5 things you should know before pooping in the woods


Mention poop and everyone gets the giggles. But pooping al fresco is surprisingly serious. Drop your waste in the woods the wrong way, and you do more than just gross out fellow hikers and campers—you gross them out and make them sick. There’s also the very small chance you start a wildfire.

At one point or another, knowing how to poop in the woods will come in handy. And if bears can do it, so can you!

Stay far away from water

Make sure you’re 200 feet away (60 metres, or around 70 adult paces) from any water source before you cop a squat. And, if you’re hiking (we shouldn’t even need to say it) stay well off the trail. Seriously. Your fellow hikers—who love nature, but not that much—will thank you.

Find your ideal spot

You’ll probably need something to hold on to or lean against, so look for a fallen log, nice big boulder or tree. And this should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway — make sure you know what poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, stinging nettles, and giant hogweed look like first.

Dig a hole

When you’re ready to go, dig a hole at least six inches (15 cm, which is about half a yellow ruler’s length) deep, and go to it. Investing in a small camping trowel can make the digging a little easier. If you’re pooping in the woods frequently, army surplus stores often carry a foldable shovel that can be locked at 90 degrees and used for balance.

Disguise your—ahem—leavings

Once you’re done, drop your toilet paper in the hole, fill it up and cover it with grass and twigs to disguise it. If you’re using wipes, pack them out unless they clearly say “biodegradable.”

Poop and scoop when necessary

Some fragile areas require you to pack out everything, including human waste. If that’s the case, pick up your poop with a baggie (just like you’d poop and scoop for a dog), seal it, and store it in a heavy-duty Tupperware container until you get to a disposal spot. If you’d rather not do that, there are toilet kits available that make the job a little more—well, not pleasant, but at least tolerable.