adventurers: How to pee standing up--without sacrificing cleanliness, frostbite, or time futzing with harness buckles while climbing big mountains. This blossoming category of gear seemed too comical to be true, but one female mountain guide, Molly Loomis of Exum Mountain Guides stepped up to the plate and agreed to dig deep into the world of “she-nises” (her words, not ours!) Over the course of six months, from desert canyons to the tops of snowy peaks, she and her team of three intrepid women mastered the art of peeing while standing. Here’s the scoop on the seven devices they tested, listed in order of performance.
Blitz Specialty Funnel
Forget about splashy marketing materials and girly shades of pink: For price and ease of use, this plastic funnel from the auto parts store can’t be beat. (Plus, a trip to the auto parts store will jumpstart your inner testosterone, which will come in handy when using these devices.) The wide mouth, angled cup and long funnel make doing your business a breeze. And the hard, plastic material means it’s easy to place and hold firm. Even through a harness, down pants, and multiple under layers, our testers were able to aim and fire in just seconds. Downer: It’s bulky to pack. $2; 1.3 oz.; blitzusa.com
Marketed for women in the armed services and pilots, the Lady J provides a great middle ground between the Freshette and the Blitz. Like the Blitz, it’s got a large cup and mouth but it’s made of slightly malleable plastic so it’s much easier to pack. “On a backcountry ski trip through a thick blizzard in the Tetons, I was in no mood to expose my butt; the Lady J was quick and easy to use. But, when it comes to spouts, bigger really is better, and I wish this one were a tad longer.” $10; .5 oz.; (480) 391-9959 ((no website, but it is available from several online retailers))
Like the Freshette, the She Wee’s slimmed down design makes it ideal for weight conscious climbers and backpackers. One tester made a small ditty sack for it that she kept clipped to her harness while on long, multi-pitch climbs in Red Rocks. Downer: Small mouth and cup takes more practice than most. $12; .6 oz.; sheweeusa.com
Whiz Freedom’s lightweight and malleable design is intriguing, as is the sparkly pink storage pouch. But the pliable plastic combined with a small, shallow mouth leaves too much room for icky errors. “I wish I had spent more time practicing at home before venturing out on a backcountry ski without a dry pair of long underwear,” she said. Downer: Tough to use in a hurry. $25; .5 oz.; whizfreedom.com
With the slogan, “No More Tush in the Bush” and a graphic set of instructions on proper placement, the Travel Mate is good for a few laughs. It’s wicked light and packable, but because its cup is so small and narrow—about 75 percent smaller than the other devices— it’s finicky to use. In fact, we were plagued by leaks when we tried it, so it never made it beyond the bathroom walls. Downer: You reach a certain point and say, “How much time do I really want to spend practicing this?” $8; .3 oz.; whenyagottago.com
Go Girl’s packaging advocates, “Don’t Take Life Sitting Down!” but you’re better off doing so with this squishy device. Yes, it packs down to the size of a small bottle of aspirin, but one tester’s misaiming misadventures provided comic relief for her friends on a long day of ice climbing. Downer: It works fine if you’re willing to pull down your pants and position it—but that defeats the purpose when you’re roped up in a raging blizzard. $10; .8 oz.; go-girl.com
Freshette Sports/Travel Package
Our testers favored the Freshette above all others while climbing big mountains in Antarctica and walls in Yosemite. It let them stay clipped in and on the move, no matter the weather or the company, and because of it’s size, shape, and structure, it was the most foolproof and efficient of all the devices. “I admit, the concept took some getting used to,” said one tester. “But once I got past the weirdness factor, it was easy: Just unzip your fly (or move your clothing away) and place the plastic “trough” firmly in position. Aim the spout at your target and….ahhhh. Caution: Don’t try this on a peak without practicing at home—proper technique is critical. And whatever you do, keep your back to the wind at all costs! $24; 5 oz.; freshette.com