Hygiene and various natural functions of the body are a damned nuisance when you’re camping. Like Leopold pictured below, I’ve often resorted to getting myself in part or whole into a burn, but that doesn’t work too well all year round, imagine the headlines “Naked frozen hiker found in heather, proper boots would have prevented death say authorities”.
Camping high means you don’t have the facility for that option anyway, plus I’m always conscious of messing with water so high up the hillside as soap getting in it could end up anywhere from someones’s water bottle to a farmhouse kettle. High camping hygiene usually means a wipe around the face with a damp Buff, I carry a wee packet of wet wipes most of the time as well and I use various antibacterial rubs for my hands to keep cooking and eating as germ free as possible. I got a nice one out of Tiso recently, Asseptgel is the name, the wee bottle spits out just enough with every squeeze, and the contents are purple…
In a general sense I find merino underwear keeps me fresher and less likely to have irritation or issues from lack of proper washing, especially over a few days of wearing your baselayers constantly.

Toilet stuff is the ultimate inconveniece, for a squat-stop, it gets left at lower level or it has to stay in there until I’m back down the next day. The higher up the hill you are, the worse having a crap would be, harder ground to bury it properly, harder to get away from the sources of burns and away from paths as well, in general it’s just pollution of the highest magnitude.
Having a pee is much less a problem of course, but camping high can screw this up as most of the time I don’t have a spare bottle to catch it in if it’s 0400 and blowing a gale outside, as I’m nowhere near water andamy bottle has the makings of my breakfast and cuppas in it. So, it’s getting out of the door in some capacity to get the job done, and in piss-poor (ha ha) conditions it’s no fun at all.
But, I met Sam from Shewee at the Innov_Ex conference and we got talking about this very thing. She has an extension tube affair that adds range to the Shewee, and should be usable by a man who doesn’t want to get out of the tent or pee in a Nalgene bottle. It’s on its way, and I’ll report back on that.

It’s funny how all the online talk is normally about waterproofs or sleeping bags, or why the Lasercomp is better than the Akto, but this personal stuff is really important and can impact heavily on your enjoyment and comfort when you’re out. I know that dealing with this kind of thing is enough to put folk off wild camping, and that shouldn’t be the case.

19 thoughts on “Unspeakable”

  1. A little discussed but very important subject :)

    It’s funny how rarely “poo trowel” appears on published kit lists!

    I’ve had to stop more than one person in a “group” peeing into a stream. It’s a whole area that most folk just have no idea about.

    And the usual “burn the paper” I think is flipping dangerous advice considering how dry grass can get in the wind within a few hours of heavy rain.

    As for the extension pipe. I am dubious. I can see it working when in “full flow” as it were. But once you’re running out of steam… how do you, well, empty. “Shaking” into a tube being rather tricky I reckon.

    I await the review with genuine interest!

    On another note – where the hell do you find all these artistic shots of scantily clad and unusually named female hikers? On second thoughts… I really don’t want to know…

  2. Blowing down the tube would clear it?!
    I suppose it depends on the diameter and the length of the tube, I’ll tell you if it works I’ll be packing it all winter.

    The nudie hikers are all personal friends.

    Of Google :o)

  3. Aye, your right the laser comp is better than the akto…..oh wait…er…

    No really I don’t see it as that big a problem (the poo bit that is) as long as folk are educated about it.

    I use the trowel Bob C sells @ http://www.backpackinglight.co.uk, I carry a few wet wipe deodoriser things for an all over wipe, I get free alchogel at work (its all good stuff but I wish it was purple now). Ive never had a problem burning the paper afterwards, just make sure its well doused before covering it up, and last but not least if I peed in a bottle I would’ve missed at least half of the cloud inversion’s I’ve seen.

    All it takes is a wee bit of adjustment to your dignity levels. I mean, if you’re out to rough it in the hills you’re going to have to make some compromises on most fronts like a lack of bathroom, kitchen, four poster bed and butler.

    Anyway, if you’re a bloke doesn’t a ‘pee tube’ become slightly redundant?

  4. Good points BBF, if you’re used to it it’s no problem, it’s all natural and no more of an issue than blowing your nose. But we’re all so urbanised that such things can give folk the horrors and cause embarassment, so they don’t ask and consequently don’t wild camp. (this all came about after a few conversation with folk who liked the idea of wild camping, but saw “difficulties”.

    Aye, as a bloke we have an initial advantage for pee projection, but distance is a problem for all but the most gifted :o) The idea of being able to pee from my sleeping bag, or even from the edge of the inner door and having the pee going to ground outside where I don’t have to deal/worry about it (or cook over the damp patch) when there’s frost forming on the inner mesh does appeal to me.
    I want to see the practicalities of it anyway, so we’ll see…

  5. Having once got caught in the human waste minefield that used to surround Corrour bothy I’m not sure I agree with you BBF!

    I second the orange trowel though. Add some Coghlans biodegradable paper, wipes, hand gel and a big Nalgene (I hate getting up at 2.00am) and you are all set.

    Oh and a copy of How to Shit in the Woods to show you how to ‘frost rocks’ and so on…

  6. Funnily enough it’t what put our lass off about wild camping but she soon got used to it…although a shewee is just one step to far for her apparently and under no circumstances should i ever buy her one….all that said next time she whines about having to get out of the tent in the rain the 1st thing im doing is buying her one!

    choice of baselayer/socks/pants definitely makes a difference, not managed to try out any merino yet but the x-gear undercrackers and haglofs ones i have are great ..same goes for the x-socks and the berghaus x-static baselayers….definatley help keep things fresher for longer!

  7. I’m pretty much with BBF on this one. Cloud inversions and starlit skies are a great incentive and reward for the mid-night effort. OK, you don’t get them every time…. but even the feel of windblown hail on your @rse is a different sensory experience! ;O)

    I usually reckon burning paper is ok too – I do it if in rocky areas and I generally reckon the earth in a poo-hole is moist enough a few inches down to douse the last embers safely. I use the Coghlan’s bio-degradeable loo roll too as another nod to environmental considerations.

    Oh, but toilet trowels!! When will someone invent a decent one? I’ve hit too much ground where the orange plastic one from Bob just won’t make an impact! And it’s a bit long and unwieldy to pack too. The iPood looks great but is definitely a triumph of design over function…. useless! But it could be improved if only I knew a man with a lathe! :)

    I’ve reverted to my years-old U-Dig-It, a 150g stainless steel beast. There’s a knack to using it without having the handle collapse onto your fingers but once you’ve mastered that it’s certainly effective at getting the job done. And at least in a gesture to lightweight I’ve been able to ditch its robust cordura belt pouch as it fits in the silnylon bag that came with the iPood :))

  8. It’s when the hail has filled your trousers to the brim that the fun stops ;-)

    The other alternative to trowels etc. was mentioned by an ex marine I once met – take a double dose of Imodium just before your trip…

  9. I’ll use the bottle in winter & for lie-ins on campsites but generally forgo it for high summer camps (& definitely when sharing a tent with the wife: if she suffers, so must I & she isn’t impressed with the Shewee concept either).
    I saw the tube idea used in conjunction with a large plastic funnel by a guy on Skye during an extremely wet fortnight many years ago. He got what was coming to him when one of his fun-loving “mates” turned the end of the tube back into his tent one night! Maybe a flashing red warning LED fixed to the outer end would be essential on that proposed new version?

  10. It’s interesting that we all find it straightforward, it’s probably familiarity, experience and the fact that we don’t mind rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty. So to speak :o)

    Reversing a mans tent peezle, that’s just nasty…

    I’m away to watch holdfast’s link with my eyes half shut, just in case.

  11. I eyed my she-wee with a certain amount of scepticism, but hate having to get out of the little warmth even the tent provides in winter. They recommend to test it at home first – in the shower. I did, of course – I always do what they recommend ;-) . Anyway, it’s a good recommendation. It requires a certain knack, and having a micro-fibre towel handy is wise. I’m not sure I’d go for an extension tube though – I find a 1 litre collapsable Source bottle fine.
    Can someone please provide a tiny semtex device that blows out a perfect poo-hole sized piece of ground?

  12. Funny, we had an explosives bloke out years ago who made a chanel across some bedrock for a pipeline, neat as you like. Clever bugger.
    Sam was telling us of some instances of trying to explain exactly and in great detail how to work it to customers who didn’t quite get it, you’ve never seen a bunch of blokes look so uncomfortable once the Latin “place names” came out…

  13. lol! It seemed pretty intuitive to me actually; maybe it’s a gender thing? I have to say if there’s one item of kit that’s made camping (whether wild or mild) pleasant, it’s the shewee. Followed swiftly by the tubular shaped sleeping mat!

  14. Ah yes, with you on the second one (and the first in a more detached way?!).
    I was on an old Thermarest Prolite 3 the other day (see, it doesn’t all go on the blog…) and it was like sleeping on cobbles.

  15. Funny story:

    A friend of mine was climbing Mt Mckinley which is pretty cold. Standard protocol is to have a nalgene bottle in their tent into which they pee and then keep inside their sleeping bag, otherwise the contents will freeze over night and it will be impossible to empty. In the morning get up and the bottle can be emptied.

    Well one of the chaps in their group pee’d into his bottle, but failed to properly screw the top on, hence the contents of the bottle emptied out into his sleeping bag; yuck in itself, however it got worse.

    This was early on in the trip, so this poor unfortunate packed his “wet” sleeping bag up, which during the course of the day froze, but every night for the next 2 weeks had to endure getting into a frozen bag, where his body heat proceeded to thaw it, resulting in him sleeping surrounded by his own urine!

    A lesson to all and I bet he never repeated this error!

  16. I always wonder what comes first with these blog entries:

    the story followed by the need for a suitable image to illustrate the point;

    or the joy of the image followed by the challenge of coming up with a suitable story to justify using it?

  17. It’s a serendipitous blending of resources and inspiration.

    I don’t know how the hell I’m going to get the six completely naked abseiling blondes into a post.
    But, I’m working on it.

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