Categories: CampingGuides & hacks

The Ultimate Guide to Pooping in the Outdoors

Hey, we’ve all been there. You and some buddies are backpacking through some beautiful backcountry when suddenly that unmistakable feeling that we all know far too well strikes fear into your heart. You look aroundeveryone is blissfully enjoying the jaunt, but you have other things on your mind. With unparalleled immediacy and a true sense of urgency, you tell your friends you’ll be right back and run ahead to find a quiet spot where you can be alone with the glory your body has produced.

What follows is a series of “worst-case scenarios”, if you will, followed by rules to help you remember how to handle one of the most uncomfortable, but completely natural, experiences of camping.

It begins:

So let’s say you find a nice private, tranquil location, squat down, and let it all rip. Completely satisfied, but only for a moment, you snap back to reality and realize the work is only half done. The comfort of your two-ply godsend is nowhere to be found when your only company is good ol’ Mother Nature, so you frantically look around and lock eyes with a seemingly harmless plant a couple of feet away. A couple wipes later, with your organically-enhanced leaves scattered around you carelessly, you stand up, pull up dem britches, and walk back to your group with a renewed sense of purpose.

It goes badly:

That’s when you realize you were 2 minutes away from your campground for the night and your ordure (a fancy word for it all) is lying right next to the trail and your site. After not one but TWO of your friends step in it, wrongfully condemning mother nature, your product calls for some more unwanted attention. Next thing you know, bears have gone through your entire camp and taken everything, leaving your group stranded and forced to go home early.

It actually gets even worse:

You think the pain is over, but when that gluteal itchiness doesn’t seem to stop after a couple days back in civilization you decide to get a second opinion. With a quick visit to the doctor, you learn that irritation isn’t due to just poor wiping execution, but is, instead, rather a nasty rash from a plant you thought was your friend in the heat of the moment. Now you’re stuck with friends who are sour and smell, a doctor’s recommendation to apply cream where the sun don’t shine six times a day, and a torn up backpack, all because you never learned how to go to the bathroom in the woods.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be like that.

As long-winded as that scenario may seem, it’s not even the worst that can happen when you go unprepared into the glory that is a nature poop. Let’s start with the basics and teach you how to be an expert in the art.

Step 1: Be prepared

On every trip, you should bring a ziploc bag filled with a trowel and hand sanitizer (and TP if that’s what you’re into). I like to name the shovel at the beginning of every trip so you don’t have to explicitly ask for the materials when you gotta go, some suggested names include Silvia, Leroy, and The Hamburgler but really the sky is the limit.

Step 2: Find the Perfect Poop Location

Unless you are psychic and can foresee all things doo doo (if so, then call our office, we definitely have a job for you), we don’t expect you to have the necessary materials gathered together at any given time. So, when you first feel that distinct urge, make sure to establish a nice spot far away from any camp, water source, or trail.

Step 3: Identify the perfect wiping device

Once you’ve found your perfect locale, search the area for wiping materials. This part is actually a lot easier than many believelook for smooth rocks and sticks, large leaves (brush up on what is and isn’t going to make you regret it later) or, in a pinch, you could even use your hand. Big ups if you utilize the hand technique, that’s definitely a power move (gruesome, yes, but quite valid nonetheless). If you’re lucky enough to be in an area where mullein (otherwise known as the Miner’s TP) is readily available, then we recommend utilizing nature’s private label version of Charmin®. Always remember that plants with a waxy coating will consistently make for a poor wipe, and this is also a common characteristic of plants like poison ivy and oak, so watch out!


This is a completely eco-friendly guide, but if you do bring toilet paper then make sure to pack it out with you! While you may not like the idea of this, burying toilet paper is not healthy and you should never leave anything other than footprints. Bring a Ziplock bag with you to bring back any garbage like used TP. So, yes, pack-in, pack out still applies.

Step 4: Dig your hole (don’t skip this step, trust us)

OK, you’ve gathered sufficient cleansing materials, time to get diggin’. A crucial step of any nature poop is the hole that your dookie will call home. We like to make it around 6 inches deep, so use your hands or a shovel if you brought it and plow that burrow. Now let’s get to the good stuffunhitching the load itself.

Step: 5: Assume the position

We prefer the “koala-bear technique,” where you hug a tree and dangle, legs at EXACTLY a 90˚ angle, and let it all go. Don’t worry friends, you are near the end. After wiping with your previously gathered necessaries, you can put them in the hole itself, and then cover the crater up.

Step 6: Bury it deep

Always mark the space with some sticks and a sweet design so others know not to step there(this is one of my favorite parts, I like to make a “stick-henge” of sorts), and return to your group.

As always, make sure to use hand sanitizer (especially if you use your hand as TP), to keep everyone healthy. Anddd voila! You have completed a seamless and majestic nature poop!

Step 7 (optional): Rate your poop

If you want a more personal touch, I like to always rate my bum brownies based on three categories: comfort, the view, and witnessing a miracle in nature. It should be customary that people in your group ask for a rating after every expulsion, but remember that the perfect poop is very rare to come by. Flawless scores in comfort and the vista are possible but are still hard to come by, while the nature miracle is completely up to your discretion. If you can nail a perfect score in all three categories (which I have only seen happen once), then you, my friend, have mastered the beauty that is going to the bathroom in the outdoors.

Good luck and happy pooping!

Hipcamp is an online marketplace where you can list, discover, and book campsites and accommodations on private and public land. Hipcamp is your go-to guide to getting outside. If you’re a landowner, Hipcamp creates new revenue streams for your business, which can help conserve your land and keep it wild. #FindYourselfOutside #LeaveItBetter

Recent Posts

Enter Canada’s Best Summer Job Contest

Just in time for summer, we're celebrating our Canadian launch with a coast-to-coast competition for Canada's Best Summer Job. One…

3 days ago

Fresh Tracks Home: Myia Antone on Founding Indigenous Women Outdoors

Myia Antone always knew she was Indigenous, but it’s something she used to hide.  Despite being raised in Squamish—a glacier-carved…

2 weeks ago

A Vanlifer’s Cookbook Camping Recipe: Vegan Buddha Bowls with Spicy Goddess Dressing

When I was a weekend warrior, I’d eat all kinds of fast food during those quick road trips—burgers, sandwiches, burritos—until…

2 weeks ago

Fire Safety at Hipcamp: A Webinar Series Recap

In honor of Wildfire Awareness Month in the U.S. and to help prepare for a safe season ahead, in May…

2 weeks ago

Hipcamp Canada is Here!

We're so excited to announce that Hipcamp Canada has arrived! Travellers can now choose from hundreds of tent camping, cabin,…

2 weeks ago

12 LGBTQ+ Outdoor Leaders Making a Difference

The breadth of LGBTQ+ outdoor organizations has grown exponentially over the past decade, with numerous queer-led nonprofits and guiding services…

1 month ago