Squatty Potty: A Gear “Dare-iary” Review

It’s an age-old question: (put delicately) does a bear go to bathroom in the woods? Of course the answer is yes, but until a few generations ago, so did humans. The makers of the Squatty Potty toilet stool believe the progress that is indoor plumbing may be harmful to your colon health. Here’s a quick look at their proposed solution:

learn-to-squat-1

First a little background. The team here at Gear Diary has a pretty lively online chat community where we discuss tech trends and possible review topics. But we also are friends who like to support each other when someone needs a virtual hug or josh one another like playful siblings when the opportunity calls for it. Judie is the den mother of this eclectic clan, but she likes a good joke as much as the rest of us.

So when our den mother put out the call to see if anyone would like to review the Squatty Potty, which has had a pretty aggressive online ad campaign of late, she was met with radio silence. “Which one of you is willing to be a squatty potty guinea pig. They are pretty hot right now, and I’d be willing to buy the basic version for one of you to review in your own particular style. Let me know…”

[Crickets.]

As the resident Gear Diary stunt reviewer who has tried things like a cream that was supposed to prevent poison ivy, (even though it meant traipsing through the allergens to test it) I finally agreed to “step up” and take the Squatty Potty toilet stool through its paces. This set off a stream of bad bathroom puns on the chat stream which I will not share in this family space. We decided that this sort of dare between the team shall henceforth be known as a “Gear Dare-iary Review.”

So after my UPS man handed me the package with a slightly bemused expression after reading the return address label, it was time to do a little research and try it out.

According to the makers of the Squatty Potty, sitting on the toilet like we’ve all learned to do since we were potty-trained is an unnatural posture compared to the old-school outdoor methods that our ancestors practiced before the days of indoor conveniences. The angle of the bend at the waist and the pressure of the weight of your upper body pressing down against the seat actually kinks your lower colon where it passes through the puborectalis muscle. Forgive me as I try to avoid being too indelicate and avoid too many stool puns, but the pubrectalis muscle is what keeps everything in your colon moving in the right direction, like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube. If it’s not fully relaxed, it can’t do its job, and that can stop up the works down there leading to inferior colon health and a generally cranky disposition.

learn-to-squat-2

Instead, the more natural position is to do your business from more of a squatting position, with your knees above your hips to open up your nether regions and give you a little more leverage. I can tell you from experience in some outdoor situations on camping trips that this can be a little tricky and feels really unnatural. But it shouldn’t, argue the makers of Squatty Potty. Carnivores were designed to adopt this posture and if you watch animals in the wild, you’ll see that they do exactly this when it’s time to clear out the old pipes. (But really, leave them alone! Give them a little privacy…)

Squatty Potty 1

So I now had the theory down, but how would it work in practice? The unboxing of the Squatty Potty Ecco was undramatic, although the ordering process did involve an uncomfortable email exchange between Judie and me inquiring about my “stool size.” I went with the 7″ version instead of the 9″, thank you very much. Apparently, the taller Squatty Potty is designed for squatters who are more advanced and flexible. I figured I’d go for the standard size. Baby steps, people.

So the Squatty Potty bathroom stool is basically a step stool molded out of plastic and specifically designed to slide around the base of most standard toilet bowls. If you happen to have one of those taller designer toilets, then the 9″ might be better for you. The plastic is sturdy and easy to clean, no small feature considering where this thing will live and what it’s used for. These’s also a more stylish Tao edition made out of bamboo for $69.99, but I couldn’t bring myself to make Judie shell out for that one.

Squatty Potty 2

I knew my housemate wasn’t going to be happy about this addition to our bathroom, but even she did cut me some slack when she saw how unobtrusive the design was. For those times when men need to face the toilet to do their thing, the Squatty Potty was not at all in the way and didn’t necessitate any stance adjustment, unless maybe you were wearing clown shoes.

When it’s time to get down to the business at foot, the Squatty Potty slides forward and has two raised heel lifts, not unlike the places where you put your shoes when you are getting a shine. But please, do not get these things confused the next time you’re at the airport!

I'm afraid you're gonna have to use your imagination on this one.

I’m afraid you’re gonna have to use your imagination on this one.

The natural places to position your feet encourage you to take a wider stance and press your abdomen between your legs. Then, as the instructional poster says, “Gravity is your friend.” Sit tall and don’t hunch down. Let gravity do the work. Then let the sewer finish the job.

Even on a tile floor, the Squatty Potty does not slip around and provides a stable platform. When I mentioned to a friend that I was trying this out, he asked, “Couldn’t you just stack the magazines you already have in the bathroom and use them instead?” Well sure, but you sure wouldn’t want to have them slip out from underneath you in the middle of you bid’ness. I doubt you’d earn a high score from the Romanian judge for that dismount.

So in the end, how does the Squatty Potty work? I have to say that it followed through with all of its promises. Yeah, basically it’s just a molded hunk of plastic, but it’s a molded hunk of plastic that has been cleverly designed to serve a purpose. While I didn’t think I needed a lot of help in the colo-rectal department before I got the Squatty Potty, I can actually discern a difference in the whole experience.

Do I use it every time? Not really, sometimes I just don’t think to slide it out and go it old-school style. But if you do have concerns about constipation or your colon health in general, I would certainly suggest dropping $25 on a Squatty Potty to see if that helps rather than trying to medicate yourself with laxatives and other medicines. (Although I’m a big fan of that heaping scoop of fiber I put in my morning orange juice!)

Even better than buying one yourself, why don’t you see if you can get somebody to make you a dare and pay for it? So we’ll open up the floor to nominations. What do you dare us to review next? Any particular Gear Diary contributor you’d like to see take on a Gear Dare-iary review?

I’m thinking Judie needs one of these for her new car.

The Squatty Potty toilet stool is available on Amazon, the company website and at Bed Bath and Beyond stores.

Source: Judie graciously supplied the review sample, although she may get it regifted back to her at Christmas.

MSRP: $24.99

What I Liked: The Squatty Potty is as unobtrusive as a bathroom device can be. It slips (not quite completely) out of sight and does what it promises to change the way you sit upon the throne.

What Needs Improvement: I’m not sure the whole world wants or needs one of these, but if you have issues you want to address, it’s worth a shot.


About the Author

Chris Chamberlain
Chris is a native of Nashville, TN and an honors graduate from Stanford University (where it should have occurred to him in the late `80's that maybe this computer business thing was gonna take off.) After 25 years in the business of selling flattened dead trees to printers who used them to make something which the ancients called "books," somebody finally slapped Chris over the head with an iPad whereupon he became the Director of Business Development for an internet services company that works with US retailers to help them sell their products overseas. His other day gig is as a food and drink writer for several regional newspapers, magazines and blogs. Chris has a travel/restaurant guide/cookbook coming out next fall which he is sure your mother would just love as a holiday present.