Pee Standing Up II: The P-Mate Product Review
In a previous post, I pointed to the P-Mate product, designed to allow women to urinate while standing. I remarked that I think “this type of item would be fantastic for camping, portable toilets, or other situations where sitting or squatting are undesirable.” Well, ladies and gentlemen (okay, mostly the ladies), I can now test this hypothesis and report back to you. After noticing that the original post has been quite popular and generated a number of visits to the P-Mate site, I contacted their U.S. rep to inquire about a sample to review. I have weird hobbies, I know. I was gleeful to open the mail on the 20th and find not just one P-Mate, but *two packs of five!*
First, the product. The P-Mate is basically a thick paper with a waxy coating that allows it to move fluid rather than absorbing it. See the photos here for a clearer glimpse at its lime green, decorative goodness. The instructions (moreso the package ones than those linked here) may make it seem more complicated than it is, but you basically push on a seam to fold it out into a slipper-type shape (it comes in a flat package), cover your girly bits with the large opening, and point the small opening wherever you want the urine to go. For pants, you’re instructed to unzip and push your undies to one side. For skirts/shorts, you’re instructed to just push everything to one side. They also have an extra folding line down the middle, so you can fit one or two in your pocket.
Having a science background and an inquisitive mind, I decided to conduct a series of usability tests of using the P-Mate. Your mileage may vary. I conducted said tests in the bathroom in my home, which I can easily clean in the case of user error, and is very small – the closest I’m going to get to one of those outdoor portable toilets unless I have to. The results are as follows:
[Note: Professional colleagues and others who can't handle frank talk about urination should move along now.]
The Zippered Jeans Test:
I was skeptical that this whole “unzip and push your panties to the side” thing would actually work, so I tried to use the P-Mate while wearing jeans. I’m pleased to report that no trousers-dropping was necessary. However, if you want to wipe afterward, it’s a little tricky to make sure none of the clothing snaps back into place, but it can be done. The P-Mate site suggests, “You can remove any drops that are left behind by slowly moving the P-Mate™ to the front and catching them with the back of the P-Mate™.”
The Skirt Test:
For this one, I chose a knee length, rather fetching skirt. I was convinced that this one would leave me feeling the most exposed, what with wrangling the skirt fabric into place. My fears were unfounded; after the P-Mate was in place, there was nothing “indecent” showing. The skirt really didn’t get in the way; if you were more bold, you could probably tuck your front hem into the waistline.
The After-A-Couple-Of-Beers Test:
Conducted after a couple of beers, as the name suggests. Intended to demonstrate whether inhibited motor skills would prevent clean and effective usage. You know you people who might use this at outdoor concerts or for camping are thanking me. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have done this as my first trial run of the P-Mate. Bottom-half clothing was drawstring flannel pants (okay, okay, insert blogger-in-pajamas joke here) and underwear. At first, I was afraid to go for fear of making a mess. Once I started, though, it was smooth sailing, with no spills and no clothing problems. I exited the bathroom proclaiming, “That was awesome!”
-I think the P-Mate would be great for many of its advertised applications – for camping, when you don’t want to squat, portable toilets, etc. I do think it’s much easier to use this and stand than it is to perform the acrobatic squatting hover many women attempt, and you won’t even dribble on the seat. I really wish my poke-and-prod provider would adopt these, because I absolutely detest the pee-in-a-cup routine – I almost always have trouble with aim and end up with junk on my hands. Might also work well for pee-on-a-stick pregnancy tests.
Now that I think of it, I could see this for people who are post-operative, like right after hip replacement, when the process of getting down and up to use a toilet is difficult and painful. Others who have trouble maneuvering in tight spaces might also find it helpful.
-At first, it’s a little awkward. Where do I point this thing?!? I relaxed and thought of all the times I’ve seen men go, and that seemed to cause me to automatically assume the correct position. I never had to do any cleanup.
-The big opening that goes against your body is a good design. It’s difficult to place it wrong.
-If you’re traveling with the P-Mate, I suggest also packing some TP or wet wipes.
-Main problem – the P-Mate is not flushable, nor is it considered reusable. In places with squat toilets, real bathrooms, or portable toilets, that’s probably not an issue, because there will be wastebaskets. For real camping/hiking, though, you want to pack everything out with you. Because the P-Mate folds flat, you could keep a zipper baggie of your used ones – they’re very light. I do suspect that you could rinse and reuse a few times if you were determined and inclined to. Because it is not technically reusable according to the manufacturer, though, I would suggest it for unique situations rather than everyday use.