The Unspoken Rule – When Camping, Where Do You Poop?

The Unspoken Rule: When Camping, Where Do You Poop?

When it comes to outdoor adventures, there’s a particular topic that everyone seems to be quite shy about discussing – where do you poop when camping? It is an unspoken rule that often goes unaddressed until the situation necessitates it. However, it’s an unavoidable and natural aspect of the outdoors experience that everyone must navigate. So, let’s break the silence and discuss this crucial part of camping with both clarity and maturity.

Leave No Trace Prinicples

Before diving into the specifics, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the “Leave No Trace” principles. This widely recognized outdoor ethics campaign encourages people to respect their surroundings and to reduce their impact on the natural environment. The idea is simple – whatever you bring in, you take out. This rule extends to human waste, as well.

Packing it Out

In certain camping locations, such as desert areas, along rivers or in delicate ecosystems, completely packing out human waste is necessary and sometimes legally required. This can seem a daunting task initially, but technologies such as WAG (Waste Alleviation and Gelling) bags are specifically designed to make packing out easier and more sanitary. These bags contain powder that gels wastes, neutralizes odors, and begins the decay process, thus making carrying them out a little less unpleasant.

Digging a Cathole

If you’re camping in woodland or other less fragile areas, a more common practice is to go for a cathole. A cathole is a hole you dig, into which you defecate. According to land management guidelines, your cathole should be 6 to 8 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches in diameter. It should also be located at least 200 feet from water sources, campsites, and trails to avoid contamination. After use, you should cover and disguise the hole with natural materials. Burying toilet paper in the cathole is a matter of debate. Some people prefer to carry it out, while others think it’s fine as long as it’s biodegradable. Be sure to check the rules specific to your location.

Using a Portable Toilet

Another option for handling human waste when camping, especially if you’re camping with a group or in a vehicle, is a portable toilet. These come in many shapes, sizes, and functionalities, from simple bucket-style toilets to ones with flush mechanisms. There are also innovative systems, including composting toilets, that further minimize impact on the environment.

Toilet Facilities

In more populated camping areas, restrooms or outhouses may be available. These facilities are an immense privilege in the outside world and should be respected and kept clean for the people camping after you. If you’re planning to camp in a location with such amenities, it would be advisable to call ahead or look online to ensure they’re open and functional.

Best Practices

Whatever method you choose for your waste disposal when camping, please remember the following best practices. Always use biodegradable toilet paper or wet wipes, and avoid using wipes with perfumes or chemicals that can harm the natural environment. Wash your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet to keep yourself and your surroundings clean.

Beyond that, it is crucial to teach others, especially children, about these responsible practices. Breaking the stigma and opening the conversation gives future campers the knowledge and skills to reduce their impact on the natural world.


While it might seem like a topic best left untouched, knowing where to poop while camping and how to handle it in a mindful manner is crucial for every outdoorsman. Putting a little thought and planning into your waste management not only makes your camping trip more comfortable but also helps preserve the natural landscapes we all cherish and enjoy. Let us all strive to ‘leave no trace’, enrich our outdoor practices, and continue to enjoy the great beauty that Mother Nature has to offer.

By Kokoda Gear Uncategorized