[Dispersed camping on BLM Public Land in Southern Utah. Photo: Ryan Hallock] If you’re heading out in the wild on a camping trip, one of the things that you’ll need to know about is how to take a poop. Lots of people ignore this aspect of being out on the trail, however it’s definitely something which needs to be thought about.
There aren’t any bathrooms out in the woods, but that doesn’t mean you can just go anywhere. You need to be considerate about other people using the trail and also the natural environment.
I. Pack-In/Pack-Out or II. Bury It
Although animals can poop out in the natural environment, their poo has very little harmful bacteria in it. It also breaks down quite quickly. On the other hand, human poop has a lot of very harmful bacteria and it also breaks down pretty slowly if it isn’t properly dealt with.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t poop at all while you’re on a camping trip. Trying to hold it in for days on end is very bad for you and could make you very sick.
So, let’s learn how to take a poop while camping safely, legally and in a way that won’t harm others or the environment. There are only two safe ways to deal with poop out and about in the woods – to pack it out or bury it. Here, we look at how to do these things.
What Supplies Do You Need
When you’re going to the bathroom outdoors, you’re going to need some hand sanitizer and toilet paper. You could use wet wipes, but never leave these behind on the trail. Apart from the fact that they’re unhygienic, they take an incredibly long time to biodegrade.
You’ll require a Ziploc plastic bag (or a bag that can be sealed in some other way), which you can put your used wipes or toilet paper in. If you’re embarrassed about the contents of the bag, line it with aluminum foil or cover the outside of the bag with some duct tape and no one will notice.
You’ll also need some special disposal bags for human waste. You’ll find there are several times. Some are double layered and sealable with gel inside to aid absorption. Others are just simple blue bags. You should take another bag along to carry your solid waste bags around in – they’re leakproof, however you don’t want any potential accident ending up with poop all over your backpack.
Lastly, you’ll need a lightweight camping trowel for digging the cat hole.
Find The Right Spot
Head away from the campsite, trail or any water source. You should be no closer than 70 steps away. If you want to stay private, head into the underbrush, but make sure you don’t go so far away that you can’t find the trail or campsite again.Wherever possible, choose soil, which is rich and loose and which is in a sunny location. This will ensure the waste is decomposed more rapidly. Use your trowel (or if you don’t have one, you can use a rock, stick, or even the heel of your boot) to dig the hole. It should be around 4 inches in width and about 8 inches deep. When the ground is very rocky or too hard to dig, lift up a rock, go there, then put the rock back once you’re finished.
Dealing With Toilet Paper
Always use minimal toilet paper. Try wiping with leaves or other natural objects (as long as they aren’t poisonous). Put the used toilet paper, leaves or anything else you use to wipe into the hole that you’ve dug or, preferably, put the toilet paper in a human waste bag and pack it out.
Covering The Waste
Cover up the waste (together with any toilet paper you’ve used if you aren’t packing it out). Use the dirt which you removed from the hole and fill it completely back up. Tamp down using your foot and then put a branch or rock over the space. This will deter any digging creatures. If you put a stick upright into the spot it will discourage other people from using the same area as their own cat hole. Apply hand sanitizer and rub your hands together vigorously.
Using A Camping Toilet
Another, and more luxurious way, to pack it out is to use a camping toilet. While this does mean carrying extra equipment around with you, it’s more comfortable to sit on and is a little more sophisticated than squatting over a hole! If you prefer your camping to be more glamorous, you’ll find lots of excellent camping toilets featured on campingstyle.co.uk.
With these tips in mind you’ll find that the next time you need to poop on the trail you’ll know how to do it safely.