Ah, the timeless allure of back country camping, hiking and climbing. For the hardcore adventurer, there’s nothing like pitching your tent next to a babbling brook, sleeping under the stars . . . and learning how to poop in the woods.
Love the back country? Learn how to poop in the woods.
Anyone who enjoys back country activities will eventually be forced to answer nature’s call au naturel. Unfortunately most back country lovers are clueless about the best ways to pee and poop in the woods, which puts everyone at risk when improperly contained poo piles are left to bake in the sun or contaminate water sources.
The reality is, you’ve gotta deal with doodie when you hit the trail in the great outdoors. What used to be acceptable when you were a Scout is no longer ethical as millions of more people travel the same trails you love.
According to the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, old poop disposal tips like the smear method are not OK anymore and even burying your turds will put you at risk of digging into someone else’s poop.
As gross as it is to imagine handling and carrying your own poop. it’s even more disgusting to encounter the solid waste of previous campers. If you consider yourself a responsible, ethical back country lover, it’s up to you to break the poop cycle. Here’s how you can do it:
1. Whiz away from water.
According to Ben Lawhon, education director for the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, taking a whiz in the outdoors has less environmental ramifications. Lawhon told Trailspace.com that there’s no need to pack it out, just remember to urinate at least 200 feet from campsites, water sources, and trails.
2. Dig a proper cathole.
A digging trowel is required gear for every back country explorer – even day hikers – since you never know when nature will call. How you use it will depend on the terrain you’re in: typical woodlands with rich soils are OK for digging catholes at least 70 steps away from water and six to eight inches deep. Just don’t bury or burn your TP, which is an out-of-favor practice among the most astute and responsible outdoor lovers.
Don’t even think of hitting the trail without a trowel.
NEVER dig in sensitive areas like deserts, above treeline or in the snow, which cannot break down human waste as quickly. This type of terrain demands that you take matters into your own hands by moving on to the final step:
3. Pack it out.
As legal requirements for dealing with poop in the woods become more stringent, it’s smart to get used to the idea of taking your poop along on the hike. If you don’t, you’ll get slapped with fines in places like Yosemite. You can try to make your own portable poop carrying systems, but it’s easier and less smelly to spend the few bucks for commercial products like the Go Anywhere toilet kit.
The most sanitary, safe, environmentally-friendly, portable toilet solution available – complete with toilet paper and hand sanitizer – prevents spread of disease with no spills, splashbacks or waste contact. This toilet kit is the only solution that traps, encapsulates, deodorizes and breaks down waste with a NASA-developed gelling agent. Use it, seal it and toss it in normal trash.
Each kit includes:
- Waste bag.
- Poo Powder® gelling/deodorizing agent.
- Secure puncture-resistant zip-close disposal bag.
- Individual toilet paper.
- Hand wipe.
For a comprehensive and current guide to dealing with human poop in the woods (and other unique outdoor places), check out the Trailspace.com article, Human Waste Disposal in the Backcountry: How to pee and poop in the woods.