Backcountry Toilet Talk

How should I… you know… go to the… well… umm…? Let’s cut the crap, we’re all human with basic human needs for relieving ourselves of waste. But how is one supposed to properly go about this business in the backcountry?
Toilet talk! (Photo: Megan Kopp)
If you’re fortunate enough to stay at a backcountry hut with a pit toilet, the problem is solved. But when there are no facilities of any kind, Leave No Trace principles suggest the following for solid waste:
  • Dig a small “cathole” at least 200 feet (approximately 70 adult steps) from water sources.
  • Bury waste and toilet paper (or pack out t.p, but don’t try to burn it. The risk of starting a fire, particularly in windy conditions, is high).
  • Minimize visual impact by scattering natural materials (leaves, twigs, rocks) over new soil.
When it comes to “wilderness peeing”, it’s good to know that urine has little effect of plants or soil – although the salts may attract wildlife if concentrated in one area. Also, be sure to pack out or completely bury any used toilet paper.
Special considerations:
If you’re tripping in a narrow river canyon, peeing directly into the river is advised. All solid wastes must be packed out (think porta-potty).
The Backcountry Toiletry Bag:
  • Lightweight garden trowel
  • Toilet Paper
  • Small container of hand sanitizer
  • Extra resealable bags for carrying out feminine products

© 2011

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