The Great Outdoors: When Camping, Where Do You Poop?

The Great Outdoors: When Camping, Where Do You Poop?

We know that nature can be breathtakingly beautiful, with its verdant forests, towering peaks, serene water bodies, and miles of wilderness. But an extended sojourn into the great outdoors comes with challenges that few care to discuss, yet are crucial. One such issue is an activity that remains a constant in our day-to-day lives – pooping. Yes, you read that right. In our domesticated existence, it’s an act that doesn’t require much thought beyond perhaps the occasional musing about dietary habits. Out in the wild, though, it becomes a topic of strategic importance. Dealing with human waste appropriately while camping is essential not just from an etiquette perspective but, more importantly, for ecological reasons.

Bring the Necessary Tools

The first step to maintain proper sanitation while camping is preparation. Make sure that you have all the necessary tools before you set out. Packing toilet paper is a given, but also consider bringing a small shovel or trowel for digging latrine pits. Biodegradable types are an eco-friendly choice, although remember, the aim is to leave no trace. So pack out everything you don’t bury.

Look for Designated Areas

Many campsites, especially those near popular trails, provide designated areas for waste disposal. These spaces are carefully chosen to minimize environmental harm and tend to have deep pits that are periodically cleaned. Using such facilities is the first choice when available. If your chosen campsite has no such amenities, the onus of responsibility falls directly on your shoulders to conduct waste disposal in the right manner.

Digging the Cat-hole

When you’re pooping in the wilderness, the most recommended approach is to dig a “cat hole.” It’s a small, shallow hole, ideally 6 to 8 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches in diameter. Placement is crucial—the cat hole should be at least 200 feet (or approximately 70 adult steps) from any water source, trail, or camping area. Once you’re done, you simply bury your waste and paper deep in the hole and replace the displaced dirt, leaving no outward signs of your activity.

Carry a Portable Toilet

If digging a hole in the wild isn’t your style, there’s always the option of bringing a portable toilet with you. There are many lightweight, easy-to-carry options that make the disposal of waste a lot cleaner and more comfortable. Remember, though, using this method requires that you pack all your waste out of the camping area to maintain hygiene and respect the environment.

Consider a Waste Bag or Pouch

Certain locations, such as high altitude climbs or ecologically sensitive zones, may not allow cat holes. In such cases, or when the ground is too hard to dig into, pack a waste bag or a poop pouch. They are designed to be odor-proof, puncture-resistant, and often come with enzymes to break down waste and convert it to a neutral, landfill-safe substance. These pouches are light, portable, and easy to carry on any camping trip.

Dealing with Number One as well

It’s not just solid human waste that needs attention; urine can also cause issues. Ideally, it should be deposited at least 200 feet away from water sources, trails, and campsites. Do ensure that it’s in a spot where it won’t run into water bodies. If you’re concerned about odors, consider peeing on a rocky area or somewhere unlikely to be disturbed.

Hand Hygiene

It’s critical to maintain proper hand hygiene after pooping in the wilderness to prevent the spread of diseases. Using hand sanitizer or soap (biodegradable, please) should be a given every single time.

Ditch the Guidebook Mentality

When it comes to pooping in the great outdoors, one-size-fits-all rules don’t work. Yes, the 200-feet rule and the depth of the cat hole are good principles to follow. Still, they must be tempered with an understanding of the landscape and its unique ecologies. Always strive to minimize your impact on the ecosystem.

Concluding Thoughts

Exploring nature’s wonders comes with the responsibility of preserving it for future generations. Part of that involves dealing with our primal needs in a way that respects the environment and the people we’re sharing it with. As such, knowing where to poop when camping is not just about convenience or etiquette; it’s about being a responsible, respectful, and eco-conscious adventurer.

By Kokoda Gear Uncategorized