Pee jars … and why you need one at Burning Man

You need a pee jar in your tent. Bring one for use inside your tent. That’s a pro tip. Now, discussions of pee jars may not sound appealing, and you may think you don’t need a pee jar. Bring one anyway.

Why do you need a pee jar?

You need a pee jar because the porto potties can be far away from your tent, and you might need to pee in the middle of the night, or early in the morning. As it’s often quite cold outside at night and early in the morning, you might not want to hike all the way to the portos in the cold. Also, your body has to work harder (and it loses heat) when it has to keep extra urine inside of you warm.

So, pee, get it out of you, then get back in your warm bed.

Pee jars for women

For women, the Maxwell House coffee container is one of the best. Wide opening. Colored plastic. A handle and lid. What more could you ask for in a pee jar?

For women, I recommend a pee jar with a large opening that you can squat over. (And I recommend putting a pee-jar dedicated towel or cloth down before using it. Just sayin’.) The type of pee jar I’ve been using over the last few years is a Maxwell House coffee jar with a wide mouth and a screw-top lid. (I know someone who drinks this coffee, and I ask her to save a jar for me each year.)

Pee jars for men

Guys, the large Tropicana-like white-plastic juice containers seem to work well for this purpose. You have many more options than women do when it comes to pee-jar selection.

As a general rule, you probably want to bring a colored (not clear) plastic pee jar if you can rassle a good one out of your recycling bin.

Do you need an emergency toilet?

You might want to consider getting biogel emergency toilets for extensive rain storms and/or what are called alpha conditions. I haven’t purchased them yet, but they sound like a good idea. I have been at the playa when it has rained for an hour or so during the day. (I was also on the playa for build week one year when an intense rain and wind storm came in and lasted for a couple of hours. It even knocked over an entire bay of portos.)

Rain shuts down Burning Man …

… including your mobility and ability to get to the portos.

When it rains, all vehicle movement is shut down, your bike becomes useless in a matter of minutes, and each and every step taken adds another layer of cement-like mud to the bottom of your shoes. You can’t simply pry this cement-like mud off the way you can with regular mud.

Not only can an extended rain mean the trucks couldn’t get into service the portos (which can overfill if not serviced), but also, you might not be able to get to the portos, even by foot. Consider this scenario and plan for it if this speaks to you.

Pee funnels for women

Pee funnels are not for the uninitiated. And the product info on these funnels encourages you to test them in at home and in a shower before using them. Personally, I bought one my first year and abandoned the idea soon after. Others love pee funnels and swear by them.

If you do decide to use one at Burning Man, make sure you practice at home first where it’s a lot easier to clean up any spills. And if you’re an expert with pee funnels and forget yours, there is a pee funnel camp for the ladies.

So, talking about pee and poop may not be the sweetest of conversations, yet not planning for your toilet needs can make for mildly (to vastly) uncomfortable situations. 


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