Let’s jump right in and call it what it is because it, in all of its glory, is a pee device for females. That’s because women have it hard when they hike. Really hard. If they have to pee, they are forced to scour for a place to go that is always at conflict: The place needs to be close enough to the trail where they won’t lose their path . . . but also far enough away from the trail where passing hikers won’t see them bare all when squatting. Men? Oh men can just unzip and go, but women have to search and search for this magical, mystical place so that by the time they find it, they really have to pee. And don’t even get me started on the process after finding a spot — the hassle of taking off their pack, doing their business, then putting back on their pack and getting re-adjusted all over again. This would be fine if it was a one-time only drill on each hike, but the saddest part — if you drink lots of water, like me, it equates to stopping super-duper often and going through these steps each and every time . . . That is until (enter harmonious music with angels singing) the Freshette or, as I affectionately call it, my appendage. So without further adieu, here’s my gear review on my other best and will-not-hike-without purchase.
- Have the same pee-freedom as men, which is so so so liberating, and pee standing up any and everywhere without seeking top privacy. (This is really handy on trails where there is no cover and instead endless balds.)
- Relieve yourself right away. I used to get super crabby and make everyone miserable when I couldn’t pee when I wanted (just ask Andy, bless his heart). Plus, I have a small bladder and pee a lot when I hike. A lot as in every thirty minutes, a lot as in Andy and I joke that my trail name should be Rice because my bladder is the size of a singular rice grain. Now it doesn’t matter if I’m Rice or if I have to pee fifty-bajillion times a hike because I have an appendage.
- Pee with you pack on. I carry a 65-liter pack so taking it off and on and readjusting it each time is a thing I dreaded but now a thing of the past.
- It is really light — only one ounce — so there’s no additional pack weight.
- It offers protection. I’ve been peeing only to look around and see a massive snake a couple feet away. I don’t even want to think about what other animals were super close when I had to hike off trail and into more secluded areas. And speaking of protection — You don’t have to worry about crouching over poison ivy or some horror-plant because you’re standing now so no worries about itchy or blistery privates.
- It is easy and ready to use. There’s no muss and fuss — I have it somewhere easily accessible in my pack and can instantly grab it and go.
- This appendage is great for cold hikes because you don’t have to strip layers simply to pee.
- Fits easily in your palm for comfortable handling.
- I have the five-inch (Do men talk about these things? It seems so personal now), which is the standard hiking one (or maybe I’m just telling myself this is average?), but I wish the hose was a little longer because it barely allows enough clearance from my pants.
- I also wish the hose was more flexible. Being blunt, (because hell, why not — we’ve come this far) I’d like to be able to control the direction of my pee so that I can aim down easier and don’t feel like some weird spraying fountain. (Okay, that’s an exaggeration but it was funny . . . )
- The cup is small so if the Freshette isn’t snug against you, you’ll pee your pants. I’m chalking this up to user error but even so, I have done this. I’ll spare you the details because I’ve already written about that hike and how I doomed myself in more than this way, which for those curious, that story can be found on my Appalachian Trail Grayson Highlands trek.
Rating: It scores out of Five Vistas
Females, if you don’t have this, you’re missing out. Seriously. It is life-changing. Make the purchase, which is a measly twenty-three dollars or so. You won’t regret it in terms of a lifetime of hap-pee-ness outside.
Suggestions if you get your own appendage, I mean er, uh Freshette
- If yours comes with a storage bag, ditch it. Use a plastic disposable bag instead. Reusing a different bag that absorbs urine is not sanitary. Be honest with yourself — There is no reason you should want to keep that bag as a re-usable souvenir.
- Some people prefer to put bandanas inside their appendage after use so that the cloth soaks up remaining urine. I’m against this too. Think about it: Do you really want to take a bandana that has absorbed urine home — to do what? Wash it in the laundry? Reuse it as a permanent urine-rag for next trips? No. Hike smarter, not harder. Toilet paper is lighter, absorbs more quickly, and — most important benefits — can be burnt in fire or thrown away. Don’t keep anything urine-covered. Hell, don’t even tote it if you can manage.
- Carry it in the following, what I call, “double bag system”, which (another plus side) weighs less than a proper storage bag with bandana:
- The first small disposable bag is for your appendage and a bit of toilet paper, which is placed inside your appendage after use.
- The second larger disposable bag holds clean toilet paper for your wiping use. It also holds the first smaller bag, which is sealed so your clean toilet paper will never be damp. NOTE: I sometimes even put my trowel in this larger bag too (yep, I’ve pooed in the woods too — maybe a towel review to come?) and use the small bag as a divider — Anything clean (toilet paper, feminine products) goes on one side and anything dirty (trowel) goes on the other side. That way if I wander off to relieve myself, every item I could need is with me.