Birder's Guide

DEC 2014

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 21 of 43

Does a Girl Go in the Woods? 20 Birder's Guide to Gear | December 2014 pink or camoufage colors. Due to the shape, this device requires you to lower your pants half way down, and it helps if you bend your knees slightly. You hold the soft funnel against your body from the front and back, and liquid fows into the large reservoir and out the tip. The tip of the GoGirl funnel is a bit short, and you have to be careful not to dribble on your pants towards the fnish as the fow slows. GoGirl is compact and discreet. It is reus- able and rolls up neatly to ft in a provided plastic tube. The tube even includes wipes and a plastic bag for safer and cleaner stor- age after use in the feld. When you get home, simply wash and dry before storing for future use. GoGirl can be purchased individually or in multi-packs, with an average price of about $12 per funnel. Whiz Freedom • This is another fexible and reusable fun- nel, but it has a slightly smaller reservoir and a longer drainage tube that allows for more distance and less risk of dripping on your clothing and shoes. Whiz Freedom advertises that it is made from anti-bacte- rial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, medically approved, soft plastic, and it comes in purple or white. The shape of this device requires the user to lower her pants half- way down the legs. There is also an option to purchase an extension tube if you are overly concerned about leakage onto your trouser legs. It doesn't come with storage but will easily fold up to ft into a sand - wich bag. You can purchase a carrying case separately. When you return home, simply rinse and let the funnel dry before es at a watering hole by Charyn Canyon. We were near a bombed-out stone shelter, and I thought, "Finally, a quiet spot to use the bathroom in private!" I skipped over the wall, found a spot, leaned against it, and began to relieve my- self in sweet seclusion. Some movement caught my peripheral vision, and I looked down to see a scorpion about to crawl on me. I leapt up and tripped over myself to avoid a sting. I had never been more grateful for the quick-dry fabric of convertible feld pants, as I assessed how much of a mess I had made in my panic to fee. I wished I'd had a urinary device with me then! Funny thing was, I had packed a device that allows me to stand up while urinat - ing, but airport security in Almaty con- fscated it. After I had experienced all the restrooms of Kazakhstan, I guessed that a female security agent saw it in my luggage and thought it was a great idea, so kept it for herself. I was sympathetic. Over the years I have become well-ac- quainted with various models. Some work very well for discreet bathroom breaks in the outdoors. If your frst thought is a large hard plastic funnel that is diffcult to discreetly pack and requires the fexibility of a trapeze artist to use, let me assure that great strides have been made in the world of female outdoor urination. These are not like kitchen funnels. They are compact, sometimes fexible designs that, with a little practice, can help you out of a bind in the wild. GoGirl • This fexible funnel is made out of med - ical-grade silicone and comes in either This is a review for the ladies. Thanks to feldwork and my love of foreign travel, I consider myself an ex- pert when it comes to using the restroom outdoors. Wherever I go, I make an im- mediate mental note of where I can scurry away should nature start calling loudly and clearly. When I pack my birding backpack, I often include a special device that allows me to relieve myself while standing up. I've had more than one female friend ask, "Why not just squat like the rest of us?" Sometimes squatting is not convenient. You may fnd yourself up at Sax-Zim Bog in northern Minnesota in winter looking for owls with a fresh 13 inches of snow on the ground. Or maybe you just watched a four-foot rattlesnake slither in front of a photography blind at Martin Ranch in south Texas, suggesting that squatting next to a shrub might be ill-advised. Or let's say you have bad knees, and bending them is not an option. Or perhaps your body is changing for medical reasons, and you need to go all the time—more than the prescribed number of restroom stops on a feld trip. My best example of needing "help" oc- curred on a trip I took to Kazakhstan. I was the lone female for most of the trip, and our guide was not big on comfort or urinary privacy. On a particularly rainy day, I begged for a dry place and offered to buy the group coffee or tea if we stopped at a café with a restroom. His answer was to pull up to a large gas pipe. He told me, "See that blue pipe? You go under there. It be dry." But the worst instance on that trip was when we were watching Mongolian Finch - When the author was birding the beautiful but desolate grasslands of Kazakhstan, she wished her urinary device had not been confscated by airport security! Photo © Sharon Stiteler

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