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Going to the Bathroom in the Woods 101

Going to the bathroom in the wild. What do I need? Do I need to pack out my waste? How? I'm going on a multi-day trip and am not sure what I need.


Going to the bathroom in the wild. What do I need? Do I need to pack out my waste? How? I’m going on a multi-day trip and am not sure what I need.

Submitted by - William, New York, NY


A bunch of years back, there was a book that was all the rage: “How To Sh*t In the Woods” by Kathleen Meyers. Aside from a catchy title that was sure to sell many copies, the book also had some good advice.

But, really, do I need to read 128 pages about this? Nope. The stack on my nightstand is already too high. Plus, it’s really pretty simple.

1. Your favorite tp and/or baby wipes

2. A trowel for digging a cathole (optional, especially if you’ll be on soft ground). But for hardpack or rocky, rooty terrain, the Handy Scoop from Montbell (left) is my favorite because it’s super light, packable, cheap, and rugged

3. A couple of freezer weight zipper lock bags (one for soiled wipage material, the other to hold all your potty materials)

4. Hand sanitizer

Step One: Pick your spot, at least 200 feet away from any body of water, trail, or campsite. Nice view is a bonus. Some people like to arrange themselves so that they have something to rest their but on—like a couple of rocks or a log. Not me. I like the exercise that comes from a nice, low squat.

Step Two: Dig a hole at least 6 inches deep and about 8 inches across.

Step Three: Make your deposit.

Step Four: Wipe away. In my opinion, baby wipes do a much better job than toilet paper. Pack all wiping material in it’s own baggie (don’t bury it; that’s so uncool).

Step Five: Fill in your cathole completely with soil.

Step SIx: For god’s sake, sterilize your hands!

Simple as that. Oh, by the way… regarding outhouses. As unpleasant as they are to use (trust me, nobody hates a freaking outhouse as much as I do), if there is one available, use it. It’s there to concentrate the waste for a reason. —Kristin


  1. 5 Olympic National Park Backpacking Trips Perfect for Kids - ThurstonTalk

    […] The second issue that needs to be addressed quickly, before your trip starts, is how to deal with waste while backpacking. All garbage needs to be packed out, including peels of fruit. The wilderness of Olympic is a diverse ecosystem that is mostly full of local species of animals and plants. Please do not mess with this by leaving orange peels or any other trash out in nature. Pack it in, pack it out, and help keep wilderness wild. There have been closures of a few areas in Olympic already this year due to careless hikers leaving food and trash around. Be a good steward of the land and carry everything out. Also, when using this bathroom in the woods, please follow these excellent tips from […]

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