Adventure awaits when you step out of society and into the wilderness. The thrill of exploration and the tranquility of reconnecting with nature is second to none. But when nature calls, we have to answer. For this reason, understanding our camping bathroom options is a must for wilderness adventuring.
Though some campgrounds will have vault toilets, many will not — especially in the backcountry. Preparing for the inevitable will ensure you have a comfortable and pleasant experience.
Here’s your guide to using nature’s camping bathroom responsibly!
Always Follow Leave No Trace Principles
Whenever you go into nature, abiding by Leave No Trace principles is crucial. These seven principles lay out exactly how to enjoy nature’s beauty without disturbing delicate ecosystems.
Briefly, the seven principles are:
- Plan ahead for specific park regulations, weather, and crowds.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces to avoid disrupting flora and fauna.
- Dispose of waste properly — we’ll discuss this one more in a moment.
- Leave what you find to preserve the past and protect ecosystems.
- Minimize campfire impact to prevent wildfires.
- Respect wildlife to protect yourself and them.
- Be courteous to others so everyone can have a fun and relaxing experience.
When it comes to camping bathroom options, proper waste disposal is crucial. Before your excursion, do some research. Find out if the location you’re going to allows you to dig catholes. If not, be sure to bring some toilet bags with you.
Additionally, be prepared to pack out any additional waste that won’t easily break down. Wipes, for example, should always be packed out. In some cases, toilet paper as well — though our bamboo TP breaks down with ease.
Pro Tip: line a sealable plastic bag with foil so you can pack out used wipes and toilet paper without having to look at it.
The Mechanics of Nature’s Camping Bathroom
Everyone makes waste and everyone uses the bathroom. When it comes time to do so in the wilderness, knowing what to do and how to do it saves a lot of frustration and discomfort. In fact, properly popping a squat in the woods may prove to be a liberating experience.
Fortunately, peeing in the backcountry is quite simple. Start by finding a suitable location. Ideally, this is 200 feet — or 70 steps — from camp and the nearest small body of water. A soft area will absorb pee quickly and keep you from getting splashed.
Some people prefer to shake dry while others prefer to use a “pee rag” — a bandana with only one purpose. If you bring along a pee rag, you can clip it to the outside of your backpack to let it dry. Similarly, if you find an abandoned bandana in the woods, do not pick it up. Chances are good that it’s a pee rag.
If you prefer not to venture out to pee in the middle of the night, keep an empty water bottle — that feels different than the one you drink out of — just outside your tent. If you have to pee, use a pee funnel, if needed, and fill it up. In the morning, find a spot far from water and camp to empty it.
How to Poop in the Woods
Pooping in the woods can be stressful to think about, but nature’s camping bathroom is much easier to use than you think. Before you get started, make sure you have all of your tools: a hand trowel, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and that sealable bag we mentioned earlier.
When you’re ready, walk 200 feet from camp and find a nice bushy spot for some privacy. Preferably, the site has loose, dark soil and plenty of sun — this helps poop decompose. Once you’ve found your site, dig a cat hole about four inches wide and six to eight inches deep.
Now, you do your business.
After you’ve finished, wipe with as little toilet paper as possible and deposit it into the plastic bag, unless burying it is allowed. Then fill the hole back up with the original dirt and tamp it down with your foot.
All that’s left to do now is sanitize. Be sure to do so vigorously and pay special attention to your fingers. Getting sick on the trail is not fun for anyone.
Enjoying the Great Outdoors Comfortably
Spending time outdoors is fun and relaxing. Don’t let a fear of going to the bathroom keep you from enjoying it. When you’re in the backcountry, using nature’s camping bathroom is easier than it sounds.
Knowing how to go to the bathroom in the wilderness is key to having an enjoyable and comfortable experience.
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