How to poop in the woods? What!? For those that grew up in the outdoors, knowing how to use the bathroom in the woods is a no brainer; something we never thought of. It just comes naturally. For others though, it can be what keeps them from hiking long miles or camping overnight.
So how do you poop in the woods? Is there certain bathroom etiquette that should be followed? Why yes, yes there is.
Backcounty Bathroom Supplies
Before we get into how to poop in the woods, let’s first talk about the supplies you will need to have a happy pooping good time =) Men and Women vary in what they need, but it is all basically the same. The following should be part of the 15 items you should always carry with you on a hike.
Shovel – A small lightweight shovel for digging a hole to poop in. Trust me, you want this! It is so much easier than trying to use a stick, rock, or trekking pole to dig that hole.
TP/Baby Wipes – I prefer baby wipes because it really gets that poo off. Remember any poo left behind will cause itching and chafing. As a woman, I do not wipe for #1, instead, I use a portable bidet to rinse.
Portable Bidet – If you are savvy enough and don’t mind using your hand to rinse your lovely crack, you could use a backcountry bidet instead of TP/Baby Wipes for #2. It’s not for me, so I use wipes, but I do use a Nutty Hiker version of a backcountry bidet for rinsing off after #1.
FUD aka Female Urination Device aka Pee Funnel – Women this is for you! Forget squatting and pissing all over your feet, grab a FUD which will let you pee like a guy. Tip: practice at home in the shower before using it for the first time, don’t ask me how I know.
Gallon Ziploc Bag – This will be used as your trash bag. You will need to pack out all TP/Wipes, even if they say biodegradable. You may have heard it is ok to bury your TP, but read below on why that is a bad idea. Tip: Add some coffee grounds to help with the smell if you’re sensitive to it.
Backcountry Bathroom Etiquette
When you use the bathroom in the woods, there is such a thing as backcountry bathroom etiquette that needs to be followed whether you are going #1 or #2!
- Do your business away from the trail, water sources, and camp areas. How far? 200 feet (appx 70 steps) for poo and 100 feet for pee (200 feet near water sources).
- Pack out your TP. While it’s commonly taught that you can bury your TP, the gross truth is animals like to dig it up and your poop covered TP ends up all over the trail and woods for others to see. It’s gross, just pack it back out with you!
- Put a stick in it. After you have pooped, stirred in some dirt and buried it, put a stick in it sticking out of the ground. It’s universal code for “hey there is poop buried here”.
- If there is a privy, use it. These are backcountry outhouses maintained by volunteers typically seen on places like the Appalachian Trail (what a crappy job).
- Don’t leave your crap behind if you are in a no crap area. Say what? Some areas such as above treeline (high elevation), high use areas, and sensitive areas require that you pack your poop out with you in a human solid waste bag. Find out the regulation before you head out.
How to Poop in the Woods
Well, the time has come, your miles in and no bathroom in sight. There’s no way you will be able to hold it. It’s time to let that puppy blow! So how do you use the bathroom in the woods? First and foremost, make sure the area you will be in does not require you to pack out your solid waste (poop). If it does, you will need to bring and poop in a human waste disposal bag which you will pack out (carry out) with you.
- Get off the trail – For the love of everything holy and sacred DO NOT squat or pee right there on the trail.
- Watch for poisonous plants – Before you pop a squat or whip your bad boy out (for you men) make sure you’re not going to touch any type of poisonous plants such as poison ivy or poison oak.
- Dig a hole if the area does not require you to pack your poop out – If you are going #2 you will need to dig a hole 6-8 inches deep and 4 inches wide to hold your poop.
- Get in Position – GOING PEE: For men, and women with FUD’s, just find a tree and let it flow. Women without a FUD, you’re going to need to pop a squat. I prefer to “sit” against a tree. If no tree is available, push your pants and underwear all the way down to your ankles and pray to whoever you pray to that you won’t splash or pee on your clothing or shoes (which you will, it never fails). GOING POOP: For a good ole’ poop, there are three main positions; squat, tree hang, and log sit. The squat is self-explanatory, for the tree hang, you find a tree to hold onto while you squat, and the log sit is when you find a fallen log and sit on it with your butt hanging over. No matter the position, the goal is to plop your poop in that hole. If you miss, just use a stick to push it in.
- Cover your poop – If you went #2, you will need to mix in dirt with your poop (using a stick) and then cover it.
- Wipe or use a bidet – Obviously wipe or use a bidet to get that poop out of your butt crack.
- Dispose of TP or Wipes Properly – Dispose of any TP or wipes you used by placing them in the Ziploc bag you brought for a trash bag.
- Use some Hand Sanitizer – Now is not the time to be gross. Squirt some hand sanitizer on your hands to rid them of any germs.
- Pull your pants up and walk out like nothing ever happened, because using the bathroom in the woods is completely normal!
Believe it or not, hikers are not shy about using the bathroom in the woods and typically, for whatever reason, it is brought up in Facebook Groups. So I guess, I should ask….how do you poop in the woods?