Backpacking Tips Travelling

How to Poop in the Woods: A Backpacker's Guide



Bears do it, rabbits do it, heck, even lizards do it. So what’s so mistaken with a human taking a turd within the woods and leaving it to the weather? What’s so particular about human poop that deserves burial? Properly, it turns on the market are a number of good explanation why you must bury your scat. And sadly, improperly buried human waste (and dirty rest room paper) is by far the most typical type of air pollution we discover within the wilderness. It’s unhappy, however very true.

With greater than 2 million hikers and backpackers roaming the backcountry at any given time, it’s crucial that all of us use a accountable and protected technique for pooping within the woods. In response to Depart No Hint, correct disposal of human waste is essential to keep away from air pollution of water sources, reduce the potential for spreading illness, and maximize the speed of decomposition. Nevertheless it’s additionally simply plain gross to hike round an space the place human feces and items of used rest room paper are unfold in all places.


Why it’s an issue

The issue of human waste within the outdoor was highlighted final Might when a glacial geologist with the Nationwide Park Service advised the Related Press that North America’s tallest summit, Denali (20,310 ft), is being inundated with poo luggage that climbers and hikers pitch into crevasses en path to the height. The glaciologist, Michael Loso, says an estimated 215,000 kilos of excrement fills crevasses on the Kahiltna Glacier, the busiest path within the Denali Wilderness. Loso has studied the waste buildup and says it stays shut sufficient to the glacier’s floor to stay slightly below freezing; many strains of micro organism thrive on this setting. The Related Press stories that it might probably migrate to different space as local weather change brings larger ice soften and pushes the poo’s micro organism and parasites into nearer proximity to animals and people.

And this drawback shouldn’t be unique to glaciers. Listed here are a mess of explanation why improper human downloads is a rising issues in our wilderness areas:

  1. People don’t eat as pure of meals as animals. A number of our meals is processed and has traces of issues not present in nature, which may find yourself within the soil, or engaging to curious or ravenous animals.

  2. A heavy rain or snow soften can ship poo pathogens into waterways, ponds and even sinkholes that animals use for consuming water. Research present human waste is a a serious contributor to the prevalence of giardia in wilderness groundwater.

  3. Individuals who don’t bury their poop are additionally not burying their rest room paper. And nothing is extra disgusting than the annual summer time TP bloom that happens round July when wildlands get their most guests. Belief us, we see it ever yr, almost in all places we go.

  4. Tenting close to or by accident discovering another person’s poop is simply plain smelly and gross. That’s not the expertise hikers are in search of once they head out for peace and tranquility in a ravishing backcountry location.

How you can Correctly Poop within the Outside

As you’re packing in your subsequent backcountry journey, one in every of your key issues ought to be a correct waste disposal plan. A part of that plan shall be addressing every of the subjects under.

 Image provided by

Picture offered by


Right here’s our strategies for what to search for in terms of discovering the most effective place to drop trou within the outside:

  • A spot that’s at the least 200 ft (that’s about 70 paces) from all water sources, trails or campsites.

  • A much less traveled spot close to thick undergrowth, downed timber, or on a hillside.

  • A number of spots over a large space – in case your tenting with a gaggle in the identical space for multiple night time. As LNT states: “do not go to the identical place twice.”

  • Search for a website with complicated soil (darkish and wealthy in shade) or an elevated spot the place water doesn’t usually journey throughout a rainstorm, and will get most daylight (which aids decomposition).

  • Within the desert, search for an space devoid of seen earlier water stream (like dry sandy washes that flood throughout rainstorms). It also needs to have robust solar publicity (like south-facing slopes and ridge tops). The solar’s warmth will penetrate desert soil a number of inches deep, so it could possibly ultimately kill poop pathogens.


Right here’s a run down of your choices, and the place and when to decide on one over one other.


Once you’re staying in a backcountry campground and there’s an outhouse on website – use it. Many are engineered to be extremely environment friendly compositors and aren’t as smelly as you’d anticipate. And a few even have magnificent views! Utilizing an outhouse whereas within the backcountry accommodates human waste to a selected space, which is actually necessary.

 A scenic pit toilet in glacier national park

A scenic pit rest room in glacier nationwide park


When no outhouse is current, digging a cathole is probably the most extensively accepted technique of backcountry human waste disposal. The professionals are that they’re straightforward to dig in most areas, assist disperse the poo quite than focus it in a single space, they usually cover your waste in order that nobody else must encounter it. However the sluggish decomposition price means you have to select the right location, removed from water, campsites, and different often used locations. Additionally, digging an excellent gap has rather a lot to do with the spot you decide to dig. We extremely advocate backpacking with a trowel (or perhaps a snow stake) to dig a very good cathole.

 diagram of a proper cathole - lnt. org

diagram of a correct cathole – lnt. org

  • Discover an applicable place a minimum of 200 ft from all water sources, trails or campsites.

  • Use a trowel or snow stake to dig a cathole 6-Eight inches deep (concerning the size of the trowel blade) and Four-6 inches in diameter.

  • When completed, fill the opening with the filth you dug out and disguise it with a handful of rocks or lifeless vegetation (leaves, tree branches, and so on). Don’t place an enormous rock on it as that may make it more durable for the warmth of the solar to get to the poo to assist break it down.

  • Should you haven’t used biodegradable rest room paper, you will have to pack out your dirty TP. Which will sound gross, nevertheless it’s actually not that dangerous. Merely fold your used rest room paper, place it in a separate ziplock, and carry it out as trash.

  • Additionally, don’t burn your rest room paper; you’d be stunned how straightforward it’s to start out a wildfire.


Packing out your waste is probably the most environmentally pleasant technique. That stated, you will be hard-pressed to seek out many backpackers who’re utilizing this technique until it’s mandated by the wilderness space. Obligatory “carry-everything-out” packages truly began again within the 1980s, and a few areas require this technique of waste disposal to this present day.

Business “WAG luggage” are a really helpful product once you’re touring in an space that requires you to pack out all human waste. They’re straightforward to make use of and never almost as gross as you may assume. Remember that most individuals poop about as soon as a day, so plan accordingly in your journey.


Listed here are some widespread methods for squatting and efficiently depositing:

THE SQUAT – Place your ft aside to discover a good stability, pull your pants right down to your knees and acquire a backside out low squat place. Use a hand to tug your pants ahead to maintain them out of the road of fireside.  

THE THRONE – Search for a tree on a slight hill and go to the uphill dealing with aspect in order that the whole lot runs away from you. Plant your ft firmly, press your again towards a tree (your thighs ought to be precisely parallel to the bottom).

THE TRIPOD – Discover a tree with a reasonably slender but sturdy trunk. Seize maintain, grip it tightly, and lean again right into a squat. Your ft must be close to the bottom of the tree.

THE ASSIST – Search for a fallen log or a tree stump, you’ll be able to principally sit down on it. Scoot again over it, cling your rear off it so far as you’ll be able to with out falling off and go for it.




Rest room paper must be used sparingly. We advocate utilizing plain, white, non-perfumed biodegradable rest room paper in case you are dedicated to utilizing a correct cathole method and plan to bury it. All the time ensure you know the laws within the space you’re mountaineering, as some locations require you pack out all used rest room paper. The perfect and most foolproof means to make sure you depart no hint is to pack out your TP in a resealable plastic bag.

When used appropriately, pure rest room paper (leaves, clean rocks, snow, and so on.) is simply as sanitary as rest room paper. Is it the best choice environmentally? That is determined by which skilled or land supervisor you ask. The most important concern with pure supplies is the danger of contaminating your arms and never having quick access to scorching water and cleaning soap to take away it. No matter you do, don’t overlook to wash your palms completely after you end up. Hand sanitizer is a vital device for any backcountry journey and ought to be used typically.

What about Urine?

Human urine is far much less harmful than human fecal matter. That stated, human urine can nonetheless trigger issues within the backcountry. For instance, some animals completely crave salts (goats and deer for instance). So it’s pretty widespread to see them change their pure conduct to hold round areas the place people frequent. Once they discover human urine, they go nuts for it, digging up the dust, damaging flora, and sometimes turning into an enormous nuisance.

That is one other essential reminder that even small human actions have impacts on the pure order, so listed here are some good tips to comply with:

  • For urinating, decide a spot 200 ft away from campsites and water sources as a courtesy to different people.

  • Pee on a big flat rock, gravel, or pine needles when you possibly can. It will assist disperse the urine and hold it away from vegetation, which salt loving animals might destroy.

  • One other solution to scale back pee impacts is to dilute urine with a sprig of water from a water bottle to assist reduce destructive results.

 LNT - This is all that should be left behind

LNT – That is all that ought to be left behind


You’re keen on the outside. That is why you are on the market, and doubtless why you’re studying this submit. So please assist maintain our wilderness areas pristine for years to return. Improperly buried human waste just isn’t solely extraordinarily gross, it’s additionally one of many largest air pollution issues our nationwide parks are dealing with.

So please, all the time backpack with a sturdy trowel, dig deep catholes, use biodegradable rest room paper, and both burry your TP throughly, or pack it out and throw it away. If all of us do our half, we may help maintain our parks lovely for generations to return.

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