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Poop Week: Real Talk on a Backcountry Basic

Posted by Loren Drummond at Jul 29, 2014 05:25 PM |

Welcome to Poop Week, the week where we get real about No. 2. From diapers to dogs, the conservation science of scat to the best backcountry privies in Washington, we're digging into the subject of poop on trail all week long.

Welcome to Poop Week, the week where we get real about No. 2. From diapers to dogs, the conservation science of scat to the best backcountry privies in Washington, we're digging into the subject of poop on trail all week long.

First up, the basics:

Doing your duty: a Leave No Trace basic

So you find yourself miles away from the modern conveniences of indoor plumbing, and you're not sure how or where to go to the bathroom. Never fear—disposing of human waste when you're hiking doesn't have to be gross or a chore.

Doing it right is important for a number of reasons, including keeping water sources clean and keeping someone else from stumbling across your waste (a more common situation than you might think).

When you've got to go, here's how:

Use a pit toilet or privy. Many popular backcountry camps offer pit toilets. If one is available, use it. Pit toilets are the most sanitary option and help prevent the pollution of camping areas and water sources.

If no toilet is available, then you will need to dig a cat hole:

  • Choose a site at least 200 feet from water, trailheads, trails or your camp.
  • Using a small trowel, a stick or your heel, dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep in which to do your business and bury your waste.

What to do with toilet paper:

  • Option 1. Don't use any! Snow (the wilderness bidet!), smooth stones or soft vegetation can be a great replacement to toilet paper. Plus, it's one less thing to carry with you.
  • Option 2. Pack it out. Use a resealable bag (double bagged or wrapped in duck tape) to pack out your used toilet paper.
  • Option 3. Bury it correctly. If you forgot a bag, then use just a few non-perfumed sheets of TP, and bury it completely with your waste in your cat hole.

Learn more

Get into the finer points of this Leave No Trace basic with the resources below. When do you need to pack it out? When and where should you bury your business following Leave No Trace principles? Watch the video below, and learn how to do it right.

 

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