How To - Go To The Bathroom Outdoors
Getting back to nature is a beautiful thing - but what about when nature actually calls? Experienced adventurers would have their ways but for the first-timer, knowing how to relieve yourself in the wild might be a foreign concept. There's many ways but here are our top tips for going to the toilet in the outdoors:
Top Tips For Going To The Toilet Outdoors
1. Know the rules. Do some research before you leave to see if there are any local laws or regulations where you're travelling to relating to human waste. Some areas - such as those at high elevation, with sensitive flora or fauna, or that are heavily trafficked - require you to pack out your solids. If nothing else, use your common sense if circumstances leave you with no option but to go there and then.
2. Respect the Leave No Trace ethics of outdoor adventuring. It's common courtesy to leave the campsite or trail as clean, if not cleaner, than when you first arrived. This is the most ethical and responsible way to enjoy the outdoors. Leave wildlife and natural landmarks alone, and correctly dispose of, or bury any human waste.
3. Plan ahead, which means two things. Firstly, if possible scout locations that you can use. This could even be actually identifying a facility in the area (and therefore avoiding the need to go 'wild' altogether). Secondly, prep your tools and equipment. You'll need a small trowel or hand shovel for digging a hole, a roll of toilet paper or some wet wipes, and a plastic bag or container to store the used paper/wipes. An option for women for number ones is a pee funnel.
4. Remember your hygiene. Just because you're in the wilderness doesn't mean you have to turn feral. Make sure you have some sort of hand sanitiser or biodegradable soap and water for after your toilet trip. As they say, cleanliness is next to godliness.
5. Choose a secluded spot. No one needs to see what you're doing so find somewhere discreet where you won't upset any other people in the area. Use trees or bushes as coverage and try to stay well clear (at least 100 metres) of campsites, and waterways such as creeks or lakes. Try to find level ground and check that the soil is soft enough to dig in.
Some simple tools for successfully navigating a bush toilet trip include a small hand trowel (left), and hand sanitiser or biodegradable soap (right).
6. Dig a hole using your small trowel or hand shovel. Aim for a hole about as deep as the trowel blade and twice as wide, which will give you enough of a 'target zone'.
7. Time to go to the toilet. Either lower your underwear and pants, or remove them altogether (for women wearing a skirt, raise it around the waist). With feet approximately shoulder width apart, squat down with your heels flat against the ground over the hole and go to the toilet. This position is stable and will allow you to stay for longer periods of time if required. Once finished, use a nearby stick to help move any waste that may have missed the hole down into it.
8. Wipe yourself with your toilet paper or wet wipes, putting the used material in a sealable container or plastic bag (double bag it if you can). Stow it away until you find a bin or you get home. If local regulations allow, you can put your toilet paper in the hole. Whichever option you take, try to minimise the amount of paper you use. For feminine hygiene products, you will need to take these with you.
9. Bury your waste by covering it with the soil you previously dug out, then pack it down by stamping on it. Add some leaves, sticks or rocks over the top. This is important to minimise the spread of germs, the chances of someone stepping in it, or the possibility of animals digging it up.
10. Wash your hands thoroughly with the hand sanitiser or biodegradable soap and water.