"I have grown to love this option for peeing…"
Some of you may wonder how it came about that I’m rocking a drysuit with a front relief zipper, after spending years talking about my drop seat drysuit and how great it was. I hope this narrative of my transition from avid “drop seater” to shewee fanatic provides you with some insight to the differences that changed my mind on this issue.
IR's Womens Shawty Drysuit
In December 2010, just getting into my paddling addiction and poly-amorous love affair with kayaks, I learned about the existence of drysuits. My first drysuit was an early graduation gift; I got it just before I skipped my finals week junior year of college to launch on the Grand Canyon for 21 days. For this raft-supported playboating trip, my class three paddling skills, and significant beer consumption the drysuit with the drop seat blew my mind! It gave me the confidence that if I swam I wasn’t going to freeze, if I drank a lot of beer I could pee, and when I got giardia I could avoid a real mess in my brand new drysuit, for the most part.
June 2013 was the first time I scouted a big rapid only to realize I was about to poop myself and had to run off and make haste with the drop seat to avoid an over-nighter tragedy. If anyone had asked me that day, or any other day really, what I loved about my drysuit, I would have surely told them the drop seat is amazing! It is amazing, for pooping! I frequently told prospective drysuit shoppers and anyone who cared to listen, my two-cents on how much I loved my drop seat drysuit. I had never tried anything else.
As my paddling improves and my boat quiver blossoms, I am growing a whole new appreciation for a tighter, more intimate fit in the seat of my boat(s). I never really noticed the drop seat zipper to be in the way of anything as long as it was adjusted properly after sitting in my boat. That being said, when I first tried a drysuit with a front relief zipper in October of 2014 the first thing I noticed was how much less bulk there was between my body and my boat. I had to add shims to the hip pads. I also immediately noticed it was significantly lighter and less constricting for walking around in, and really nice for getting that up-close-and-personal feeling with my boat.
On the second or third day with the front relief zip I was on the river and realized, as I was about to wet myself, that I did not have a drop seat option, or a funnel of any sort. Up a creek without a funnel! I quickly found Nicole Mansfield, knowing she is a veteran “front reliefer”, and half requested, half demanded, that she hand over her shewee so I could avoid peeing in my new drysuit. A true friend will let you use her shewee. Since then, I picked up a small yellow funnel at the local hardware store for about $2 that my friends dubbed “the tickler”.
Jo Kemper Edition DIY She Wee Funnel.
In October of 2015 on a glorious Sunday in the Columbia River Gorge a group of passionate kayakers took to the water to protest Nestle’s plans for this area. During this seven plus hour adventure the fear of stopping to pee and being left behind to paddle hours of flatwater into a head wind alone spurred me to try something a little dicey with the tickler. In the middle of the Columbia River with at least a foot of wind swell and a few of my good friends holding my pink Perception Fox, I managed to balance kneeling in the cockpit of the boat and peeing out of the side, and I’d say I even got 90% of the pee out of the boat once I got past the stage fright. My friend, Jam, did accuse me of peeing on his hand, but he didn’t drop me in the Columbia with my relief zip open, for which I am immensely grateful. I didn’t drink anything the rest of the day to avoid a potential repeat, but I know it’s possible.
Nature Calls for Jo Kemper.
I still have that lingering thought, what if I need to poop? With the current giardia-like symptoms I may be experiencing, I drank raw water out of a tributary on my last over-nighter, the funnel might work for number 1 or number 2. Otherwise, like any dude on the river in a drysuit, if I need to poop I will undress, and if I need to poop real bad real fast, I’ll probably poop myself.
A few things to consider that may also impact your decision making. I live in the Columbia River Gorge, our runs generally take an hour or two on the water and are frequently less than an hour from home, therefore due to this ease, the frequency of needing to poop on the river is greatly reduced. My butt still puckers sometimes when I scout a stout and I have to disrobe and head for the woods.