It’s the dark side of heading into the wild. The call of nature, urgent and demanding, hits you in the gut. The coffee and scroggin behemoth deep inside of you begs to be laid. It sounds daunting, but learning how to poo in the bush isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds. Here’s how:


Plan for Poo

You never know when you’ll need to go to the toilet in the outdoors so remember the 6 P’s:

  • Prior
  • Planning
  • Prevents
  • Poor
  • Poo
  • Performance.

Research Your Potential Poo Locations

Knowing whether there’s a toilet on the horizon might save you the effort of a wild poo. Plus, it’s better for the environment.

If you’re camping somewhere arid, alpine or close to water (like a canyon, more on that later) you might need to consider packing your poo out or using a poo tube.

Please do not poo here. – Photo by Max Pemberton

Prep Your Camping Poo Kit

Your camping poo kit has to be flexible depending on the conditions, there are two main types:

The Wild Poo Kit

This is for when you expect to be able to dig a hole. It includes:

  • Toilet paper (the recycled stuff biodegrades the best)
  • trowel
  • Hand sanitiser

The Pack-It-Out Kit

This kit is for when you can’t leave your poo behind:

  • Paper bags for your business
  • A plastic bag
  • A dry bag
  • Hand sanitiser (but probably keep this separate)

Put your hand inside one of the paper bags, pick up the poo and turn the bag inside out. Now place the paper bag inside your plastic bag, expel the air and tie a knot. Place the plastic bag inside a dry bag to really protect your gear from your portable camp toilet.

aidan howes, how to poo in the bush, illustration, list, leave no trace, pack it out

Just two bros doing it right. – Illustration by @aidanmh

Showtime

Location Location Location!

You want your outdoor toilet to be at least 100 metres* from camp, trails and water sources. Don’t skimp on this, the further the better! Look for somewhere people are unlikely to go and do your best to find the softest, moistest soil available.

If you can’t find poo real estate that fits these specs you might need to pack-it-out. Poo doesn’t decompose well in arid or alpine areas and in canyons or wetlands you can’t get away from the water!

*If you’re having trouble working out how far this is, visualise a footy field or take 100 big steps.

Dig Deep

Dig your hole (sometimes called a ‘cathole’) at least 15cm deep and wide enough to handle your shoddy aim. Pile the dirt next to the hole. You can use your trowel, a stick, stone or even the heel of your boot, just get it done.

Assume The Position And Poo In The Bush

Or more accurately, the hole. Squat over the hole and poo into it. Bend ze knees. Easy done. Feel the relief wash over you.

Pro tip: Don’t pull your pants the whole way down. Pulling them as far as your knees should do and it’ll keep them out of the firing line.

Grab A Leaf

Or a rock. Natural toilet paper is Leave No Trace approved! Or you can grab the toilet paper you packed earlier. You can bury small amounts of toilet paper but if you’re in one of the sensitive areas mentioned before, or really want to minimise your impact, the best thing you can do is to pack-it-out.

Don’t burn it: There are far too many stories of fires that have started in this (admittedly pretty funny) way. Plus, burning poo smells exactly as you’d expect.

Fill It In and Stomp It Down

Aid decomposition by mixing your offering into the dirt with a stick, then fill the hole right back up and stomp it solid. Chuck some leaves over the top and voilà, mischief managed.

Green Gully Track, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, NSW, multi-day hike, hut to hut, campsite, campfire, stars, night, astrophotography

These guys probably have their poo preparation down to a fine art. – Photo by Benny Littlejohn

Special Mentions

Feminine Hygiene Products

Tampons and pads need to be packed out. They won’t burn, or decompose effectively, if buried.

Urine

Animals are super gross and will come towards wherever you’ve peed and eat the leaves you’ve peed on. Best to pee on hard surfaces like rocks or dirt, avoid the sides of trees in case it leads to ringbarking.


Mastered pooing in the bush? Check these out next…

How To Purify Water in the Bush

5 Golden Rules of Campsite Etiquette (Don’t be that guy!)

The Do’s and Don’ts of Camping

5 P’s for Multi-Day Bushwalks