Unlike doing your business outside, there is no discreet way to discuss the principles of going to the toilet outdoors. Yet, conflicting advice online and in the outdoor community can make it challenging to ensure you are prepared when you have to go whilst out in the wilderness. To keep our bodies healthy and energy up when out exploring, we must eat well and stay hydrated. Inevitably, you will then have to address the issue of toileting outdoors.
When you have to go, it’s pretty vital that you do, but there is certainly a right and wrong way to go about going to the toilet outdoors. Let’s tick off some of the most straightforward DON’Ts.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about what you SHOULD do when you doo-doo.
When wild peeing, avoid being near areas frequently used by people. Try and go at least 30 meters away from water too.
Unfortunately, it’s more challenging for people with female genitalia to do their business outside discreetly than for those with male. There are also other considerations. The advice is to wipe after peeing. This avoids foul odours and the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
After consulting various outdoor-loving individuals on toileting outdoors, many report favouring a wiggle drip dry method as it eliminates the need to bring toilet paper. This is a good option if you’re only out for a short while and/or have the opportunity to wash or change your underwear within 12 hours.
If you don’t like the idea of not wiping, dig a little hole to bury your toilet paper. Better yet, pack out your toilet paper in dedicated waste bags. Most toilet paper is biodegradable, but it’s not instant, so it’s still preferable to take it away with you if possible. Never bury wet wipes or sanitary products, as these are (generally) not biodegradable.
Alternatively, use a pee cloth or natural wiping options like moss, leaves, snow and smooth stones. However, there’s no guarantee that your natural options are clean and safe.
Much of the advice described for peeing also applies if you’re heading for a number two. Dig yourself a hole or pack out all of your waste (organic waste, toilet paper, etc.).
When digging a hole, take a trowel to ensure easy digging. Ensure the hole is at least as deep as your hand. Remember to cover it up when you are finished. Again, do not bury wet wipes or sanitary products.
On Wilderness expedition trips, we issue toilet kits that contain a plastic trowel, hand sanitiser, and environmentally friendly toilet paper to take the hassle out of your experience.
If you’re taking your waste away with you, your carry-out method will dictate how you do this. If you’re bagging it, ensure it’s properly sealed. Bin your waste at the earliest and most appropriate opportunity.
If you’re using a dedicated resealable container when toileting outdoors, dispose of organic waste and toilet paper down the lavatory as you usually would. Disinfect your container for reuse and ensure it does not mix up with normal daily plastic containers. You wouldn’t want to use the same container for your packed lunch later in the week!