You are currently viewing A Beginner’s Guide to Pooping in the Woods while camping or hiking

A Beginner’s Guide to Pooping in the Woods while camping or hiking

How to Poop in the Woods - A Beginner's Guide

How to poop in the woods is a question that any backpacker or camper ponders. It can hold people back from adventures because discussing it can be a sort of taboo nature, but don’t worry. I won’t hold anything back. (HAHA!)  I hope that you benefit tremendously from this Beginner’s Guide to Pooping in the Woods.  

One of the things I was most nervous about when backpacking was where to put my poop when pooping in the outdoors. My belly can be super unpredictable on long hikes, the combo of strange food and anxiety doesn’t necessarily mix well, and well sometimes you just gotta go.  While pooping in the woods while camping can mainly be avoided because of the outhouses and bath houses that are available at most campsites, when you’re backpacking, you don’t have these options. If you’re backpacking, you will definitely will have to poop in the woods. It’s important to be prepared for pooping in the woods prior to having to engage in the act, so here’s everything you need to know about pooping in the wilderness, and what you need to bring with you to have a pleasurable pooping experience.

What to include in your poop kit - A packing list for pooping in the outdoors

1. Poop Trowel

A poop trowel is used for digging a cathole to relieve yourself in. It’s an important tool. because you never know what the ground conditions will be. To use it, you’ll want to dig a hole larger than you think you need, because your aim will be off. The recommended size for a cathole is 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches in diameter. There are a few varieties, but when backpacking you’ll want to look for the lightest and most compact version to carry on you. If you’re day hiking, you can use a larger one. It really just depends on how much you want to spend on the poop trowel. 

GSI Outdoors Cathole Trowel

Serrated edges make for easy digging, even in the most stubborn soil. | Made from repurposed GSI Outdoors Lexan products | Serrated edges make for easy digging, even in the most stubborn soil. | Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics Usage Guidelines molded into back of trowel. | 1% of sales support Leave No Trace | Weight: 3.1oz | Dimensions: 10.3″ x 2.6″ x 1.0″

Coghlan’s Backpacker’s Trowel 

A lightweight, convenient trenching tool made of high impact styrene.

Weight: 2 oz. (55 g)

Buy now

Make quick work of digging catholes AND securing your shelter with the Titanium Dig Dig Tool™.

Buy now

TheTentLab New Improved Deuce(R) Ultralight Backpacking Potty Trowel 

The Deuce of Spades continues to improve: now in three sizes: #1 – .45oz, #2 – the classic – .60oz and HEAVY DOODY #3 – .97oz | Use the length to gauge if your cat-hole is deep enough. | Made of US-produced, aerospace grade 7075-T6 aluminum.  | Lifetime Warranty for years of impressive service

Buy now

2. Toilet Paper

You’ll want to bring more toilet paper than you think you need, it goes fast! You can also use it for many other purposes, including blowing your nose and wiping your face 🙂 


3. Ziplock Storage Bags

Bags are your friend. You’ll want many – and make sure you get the heavy duty storage version. Because, well just use your imagination. We bring ziplock bags in ziplock bags. One is for your toilet paper, dry. One will be for your toilet paper, used. You may want to double bag it. Bonus, if you’re at a campsite with fire, you can burn your used TP. Make it into a tight little ball and wrap it up with unused toilet paper.


4. Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is oh so important to avoid cross contamination. It’s also something you should have on you on your backpacking trip to keep your hands clean.


5. Wilderness Wipes

These wipes will keep you feeling fresh and clean. Also, I like to stick these wipes around my used toilet paper to keep the smell at bay and keep my poop bag contained!


Where to go poop on the trail

HEAD OFF THE TRAIL. Run if you have to. But don’t poop near a water source or where people can smell it. Don’t be a pooping bandit. The official rules are approximately 70 paces (approx 200 feet) away from camp, trails, or water. Read the Leave No Trace blog here. 

ok fine – ONE pooping story, and it’s not about me. My first trip up Katahdin a few years back we encountered a pooping bandit. Someone was legit POOPING ON THE TRAIL and leaving it. DON’T BE THAT PERSON. Karma will get you.

Never leave home without your poop kit. I hope you learned a lot from my instructional post on how to poop in the woods.

Related: How to Poop when Camping, How to Poop when backpacking, Everybody Poops


Florida born, Maine living. Outdoor life is for me. I love adventures - hiking -photography - running - camping - reading - creating - learning - traveling - deep eddy vodka - cats and living, basically. Follow me on social - @DanielleDorrie