How to Poop in the Woods

So it’s a nice sunny day and you’ve been out on the trail hiking since 6 am. You had a nice breakfast on the trail well enjoying all the scenery and noises of the wilderness. It’s now 10 am and your bowels are telling you that you had better find a toilet somewhere because things are about to get ugly. What do you do? There’s no bathroom, no toilet, nothing to hold your toilet paper and no doors for privacy, what are you going to do? Somebody might see you, and that would be beyond embarrassing. You become paranoid and look all around as if there are people lurking in the woods behind every tree and bush just waiting to catch you pooping in the woods. It’s amazing the games our own minds play on us.

First off you don’t have to be paranoid; nobody wants any part of catching you in the act. Really! If you learn a few simple rules about pooping in the wilderness you won’t have to have any worries about being on display. This is another one of those skills that you should learn ahead of time. I’m not telling you to go poop outside your home, although if you have close bothersome neighbors I’m sure they will leave you alone after seeing you practicing this skill! What I am saying is to learn proper rules and techniques ahead of time. You should know what you have to do and how before you actually need to do it. Learn local laws for disposal of toilet paper. In some areas you are not allowed to bury toilet paper in the ground and will have to burn it or pack it out. Here are some basic rules for pooping in the woods.

Rules for Pooping In the Woods

• Find a spot that is AT LEAST 200 feet from any water source, trail or campsite. (further away would be better for privacy and water sources)
• Dig a hole that is about 6”s around and 6-8”s deep.
• If using toilet paper, buy some that is made for decomposing quickly in the wilderness. (buy at any sporting goods store)
• Find a good tree to lean against or a large downed tree that you can sit on the edge of. (this will make it much easier than just squatting over a hole since most people are used to sitting on a toilet)
• Fill in the hole when you are done and place either some sticks or stones on top. (This will warn others not to dig in this area and will help discourage animals from digging it up as well)
• Wash your hands with a trail soap or natural soap and rinse over bare sand or soil that can easily dissipate the water. (Soap is better than just using a hand sanitizer)

There are many natural options to use instead of toilet paper. You can use leaves, pine cones (sounds fun), stones, large twigs and shells. Whatever you use make sure it is not poisons or will irritate your skin.

You want to have good hygiene when in the wilderness. Good Hygiene doesn’t mean that you have to bath or shower every day, but it does mean that you are washing your hands after you poop in the woods, Every Time. A lot of campers and hikers get stomach illnesses because of fecal contamination and not because of contaminated water. By just washing your hands more often, with a natural soap or liquid trail soap, you will save yourself a lot of pain and discomfort. Do not dispose of soapy water in a water source and do not use a fresh water source to wash your hands in. Carry whatever water you are using to wash with at least 200 ft away from any water source. Wash and rinse with the water and dispose of it over soil or sandy ground, not on rocks or vegetation.

If done properly you can go away proud of your new learned skill satisfied in a “job” well done. You can walk proudly down the trail knowing that you have good hygiene, nobody spotted you in “the act” and with happy bowels. If you spend any good amount of time in the wilderness, before long you will become a pro and even come up with your very own techniques for pooping in the wilderness. Do you become anxious or embarrassed when you have to “go” in the wilderness? What special tricks do you use or have learned that might help others?

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