Most Useful Things to Bring on Your National Park Vacation

Most Useful Things to Bring on Your National Park Vacation

Posted by Krista Eickmann on 8th Mar 2024

Are you heading to a National Park this summer? The US park system includes riverways, trails, seashores, and other scenic places, as well as heavily visited parks like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite.

Even if you’re making a day trip, you’ll want to pack gear to help you get the most out of your vacation. Here are a few things to think about ahead of time.

The Ten Essentials

Every park is different, and so is every trip. The “ten essentials” is a breakdown of what you’ll need to consider packing, no matter what.

The National Park Service lists these ten essentials:

  • Navigation—map, compass, and GPS
  • Sun protection—sunglasses, sunscreen, and hat
  • Insulation—jacket, hat, gloves, rain shell, and thermal underwear
  • Illumination—flashlight and headlamp
  • First-aid supplies
  • Fire—matches, lighters, and fire starters
  • Repair kit and tools—duct tape, knife, screwdriver, and scissors
  • Nutrition—food and snacks
  • Hydration—water and water treatment supplies
  • Shelter—tent and tarp

The pStyle: The Eleventh Essential

The pStyle is a handheld stand-to-pee device made of rigid plastic that allows you to pee from a standing position without removing any clothing.

With a pStyle at your side, you can stay hydrated, pee when needed, and avoid contact with unpleasant toilets, plants, or critters. It also helps you follow the best practices for respectful urination in any park environment.


Hydration is a must for health and safety whenever you are recreating outdoors. Check out our detailed post on staying hydrated while hiking.

In the US, national parks are safe in many ways but not equally safe for everyone. Gender policing affects women, transgender people, and people of color in specific ways, and peeing on the side of the trail — a natural consequence of staying hydrated — can be daunting.

Educate yourself about what dehydration looks like. Early signs include fatigue, increased body temperature and pulse, and darker-colored urine. More intense dehydration can lead to dangerous situations when you’re far from help.

Carrying water, water filters, and a pStyle will help you stay hydrated and happy on your National Park Vacation.

Pee When You Need To

Carrying a pStyle means you have more control and choices about when, where, and how to pee.

Holding your pee is stressful! We heard a story from a customer who encountered an older woman sobbing on a mountain trail because she had to pee and couldn’t squat due to joint issues. We wish we could have given her a pStyle right then and there!

The National Park map doesn’t list every last bathroom in every park. Sometimes, bathrooms are closed for cleaning or out of order. There may only be pit toilets in the backcountry or none at all.

It’s also hard on your body to hold your pee.

Pit Toilets, Poison Ivy, and Ticks Oh My!

Standing to pee may not seem like that great of an advantage. But when you think about sitting on a pit toilet seat every time you need to pee or squatting in poison ivy, you might start to think differently.

Peeing Respectfully in our National Parks

How many National Parks are there? Quite a few! The NPS holds 85 million acres of land across the park system, and regulations about where and how to pee vary from park to park.

The National Park Service has some helpful guidelines for peeing respectfully in the parks.

  • In developed places, visitors should use the provided toilets or a pStyle with a urine collecting device so other people are not offended and urine does not cause problems.
  • In undeveloped areas without toilets, urinate at least 200 feet (75 adult paces) from water, camp, or trails.
  • Use toilet paper sparingly and pack it out in an airtight container.

Unlike some stand-to-pee devices, the pStyle’s smooth back edge can be used to wipe with, reducing the amount of toilet paper you must pack in and out. Keep the pStyle clean.

River Rafting

“Along the Colorado River, urinate directly into the wet sand at the river’s edge,” the park service advises rafters in the Grand Canyon. So many people raft through the canyon yearly, and their accumulated urine could harm the desert landscape, so diluting it in the river is better.

The Colorado River’s water is frigid, even in summer. With a pStyle, you can easily stand to pee off the riverbank without getting wet. Even better, you don’t have to drop your pants to do so.

Other things to consider

Our National Parks are not places we should take for granted. Easing congestion in the parks and learning more about their history are useful things you can do before going on your vacation.

Ease Park Congestion

Some parks experience heavy visitor loads at certain times of the year, straining the National Park Service resources and the natural environment.

Look into a trip to some of the least visited parks or visiting during the off-season. You’ll have more space to enjoy the park as well.

Learn About the History of the Parks

Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks by Mark David Spence is considered one of the most thorough books written about park history. It traces the origin story of the US national parks, linking early preservationist efforts with genocidal US Indian policy.

This history is especially relevant today as calls to return National Park land to Indigenous tribes are increasing.

Have a Great Trip

The lands preserved by our National Park System are precious. We hope your trip to visit will be fun and educational!

Want to know more about the pStyle? Check out our website. There’s a lot of information about it, and pStyles are available in many colors, including five skin tones.

If you have questions, pleasecontact us. If you feel inspired, share your national park adventures with us!