How to Poop in the Woods

What should you do if you’re in the woods when nature calls?


Rule #1

Use the facilities.

I know it sounds counter intuitive, but a lot of wilderness areas have designated toilet facilities. Digging a hole to do your business may boost your explorer cred, but in heavily-used wilderness areas human waste can really foul things up. Poop takes almost a year to biodegrade, so when you have the chance, keep it from piling up at campsites and contaminating streams and use the designated facilities.


If you DO happen to be in a more rustic area where toilets are not available, the following steps will help maximize comfort and minimize embarrassment when answering nature’s call.


What to bring

1. Pocket Shovel

2. Biodegradable TP, Baby wipes, or other favorite material

3. A ziplock baggie

4. Sanitizer or suds


What to do


Step 1

Scout Your Location

If you have to do the deed outdoors, picking the right place can ensure that both you needs and Mother Nature’s are taken care of. The right location will be at least 200 feet from water, camp, or the trail. If you are going to bury your poop (our recommendation, with some exceptions) try to find somewhere without a lot of rocks or roots and soft soil.

Pro Tip:  I like to find a spot with rocky “armrests” so that I don’t have to rely solely on my tired legs when I squat. Some people enjoy hanging their bums over a log to simulate a toilet seat.


Step 2

Dig & Bury

There are lots of tools you can use to dig your poop pit. I prefer this collapsable spade from Sea to Summit, but in a pinch a sharp rock or stick will do. Dig a hole at least 6” deep and wide enough that you’ll be able to hit the target (about 8″). Keep the dirt that you’ve removed to cover the hole when you’re done. When cleaning up, make sure enough dirt is packed on top that explorers won’t errantly stumble upon your deposit.


Step 3

What to wipe with?

If you’re prepared, you can enjoy all the comforts of home. I keep a baggie of Cottonelle (removed from the roll and re-rolled around itself to save space) and a trash ziplock in my day pack for emergencies. Baby wipes can also be great on the trail. It is essential that you pack these out, though, as the chemical additives are detrimental to the environment and prevent decomposition. If you are very opposed to packing out your waste paper, this lightweight TP is biodegradable and can be buried in the same hole as your poop.


Step 4

Wash your hands

Whether you use water and Campsuds (we love them!), baby wipes, or unscented sanitizer, make sure you clean your hands thoroughly. The only thing more awkward than pooping in the woods is ruining a trip with the runs because of sloppy technique.