Picture this: You’re on the trail, the sun is shining and a happy bird is singing a delightful tune. Then, the urge to pee hits you. After moving away from other people and finding the perfect tree to squat behind, you let it flow. However, you’re now faced with a different problem: How do you wipe? If you’re prepared, you may have a grimy bandana or piece of toilet paper tucked away in your backpack for this very reason. If not, you have one of two options: find a smooth rock or shake it off and hope for the best.
It’s an unfortunate situation that women in the backcountry have faced for years. That’s why the Kula Cloth, a first-of-its-kind antimicrobial pee cloth designed for anyone who squats when they pee, has become an essential item in my year-round gear quiver.
The Kula Cloth is an ultra-absorbent, antimicrobial and surprisingly stylish pee cloth that makes going to the bathroom outdoors easy, clean and void of wasteful paper products. Starting at just $20, it deserves to hang on the backpack of anyone and everyone who squats when they pee.
What we liked about it
Anastasia Allison founded Kula Cloth in 2018 after discovering a massive pile of used toilet paper while backpacking. She began researching Leave No Trace toilet paper alternatives and eventually created a pee cloth that’s more absorbent, useful and aesthetically pleasing than whatever leftover scrap or bandana you’d typically use.
After trying the Kula Cloth four years ago, it quickly earned a spot on my packing list no matter the adventure. I take it backcountry skiing, trail running, backpacking and mountain biking. I’ve even swapped a few Kulas into my family’s travel trailer in place of RV toilet paper so we don’t have to worry about clogged tanks. I love it so much because it’s practical, packable and, most importantly, actually effective. Trust me, once you try a pee cloth, you’ll never want to head into the woods without it.
Antimicrobial construction for less ick
I’ll admit that I initially balked when I first considered using a Kula Cloth. Wouldn’t it be gross or smelly? Thankfully not. The black side is constructed with antimicrobial, silver-infused fabric that prevents microorganisms from growing. In short, this ensures your pee cloth won’t get dank or putrid if you use it for a few days at a time. I’ve used mine for five-day backpacking trips and the dark fabric keeps everything subtle and off the radar … if you know what I mean.
Plus, each cloth is designed with a handy loop on one corner that snaps closed. It feels like a small feature, but it wields a lot of power. Once you’re done using the 6-inch-by-6-inch cloth, fold it in half with the black side facing inward and snap it shut. Then, you can hang it on the outside of your backpack while hiking, showcasing its spectacular design. If it’s feeling a little grungy, do the opposite and hang it with the black side facing outward. This will allow the sun’s UV rays to help sterilize it until you can get to soap and water at home.
It works too. The black side of a Kula Cloth is super absorbent; Kula claims that it holds up to 10 times its own weight in water. You’re only going to use this for pee, but I doubt you’ll ever have issues with it reaching a saturation point. Plus, the colorful backside (more below) is totally waterproof so your wiping hand is always protected from any unwanted fluids.
I refuse to believe I’m the only Kula Cloth owner who has done this, but I’ve used the square of fabric for a variety of things outside of peeing. It works as a great backcountry pot holder in a pinch, or as a makeshift koozie for a cold beverage at camp. I sweat like a wildebeest, so I’ve also used my Kula Cloth as a sweat rag, mopping perspiration from my forehead with the absorbent side. Of course, it’s ideal if the Kula Cloth is clean in any of these situations, but I’m not here to judge.
Unique art collaborations
It’s a pee cloth used to wipe our nether regions, so it could be assumed that the Kula Cloth wouldn’t have much in terms of creativity and style — but not so. Instead of sticking to dark and drab, Kula Cloth boasts a variety of colorful and unique art designs on the backside, making these pee cloths anything but boring.
Over the years, Kula has made pee rags with hundreds of different designs ranging from colorful rainbows to icy-blue wildlife and everything in between. Some are limited runs that are gone forever once they sell out. However, most of the prints fall within three categories of designs: Artist Series, Kulas for a Cause or Stock Prints.
While Stock Prints are the more classic pee cloth designs that often get restocked, the Artist Series boasts patterns created by up-and-coming artists who collaborate with Kula. It’s not the traditional platform for artists to gain exposure for their work, but it’s a fun partnership.
Kula also supports nonprofits through its Kulas for a Cause program. Through this series, Kula teams up with organizations such as The Antietam Anglers, Eastern Sierra Conservation Corps or ProjectQ Community Center to create unique designs representative of the nonprofit’s mission. Once a Kula Cloth sells, Kula donates 30% of the profits to the associated nonprofit.
What we didn’t like about it
Honestly, it’s all rave reviews from me, but price may be a factor for some people, especially those used to buying a bandana for this purpose. Starting at $20, a Kula Cloth is significantly more expensive than a bandana or a random scrap of fabric. However, thanks to its superior absorbency, versatility and antimicrobial prowess, I think the investment is more than worth it.
How it compares
While there are a few other pee cloths in the world like Pee Cloths or P* Off Cloths, I like Kula Cloth a lot better. For starters, the P* Off Cloths are rectangular and a lot smaller (3.25 inches by 6 inches), which makes it harder to keep your hands clean and dry. I also appreciated Kula’s colorful artwork since it is totally unique in this category. Both Pee Cloths and P* Off Cloths come in basic, neutral colors, which certainly are more discreet (Kula has a black one too); however, I think pee cloths should be normalized as a standard piece of gear, so why not make them fabulous and eye-catching?
Kula Cloth makes it easier for folks to stay clean and hygienic while in the backcountry while also keeping unnecessary litter away from nature. While you may only need to purchase one in your lifetime, we’re betting you go back for a couple different designs. It’s a bit pricier than a scrap of fabric, but you’ll appreciate having an intentionally designed product from this woman-owned business next time you’re squatting in the woods.