Don’t let pooping in the great outdoors ruin your backpacking adventure! Read our guide on how to do it right and stay clean while enjoying nature.
In this blog post, we will discuss the best practices for pooping while backpacking, including how to properly bury your waste and pack out toilet paper.
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In This Article
Why Is It Important To Discuss Pooping While Backpacking?
This may not be the most glamorous topic, but it is an important one to consider for those who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors.
Proper waste disposal is essential for maintaining the health and cleanliness of natural environments, as well as for preventing the spread of disease.
Facts About Waste Disposal In The Outdoors:
- Human waste can take years to decompose in natural environments, leading to potential health hazards and environmental damage.
- Proper waste disposal involves digging a cathole at least 6-8 inches deep and burying your waste, along with any toilet paper, in the hole.
- It is important to choose a location for your cathole that is at least 200 feet away from any water sources, trails, or campsites.
- If you are in an area where burying waste is not feasible, such as in alpine environments or on glaciers, it is important to pack out your waste and toilet paper in a sealed container.
- Following Leave No Trace principles, which include proper waste disposal, is essential for preserving natural environments and ensuring that they remain accessible for future generations to enjoy.
Why is Proper Pooping Protocol Important When Backpacking?
When backpacking, proper pooping protocol is more important than you might think. Not only is it about respecting the environment, but it’s also about keeping yourself and others safe from unwanted wildlife and water pollution.
Leaving human waste lying around in the wilderness can cause a major buildup of waste, which leads to water pollution and unwanted critters in the area.
The solution is simple: follow Leave No Trace principles and specific regulations set in place to ensure that the backcountry environment remains healthy and clean.
One big step in the right direction is the use of biodegradable toilet paper and other natural alternatives that aid in the decomposition process.
But beyond just respecting the environment, it’s also important to respect public lands, land managers, and other hikers.
We can all do our part to preserve the beauty of the backcountry for generations to come. So remember, always follow proper pooping protocol when backpacking.
Types of Toilets Available for Backpackers
When exploring new places, it’s essential to have a place to rest and refresh. For backpackers, finding a reliable toilet can enhance their travel experience significantly.
From traditional squat toilets to portable ones, there are several toilet options for backpackers. Let’s take a look at some of them.
In the realm of wilderness exploration, the humble pit toilet reigns supreme. An outdoor toilet, it’s a simple structure that utilizes a pit dug into the earth to safely and hygienically dispose of human waste. And while it may not be the most glamorous option, it’s often the only option in remote areas where plumbing is scarce.
But don’t let its basic design fool you. Pit toilets are an essential resource for backpackers and campers who are spending extended periods of time in the backcountry.
They help to minimize the impact on the environment and reduce waste buildup, making them a sustainable and responsible choice for rugged adventurers.
So if you find yourself “roughing it” in the great outdoors, rest assured that the humble pit toilet has got your back. Keywords to remember: pit toilets, outdoor toilet, human waste, remote areas, plumbing.
While pit toilets are commonly found on backpacking trails, there are some popular areas where flush toilets are available. But even if you’re lucky enough to have access to such a luxury, you still need to practice the principles of Leave No Trace.
Always follow posted guidelines near flush toilets, including proper waste disposal and use of toilet paper. And don’t take more than you need when it comes to TP- avoid unnecessary waste buildup in the system.
With a little bit of effort, you can enjoy the convenience of flush toilets while still respecting the environment. Because when it comes to backpacking, every little bit of waste management counts. Don’t leave your mark- leave no trace.
Dig A Hole In The Ground
What if you are in a remote location and there is not a pit toilet or flush toilet, what do you do?
As crude as it seems, you dig a hole in the ground and make you won outdoor pit toilet.
In this video, Miranda from REI walks you through the basics of how to answer natures call while campaing.
Here is a breakdown of the video:
- Choose a location at least 200 feet away from your camp and any water sources.
- Look for an area with privacy and natural elements like trees or branches to provide stability.
- Find loose, dark soil for easier digging and faster decomposition.
- Prepare a poop kit, including a trowel for digging a hole (6 inches deep, 4 inches wide), toilet paper, and plastic bags.
- Plan ahead and locate a suitable spot before the need becomes urgent.
- Squat over the hole to do your business, using toilet paper or natural materials like leaves.
- If using wipes, pack them out in a plastic bag; they cannot be buried.
- In areas where cat holes are not allowed, use blue bags to pick up and carry out waste.
- Bury the waste by covering the hole with soil, using a trowel or your foot, and adding sticks for camouflage.
- Practice good hygiene by using hand sanitizer or biodegradable soap to clean your hands thoroughly.
Natural Toilet Paper Alternatives
When it comes to backpacking, traditional toilet paper isn’t always the best option. Not only does it create unnecessary waste, but it can also harm the environment if not disposed of properly.
That’s where natural toilet paper alternatives come in.
By embracing Leave No Trace principles, you can find alternatives to traditional toilet paper that not only reduce waste but also minimize your impact on the environment.
From leaves and smooth rocks to snow and the backcountry bidet method, there are many natural options to choose from.
- Pair of biodegradable toilet tissue rolls, ideal for camping, backpacking, and backcountry trekking
- Coreless rolls take up less space in your pack
- Fits easily in pocket or pack so that it’s always available in case of an emergency
- Features a pull-out dispenser that keeps the soft 2-ply tissue neat, clean and Dry
- [VERSATILITY]: Aqua-Soft Toilet Tissue is designed to work with RV, marine, portable, or even with classic toilets
- [FUNCTIONALITY]: The luxurious 2-ply toilet paper is soft, snowy white, and highly absorbent
- BE PREPARED IN THE HOME OR ON THE GO: Use Portawipes compressed coin tissues anywhere. Just add a tablespoon of water and you’ve got a luxurious and hygienic wipe ready to use. In the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, garage, school or even the workplace. With the INCLUDED FREE WATERPROOF CASE, take them with you everywhere you go. Great for the outdoors, camping, hiking or out on the boat. Great for survival enthusiasts
- Includes FIVE Waterproof Cases: Take them with you everywhere you go with the included waterproof storage cases designed for the outdoors, camping, hiking or out on the boat. Great for survival enthusiasts, hunters, and campers!
But with every alternative comes caution. It’s important to properly identify and select the right materials for your needs. And make sure to always pack out any used materials to maintain the Leave No Trace mindset.
So next time you hit the backcountry, consider trying out these natural toilet paper alternatives. You’ll not only be doing your part to reduce waste, but you’ll also feel more connected to the environment around you.
How to Find a Suitable Spot for Pooping in the Backcountry
When out in the backcountry, finding a suitable spot for pooping can be a challenge. Not only do you want to be discreet and respectful of the environment, but you also want to follow leave-no-trace principles.
Here are some tips on how to find a suitable spot for pooping in the backcountry.
Check Regulations and Leave No Trace Principles
When you’re out in the backcountry, it’s essential to respect the natural environment you’re exploring.
This means checking local regulations and following Leave No Trace principles when it comes to doing your business. Ignoring these guidelines can have serious consequences, including hefty fines, significant environmental damage, and even dangerous encounters with wildlife.
So, what exactly are the Leave No Trace principles for disposing of human waste?
First and foremost, it’s crucial to dig a cathole 6-8 inches deep and at least 200 feet from any water sources, trails, campsites, or roads.
You should also pack out any feminine hygiene products or trash to ensure the area remains pristine and healthy.
If you’re camping in a large group, portable camp toilets and latrines can be a helpful solution. These are designed specifically for outdoor use and can make a big difference in reducing your environmental impact.
- Portable Travel Toilet: This portable camping bucket is designed for camping, RVing, boating, or any other recreational activity; the 5-gallon camping toilet comes with a seat and lid attachment that snaps securely onto the rim of the bucket
- Sturdy Construction: This bucket toilet is made of durable and lightweight UV-resistant polypropylene
- Comfortable and Sturdy: The newly designed elongated-shape toilet is just like the one in your home. It is higher, wider and the seat has more sitting room than the small and older round portable toilet. It makes you feel more comfortable. The portable toilet is sturdy and can hold up to 400 lbs. It is suitable for adults, kids, male, female, women and all family use.
- Easy to Carry: The portable toilet is foldable and it is perfect for camping, hiking, backpacking, beach, riding, fishing, boating, marine, traffic jam, hunting, outdoor living, construction site, long road trips and anywhere for emergencies of needing a bathroom/restroom at any time.
- UPGRADE XL PORTABLE TOILET – COMFORTABLE & STURDY: UGarden extra large Camping Toilet is made of sturdy density board and high-quality leather.Unlike cold plastic,our Porta Potty is not only strong and durable,won’t collapse easily, but also skin-friendly and softer.Compared with other toilets on the market are only 11 inches high, which is very difficult for people over 5FT.Our 2023 upgrade 16.5-inch Camping Potty is 40% taller than many toilets,and it can easily hold an adult of up to 350LBS!
- SUPER FAST SETTING – ULTRA-PORTABLE: This Portable Toilet for Camping has a unique bottom pull loop design that helps you set up and fold down in 5-8 seconds, so easy! Our Portable Folding Toilet can be fold down to only 2.75” high, also comes with a handy travel bag for easy storage and transport. Ideal for camping, traffic jam, backpacking, beach and anywhere anytime for emergencies, etc. The extremely portable design makes camp toilet takes up no space but also providing the comfort of home.
- 【HEIGHT ADJUSTABLE】 Are you looking for a portable toilet that is height adjustable and could be folded down to a small size for easy transport? Here it is! TRIPTIPS retractable portable toilet is designed with innovative fish scale structure, by which you could freely adjust any height you want from 3.14 inches to 19.7 inches within 10 steps. Whether elderly or children, men or women, can always find a comfortable height for themself.
- 【EXTRA LARGE】 As we know, the foldable toilets on the market are generally not high enough for adult men. So we increased the height of this toilet to 19.7inch, which is very suitable even for man use. In addition to this, We widened the seat cover, making you feel more comfortable when sitting on it.
In short, following local regulations and Leave No Trace principles when it comes to pooping in the backcountry is essential for protecting the environment, minimizing wildlife encounters, and avoiding fines or other consequences.
Remember to always leave no trace and keep our natural spaces clean and beautiful for future generations to enjoy.
Consider Proximity to Campsite or Trailhead and Water Sources
Choosing the perfect spot to do your business in nature requires careful consideration of several factors.
When deciding on a spot, keep in mind the proximity to your campsite or trailhead and select a location that won’t negatively impact surrounding vegetation or habitats.
It’s also essential to choose a spot at least 200 feet away from any water sources (see regulations above) to avoid any potential contamination.
Finding an area with good drainage and soft, organic soil (see below) will assist in the natural decomposition process.
And as a responsible nature lover, don’t forget to properly dispose of any used toilet paper or use natural alternatives such as biodegradable toilet paper, pine cones, or baby wipes. Sticking to these considerations will ensure a clean and safe backcountry adventure.
Look for an Area with Good Drainage and Soil Composition
When it comes to pooping in the woods without a toilet, it’s important to choose an area with good drainage and soil composition. Here’s why:
- Good drainage helps prevent your waste from staying in one spot and potentially contaminating nearby water sources.
- Soil composition can affect how quickly your waste breaks down and decomposes. Ideally, you want soil that is rich in organic matter and microorganisms that can help break down your waste naturally over time.
- Choosing an area with good drainage and soil composition can also make it easier to properly bury your waste at least 6-8 inches deep, which can further reduce the risk of contamination and prevent others from accidentally coming across your waste.
- As we’ve already mentioned, it’s important to be mindful of any regulations or guidelines in the area you plan on pooping in, as some areas may have specific requirements for waste disposal to help protect the environment and public health.
Best Practices for Pooping Outdoors
But without the comforts of a traditional bathroom, you may need some guidance for doing your business. With these best practices, you’ll be able to take care of business without leaving a trace and enjoy the beauty of nature.
We’ve already covered most of these, but it is worth repeating and explaining why these are ‘best practices.’
Choose the Right Supplies: Poop Kit, Trowel, Duct Tape, Etc.
Proper supplies always make a big difference in your hiking experience. The last thing you want is to be caught with the wrong supplies. That’s why it’s essential to choose the right gear for a successful outdoor bathroom experience.
First things first, let’s talk about the poop kit.
This handy kit includes all the essentials you need for a comfortable and hygienic poop: hand sanitizer, toilet paper, a ziploc or blue bag to pack out used toilet paper, and any additional personal items. The poop kit is a non-negotiable item that should always be on your packing list.
- DON’T GET CAUGHT WITH YOUR PANTS DOWN: The Sh!t kit comes with everything you need for those “just in case” moments while hunting, fishing, camping, backpacking, hiking, outdoors, or even for your kids
- SINGLE USE: This portable travel bathroom pack includes 4ft of 2ply toilet paper, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and a disposal bag
- THE ULTIMATE NATURE CALLS KIT: An essential item to have on your next hunt, camping out, on a jog, or just simply off the grid, be ready when nature calls
- FLEXIBLE EASY PACKAGING: Pack this kit down into compact pockets or backpacks. Take anywhere you go, you won’t be sorry you had it, if and when nature calls
- Contains patented liqsorb Super absorbent pouch that absorbs liquid waste and turns it into odorless gel
- Revolutionary “bag within bag” design (gusseted liner and zipper bag)
Next up is the trowel, which will make the digging process smooth and efficient.
A high-quality poop trowel that is lightweight and easy to carry is crucial for a successful bathroom experience in the great outdoors.
- DIMENSIONS: 6.8” H x 2.4” W x 0.8″ D and weighs 0.64 oz
- VERSATILITY: Convenient lightweight hand shovel for any outdoor adventures including camping, hiking, backpacking, hunting and even gardening
- Sturdy & Durable – Made of stainless steel which is high-strength and wear-resistant. This portable shovel trowel has passed the durability tests and our destruction tests.
- Multifunctional – This portable shovel trowel features a regular trowel doesn’t even have: Shovel, Saw, Ruler, Nail Extractor, Hex Wrench, Paracord(110 inch). It can also be used as a spare tent stake by burying this portable trowel in the dirt, sand or snow to use as a tent peg on a windy day.
- 【COMFORTABLE AND ERGONOMIC GRIP】The handle is made from comfortable and anti-slip plastic, It can be use for unexpected emergency use, don’t hurt your handsThe unique handle is designed according to the buyer’s needs.Absolutely your best choice！
- 【9 in 1 MULTI-PURPOSE】PWPAM backpacking trowel is an excellent all-around digger, it has features a regular trowel doesn’t even have: Shovel, Saw, Nail Extractor, Bottle Opener, Peeler, Ruler, Hex Wrench, Slotted Screwdriver, suitable for camping and outdoor survival.
- 𝗕𝘂𝘆𝟮𝗼𝗿𝗠𝗼𝗿𝗲, 𝗔𝘂𝘁𝗼𝗦𝗮𝘃𝗲𝟱%✅A MUST HAVE ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKING GEAR – Having a quality trowel on hand when you need it the most is a MUST. And guess what?We have just the right ultralight trowelmade out of high-quality aluminumdesigned to be resistant to rust and corrosion as well as breakageeven in wet conditions and will last a lifetime.
- ✅DIG A HOLE QUICKLY AND EFFECTIVELY – Made specifically for ultralight backpackers, this compact and lightweight ultralight multitool gear will be able to easily dig a hole into hard ground, through roots, and even through rocky soil without leaving any trace behind, which makes it perfect for most hikers and outdoor enthusiasts as well.
- All-in-one survival tool set: our camping shovel is the only tool that real survival artists must have for outdoor use. Perfect for digging, sawing, chopping, cutting, chiselling, self-defence, scraping fish scales, shoveling and cutting branches. Can also be used as nail puller, ruler, wrench, corkscrew, screwdriver. Ideal for hunting, camping, hiking, backpacking. Temporately dig a poo hole.
- Durability and high quality: our backcountry spade is made of durable and strong hardened steel. Extremely durable, rigid and with plenty of leverage. The blade is rust and scratch resistant, remains razor sharp and is easy to wash.
And let’s not forget about duct tape – the ultimate problem solver.
This versatile tape can be used to temporarily fix any gear or clothing in case of an emergency. It’s an item you don’t want to leave behind.
So, whether you’re a seasoned outdoorsman or a beginner camper, make sure to pack the essential supplies: poop kit, trowel, and duct tape.
And don’t forget about the hand sanitizer and toilet paper – your bum will thank you for it.
Dig a Hole 6-8 Inches Deep and 4-6 Inches Wide
You might think that a shallow hole would suffice for waste disposal, but when it comes to backcountry ethics, there’s more to it than that. Digging a hole 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches wide is essential for proper waste disposal.
Why so deep? A hole of this depth allows for natural decomposition of waste over time, and it also ensures that the waste remains buried and hidden from view.
Also, by digging a deeper hole, you decrease the likelihood of animals digging up and scattering the waste.
By following these instructions, you can help protect the environment, prevent contamination of water sources, and practice responsible backcountry ethics.
Dispose of Used Toilet Paper Responsibly
Protecting the great outdoors is critical, and that includes mindful disposal of used toilet paper. When it comes to dropping a deuce in the backcountry, it’s crucial to follow the best practices.
The Double Bag Strategy is the most efficient way and a go-to technique for disposing used toilet paper.
First, stash the foul TP in a small black trash bag, and then seal it in a larger ziplock bag, reducing odor and containing any mess. A simple solution that won’t detract from the adventure, keep it securely stored inside a pocket of your backpack that is not also used for food or group gear.
For the ladies on their period, tampons must feature the same double bag approach and strictly packed out. Baby wipes are ideal for reducing toilet paper usage, and we suggest non-scented wet-wipes to avoid attracting bears.
Nature has provided a more organic solution too. Choose natural resources such as leaves or smooth rocks instead of toilet paper, but be cautious about selecting leaves for comfortable wiping.
Dispose of all used materials appropriately by burying them back in your original cathole. It’s a mindful practice that’s kind to nature and ensures our beloved great outdoors are kept clean for generations to come.
Before You Go
Hiking should be a great experience. Knowing the proper regulations and protocols in the woods will help you enjoy your hike and make the most out of your experience.