Pooping in the outdoors


Pooping outdoors is easy to do: squat and wipe.

It’s more difficult to do it well. A stroll around any popular frontcountry or backcountry area will attest that some fraction of hikers, backpackers, and campers struggle with this skill, due to ignorance of laziness, or a combination thereof.

A good poop job will avoid:

  • Contaminating water sources;
  • Degrading the natural setting and the experience that it offers; and,
  • Personal discomfort and/or group contagion resulting from poor personal hygiene.

In this four-part series I will share my know-how and practical tips. I address appropriate methods for the woodlands, alpine, desert, and snow. I also explain the backcountry bidet, which is the key for long-term hygiene and happiness in the outdoors.

How to poop in the outdoors || Part 1: Site selection

By Andrew Skurka / October 6, 2016 /

Like real estate, pooping outdoors is all about location, location, location. Conventional wisdom mostly skips over this aspect, and puts more emphasis on the cathole — you know, the perfect 8-inch pit that, like the perfect bear hang, is much easier to draw than to accomplish in the field. By finding a good pooping location, more liberties…

How to poop in the outdoors || Part 2: Digging catholes & rolling rocks

By Andrew Skurka / October 7, 2016 /

The first step in pooping in the outdoors is finding a good location. Site selection was discussed in-depth in Part 1. But to quickly refresh, high quality pooping spots will be: At least 200 feet away from water, Inconspicuous, Biologically rich, and Conducive to a cathole. The next step is creating a hole. Notice my use of…

How to poop in the outdoors || Part 3: Wiping, covering up, & cleaning up

By Andrew Skurka / October 8, 2016 /

It’s time for action! You have found a good location to poop and you have created a hole. (Refer to Part 1 and Part 2 of this series for details.) I normally squat over my hole and poop directly into it. If you care to get creative, you can straddle a fork in a downed…

How to poop in the outdoors || Part 4: The backcountry bidet

By Andrew Skurka / October 11, 2016 /

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. Motivation…

Mailbox: My impact on crap

By Andrew Skurka / June 8, 2017 /

Recently, I received an email from Luke G., who had attended a gear & skills clinic at the flagship REI in Denver. It’s worth sharing: I field many emails from readers, most hoping to get some additional information, some expressing thanks for something that I had shared or done. But Felix’s story is one of…

Toilet paper-less: My evolution in butt cleaning

By Andrew Skurka / July 7, 2021 /

When I began backpacking nearly twenty years ago, I used toilet paper exclusively for cleaning my butt after pooping, just like I did at home. I’ve pooped outside thousands of times since then, and now prefer to do the exact opposite: I use no toilet paper at all. Instead, I rely on natural materials, a…

Reader Q: Female bidet advice

By Andrew Skurka / March 22, 2022 /

A reader, AnnaJoy G, recently wrote me: I’m a ciswoman and looking for bidet advice for folks with vaginas. Conventional bidet methods seem to involve dirty water trickling down the butt and towards the vulva, the perfect recipe for a UTI. Online advice columns presume the hiker is a cisman and seem oblivious to the…