When you got to go, you got to go. Everyone has to at some point. It’s a part of everyday life, but just what is proper protocol when outdoors? You may not be up to par on the do’s and don’ts of using nature as your relief spot. That’s why we created this article on how to go to the bathroom in the woods.
There are a few important guidelines that you should follow, so let’s begin.
How to Pee in the Forest
Choose a location that’s well away from any trails or your campsite. It’s common for groups to designate separate spots for men’s and women’s “bathroom” areas. When choosing your specific location, keep the following in mind depending on where you are:
- Small bodies of water: Always move 200 feet (about 70 steps) away from the nearest water source and don’t go directly into the water.
- Larger bodies of water: When you are in a large group Leave No Trace guideline’s recommend that you do go directly into the water. The high volume will dilute your urine leaving no harm behind.
- Alpine regions: If you are up high in mountain territory where goats and other animals live, peeing on a rock surface is recommended. The salts that are in your urine can attract ole Billy Goats, whom may proceed to destroy fragile vegetation to get to it.
For the Ladies: Read our Bathroom Tips for Women
How to Poop in the Forest
Before you choose your location, you are going to want to make sure you have a few extra supplies with you. We recommend bringing the following items:
- Camp Trowel: We call it “the poop shovel”. They are lightweight and really cheap. Currently, we carry the GSI Outdoors “leave no trace” Camp Trowel. At under $10, and weighing only 3.1 ounces, it won’t hurt your pocket or your back.
- Ziploc Bag: Or any other type of sealable plastic bag. In some locations you will have to carry out all used toilet paper. Even it is not a rule it is a good idea to do so anyways. This ensures the lowest impact on the environment your exploring.
- Solid Waste Bags: In the higher up regions while mountaineering or alpining, you may be forced to carry out all human waste due to the sensitive nature of the terrain or while in highly trafficked areas. These bags are considered “sealed”, but we highly recommend placing them in a second plastic bag just in case of leaks.
The appropriate location
It is very important that you find a proper spot when using the bathroom in the woods. Try and walk out at least 200ft (about 70 steps) from the nearest trail, campsite, or water source. Find your self some brush or a fallen tree to give you privacy if that’s your thing. Take note of how you got to your little poop location so that you can make your way back to camp. Sometimes when we set up camp, I will run 550 Cord from tent to my outdoor bathroom so at night I can clip a lantern to it and guide myself right up to it. You can bounce the line from tree to tree or just leave it on the ground. Whatever is easiest for the terrain you are camping at.
Using the poop shovel we spoke about earlier to dig yourself a hole approximately 4 inches wide and 6 to 8 inches deep. When you are done cover this hole back up with the original dirt. Use nearby brush or rocks to cover the spot to help discourage the little night critters from digging around.
Remember if you are using wet wipes to NOT place them in the hole. These should always be packed out. Again, even though TP is decomposable, it is stll best practice to leave nothing behind. So if possible bring all your used TP back out with you as well. If you must bury it deep in the hole.
Quick Hygiene Tips
You should always keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you while camping or hiking. Make sure to pay extra attention to your fingers. Keeping your body clean is very vital while enjoying the outdoors. If you choose to use hand soap make sure it is biodegradable and never wash your hands with soap in a river, lake, or stream. Doing this can harm the aquatic life, even if it is biodegradable.
I hope this article helps you in some way the next time Mother Nature knocks at your door while out in the forest. If you have any other tips or tricks, feel free to tell us about it in the comments section below.
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