Women have long squatted in the woods when nature calls, especially if staying properly hydrated, but there are many ways that can go wrong. Who among us hasn’t experienced the occasional damp shoe or shorts? As we get older, and squatting becomes more challenging, the all-important “aim” gets even tougher. A variety of urinal products are offered purporting to address this for women. At the request of my camping pal Tracey, I recently tested out two of the more widely available products: the Go Girl funnel system ($13), and the Travel John (and Jane) collection bag system ($10 for 4 bags).
Go Girl funnel system
The funnel system is a soft, flexible funnel that allows you to stand and direct a stream away from your body. Convincing your body that it is okay to go while you are standing is a bit of a trick and you’ll need to overcome that for either of these systems. It took a few attempts before I figured out exactly how far to remove clothing, where to position the funnel, and how to “dry” but eventually it worked surprisingly well. The system was touch-less and efficient.
Once you are done, rinse the funnel with whatever water you are carrying before stowing it in a zip lock bag. Beyond camping, I can imagine this being useful when the toilets are heavily used and a low-touch approach is preferable. There are several brands of funnels available, pick one designed for women.
Pros: No squatting, reusable.
Cons: Once used, you may have a soiled funnel to lug around, it doesn’t fold easily so can be a bit bulky.
Best for: Hiking, avoiding the need to sit on heavily used toilets (campgrounds, festivals etc.)
Travel John/Jane collection bag system
Travel John makes several plastic versions but I prefer the paper systems. The paper urine collection bag feels like a tyvex envelope, comes with a pre-cut, anatomically-helpful opening and is prepacked with absorbent pellets. You open the envelope, do your business into the bag, and then reseal the top. The pellets absorb the urine within a few minutes and you wind up carrying a solid, environmentally friendly package that can be disposed of in any garbage can.
The bags have sufficient capacity to be re-used 2-3 times making them handy for long days. Like the funnel, it took a few efforts to get this working smoothly. Travel John also makes a solid waste collection system that works similarly and proved a lifesaver for a friend.
Pros: Nothing left behind, can be truly touchless once mastered, no squatting.
Cons: Carrying around a full bag, possible environmental concerns with packaging, pellets, and human waste in a regular garbage can.
Best for: Hiking, boating, activities where you can’t get to a bathroom or it’s not appropriate to leave human waste.
Going in the Woods Etiquette
Always do your business at least 200 feet away from any small or medium size body of water. You don’t want run-off to contaminate the water supply with giardia or other bugs. For solid waste, please strongly consider packing it out in a collection bag. Daunting, perhaps, but it is much better for the environment. Most of us are not in true backcountry, we are on heavily used trails in populated parks. If you can’t pack it out (along with any toilet paper used), stay 200 feet away from water and dig a 6-8 inch deep hole for your business. Bury it well and cover completely.
In the end, these proved useful enough that I keep one of each in my daypack. I’ve used the funnel for the quick step off the trail and the bags in environmentally sensitive areas. Either way, pack some toilet paper and have your hand sanitizer out and ready.
Have a product review request? Drop a comment and I’ll try to review it on my More Camper than Glamper page.