Gear Review: Whiz Freedom

Reviewed by Nancy Kim (from the summer 2008 WCN newsletter)

When answering nature’s call, women in the backcountry often envy the
ability of men to simply about face, unzip and relieve themselves. The
ability to pee standing up is no longer the sole province of men with
the entry of numerous devices on the market which claim to liberate
women from squatting ignominy. Among these is a newcomer called the
Whiz Freedom that’s hydrophobic and collapsible.

For whatever reason, I had always scoffed at the Freshette, an earlier
entrant to this niche market. Then I started thinking about how nice
it would be to forgo the nasty pit toilets at popular trailheads. A
particularly gruesome encounter with a Honey Bucket in Olalla got me
really thinking. I was fly fishing on the South Sound and had to stop
and pee. Dropping my waders without soiling my suspenders or my bottom
in the nastiness was an exercise in bomb-defusing delicacy. I managed
to relieve my bladder and extricate myself from the horror chamber
without incident.

Browsing the store at BackpackingLight.com, I came across the Whiz and
decided to buy one. In February, I field tested it on a three-day
winter camping and backcountry ski trip. I had practiced using it at
home where the consequences of misuse could be remedied quickly with a
change of clothes. Holding the device in the correct position, with
the broad area up, and positioning it in the “sweet spot” are key. At
times I did not position the Whiz low enough which yielded disastrous
results. But once I figured out the Goldilocks spot-not too high, not
low-I was quite pleased with my $20 purchase.

The Whiz Freedom is ultralight at half an ounce (14 grams), small,
measuring roughly six inches, and collapsible rather than rigid,
making it easy to stuff in a pocket. While I haven’t used the
Freshette, the device carried by REI, IÕd say the crushable Whiz holds
the design edge. Whiz manufacturer JBOL Ltd. also sells an extension,
essentially a length of surgical tubing, that attaches to the nozzle
of the Whiz for use with a pee bottle. For anyone who camps in the
winter, or spends time at altitude in cold, windy conditions, learning
to use a pee bottle enhances quality of life. I used the Whiz and a
pee bottle on the Colorado River this spring to avoid trekking down to
the water in the middle of the night.

So what about the hygienic factor? Manufactured from medical-grade
material, the Whiz is anti-bacterial and liquid-repellant, so it’s
flick dry. Currently, there is scant retail distribution for the Whiz
in the United States. MEC in Canada carries it but REI in the US does
not. Backpackinglight.com sells the Whiz for $20. It’s available in
white and purple. For more information, check out whizfreedom.com.

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One response to “Gear Review: Whiz Freedom

  1. Pingback: To Freshette or Not to Freshette?

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