News / March 27, 2021

Don’t Drink the Gatorade: Backpacking and Pee Bottles

Sorry ladies, this one’s for the fellas. If you have any opinions on the matter, however, feel free to chime in.

Last June, I was on a backpacking trip with Columbia Sportswear and a handful of other journalists. At around 2am the first night out, I had to hit the restroom, which was a tree about 100 yards out from where we slept. I went back to my tent, and as I unzipped the flap, I noticed a strange pair of shoes at the door. Just as I was wondering who put their shoes by my tent, another writer (who was sleeping peacefully in her own tent) popped up and whispered/yelled “What are you doing?!”

Then I remembered - all of our tents looked exactly the same.

All this could have been avoided if I had remembered the backpacker’s buddy, the Pee Bottle. Now, I know it wouldn’t have been a good idea in bear country, but if you’re in a spot where nothing is going to rip/chew your tent open to see what that smell is, they can come in pretty handy.

Yes, it takes up space. Some consider it a luxury. When you’re warm and comfortable in your sleeping bag and you have to pee and it’s 5 degrees and dumping snow outside your tent, it’s the only thing that matters. Trek Tech took our followers top suggestions and some of our hard-learned lessons and put together our top three tips for safe, effective use of the pee bottle. Someone had to write it.

#1. Make Sure the Opening is, uh…big enough. Gatorade bottles are ideal with their standard wide mouth. It’s not hubris - you’re trying to pee into a bottle while half asleep AND lying down AND wrapped up in a sleeping bag. The bigger the target, the better.

#2. Remember the Tilt. This is so basic, but so often neglected. Make sure you’re aware of the tilt of the bottle while you pee. Otherwise, you may be surprised at how quickly it fills up and overflows. Urine-soaking does not improve the sleeping bag experience.

#3. Make Your Pee Bottle Distinct. You do not want to mix up your pee bottle and your drinking bottle in the middle of the night. The best case scenario would be you having two pee bottles and no drinking bottle. The worst case scenario, well…

In the dark, having a green Nalgene bottle for pee and a blue one for water does you no good. Some people wrap duct tape around their “UriNalgene,” but for me, this is where the Gatorade bottle comes in very handy yet again. Its distinct shape makes it ideal for instant identification in the middle of the night.

Done. There you go guys - now you can pee in the middle of the night without leaving the warm coziness of your sleeping bag.

Just make sure nobody has a hankering for Gatorade with their breakfast.

Oh wait, one last thing:

#4. If you’re sharing one of those 2-person sleeping bags with your honey or you’ve zipped your bags together, just get out and pee.




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Tags:  advice backpacking columbia sportswear gatorade hydration news pee bottles tips tmi

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Billy Brown
Billy Brown
has a hard time standing still. A few years ago he combined his passion for the active lifestyle with his love of toys and somehow made a job out of it as a journalist specializing in outdoor sports and adventure travel. An avid runner, climber, crossfitter and snowboarder, he has tested gear around the world, from canyon running in Jordan to ice climbing in Chamonix. He writes for Outside Magazine, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Wired, and Backpacker, as well as on websites like Gear Institute and Contact him at [email protected]

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Sep 01, 2020

[...] probably be the time I spent researching my piece on the proper use and application of the pee bottle.  There was a lot of trial-and-error stuff going on there.  Let’s just say my tent mates were [...]

Jul 24, 2020

If you have access to a medical supply store getting a “texas catheter” aka a “condom catheter” is another viable option. Probably takes up less space than a gatorade bottle too. Not as economical though.

Jun 28, 2020

Dont forget to clearly mark ‘P’ on the bottle for those mooches who didn’t bring enough Nalgene bottles and help themself to your ‘spare’ when not looking. This happened with my pee bottle. Lucky for that mooch that I always bleachy pee bottle after each trip - another important tip!

Billy Brown

Mar 27, 2021

I was wondering if Go Girl or Freshette would come up…

Mar 27, 2021

I feel discriminated…..Go Girl.

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