When you gotta go, you gotta go! But How do you Poop while hiking or remote camping?
How many times have you been hiking or backpacking, and you’ve been caught short?
The call of nature can catch one off guard almost any time and any place, and this is entirely natural!
But how can you deal with what would typically be a casual trip to the loo when you’re out amongst the trees and the bees (and possibly extra eyes?)?
There are so many questions arising from this subject, often sending you into a blind panic!
For a lot of people, nothing but a sparkling porcelain throne will do!
But, believe it or not, not having a “suitable” toilet to hand will put many people off hiking full stop, completely disregarding the activity altogether based on the lack of facilities!
So how can you overcome this issue?
Well, fear not! Let’s look at the crucial dos and don’ts of toileting when in the open air!
Table of Contents
How Do You Poop While Hiking or Wild Camping?
Firstly, if you have to go, you have to go!!
This is the #1 fundamental rule with nature, and no amount of love nor money can change it. You may actually find the frequency of needing to go increases due to a higher amount of physical exertion, so keep that in mind too!
It’s also worth noting that trying to avoid using a makeshift toilet and holding everything in can cause you serious long-term health complications. So all we can do in the wilderness is make the best of the moment to get back to the hiking we love!
Several options are suitable for this kind of activity:
If you’re following a designated nature trail for hikers and public visitors, then chances are you’ll come across several specific toilet spots along the designated route.
This will grant you some privacy, and they are the best toilet substitute you will find in the circumstances!
Simply go in, do your business, then apply another layer of compost to cover and conceal, then your job is done!
Yes, you read correctly!
There are five items that should always be in your backpack to ensure you always have the means to poo on the go! These are:
- Zip Lock Bags- For Containment!
- Wet Wipes- For Cleaning without water!
- Loo Roll- For Cleaning!
- A Designated Poo Trowel- For scooping, you’ll understand why!
- Hand Sanitiser- For Hygiene!
It is possible to buy all these items as a kit, but it’s also just as easy to acquire them separately.
You will find them all essential for so many things, especially for needing the toilet on the hike!
This is where you will undoubtedly need your poo kit from the previous section!
When using the items listed in the “Poo Kit,” it’s great to imagine yourself as a cat (stay with it, I promise it will make sense!), and you have to dig a hole in a small litter tray.
Top Tip: Make sure your private spot is 100m from any freshwater source!
Before you are ready, dig a small hole at least 6” deep, then commence doing what you need to do. Wipe your behind but put the toilet paper in one of the pre-prepared zip-lock bags (you can’t leave that in your toilet- hole!)
You can finish then cover your poo with twigs, leaves, and soil to cover and conceal, and finally, please don’t forget to thoroughly wash your hands! This may not be easy given that you may be miles from anywhere, but a little bottled water, a good going over with wet wipes, followed by hand sanitiser, will do the trick!
There are some woods and trails where there will be a “Leave No Trace” policy.
As you’ve already guessed, that means you’re required to carry all personal effects and litter around with you…including your poo!
This is where it is worth knowing about why hikers carry baking paper with them!
Baking paper can be absolutely crucial in these circumstances! This is to lay down underneath you before you “Go,” and given that it has a resistant barrier, you can scoop everything up in the paper and pop it in one of the zip-lock bags you always carry with you!
Now, not everywhere will require you to carry around your solids; however, it’s always worth carrying an extra sheet of baking paper or two!
How Do You Pee While Hiking?
Going for a wee is slightly more straightforward while you’re out in the woods or hiking.
There’s no general rulebook when you need to pee while hiking; however, there are a couple of things you need to take into full consideration.
- Walk at least 50 feet away from the trail when trying to find a private hiding.
- Keep at the very least 200 feet away from any water source.
- While emptying your bladder, try and aim for some soil or rocks and keep off the plants.
Of course, if you are a woman and you’re not comfortable just letting it go, you can buy simple devices to assist in the ease of being able to pee anywhere, such as the she-wee and Pee-Kerchief.
How Do You Dispose Of Human Waste When Hiking?
As we mentioned earlier, there are several ways to dispose of your human waste or pack your waste away once you’ve finished.
These filter into two categories; Human Waste & Soiled Items.
Whether it’s pee or poo or both! You need to make 100% sure that you don’t go near any water source and you keep a fair distance away from any trail that others can walk.
This is out of respect to other hikers who may be following you AND applies for when you’re having a number 2.
Nature matters too, so don’t deliberately go near the water!
An additional precaution is digging a hole! Roughly 15cm deep, once you’ve finished, cover it back up. See Dig-A-Hole-Toileting above
Both products produced by the human body are natural for the environment, hence why you can go relatively freely in the wilderness.
You need to remember that you can NOT leave toilet tissue or sanitary items anywhere that isn’t a designated disposal point.
These items are not biodegradable like human waste and can be considered a bio-hazard.
For these elements, always make sure you have a supply of zip lock bags handy, as you will have to keep them with you until you can dispose of them correctly.
How do you poop on the Appalachian Trail?
This is one of the most beautiful trails in the world and one of the best-equipped ones for toileting along the route!
All of the campsites along the way and the designated shelter areas have “privies,” which are like little sheds.
The volunteers of the trail will build and maintain the toilet areas, and there will be information about the best ways to use the facilities, such as:
- Throwing in a handful of bark after use
- Not urinating in the privy
- No throwing rubbish in the privy.
As a designated trail, the facilities and maintenance are very good given the wilderness circumstances!
So there we have the best ways of going to the toilet when there is no toilet!
Make sure you are prepared! This is the biggest weapon you will have in your armory, whether you are camping in the wilderness or hiking the many trails of the world!
Stay Safe, Stay Private, and Stay Hygienic!