Going in the Forest

Human Waste Disposal in the National Forest:
How to Pee and Poop in the Backcountry

When toilet facilities are closed or unavailable...
Proper disposal of human waste is important to avoid pollution of water sources, avoid the negative implications of someone else finding it, minimize possibility of spreading disease and maximize rate of decomposition.

First a word about Number One:

Move at least 200 feet away from any water sources, trails, parking areas and campsites. Avoid peeing on sensitive alpine plants and soil that could be dug up by animals such as Mountain Goats attracted to the salt in urine.

Women should pack out or bury toilet paper after peeing. Don’t leave TP flowers on the ground. Carry two ziploc bags... turn one inside out to use as a glove to grab toilet paper, turn the bag right-side-out and zip it closed, enclosing the used TP inside. Place this bag inside the second sandwich bag to double bag it. This sealed bag can join the rest of your trash to be packed out.

Moving on to Number Two:

Your options for dealing with number two are simple: You can dig a hole and bury your solid waste, or you can pack it out.

WAG bags (aka Go Anywhere Bags, Blue Bags, Biffy Bags) are the best option for poop. Catholes are the next best way to properly dispose of human waste.

WAG (Waste Alleviation and Gelling) Bag has become the overall term for any pack-it-out bag system. It generally involves one bag with which you glove your hand and grab your business and another sturdier, sealable bag in which you deposit and seal the waste. These can be purchased ready to use or you can make your own.

You easily can create your own Wag Bag using an interior/pickup bag, pre-packed with kitty litter, which functions similar to Poo Powder, and a larger, sturdy outer bag — such as freezer-weight Ziploc. Heavy-duty trash compactor bags work as a Wag Bag trash bag.

Users who make their own Wag Bags should note that homemade versions can't be tossed into landfills, as can EPA-approved commercial ones, like GO Anywhere, Biffy Bags, and ReStop.

When nature calls, you grab your bag kit, toilet paper, bag for used toilet paper, and hand sanitizer and head off to find a secluded area. You squat and do your business. You then take your trusty wag kit, slip the inner bag over your hand and grab your poo pile. Be careful not to spill the poo powder or kitty litter inside (so picking up your pile with the top part of the bag is best). Then, fully enclose the poo and make sure the powder or litter has covered it. Then, seal that bag inside the thicker, outer bag or stash inside your container of choice. Place your used toilet paper in the bag. Clean your hands with hand sanitizer. Wag complete. Pack it out with you and dispose of properly at home.

Here’s how to dig a Cathole and go in the forest:

cathole graphic with trowelMove at least 200 feet (about 70 steps) away from any water sources, trails, parking areas and campsites.

Choose a sunny site with rich soil that’s free from roots and large rocks. Sunlight and soil help your waste decompose faster.

Use a trowel, stick or rock to dig a hole that is 4–6 inches wide and 6–8 inches deep.

After you’ve done your business, fill in hole with the original dirt and completely cover it using natural materials. Pack your toilet paper or wipes in a ziploc bag and carry it out with you. If using biodegradable toilet paper you can bury it in the hole. If not, pack TP out in a WAG Bag.

Going in the Forest Poster

Going in the forest poster