How to poop in the woods while in the backcountry
Proper preparation is key to minimizing your impact on the environment. Before heading out, familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of the area you'll be visiting. Some national parks and wilderness areas have specific guidelines for human waste disposal. Research these guidelines and follow them accordingly.
Use Established Toilets When Available
In some popular camping areas, you'll find established toilets or outhouses. Always opt for these facilities when available, as they are designed to contain and treat waste properly. Using these facilities helps reduce the environmental impact.
If you're on an extended camping trip or hiking in a remote area where there are no established toilets, consider carrying a portable toilet or a toilet kit. These kits typically include a portable toilet seat, biodegradable waste bags, and chemicals that help break down waste. When using a portable toilet, follow the manufacturer's instructions and be sure to pack out the waste in a responsible manner.
The Cathole Method
When you're hiking in a wilderness area without established toilets or portable options, the cathole method is an acceptable way to dispose of human waste. Here's how to do it:
a. Find a suitable location: Choose a spot that's at least 200 feet (about 70 adult steps) away from water sources, campsites, and trails. This helps prevent contamination of water bodies and minimizes the risk of encounters with other campers.
b. Dig a hole: Use a small trowel or a specialized poop scoop to dig a hole approximately 6 to 8 inches deep. The hole should be wide enough to comfortably accommodate your waste.
c. Do your business: Use the cathole for your waste disposal, and remember to bring toilet paper or a suitable substitute like biodegradable wipes.
d. Cover and disguise: After you've finished, carefully cover the hole with soil and natural materials like leaves or sticks to disguise it. This helps prevent animals from digging up the waste.
Pack Out Toilet Paper and Hygiene Products
Toilet paper and hygiene products are not biodegradable and can take a long time to break down in the wilderness. Always pack these items out in a sealed plastic bag. There are specialized "wag bags" designed for this purpose that can contain both waste and toilet paper.
Wash Your Hands
Maintaining proper hygiene is essential in the outdoors. After you've finished, wash your hands thoroughly using biodegradable soap and water if it's available. If water is scarce, use hand sanitizer.
Leave No Trace
The Leave No Trace principles should always be followed. These principles include minimizing your impact on the environment, respecting wildlife, and preserving the natural beauty of the wilderness. Dispose of waste responsibly, and be sure to pack out everything you bring with you, leaving no trace of your visit.
Knowing how to poop in the woods while camping and hiking is an important skill that ensures you have a positive outdoor experience while minimizing your impact on the environment. By following these guidelines and respecting the principles of Leave No Trace, you can enjoy the beauty of nature while leaving it as pristine as you found it for future generations to enjoy.