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pee rags....good or bad?

I like to hike, A LOT.  I also try and do a few backpacking trips each year because it involves my favorite activity (you guessed it, hiking!)

I know a lot of women who backpack a lot use pee rags instead of toilet paper.  I think it's a little bit gross but I do see the benefit of not having to pack out the paper so I'm considering giving it a try.  I've heard the sun will somehow remove the bacteria/germs but I don't know if that's a fact.

I'd love to hear others thoughts on this topic.  Do you use a pee rag, do you like your pee rag, do you have to wash it off or do you just let it dry?  What's the best pee rag material? 

To pee rag or not to pee rag, that's the question!

29 Replies


Thank you so much for your post!  I loved that you asked as I've wondered about this myself, but just never thought of asking on here.

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.

A friend of mine did a fabulous post on her blog Wandering Pine about how to pee etc in the woods. She includes info about pee rags and bidets and other feminine backwoods hygiene.  things.

AMAZING READ!   I just learned about portable bidets.  I will definitely be checking out other posts on Wandering Pine's blog!  Thank you for sharing this gem with us : ]


My pee rag may very well be my favorite piece of gear! I love it so much, in fact, that I've raved about my pee rag in a few REI Backpacking Expert Advice videos Smiley LOL 

I used to use an old (clean) bandana, and wash/rinse it every night or morning. Between uses, I'd attach it to my pack to air out. Recently, I made myself a designated pee rag with some scrap fabric and a piece of waterproof material, but I'll probably invest in a Kula Cloth sooner or later!

Before I used a pee rag, I would just shake off and carry on, so it's a definite upgrade for me in cleanliness and comfort. I'd love to hear what you decide!


I had not heard of pee rags until now, interesting. I've always been a shake and go kinda gal, except on multi-day trips where I would use a Freshette (which I love). Will look into this more, thank you.

As noted here, a lot of women use an old bandana or a Kula Cloth as a pee rag. Others use cut up fabric, some with sewn edges if you want to get fancy. Flannel or t-shirt material can be a good choice. But, I've been using old, cut-up towels and baby wash cloths left over from when my kiddo was little. I also have a couple of cloth baby wipes from when my kiddo was in diapers. I use those with a waterproof, travel-sized diaper sack that's meant for dirty cloth diapers. Again, it's something that I had leftover from my kiddo's diapering days. So, it was easy to repurpose it when I came up with this idea several years ago (before I heard folks talking about pee rags for outdoor use). I know some folks like to reuse the same cloth. Genearlly speaking, I don't. I might use a larger piece a couple of times, using a clean part of it with each pee. Then the dirty ones go into the wet sack to be laundered when I get home. No big deal! 

I don't use toilet paper or pee rags.  I use a peri-bottle.  

short story, I took a group, which included several ladies, on a week long backpacking trip in the Bridger Wilderness, WY, a few summers ago.

In the morning, my nose tends to run, so hang my 'nose bandana' on the front strap of my pack so I can get to it and it can dry out.

I distinctly remember noticing that several ladies had multiple bandanas hanging from their packs and I remember wondering about it, but shrugged it off...'hey, I also have a few bandanas that come in handy'.

One day, after the tents were up, and pretty spread out, I was walking around taking photos, when I stumbled upon a bright yellow bandana laying on the tall grass, in a field between 2 tents.

Thinking, of course, that it must of fell from someone's pack, I began to stoop and pick it up, when all hell broke loose!  "DON'T TOUCH IT!"

I froze, "WHAT?,  Someone's lost their bandana", "Don't touch it, I'll get it!"

Puzzled, I walked on.  Later, someone confided to me, that the bandana was 'drying' in the sun. Learn something every trip!

REI Member Since 1979

I've used p-kits for traveling. Biodegradable. compact. Really useful when there is no bathroom and you don't have to wash it out and let it dry.

I know this is an older post, BUT I've been using these odor-proof barrier bags to pack out my TP, and have not used a pee rag for the other reasons mentioned below.  When I get home, I throw away the TP and thoroughly sterilize the bag for reuse (labeled as the TP bag) on the next trip.  I highly recommend the OPSAK they sell at REI for this purpose.  🙂  Just one other option/method to consider that I didn't see in the comments.  I live in the south and hike here regularly, and the humidity and rain can make other methods difficult, in my experience.