Backcountry Toilet Fundamentals


toilet paper placed on a tree branch in the backcountry

What issues many novice backpackers or hikers much more than bears and blisters is, “How do I am going to the toilet within the woods?” Relaxation assured, it’s one thing people have been doing for millennia. Earlier than you go, ensure you do the next first:

Study Go away No Hint ethics. Among the finest issues you are able to do on your fellow campers is to depart the bottom as clear or cleaner than you discovered it.

Discover out if there are any rules on human waste within the space the place you’re going. Some high-elevation, delicate or closely traveled areas require individuals to pack out stable human waste.

Past that, there are some vital pointers to comply with, so let’s dig proper in.

Store Camp Toilet Provides

How you can Pee within the Backcountry

Select a spot that’s effectively away out of your path or campsite. A gaggle could select to designate separate places for males’s and girls’s “toilet” amenities. When selecting your particular spot, maintain the next in thoughts relying on the place you might be:

  • Small our bodies of water: By no means go straight right into a small pond, stream or lake. At all times transfer 200 ft (about 70 steps) away from a water supply.
  • Giant our bodies of water: In case you’re in a rafting group tenting alongside a really massive river, Go away No Hint recommends peeing straight within the water; the river quantity will dilute it, and the tenting space avoids getting over-saturated.
  • Alpine areas: Up excessive in mountain goat territory, peeing on a rock floor is advisable. Goats are drawn to the salts in urine, and will dig up fragile vegetation to get the salt.

Toilet Suggestions for Ladies

Listed here are some ideas particularly for the women. (Plus, see our article on Backpacking With Your Interval for extra data.)

  • In case you can, discover a mushy spot of earth that absorbs shortly (pine needles are good) so that you received’t get splashed. A large stance helps you keep balanced if you squat. Be sure that your pants, boot laces, straps, and many others. are effectively out of the best way and take note of which method the bottom slopes and ensure you’re uphill so any stream runs away from you.
  • On a day hike, carry a pair wads of bathroom paper or tissue and a small zip-top plastic bag. Put the used bathroom paper within the bag and dump the paper in your bathroom if you get house.
  • Whereas backpacking, some ladies desire to “shake dry” or use a bandana as a “pee rag.” Tie the bandana to the surface of your pack to dry it out, and rinse it when you may.
  • In chilly or wet climate, or in a desert or alpine space the place there’s little to no privateness, attempt utilizing a ladies’s pee funnel. You need to use this standing up (apply at house earlier than your journey). Rinse it if doable, and carry it in a plastic bag.
  • In case you’re sleeping in a tent and don’t wish to exit within the chilly of night time, you should utilize a pee funnel and a bottle that you simply designate for this goal (positively apply this at house first). Shut the bottle and place it simply outdoors your tent. Within the morning, dump it out within the bushes away from camp.
  • If there’s not a lot privateness the place you might be, you too can squat with a light-weight sarong, towel or climbing skirt wrapped loosely round you. Or, if you happen to’re climbing with somebody, that individual can act as a lookout and warn you of any approaching hikers (and vice versa).

How you can Poop within the Backcountry

Earlier than you head to your out of doors relaxation cease, ensure you have the provides you want with you and know the right methods to comply with.

Provides: Along with the fundamentals—bathroom paper and hand sanitizer—you’ll wish to carry alongside the next as wanted:

  • Sealable plastic bag: In some areas you’ll be required to pack out your used bathroom paper (and even when it is not required, it is nonetheless the perfect apply for reducing your impression on the land). If you wish to disguise the contents, you may line the bag with aluminum foil, cowl it with duct tape or draw everlasting marker designs.
  • Camp trowel: Many are very light-weight and will be useful for digging a cat gap.
  • Stable waste baggage: Some high-elevation, delicate or closely traveled areas require individuals to pack out stable human waste. In that case, you need to carry human waste disposal baggage. There are just a few completely different sorts: some are easy plastic baggage often known as “blue baggage,” others are sealable, double-layer baggage containing gel for absorption. Perform the baggage in your pack; they’re purported to be leakproof, however place them in one other plastic bag to be protected.

Discover an applicable spot:

  • Carry your provides 200 ft (70 steps) from a path, campsite or water supply. Select underbrush for privateness if you happen to like, and spot your environment to ensure you will discover your method again to your camp or path.
  • If doable, discover free, wealthy soil and a sunny website. Each of those circumstances assist decompose waste extra shortly. Use a trowel, stick, rock or boot heel to make a gap about four inches extensive and 6 to eight inches deep.
  • If the bottom is just too arduous or rocky to dig, attempt lifting a rock and use that spot. Change the rock if you’re performed. Or carry your waste out in a bag.

illustration of where to poop in the backcountry

Managing bathroom paper:

  • Use as little bathroom paper as doable. To scale back your use of TP, you may wipe off with pure objects comparable to massive leaves (be certain that they’re not toxic), clean stones and even snowballs. Ensure you have your chosen merchandise helpful beforehand.
  • Drop your TP and/or the pure gadgets you used within the gap; higher but, place TP in a waste bag to pack out.
  • Pre-moistened wipes will be good to make use of every so often, however don’t drop them within the gap; they must be packed out in your waste bag (as do menstrual provides).

The quilt-up:

  • Cowl the waste (together with any TP if you happen to’re not packing it out) with the unique dust and utterly fill the opening. Tamp it down along with your foot. Place a rock or department over the house to discourage digging critters. You possibly can place an upright stick in it to discourage the subsequent people in want of a gap.
  • Lastly, use some sanitizer in your arms and rub vigorously, listening to fingers.

Backcountry Hygiene Suggestions

backcountry bathroom toolkit, including toilet paper and hand sanitizer

Unwashed arms can result in intestinal illnesses throughout or after your journey. Listed here are some tricks to maintain your arms clear within the backcountry, when water is probably not available:

Private hygiene ideas:

  • Carry hand sanitizer gel (or wipes, which have to be packed out). At all times use it after you poop and earlier than dealing with meals. Cleaning soap and water and the bodily act of rubbing could be a extra thorough option to wash arms. However the rubbing motion with sanitizers could have the identical outcome.
  • Whereas backpacking, it’s a good suggestion to completely wash your arms at the very least as soon as a day with cleaning soap and water.
  • Dry your arms with a special towel or bandana than you employ for drying dishes.

Maintaining the atmosphere clear:

On longer outings, you could take pleasure in a full-body wash, or at the very least going for a swim. Listed here are some tricks to maintain water sources clear:

  • By no means lather up straight in a lake or stream. Not even with biodegradable cleaning soap—it may hurt aquatic life.
  • Use a transportable camp sink (or cooking pot) to hold bathing water far (at the very least 200 ft) from a water supply.
  • In case you select to make use of cleaning soap, be certain that it’s unscented and biodegradable.
  • Earlier than swimming, wash off any sunscreen and bug repellent out of your pores and skin; these chemical substances can badly pollute a small pond or stream.
  • After washing, pour your soiled water on dust, fairly than on crops or lichen-covered rocks.
  • Contemplate carrying a small, fast-drying pack towel.


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