How to Use the Bathroom While Camping the Most Eco-Friendly Way
“So where do you go to the bathroom?” is one of the most common questions I hear.
Whether I’m telling someone I lived full time in my van, that I only camp in the backcountry outside of established campgrounds, or I sleep in the back of my Subaru quite often… people want to know where I.. ‘go.’
I’m not only going to share my tips and tricks on best ways to go to the bathroom outside, but I want to focus on the most environmentally friendly way to do it! I’ve heard many different opinions on it, but I really wanted to do my research to learn what is BEST for our Mother Earth.
LNT (Leave No Trace) goes over 7 very important Principles for minimizing your impact on the environment and conserving it for as long as possible. Their third principles goes over disposing of waste properly, which includes human waste. Before camping or traveling, I always recommend reading the rest of the LNT principles!
Although LNT principles do apply to MOST areas, make sure to always check local regulations before going to that area!
Some places (including high elevation, sensitive, and highly trafficked areas) have much more specific regulations. This sometimes requires you to PACK IT ALL OUT.
I cannot stress enough the importance of checking outdoor regulations of each area before camping there, EVERY TIME you camp.
Going to the Bathroom While Camping (Peeing Edition):
Go as far away as possible from any trail or designated campsite.
Near Small Bodies of Water: NEVER go directly into a small pond, stream, or lake. Go AT LEAST 200 feet away from any small body of water.
Near Large Bodies of Water: If you are in a very large river or the ocean, it is recommended to pee directly in the water.
In Alpine Areas: (An alpine area is defined as a region that occurs above the tree line and below the snow line) When you are in high elevation mountain areas, especially when there are mountain goats near, it is recommended to go on a rock surface.
•Peeing on grass or other vegetation can actually encourage mountain goats to dig up that area, because they are attracted to the salt.
•Bring a biodegradable dog poop bag, to hold your used toilet paper. If you don’t have any, a plastic sandwich bag will work.
•Find a spot that will absorb the urine quickly.
•If you want to be even more environmentally friendly, get a reusable rag or bandana to use. This will save so much toilet paper! You can tie it to the outside of your bag to dry, as you are outside and hiking.
Steps to Going to the Bathroom While Camping (Pooping Edition):
Same with peeing, you want to stay as far away as possible from any trail, campsite, or water source. A very MINIMUM of 200 feet.
Step 1: Dig a Hole.
You want your ‘cat hole’ to be at least 4 inches wide and 6–8 inches deep.
Step 2: Do your Business.
Step 3: Cover it Up.
Cover your waste with the original dirt you dug up. Make sure to completely fill the hole. Stamp it down with your foot.
Put a rock or branch over the space to discourage digging animals! You can also place a stick upright, to discourage other humans from going or even walking there.
WHAT TO HAVE WITH YOU FOR USING THE BATHROOM WHILE CAMPING:
Toilet paper/ Baby wipes
Bag to put used toilet paper in
Hopefully this was helpful when planning your next camping trip. Making sure we not only Leave No Trace, but making sure we leave each area better than we found it, is one of the most important things we can do for our environment.