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How to poop in the woods

How to poop in the woods
Learn how to poop in the woods (safely, hygienically, and without impacting others) (Image credit: Getty Images)

How to poop outdoors when you are wild camping, hiking or trail running is not the easiest topic to broach – but it is definitely one that you need to know about.

The best way to think about how to poop in the woods is this: it is disgusting to come across human poop when you are camping or hiking, so make sure you do not leave any human waste for others to discover.

The main aim is to ensure there is no trace of human faeces. Do not poop and then cover it with a few stones. This is not sufficient to stop others coming across the poop and it doesn’t aid the degrading of the poop.

Also, do not poop or urinate close to water, such as a stream.

Poop will degrade best if it is buried in soil. Dig a hole at least six inches deep with a small camping trowel (yes, you should take one with you) and then re-cover the hole after going to the toilet.

Make sure you "go” away from where other people are likely to step, for example, do not poop at the side of a car park or just off a walking trail. You need to walk away from where other people will be.

Never leave toilet paper or wet wipes when you go to the toilet. They do not degrade. You could choose to wipe with a natural product, such as leaves, and bury this in the hole with the poo. But, better still, take the paper or wipes home with you in a plastic bag. Dog poop bags are ideal for this, so be sure to pack a few in a dry bag or your first aid kit (see our best dry bag and best first aid kit).

You could also burn the paper but then you need to ensure you do not set light to the ground or vegetation around you.

If you have the urge to go near where other people might step, for example near a car park,  the best plan is to poop in a plastic bag and take it away with you. Supermarket shopping bags are idea; and if you have a second one you can double wrap the bags to prevent leakage.

Many popular areas, even in the mountains, have problems with human waste. If you think about every camper, hiker, climber and mountain biker stopping to poop, you can then see how this becomes an environmental issue. 

Remember that if if you can’t bury it, poop in a bag and take it away. For more on cleaning up behind you and respecting natural environments, check out our guide on how to leave no trace.

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, who is better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favourite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing, both downhill and back country. Her target for 2021 is to finish the final nine summits in her first round of all 282 Munros, the Scottish mountains of more than 3,000ft high. Aside from being outdoors, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy the great outdoors, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.