Most tutorials about pooping in the outdoors end with a butt wiping, a cover up of the cathole, and a hand-washing, as I covered in Part 3 of this series. But I will finish with something less conventional: the backcountry bidet.
If you would rather watch than read, view the video embedded above starting at 5:18.
Post-poop wiping with natural materials and/or toilet paper (TP) can achieve an acceptable level of cleanliness. I have been on many one- and two-night trips without feeling that this was inadequate.
But if personal hygiene stops there, nether regions never get “shower clean.” In particular, abrasives like dirt and dust, wiping material remnants, and fecal matter can remain in the zone. Flatulence can introduce more fecal matter between BM’s and cleanings.
The area will start to itch and feel, well, dirty. If not addressed, chafing will ensue, and escalate into “monkey butt,” a condition whereby red, irritated skin rings your butthole. Hopefully, your butt never looks as bad as this. Ouch.
In the long term, poor personal hygiene can lead to fungal infections. I have a personal experience to share on this one, but you’ll need to buy me a few beers before I go there.
Personally, I perform a bidet usually every other day. But I’m not a prolific sweater, and I tend to hike in drier climates. If I were to backpack extensively again in a warm and humid climate like the Appalachians in the summer, a daily bidet might be warranted.
Backcountry bidet preparation
Find a private location away from water. Take with you:
- Water bottle with 20-32 oz of water
- Soap (optional)
- Hand sanitizer or soap
If the backcountry bidet is new to you, it may be worth removing a pant leg or two. Obviously, underwear needs to come off, too, or at least be dropped to the knees.
1. Designate your hands: one will be a dirty hand; the other, a clean hand. Commit to these designations until you’re done.
2. With the clean hand, tilt the bottle upwards and let water flow down your butt crack. Hard-sided bottles work best, but soft-sided Platypus bottles can work fine if held in a particular way. If you are using a squirt bottle, do not squirt “up” at the area, as this may contaminate your bottle.
3. While water is running down your crack, clean your butthole with your dirty hand. Splashing is not good enough. Scrub the area thoroughly.
If you would like to use soap, use it now. I have done the bidet with and without soap, and find no difference in the results.
4. If you used soap, rinse the area with the remainder of the bottle.
1. With your clean hand, squirt some hand sanitizer into your dirty hand. Conduct a one-hand wash.
2. Squirt again. Now do a two-hand wash.
3. Put your underwear and pants back on. And carry on with your day, now with a very clean underside.