The (Not-So) Art of Pooping While Camping
Are you an experienced camper, or you’re looking to set out on your first camping trip? Or maybe you’re just a person of the outdoors who likes to enjoy nature? If you’re any of these people, chances are that you’ll need to poop while you’re out that there camping in the wilderness. But pooping while camping comes with more challenges than you might expect. As a father of three kids and an experienced camper myself, I’m here to share some of my knowledge to help make your “nature break” much easier.
Let’s start with three basic rules when it comes to pooping outdoors: 1) Dig deep; 2) Cover and Disperse; 3) Pack it out. The goal is to ensure that your poop is buried deep enough to prevent animals from reaching it, and to prevent it from polluting a water source. That means digging at least 6-8 inches deep in soil, or below the frost line where applicable.
In many camping areas, left over from previous campers, you’ll see holes in the ground that are referred to as “catholes”. When using these, make sure to dig down another 6-8 inches to ensure the poop is properly buried. It is also important to use a stick or trowel to mix the feces and toilet paper into the soil until it is fully dispersed.
- When disposing of toilet paper, remember to bring a plastic bag to carry it out when leaving the area.
- If you have access to running water, using a river, lake or ocean to both poop and wash is a great option.
- If possible, seek out a dedicated outhouse or latrine at a campground.
Tips & Tricks
Now that you know the basics, let’s dive into some of my tried-and-true tips and tricks to making your pooping experience a little more comfortable and efficient.
- Bring the right supplies: Poop bags, baby wipes, and a trowel are all must-haves when it comes to pooping outdoors.
- Find the Ideal Location: Try to avoid camping near streams, creeks, lakes or water sources. When looking for the ideal spot for pooping, make sure to pick a place that is densely vegetated, away from high traffic areas, and with enough space to dig a cathole.
- Know Your Food Sources: Try avoiding heavy fiber foods when camping. Stay away from beans, popcorn, beef jerky and dried fruit. Stick to easy-to-digest, light proteins and fatty foods such as nuts, seeds, and fish.
- Create a Bathroom Kit: Before heading out on your trip, put together a bathroom bag that will be easy to grab and take with you when you need to go. This should include some TP, your poop bags, and a trowel.
- Go in groups: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Poop with someone who is willing to humiliate you, or who can give you needed privacy.
Knowing how to poop while camping will give you a peace of mind knowing that you’re being responsible when handling your business outdoors. Having the right supplies on-hand and making sure to always practice good hygiene, will make your outdoor pooping experience a piece of cake.
What to Do if You Can’t Dig a Cathole
Now, if you’re out camping in a region that has rocky terrain or areas where digging isn’t allowed, it’s important to have alternative plans. Start by packing TP, a hand shovel, and biodegradable poop bags. These will enable you to collect your waste and store it in a plastic bag until you can find a more suitable place to discard.
You should also have a safe and legal way to get rid of human waste. This could be done by burying the poop in a location that is not close to the campground or trails. If that is not an option, look for a place that is relatively isolated where you can find a suitable spot for disposal.
Additional Tips and Resources
- Plan ahead and be prepared to stay for several days.
- Always carry a spare roll of toilet paper.
- If you are camping in a national park, make sure to follow the rules and regulations of the park regarding human waste.
- Bring a shovel or trowel for digging a cathole.
- Avoid areas that are frequented by wildlife.
- If you are camping in a desert area, make sure to avoid cactus and other desert plants.
Check out this video from UCSB for additional information on how to poop outdoors:
One of the most important things to remember while camping is to always respect nature by leaving your campsite as you found it. Leave no trace and always follow the relevant leave-no-trace principles so that our wild and natural areas stay beautiful and safe for generations to come.
By following the tips and tricks above, you’re sure to have an enjoyable and hassle-free camping trip that won’t be remembered for the wrong reasons.