Ok, time to be honest, I’ve been hiking and wild camping for many years and yes, I have done a poo outdoors.
You can stop giggling now! Err gross, yes, but seriously let’s all get over being polite and pretending it doesn’t happen because it flipping well does!
Why am I telling you this? I am fed up of seeing toilet paper and baby wipes when I’m out hiking and wild camping. It’s not pretty, it doesn’t improve my outdoor experience and put simply I don’t want to see it (I’m assuming you’re the same).
Here I will share a few of my tips about how and where to go to the toilet when you are out hiking or wild camping.
Please take a read if you are planning your first wild camping trip and feel free to ask me any more questions in the comments below. *Becky the Traveller participates in the Amazon Services Associates Programme, as well as other affiliate programmes. If you make a purchase through these, I earn from the qualifying links. This is at no extra cost to you.
*Becky the Traveller participates in the Amazon Services Associates Programme, as well as other affiliate programmes. If you make a purchase through these, I earn from the qualifying links. This is at no extra cost to you.
Top Tips + Advice on How to Go to the Toilet Outdoors
Read about the best way to go to the toilet whilst you’re outdoors. Don’t let it stop you going on longer trips but be prepared for emergency toilet trips and you’ll have no worries.
Also, I would advise avoiding very spicy food before a big hike. Enough said, I think!
Plan Your Walk (+ Toilet Stops)
For me the key is preparation, well actually, the key is trying to go to the toilet before you go on your hike. But we know the human body doesn’t always behave in the way you want it to!
It’s not always necessary to go to the toilet outdoors, if you plan your wild camping trip or route ahead, you can look out for those PC symbols on the OS map, which means Public Convenience (or loo, toilet, lavatory) whatever you call it!
You could start your walk at a location with a toilet, then you can have a last-minute wee or poo. Plus there’s the knowledge it’s there when you return!
Many car parks (that you pay for) have toilet facilities, for example, the lovely Edale in the Peak District, a perfect start for so many beautiful walks.
Another alternative is to not start your walk at a toilet, but ensure you walk past one near the halfway point of your walk or trip. Again, knowledge is power, or in this case, knowledge is a toilet haha!
But what if you’re doing a longer walk? Or hiking in a remote area. Or maybe even a hike and wild camping trip?
That’s when you need a PLAN B!
Read next my guide on camping in winter
Where to go to the Toilet Outdoors?
Firstly, don’t leave it to the last minute to find a spot, because there might not be many.
Whilst hiking along the levadas in Madeira, there was no-where to go along the entire route, because there was a steep drop on one side, the path, then a water source.
Find a spot that’s away from the path, firstly, you don’t want to start flashing your ass at fellow walkers or runners coming down the trail but it’s not pleasant to do your business on or close to the path.
Consider how popular the route you are doing, peeing outside in a remote part Snowdonia it is relatively easy to find a spot. But if you’re hiking up Mt Snowdon there are likely to be a lot more people about and more difficult.
You should be at least 50 metres away from the path, it might even be further if you’re in an open space. In walking terms that’s about 45-60 seconds (or a 10-second sprint if you’re desperate!)
Private Toilet Facilities
Want a bit of privacy, well, don’t we all! If you’re with friends then you can get them to look out for you, or if you’re on your own, good luck haha!
The other option is to take a large (and not see-through) poncho with you, this can then double up as a private toilet. It might make it more difficult, not seeing where you are peeing. I will leave that thought with you!
Nature + Wildlife Including Ticks
Also, consider the environment that is directly close to you. Are their brambles, nettles or any other plants that may cause discomfort? And yes, I have stung my bum on nettles before, I don’t recommend it!
In Scotland, and other high tick-infested places, mainly where there are deer or sheep and thick bracken. Think before you squat! And always make sure you check your body afterwards for ticks.
Where NOT to go the Toilet Outdoors?
Have you ever been in a cave to shelter from the rain or go explore? Then smelt or seen something you really didn’t want to. Yuck. Please don’t do it in a cave!
shelters or Ruined buildings
Think about anywhere you might sit, shelter or eat your lunch. These include stone wind shelters, bothies or animal shelters. Now think whether these make a suitable toilet. Hmm, nope!
Near or close to a Water Source
Think for a moment, that the water might be someone’s drinking water, whether it’s being filtered or not, reducing your waste into the water needs to factored into the spot you choose.
Going for a Wee Outdoors
The location shouldn’t be any different for men or women, just because you guys can do it standing up doesn’t mean you can pee anywhere you want.
(Not that I’m saying you all do this, but I have seen guying stop, pee and then keep walking!)
A few tips to consider:
- Is it a windy day? Make sure you position yourself in the best place i.e. pee with the wind
- If there’s a slope, then make sure both feet are pointing down. Otherwise, you could have a potential wet foot situation
- Oh, and if you take your backpack off, put it above you!
- And on the topic of backpacks, if it’s heavy, take it off. It will make standing up afterwards a lot easier.
To Squat or Not to Squat?
My personal thoughts on this are, firstly, you have another item to either clean or dispose of and secondly, accidents can happen (a friend of mine had a bad experience at a festival).
If you’re going with this option, then it’s worth trying it out at home before you venture outdoors with your new gadget!
I can imagine it would be useful if you need a wee in the middle of the night whilst wild camping and it’s heavy raining outside. But then, you’d need a bottle or container to pee in, hmm, and you wouldn’t want to mix them up!
Peeing Outside – A Wee Shake or Toilet Paper?
Weeing is the easy bit, then what do you do afterwards? There’s the popular shake until you are dry technique, maybe you could use a panty liner to catch any drips.
There is also a wide range of underwear designed for bladder weakness or being on your period. But what’s to say they wouldn’t be perfect for a long hike or wild camping trip.
I’m yet to try the underwear, but I feel it’s a good eco-friendly option and makes for a more comfortable walk (drip-free!) Let me know if you recommend any, as I want to try some out 🙂
Or then there’s good old fashioned toilet paper or maybe a pack of tissues. You can buy handy packs of tissues in bulk, ready to take on any trips. But then, what do you do with the toilet paper afterwards? (I will tell you shortly, but first, let’s talk shit!)
Going for a Poop Outdoors
Many of the rules as regards to finding a spot are the same as going for a wee. How helpful, it means you can do a wee and poo in the same place hehe!
The main difference with going for a poo instead of a wee is the hole that you’ll need to dig to deposit your human waste. In my early wild camping days, I would use sticks, walking poles or even my boots to dig a hole.
None of which are particularly quick, when you need a number 2!
Backpacking Poop Shovel
Now I use a small trowel, it was pretty cheap from Amazon but I’ve not managed to snap it yet! There is a wide range of trowels you can buy and I would 100% say get one now. It’s the most useful piece of kit I have, well, for going to the toilet outdoors!
Some people prefer to poop in a bag and carry the waste out. For me, I don’t fancy carrying a bag of shit with me on my hike, as long as you dig a good hole to bury it that’s just as good.
Digging Your Poo Hole
Make sure you’re not near a path, water source or another place where people might sit and relax. Ideally, peat soil is perfect, it’s relatively easy to dig a sufficient hole but you might not be that lucky and have to search around for a good bit of ground to dig.
The hole needs to be at least 6 inches deep, that’s the length of my Samsung 10, not that I’m suggesting you test the depth with your phone haha!
Getting in Position
Unlike a wee, you may be in this position a little longer. Get comfortable and make sure your bum is above the hole. There’s no point going to all that effort and missing the damn thing! (PS, if you do miss the hole, use a stick to poke it in!)
My good friend and hiking buddy Impala on Trail has a few different techniques you can try for going for a poo. Don’t worry, no bums are on show!
Check it out and subscribe to his awesome YouTube Channel here – Impala on Trail (Poo like a pro and leave no trace – How to Poop in the Woods)
What do you do with the toilet paper?
For me, this is a really easy one. It should be the same as any other rubbish you create whilst on your hike or wild camping trip (unlike when I hiked up Ben Nevis). Take it with you.
The best thing I’ve found for toilet paper is dog poo bags, they are small and easy to take a few with me on each trip. You can then tie a knot in the bag and dispose of when you can. Alternatively, zip lock bags would work just as well.
The only thing that isn’t great with this option is the non-eco-friendly, plastic bag! You can get around this by emptying the tissue and reusing the bag or find another bag/container to put your waste in.
Some people burn their toilet tissue, but since lighting fires can potentially cause damage to the ground, I’m not going to recommend this option. Even setting fire to the tissue seems like a pain to me and in the rain, it would be mission impossible!
The important thing is to take it with you. Leave NO Trace!
Ladies – On Your Period Whilst Hiking + Wild Camping
Yes, it’s a flipping pain isn’t it, why is it that every time you have a big hike or camping trip it coincides with your time of the month?
The same rules apply, leave no trace, if you use tampons or sanitary towels the dog poo bags are also great for used sanitary products. Then you can dispose of properly when you get home.
But my latest best hiking piece of kit is the menstrual cup, you can use it for up to 12 hours at a time. Perfect for long hikes and overnight wild camping trips. It does take a little getting used to so maybe try out at home first.
Longer Wild Camping Trips
I’ve only used on one three-day wild camping trip, it was great to feel comfortable for the entire day then in the privacy of my tent I was able to empty it onto a tissue, rinse and re-insert.
I’d recommend taking some hygienic wipes to clean your hands and to freshen up. It’s not the easiest thing to do in a small tent but practice makes perfect!
Read next – Best Long Distance Hikes in the UK
Becky’s Essential Wee + Poo Outdoor Kit
- Toilet paper or a pack of handy tissues
- Wet wipes (flushable ones are better for the environment)*
- Dog poo bags or zip lock bags – Try these bio-degradable lavender scented ones!
- Small camping trowel
- Hand Sanitiser
*I prefer not to use wet wipes at all but they are handy to have. If you only have a small packet of tissues sometimes one wet wipe does the job much quicker.
And of course, some things are personal preference, do you want quilted or recycled toilet paper, do you want a bright orange trowel or a metal one, do you want to take some soap and wash your hands?
It doesn’t matter what or how you do it, as long as you have the kit that you need when nature calls!
Going to the Toilet Outdoors – Final Thoughts
- Don’t be nervous, we all do it!
- Holding it in will just give you the worst stomach ache – Better out than in!
- Toilet paper does not magically disappear overnight. If you use it, take it with you.
- Keep the outdoors beautiful and LEAVE NO TRACE.
How are you feeling about going for your first poo outdoors? I hope I’ve helped answer a few questions about wild camping toilets so that you can enjoy your trip and not worry. If you have any more toilet questions then please ask in the comments below