Note: this article originally appeared on The Trek, which you can read here.
As anyone who has spent significant time on a thru-hiking trail should know, one of the most common conversation topics is about your bowel movements. Poop stories get a lot of attention, but I think peeing outdoors deserves its time in the sun too (pun absolutely intended). When I was hiking the PCT, we used talk about getting the best pee… a Five-Star Pee. What is a Five-Star Pee, you ask? Well, it’s not arbitrary. You have to earn each of those stars.
1. Be Outdoors
Open your front door. Walk out. Pop a squat. That’s one star right there.
Disclaimer: Do not do this in populated areas. The Trek is not responsible for indecent exposure or other charges received by following this advice.
2. Good Dirt
The next star comes from having good dirt to dig your cathole. Who wants to waste their timing digging in hard-packed dirt while Mother Nature calls? A nice, easy, one-scoop cathole is the dream. Remember that catholes should be six to eight inches deep and four to six inches across.
3. Comfortable Position
You get the third star by having good positioning. Good footing is important, lest you fall over mid-stream and bathe yourself or your gear in fresh urine. For those that need to squat while peeing, you may want to have a tree branch or rock to hold onto if your balance isn’t the best.
Personally, I am a huge proponent of the standing pee. Yes, ladies, you too can pee standing up. As long as you are wearing short shorts, a skirt, or a hiking dress, it is really easy to do. Some recommend using a GoGirl or a SheWee, but I never felt that was necessary.
I mastered the standing pee somewhere in Oregon. The only tip I need to give you is to wait until you really need to go because you need a little power behind it. If you are only starting to think you need to pee, wait a bit or it will just dribble down your leg (no one wants that). As you are finishing up, wipe off the last drops with your TP or pee rag, and there you have a mess-free standing pee!
I love the standing pee. It is so much more convenient than having to squat down all the time. Sometimes your knees ache and squatting seems like a pain. Sometimes there are hordes of mosquitoes waiting to devour your butt the instant it is exposed. Sometimes it is hard to get far enough off trail for privacy and you don’t want to flash your butt at the next random hiker who comes around the corner. Sometimes you don’t want to take your pack off to pee. And sometimes you just want to stand up and pee because it looks like fun, goddamnit! Seriously, ladies, it can change your life.
4. Mad Majestic View
Personally, I always liked peeing off ridges or cliffsides. Gotta show my dominance to those indomitable mountains. It became almost a challenge: Who could find the best cliff or highest ridge to pee off. Eventually, it got to the point that I would see a gorgeous view and I would feel the need to pee off at it. Honorable mention for other winning views goes to gorgeous forests and clear, starry nights.
Disclaimer #2: Do not put yourself in danger searching for the best pee spot. Heights are dangerous.
5. See Some Wildlife
To quote my friend Bucket. The last illustrious star comes from “a bird soaring overhead or look deep into the eyes of a bear.”
The rarest star to get… while peeing you need to see some wildlife. Your buddy shitting in the woods does not count. Bugs might be acceptable, but it had better be a pretty damn cool bug, not just a mosquito. If you see ticks, pee somewhere else.
And that, fellow hikers, is how you get a Five-Star Pee. According to Bucket, a Five-Star Pee leads to a “deep, intense moment and a connection with nature.” Don’t forget to pack out your TP and cover your cathole while you bask in the glory of that incomparable pee. Do you share peeing stories with your friends? Please share your best pee story in the comments below. I would love to hear them.