When out on a trail backpacking, we all inevitably find ourselves in the situation of having to use the restroom. There are best practices to use when you find yourself in that situation, though. In fact, proper bathroom practices is one of the primary ideologies of the Leave no Trace campaign we discussed in a previous article. I mean, let’s face it, no one wants to be backpacking through the woods having to worry about stepping into another person’s toilet paper covered in poop or having to worry about their source of water being contaminated because an uneducated hiker chose to pee in an area that was a poor choice.
By simply following the basic bathroom etiquette of outdoor bathroom use, you can make a difference in all outdoor environments and do your part in keeping our natural parks clean. This will require you to remember your light weight trowel, a couple of baggies for both your clean and dirty toilet paper, and hand sanitizer for keeping yourself sanitary. Below are several of the steps for sanitary outdoor bathroom use that follow the principles of Leave no Trace:
- Choose a spot that is off the trail and private
- Be careful to not trample over vegetation that is sensitive when finding a spot
- Ensure you are a minimum of two-hundred feet from any source of water
- If you have to go number two, find a spot you can dig easily in order to dig a cathole. If possible, find a spot with sunlight hitting it to help speed up the rate of decomposition.
After you have finished taking care of your business, cover the cathole with the dirt you dug up. Put your dirty toilet paper in a baggie, then store it privately in your backpack to dispose of later properly.
By following the above guidelines, you can help keep our natural areas sanitary.