Where Not to Go: When Camping, Where Do You Poop?

Where Not to Go: When Camping, Where Do You Poop?

When thinking of a campsite’s romantic elements, the rustling leaves, setting sun, and crackling fire immediately come to mind. One practical aspect of the outdoor experience that often gives novice campers nervous giggles, however, is answering nature’s call in, well, nature. Today, we are talking about a fundamental yet rarely discussed camping reality – where do you poop when camping?

While certainly not glamorous, knowing where and how to properly deal with human waste on a camping trip is vital. Disposing of waste incorrectly can harm the environment, disrupt local wildlife, and potentially contaminate drinking water sources. Therefore, we’re leaving no stones unturned as we dive into the nitty-gritty of this delicate subject. Let’s get right into it.

The Non-negotiable No Go Zones

Before we get into the places where you can relieve yourself, it’s essential to clarify the places where you should never, ever ‘go’. These include:

  • Water Sources: Never defecate within 200 feet of a water source such as a lake, pond, river, or stream. This may seem far, but it’s necessary to prevent contamination of water that you, your companions, and nearby wildlife may need to drink.
  • Trails: It should go without saying that taking a poop on or next to the trail is a big no-no. No one wants to come across human waste while they’re enjoying a hike.
  • Campsite: Not only is this unsanitary and unsightly, but it’s also against the Leave No Trace principles practiced by environmentally responsible campers.

Where You Can Go

Now that we’ve covered where not to go, where can you answer nature’s call? There are a few practical, sanitary options when camping – designated facilities, cat holes, or portable options to take your waste out with you.

Designated Facilities

The optimal choice is always a designed facility. Many campgrounds and parks have public restrooms and outhouses for campers to use. These facilities vary from rudimentary pit toilets to full-service restrooms with running water and toilets that flush. Utilising these facilities is the easiest and most convenient way to manage waste when camping.

Cat Holes

If there are no facilities, or you’re backpacking in a truly remote area, your best option is to dig a cat hole. A cat hole is a small hole dug about 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches wide with a trowel in a discreet, out-of-the-way location. Once finished, cover the cat hole with the dirt you dug up and smooth it over to leave it as natural as possible. Remember, cat holes should always be dug at least 200 feet from all water sources, campsites, and trails.

Take it With You

If you’re camping in a delicate ecosystem, such as a desert or alpine zone, or in heavily trafficked areas where cat holes don’t have a chance to decompose before another camper unwittingly digs in the same spot, you’re typically required by regulations to carry out your waste.

Pack out your waste using a WAG (Waste Alleviation and Gelling) bag. These bags contain a gelling substance that neutralizes odor and aids decomposition. Once used and sealed, store your WAG bag with your trash and follow local regulations for disposal.

Maintaining Hygiene Standards

Equally important to deciding where to defecate is practising proper hygiene. Ensure that you have a way to clean your hands by packing hand sanitizer, biodegradable soap, or even just wet wipes. This is vital for preventing the spread of diseases, especially in a communal camping setting.


Pooping outdoors may not be the topics around a campfire, but it’s a critical factor to consider when planning a camping trip. The next time you set out on an adventure, remember these guidelines, and you’ll not only keep your environment healthy and clean but also contribute to preserving it for the future generation of campers!

As the saying goes, Leave No Trace. This mantra extends down to the smallest detail of our presence in the wilderness, including managing our human waste. With planning, respect for nature, and a commitment to cleanliness, we can all do our part to ensure the great outdoors remains great for years to come.

By Kokoda Gear Uncategorized