The Fine Art of Pumping Ship
And ships, as you probably know, are female. A word about words first, though. The act of emptying your bladder has to have a name. I favor "pissing," and this fine old word has kept perfectly respectable company in the past. It can be found in the King James Bible, for example. But pissing has fallen out of favor, at least in polite society. "Peeing" is now thought to be more genteel — more ladylike, if you will, and there are a host of other euphemisms, too. Examples include "pumping ship" (a wonderfully evocative phrase, and a great favorite of mine), "popping a squat" (a recent female‑specific descriptor, especially well suited to outdoor performances), and "having a slash" (largely British and mostly masculine), not to mention such solemn medico‑latinate verbs as "urinate" and "micturate." Plus baby‑talk circumlocutions like "tinkle" and "piddle" and "wee‑wee." But while I certainly don't want to cause gratuitous offense, I'm not a doctor and you're not babies. So I'll probably let "peeing" do the heavy lifting from here on out.
Now let's get down to business. You're a woman. You're out of doors. There's not a porcelain bowl in sight. There's not even a tumble‑down privy with a splintery seat, a pungent pong, and no door. So you're on your own. And you're busting for a pee. First things first:
You Did Dress for Success, Didn't You? Loose‑fitting pants are the way to go. (Skirts work fine, too, but do you really want to keep open house for every mosquito and blackfly around? I didn't think so.) If you're worried about being seen by passersby, it pays to remove your brightly colored jacket and PFD when heading off into the bushes. But before you go, remember to grab some …
Bum Wad Aka "toilet paper." Or a reasonable substitute. I keep a small roll of bum wad in a ziplock bag in my rucksack. It's sometimes called the Eleventh Essential, and there are very good reasons for this. Can you do without it? Sure. But it's not really a great idea. Leaves make poor wipers, and they're even worse as blotters. (Poison ivy is arguable the worst of a bad lot.) And unless the wind is blowing a gale, drip‑drying simply doesn't work, leaving you with soggy knickers (i.e., underpants), at increased risk of any number of unpleasant infections, ranging from superficial skin rashes to full‑blown UTIs.
OK. Having carefully selected your wardrobe and stocked up on bum wad, it's time to …
Pick Your Spot Here's the Golden Rule: go the distance. Put some space between your chosen pissoir and your camp (or the portage trail, if you have to pee while on the move). Let's say 150 feet, or about 30 paces. (NB There are two steps to each pace.) After all, if peeing on your own doorstep is bad form, peeing on someone else's is worse. And squatting over a water source is the worst sin of all. A little concealing cover is also welcome — though in low traffic areas there's something to be said for a squat with a view. The good news? In most cases, you won't even have to scratch a cathole. Doing so might be a good idea if the local soil is more like hardpan, however. Standing in a puddle of your own pee can be somewhat off‑putting. (Of course, if you'll be dumping ballast as well as pumping ship, a cathole is de rigueur.)
All set? Then …
Squat and Deliver But pull the bum wad out of your pocket first and place it where you can reach it. Next, slide your pants and knickers down to expose your waterworks. There's no need to drop them below the knees. Half‑mast works fine. Now squat. Then, once you've settled into a comfortable position, reach under your crotch and tug both pants and knickers forward, out of the way of the stream. The moment of truth is at hand. Let fly. Wipe. Set the damp bum wad to one side. Stand. Return your knickers and pants to the fully upright position. Pick up the soggy bum wad and bag it for subsequent disposal. (I carry a dedicated plastic bag for this purpose, though if I dig a cathole and the soil looks "live" — lots of little creepy‑crawlies and a healthy admixture of organic matter — I bury the bum wad on‑site. If regulations permit, that is.)
What's left to do? Just …
Clean Up The pee of healthy people is sterile, though it picks up bacteria on its way down the pipe, and an impressive collection of microorganisms will grow in it if it's left standing around. But you needn't worry if you get a few drops on your hand. (Ammonia‑rich "aged" urine, or "lant," was used as a household cleaner in pre‑industrial times; it was even recommended as a mouthwash.) Usually, if you've peed and nothing more, it's enough just to rinse your hands with a splash from your water bottle. That's it. You're done. It wasn't hard, was it?
So much for basic training. Let's take a closer look at technique, beginning with the most fundamental issue:
Assuming the Position
Most women adopt a deep squat when peeing out of doors: