If you don’t have a bathroom in your rig, you’ll probably find yourself needing to take care of business in the woods sooner or later. After all, the best campsites don’t come with amenities. Follow these tips on how to poop in the woods, future campers and Mother Nature will thank you. Note that some National Parks such as Utah’s Canyonlands require you to pack out all your waste. In those circumstances, wilderness poop bags such as these are your best option. Additionally if you are in regions above 12,000 feet of elevation, you should always pack out your waste as poop does not biodegrade here. Check the regulations of the specific area you will be visiting and plan ahead.
Gather Your Supplies
Before heading out you’ll need a sturdy shovel or trowel, a Ziploc or brown paper bag, some TP or wet wipes, and hand sanitizer. An alternative to TP we’ve heard good things about is a hikers bidet. Here is a YouTube video, if you’re interested in learning more. We highly recommend owning a short shovel. Not only is it perfect for nature poops, but can come in handy if you ever get your rig stuck as well (don’t ask us how we know).
Location, Location, Location
Hike a decent distance away from camp. Find a spot that is at least 200 feet (about 70 steps) from any trail or water source and that is protected from view. Test a few areas with your shovel or trowel to find soil that is easy to dig. Avoid drainage areas such as washes, valleys or swamps. If you’re in the desert, be careful not to disturb any sensitive cryptobiotic soils. Check around for thorn bushes, poison ivy, etc.
Dig your Cathole
The hole you dig should be at least 6 inches deep, and at least 4 inches in diameter. You want to give yourself a good size target, especially if you’re a novice woods pooper. Save the dirt from your hole, don’t just fling it off into the woods as desperate as you might be at this point.
Assume the Position
The time has come to actually go poop in the woods. Assuming the position will get easier with practice, but it can definitely give your legs a workout at first. If squatting isn’t your thing, you could try hugging a small tree or sitting on a log. I’ve tried these methods with varying results, and typically stick with the classic.
Enjoy the View
Phew! You made it, good work. Now enjoy the view. One of my most memorable nature poops was overlooking a valley with volcanoes on the horizon in Costa Rica, so it could be a lot worse.
Hope you had great success, now cover your tracks. Place your used TP or wet wipes in the Ziploc or paper bag, don’t bury it in the hole. According to this article it can take up to three years for TP to biodegrade, so pack it in, pack it out.
TANGENT – You could argue that using a plastic Ziploc bag to store used TP in that will ultimately end up in a landfill is less environmentally friendly then just burying the TP, and you might be right. That’s why we’ve switched to using brown paper bags. We have a trasharoo, on the outside of our van, for such garbage and it’s really not bad.
If you missed the hole, use a stick, NOT YOUR SHOVEL, to push it in. Fill in your cathole with the dirt you dug out earlier and tidy up your area. The goal is to leave no trace that you were there. Sanitize your hands and head back to camp.
Hope these tips will help you to poop in the woods with great success. We’ve been to many many campsites where the presence of used TP is downright disgusting, from both an environmental perspective and our faith in humanity. Please don’t be that person who defaces nature. Access to public lands is a privilege that can be taken away if enough people abuse the land. Always practice leave no trace principles to ensure that future nature goers can enjoy the same areas you have. Subscribe to our mailing list below to be notified of new posts! Get out there and Create Your Own Roadshow!