Let’s face it – if you love camping, backpacking, hiking or simply spending a lot of time outdoors, knowing how to properly poop in the woods is one of the most important things you can equip yourself.
Sure, most campsites now have toilets, baths and other amenities, but what if you’re in the middle of a hike and you suddenly feel the call of nature? Or when you’re out in the river, rafting with friends then you feel the need to go to the bathroom?
It’s always best to be ready, especially when you’re in the great outdoors where everything is unpredictable!
© A Mountain Top High
First Things First
Before we dive right into the guide, there are a couple of important things to remember first:
- Know the regulations – Before going to the bathroom in the woods, it’s important to learn the area’s rules and regulations on human waste. Most heavily-traveled or high-elevation areas require campers to pack out human waste.
- Leave no trace – As respect to nature and your fellow campers, always leave the ground where you’ve been cleaner than you found it.
What You Need
Even if your campsite has a bathroom, it’s still ideal to pack these supplies (preferably packed separately in sealable plastic bag) just in case you need to poop in the woods:
- Toilet paper or wipes, preferably biodegradable
- Hand sanitizer
- Lightweight trowel
- Extra sealable plastic bags (for packing out your used toilet paper)
- Human waste disposal bags (for areas that require you to pack out solid human waste)
If you need to pack out your waste, there are different disposal bags specifically designed for this. The most common are blue bags, but there are also the sealable, leak-proof variety with double layers with gel for absorbing the smell.
How To Poop In The Woods
- Pick a location – Choose a spot at least 200 feet away from your campsite, a trail or any water source. This is to avoid contamination. Make sure you know how to get back to your campsite!
- Find the right spot - A sunny spot with loose, rich soil is the ideal spot – it will help decompose waste more quickly.
- Dig a cat hole – Using your trowel or your small shovel, dig a hole in the ground about 4-6 inches wide and 6-8 inches deep. If the soil is too hard to dig, try looking for spots under a rock – just put the rock back when you’re done.
- Do your business – Poop into the hole. Once you’re done, fill the hole completely with the original dirt. Tamp it down with your foot.
- Finish up – Place a branch or a large rock over your hole so that critters won’t dig through it. To discourage anyone else from using your spot, put an upright stick on top of the hole.
- Pack out your TP – Unless you’re using biodegradable toilet paper or wipes, don’t throw them in the hole! To leave the smallest trace possible, pack out the toilet paper you use. Place them on sealable bags. To hide the contents of the bag, line it with aluminum foil or wrap duct tape around it.
- Clean up – Use alcohol or hand sanitizer to clean your hands. Don’t forget to clean thoroughly!
© Outside Magazine
Pack It Out
The steps above is the traditional way of pooping in the woods. Keep in mind that nowadays, everyone is encouraged to pack everything out, including your human waste.
If you’re using a waste disposal bag, place your waste along with your used toilet paper in there and seal. Place it in another plastic bag to be sure (even if it’s supposed to be leak-proof).
Do carry them out and don’t just dump them in the trash – there are designated areas in trails and campsites to dispose of these types of waste.
Before you do your business in the woods, always know your priorities – to leave no trace, to encourage decomposition and to avoid contamination.
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