How To: Poop in the Woods (With Minimal Impact)
Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there. You ate an early breakfast and hit the trail. You’re a few hours in (far away from any trailhead bathroom) when nature begins to call…you’ve got to go. Well, what do you do?
We know it can be a gross or uncomfortable topic, but the truth is that some people really don’t know what to do when there’s no bathroom in sight and they have to go “number two.” Do you hate seeing piles of human waste on the side of the trail, with crumpled, discolored toilet paper flying towards you in the wind? Now that’s gross! So, here’s how to poop in the woods.
Step 1: Walk Far Away From Any Trail, Water Source, Or Human With a Sense of Smell
It’s important to be aware of the rules in the area that you’re traveling as some places, like narrow river canyons or well-traveled routes, require folks to pack out their own waste.
If that’s not the case where you are, then make sure you step far off the trail and find a spot at least 200 feet from any water source (approximately 70 adult paces).
Step 2: Dig a Hole
If you don’t have a small shovel with you, look for a sharp rock or a stick to dig with. Dig a hole at least 6 to 8 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches wide. Try to find a spot with dark-looking rich soil—organic soil will help decompose the feces.
Step 3: Do Your Thing!
Popular techniques include:
Get those leg muscles activated and get into your deepest squat!
“The Tree Rest”
Face your body towards a tree and grab onto it with your arms, squat and lean back away from the tree.
“The Overhanging Rock”
Find a good rock to sit on with your bum hanging off the back. Just be sure that it’s hanging off pretty far. **This is an advanced technique for professionals only.**
Step 4: Put Your Toilet Paper in a Sealable Bag
Hopefully you carried a baggie with you to pack out your used toilet paper. If not, maybe you have an old snack bag that you could use. If you have nothing, bury the toilet paper along with your waste. Leave No Trace recommends using plain, white, non-perfumed brands of toilet paper if thoroughly burying.
Step 5: Fill in the Hole, Sanitize Your Hands, and Return to the Trail with Your Bag
Fill in the hole with the dirt you took out, and then disguise it with native materials such as large rocks, sticks, or leaves. Sanitize your hands and return to the trail. Keep your sealed toilet paper in your backpack and dispose of it properly when you get home.
Check out our instructional video about how to poop in the woods below!
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