Gear

Kula Cloth Review: The Pee Cloth Hikers Never Knew They Needed

Posted by
Sarah Lamagna
June 23, 2024
Updated June 26, 2024

Kula Cloth
Meet the Kula Cloth, the anti-microbial pee rag that — inexplicably — revolutionized peeing in the wild.

Do you do the air shimmy, or do you go for the full-on wipe? It’s the age-old question of any backcountry adventurer and one that Kula Cloth here to settle once and for all. It’s worth noting that we’re talking to the squatters (and also those who use a pee funnel) when it comes to urinating in the wild. 

You read that right. This review isn’t for you if you can just turn around, unzip your fly, and pee in five seconds. 

As someone who frequents the wilderness but also has a small bladder, peeing in the woods has always been a foregone conclusion for me. In the past, urinating outdoors was an ordeal. My thigh muscles would quake with exertion while waiting for the pee drips to cease. I’d predictably get urine drops on my pants or — at the very least — on my undies. It was annoying.

However, the Kula Cloth changed that. I no longer wait for the dripping to stop or bum shake excess liquid out or even use body wipes to clean up. Nope, just one swipe and I’m set to get back on the trail. 

I’m here to convince you that Kula Cloth is the one piece of outdoor gear you never knew you needed. Here’s why.

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Kula Cloth
The Kula Cloth is an antimicrobial pee rag that makes it easy for hikers to stay clean while on the trail. (Photo/Sarah Lamagna)

What is a Kula Cloth?

Born out of pure curiosity after an unexpected encounter with a huge wad of toilet paper in the PNW wilderness, Kula Cloth is now the leading brand for reusable pee cloths. Kula is named after the tallest mountain in Bhutan – Kula Khangri. Founder of Kula Cloth, Anastasia Allison, trekked in Bhutan in 2011 and the experience left a mark on her heart. 

And now I leave a mark on the Kula Cloth! Too much? Pee humor not your thing?

The Kula Cloth is basically reusable toilet paper. One side of the Kula Cloth is made of an antimicrobial, absorbent material — that’s the pee side. The other side is uniquely designed by artists from all over the globe and made of waterproof material — don’t pee on that art work. The pee side of the cloth is always black so it won’t show any type of stains, regardless of what’s going on in your nether regions. 

The Kula Cloth also incorporates a snap system to hang from your backpack while also folding it to keep it clean on the trail. And, if you’re anything like me and nature always calls in the middle of the night, the Kula Cloth has a retro-reflective thread so you can locate it with your headlamp. That’s a lot of goodness packed into one of my favorite pieces of hiking gear.

What Works Well

Pee cloths make for good hygiene

I’m the first to admit that I was a drip-dry person before my Kula days. I’ll also admit that my underwear didn’t exactly smell wonderful thanks to the leftover pee after drip-drying. Too much information? It’s okay — it’s a reality for hikers everywhere!

This unpleasant odor (and subsequent dampness) didn’t bode well for my hygiene, especially since those are prime causes of yeast infections. Plus, urine is acidic and causes skin irritation if it has constant contact. Wiping really is the best way to prevent those irritations (Plus: it doesn’t waste toilet paper). 

Kula Cloth does more than wipe

I have multiple Kulas and most people (like the man I married) might think it’s a real problem. But, there’s a method to my madness. The nice thing about Kula Cloths is their versatility around camp. Whenever I venture outdoors, I have no less than three Kulas on my pack: one Kula for when I pee, one for my sweat, and one for my kiddo. 

People use their Kulas on the trail, in port-a-potties at music festivals, on airplanes, or even at their own house. Remember that time a pandemic hit the world and grocery stores were sold out of toilet paper? Yeah, me neither since I had my Kula and had plenty of leftover toilet paper for my number two needs.

And, if we really want to get into the weeds, you can use the Kula as a pot holder at camp, a makeshift koozie in the woods, or even as a sweat rag. I mean, we’d recommend ensuring it’s a clean cloth but we’re not here to judge.

Kula Cloth
Kulas come with a small snap so you can fold them in half while not in use. (photo/Sarah Lamagna)

The Kula Cloth community

Kula Cloth makes it obvious that their brand isn’t just something they sell — they’re a community. One of the many ways that manifests is through their Artist Series Kulas where they work with artists from around the world to showcase their designs. They range from Cris Pliego, a Mexican artist who resides in New Zealand who likes working with vibrant colors, to Latasha Dunston, an illustrator and plant lover living in Denver.

Kula Cloth also collaborates with nonprofits and other organizations like The Bronze Chapter, Kids Who Explore, and Diversify Vanlife. Portions of these limited series Kulas are donated directly to the organizations to help fulfill their missions. 

But community is also just simply the folks who stumble across their website or Instagram account (Go follow them!) and then stick around. When asked, Allison says what she loves most about Kula Cloth “is the ability to genuinely connect with other people. I love the gear itself, but the gear is really just a vehicle for more connection.” She wants people to be pleasantly surprised by their website and social media while also feeling like everyone belongs in this space.

Allison realized early on that if you only think about numbers and success as a business owner, it’s a lonely place to be. Instead, she focuses on making something special and memorable and putting priority towards loving her customers and fanbase (because it’s a big and loyal one!)

Pee cloths are better for the planet

One of my pet peeves (see what I did there) is when people litter on the trail. There have been too many instances where I’ve stumbled across unused and used (yuck) toilet paper just sitting on top of the ground. 

Not only is this not following Leave No Trace principles but it’s also unnecessary if you have a Kula. Having the reusable pee cloth means you can pee on your adventure as many times as you’d like without having to fish out a roll of toilet paper in your pack. 

The Kula Cloth team

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better marketing strategy than the one I’ve seen from Kula Cloth and its social media channels. Whether it be addressing their haters via hilarious hot takes, the limited designs they give away on their Instagram (my favorite was probably the rocket port-a-potty), and the whole Renaissance cat (#iykyk). Allison even told me that she can’t force anyone to buy or even understand the Kula Cloth and that’s OK. It’s why they make fun of themselves – because a pee cloth is funny. 

With Allison at the helm, she makes Kula Cloth a true family affair by having her husband as the Director of Operations and her sister Mare as the “PEO” which I can only assume is “Pee Executive Officer.” Others join their team with job titles like “Pee Cloth Unicorn”, “Director of Chaos and Fun”, and “Gratitude Consultant.” Nothing is taken too seriously within the Kula Cloth family, and it gives all of us outsiders a glimpse into how fun their company truly seems.

Kula Cloth
Fair warning! The black side is meant for urine — not the colorful, patterned side. (photo/Sarah Lamagna)

What we don’t like

It does nothing for number two

Seriously, don’t try it. If you happen to take a poo in the woods, make sure you bring backup toilet paper because the Kula Cloth is not intended for that sort of wiping. Believe me, you wouldn’t want that anyway because… eww.

The annoying stares

I’m not usually one to care about what other people think of me, especially on the trail. However, the number of stares I’ve gotten from others (mostly men) while hiking wondering what the fudge is hanging from my bag is too many to count. 

What is nice, though, is when I pass a hiker who also has a Kula hanging from their pack. It’s like there is an unspoken message of solidarity. It’s kind of like all the Jeep owners in the world who do the two-finger wave or give each other rubber duckies. Instead of a Jeep, it’s a Kula and instead of a wave, it’s usually aggressive pointing to your own Kula Cloth on your pack. It’s magical.

The competitors

As with most pieces of gear these days, you can find knock-off versions of the Kula Cloth (complete with almost exact design replicas) on Amazon, but the quality is subpar. Plus, you’d be buying from some unknown entity rather than giving your money to a woman-and-queer-led small business. 

There is also the option of using a bandana, but it doesn’t absorb liquid all that well. A microfiber towel will do the same thing as a Kula Cloth but is almost always too big and not infused with an antimicrobial agent.  

Kula Cloth
Kula Cloths are available in dozens of colorful patterns and prints. (photo/Sarah Lamagna)

Bottom line

Kula Cloth isn’t for everybody but for those who squat to pee or use a device to assist peeing while standing, it might just be what you’re looking for. And listen: I never knew what I was missing until I missed it. There have been a few adventures where I left my Kula hanging over my washer and only realized I forgot it when nature called. It usually ended with devastation and damp undies. What a lose-lose situation.

Some might think a Kula Cloth is elaborate peecockery but that’s a peece of bologna. Anybody can use a Kula – from a full-grown adult to a tiny peenut of a human. You can pee in the desert, woods, or even some peetland. Whether you’re feeling a bit peeky or peeceful, using a Kula is a must-have no matter your mood. And remember, when someone goes off to do number one, no peeking and definitely don’t be a peeping Tom, yeah? 

TL; DR: Investing in a Kula Cloth is well worth it and will be your go-to piece of outdoor gear for years to come.

 


Seen in: Backpacking Gear, Camping Gear, Gear, Hiking Gear

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