Poohcraft – The Ten Commandments Of Taking A Dump Outdoors

This week there have been some great outdoor toilet tips over on Twitter. Here’s my Ten Commandments fleshed out now I can use more than 140 characters each:

Matterhorn Shite

From one extreme to the other - these photos were taken from the same place

1. In high traffic and environmentally sensitive areas make sure you take along the necessary packaging to pack up your crap and associated paper or wipes and carry it all out with you.

2. In less sensitive areas the best compromise environmentally speaking is to bury your crap. The hole should be 30cm/12″ or deeper (45cm or 18″ is better but you’ll start to struggle if you’re using a trowel!) as the waste is more efficiently processed by the anaerobic bacteria that live down there.

3. Never bury toilet paper. It takes yeeaaaarrrrss to biodegrade (if ever). When there’s no fire risk burn it – either take it back to camp and pop it in the camp fire or burn right after use and and add the ash to your pooh hole. Make sure it’s entirely burnt.

4. In high fire risk areas or very dry weather wrap up your used toilet paper and pack it out with you for disposal later.

5. Any latrine should be at least 50m/165ft from any water source. Just to give you an idea why, heres some of the diseases that can be passed via the faecal-oral route: Giardiasis, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E, Rotavirus, Shigellosis (bacillary dysentery), Typhoid fever, Enteroviruses, including poliomyelitis, Cholera, Clostridium difficile, Cryptosporidiosis.

6. When you’ve finished and your ceremonial burning of the toilet paper is complete, refill your pooh-hole with excavated earth and for other’s sake, mark with crossed sticks or somesuch to avoid a nasty surprise for the next person finding the secluded spot you did. Obviously in very remote areas this is less of a concern.

7. Please don’t just take a shit and leave it lying around. Think of others (and your) hygiene – and the view!

8. Likewise, if you use tissues, toilet paper or wipes don’t just pop them under a rock or throw them in a bush as in the picture. I don’t expect anyone reading this to fall into this category but I’ll say it anyway. This will really piss someone (possibly me!) off when they find it in an otherwise idyllic location and who do you think will clear it up somewhere on a mountainside or wherever?

9. Become scrupulous about personal hygiene. In the close confines of an expedition or just camping with mates it’s very easy to pass on the previously mentioned nasties, amongst others. Use hand sanitisers, soap, whatever. Getting diarrhoea/sickness outdoors really sucks.

10. There’s nothing like the primal freedom of outdoor toileting – enjoy it when you have the chance!

My only other advice for now comes from bitter experience. If you wear a knife on your belt (or anything else on your belt for that matter) make sure it’s secured or removed before using any sort of hole in the ground. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination but the results of a mishap aren’t pretty!


  1. says

    Hey thanks for that Hendrik. Entertaining and informative! I love the “Telemark”. Great.

    Oh, and good point about moss and other organic stuff. Better than TP but many people seem to have a real problem with using anything other than TP!

  2. T. J. Hart says

    Animals have a much better sense of smell than we humans. Place tissue on top of the feces and burn it. The ashes hides the smell from the animals and stops them from digging it up.

  3. says

    Snow makes great toilet paper! Thanks for posting this Nick, it’s a subject that doesn’t get enough discussion…

  4. says

    She’ll change it sure but rlelay wish she’d put it on the holder right. NEVER ever happens. (Pick your battles Dudes.)And the answer to the seat up/down BS Because for some dumbass reason, women won’t LOOK before they sit down I ALWAYS close the LID. Problem solved and she ALWAYS has to look first, lest she go all over the toilet. (And when there’s a toddler around, it’s good to not have an open bowl of water as an enticing target for toy tossing.

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