The Art of Pooping In The Wild

It may come as a surprise to some people but...

In the wild, there's no flush, no convenient seats, no soothing lounge music. Hell, even the wooden cabins (aka. poop sanctuaries) are rare to come across in most areas. There's nowhere to poop!

And it is an absolutely horrible time to realize this when the shitter is prompting for an early departure. So, what the effing do you do when you have to take a shit in the wild?

You dig a hole.


How to dig a cathole?

When digging a cathole in nature, there are some rules you must follow. With respect to the Leave No Trace principles, you make sure to dig a hole that is:

  • Deep enough
    - at least 6 inches / 15 centimeters
  • Wide enough
    - at least 4 inches / 10 centimeters in diameter
  • At least 70 steps away from the trail/campsite (approx. 200 feet or 60 meters)
    - this includes away from rivers, streams, and lakes as the bacteria can infect the water. You do not want the shitter in your drink.
  • Preferably without toilet paper in it
    - animals do not dig it up and spread it around (instead, you can use big Ziplocks to pack it out).
  • Filled with soil once you're finished
    - again, Leave No Trace.


The best tools to dig a cathole

Whether you should carry a tool for the purpose of digging catholes is a widely discussed topic amongst hikers. But, what can you actually use to dig the hole?

Trowels (... or pooper scoopers)

Trowels are small camping shovels with the sole purpose of digging cat holes. When hiking in rocky terrain or soil with a lot of roots, trowels become superior due to their sturdiness. After being scolded for quite some time for adding extra, unnecessary weight, they are regaining popularity. I carry the Deuce of Spades from TentLab and it weighs around 17 grams or 0.6 ounces.

Trowels from TentLab

Tent Stakes

Stakes like the MSR Ground Hog does the job and doesn't add extra weight to your setup. However, using stakes may take up more time to dig a proper whole due to the size and scope of the tool.

MSR Groundhog Stakes

Trekking Poles

Sort of the same concept as using tent stakes. Not super efficient, but does not add extra weight. However, poles are more fragile than trowels and stakes and thus, more likely to wear out in the long run.wild stray, wildstray, wildstray.com, caitlin olson pct, pacfic crest trail instagram, outdoor instagram stories, mikkel mandrup fogt

A bit more fragile of a tool

Sticks 'n stones

Nature's very own trowels! Many hikers still praise the use of sticks and stones for digging catholes, because that is how they have always done it. It might be feasible in wooded areas, but otherwise, if you can't find a proper stick or solid rock, you might find yourself in a pretty shitty situation. Quite literally.

Nature's very own trowel: the wooden stick


And in those words - it's a wrap! I hope that you found the article helpful. Thanks for reading.

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