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Well, here's the situation. You're on an outdoor trip in winter. It's cold outside and after a long day all you want to do is crawl into your warm sleeping bag and not get out of it until the next morning. Unfortunately, shortly after reaching the warmth of your tent, you feel the urge to pee and have to get up and out again.

The obvious solution to just pee right before you go to bed doesn't seem to help as somehow the act of warming up in the sleeping bag seems to encourage a second round of peeing.

It's ok in summer, but in winter it REALLY sucks, especially if you're traveling light so you only have your ski boots to get into and your tent is small and cramped anyway...

Any ideas?

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So, some people keep a jar in the tent to pee in. I prefer not to. :) –  Don Branson May 1 '13 at 22:34
@DonBranson - I think that's the Answer. I'd upvote it, if you wrote it up. Death & Taxes aren't the only two certain things in this world. –  DavidR May 1 '13 at 22:42
I did several years of research at high latitudes where we would spend 2+ months sleeping in tents and keeping a pee-jar in the vestibule is the only way to go. –  KennyPeanuts May 2 '13 at 2:40
Spike Milligan told a story of a soldier he knew who used a length of rubber tubing, one end outside the tent and the other fitted over his bits. All worked well until the night a "friend" tied a knot in the tubing. –  aucuparia Jul 14 at 9:44

5 Answers 5

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Three things

  • pee right before you go to sleep. I know it seems obvious, but people forget
  • keep warm and sleep well. You can wake up just bursting to pee in the morning, or you can wake up kinda needing to pee at 3am and you can't get back to sleep. The sounder you sleep the more likely you can sleep through kinda needing to pee
  • don't drink a LOT of liquid in the evening. Don't deprive yourself, but if you chug back a litre of something just because you like the taste of it, you know where that litre will end up :-)

In my opinion, a pee jar is a terrible idea, especially with kids. It would just lead to pee all over the tent one way or another. Not wanting to go out in the cold to pee is a good motivator and if you don't get up in the night at home, you shouldn't have to get up in the night when you're camping.

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That's awesome argument to use next time girlfriend will start to talk about kinds. Thank you dearly! –  Val Sep 10 '14 at 13:15
FWIW, my family all used a "pee cup" (a re-used bottle of some sort) when we went camping, from a young age. Keep it just outside the door, in the vestibule area. Never had any problems from it, and saved a lot of bundling up at night. –  nhinkle Sep 10 '14 at 23:03

From my comment - Some people keep a jar in the tent to pee in. I prefer not to. :)

When the kids were young and we all went camping, my wife did this so she and the kids wouldn't have to leave the tent, warm weather or cold.

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Or a plastic bottle, but yes. –  Russell Steen May 3 '13 at 11:45
I assume "jar" is British English for "plastic bottle", as opposed to its Stateside default of "glass bottle", yes? Urine-filled glass bottles in subfreezing temperatures would be a bit unwise... –  requiem Sep 10 '14 at 4:22
In England "plastic bottle" is plastic bottle, jar is the container we keep jam for 5 o'clock tea. –  Val Sep 10 '14 at 13:22
On Everest people carry a third Nalgene bottle with them to pee into at night. They don't even get out of their sleeping bags to pee, and they sleep with the warm bottle until morning. –  ShemSeger Jul 12 at 14:15
  1. What was already said: pee and don't drink before sleeping.
  2. Be sure to not have the rectum full of stool (so have a bowel movement if necessary) - when the full rectum presses upon the bladder, it may trigger frequent urination even if your bladder is not so full. Also, in the afternoon, avoid eating fruits, beans and other foods that cause gas - this can also trigger urination.
  3. No alcohol or caffeine, because they can stimulate urine excretion.
  4. During the day consume enough salt, not a lot, just "normal" salty foods. If you consume very little salt, your kidneys will excrete some water to maintain normal blood sodium concentration. But if you eat a lot of salt and then a lot of water, even in the middle of the day, the salt will keep water in your body during the day, but at night they will be both excreted.
  5. Be sure to eat something in the evening or late afternoon. Several hours after your last meal, your body goes in the "starvation mode" - it starts to break down glycogen from your liver and use it as a fuel; at the same time, quite some water bound to glycogen is released, which, again, causes more urination.
  6. Keep yourself warm in a sleeping bag. Low temperatures stimulate "cold diuresis" - the excretion of urine. The critical thing, for me, is to have warm feet (I wear several pairs of warm stockings or wrap the feet in a jumper or so). I also wrap a scarf over my mouth and breath through it.
  7. Try to be in peace with yourself before you fall asleep - anxiety of any cause can stimulate urination.

More causes of frequent urination and nocturia (urination at night)

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Disclosure - I work for this company:

GottaTinkle! Female Urination Device is a great alternative. Unlike funnels, GottaTinkle! does not come into contact with pee or the privates. Rather, it holds a small ziplock style baggie. Simply pee into the baggie and either pour-out right away, or zip the baggie and dispose of the pee at a later time. We've used it in our SUV, tent while camping, on our small fishing boat when we did not want to jump into the water to go.

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This somehow is commercial but hey, it is on topic. I guess you are working for them @Sherry? If so, you should've say that. –  Wills Sep 10 '14 at 3:55
This is a little overtly advertising? –  Liam Sep 10 '14 at 7:49
I have added in the disclosure - however this is still a huge image. Sherry - can you please replace it with a smaller one. –  Rory Alsop Sep 10 '14 at 8:02
All the ladies I've been sharing tent with didn't really had any problems peeing in to the bottle. I would say that if girl is comfortable with the fact she pees in tent she'll be fine with using any container available. –  Val Sep 10 '14 at 13:50

I would recommend using a pee jar for all middle aged and older men who prefer not to get up at night. I do this at home all the time and I barely have to wake up to use it. A wide-mouth salsa jar is perfect because it has a lid that seals well so there is no oder escaping. I empty the jar in the morning and rinse it out. I was getting yellow urine deposits in the jar that I would clean out with a Brillo pad every now and then however I recently started putting a small dab of hand soap in the jar with a small amount of water and shake this up on the way back to the bedroom. So far in two weeks no urine deposits have appeared. I also was going to try a small amount of vinegar as a deposit preventer but the soap is working. The jars hold 16 ounces and I almost always fill one jar with one to three uses at night or in the morning before I get up to dress or shower. One advantage of using a jar is that it interrupts my sleep less and is much less likely to wake up my wife even if she is in another room.

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In the Himalayas everyone carries a Nalgene or similar for a pee bottle, glass jars are heavy for hiking, and have the potential to shatter. –  ShemSeger Jul 12 at 14:12

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