Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

How to Poop in the Woods: A Guide for When Nature Calls

Whether you’re avidly seeking to save the environment one shit at a time, or one who chooses to steer clear of danger while doing manly things in the wilderness, this guide on how to poop in the woods will come in handy sooner or later.

toilet in woodsUntil 206 B.C., which is believed to be when China invented the first water closet system (what we call outhouses today), man was shitting in the woods without a worry in the world. But there came a time where defecating in the woods indiscriminately just didn’t seem right anymore. Knowing how to shit in the woods became unpopular because it would attract predators, made it hard to create a community with such waste, and quite simply — smelled awful. So…

Related Videos

Now, the average person poops at least once a day (I’ll let you do the math, cause it’s a crap load). However, the math isn’t important. The real problem that surfaces is one to note and can be found in any typical campsite or natural wilderness — countless wads of toilet paper. Do bears shit in the woods? Sure they do, but they don’t clean up after themselves like the Charmin Ultra commercials suggest. This is human waste that’s disposed of in the wild, which is both disgusting and detrimental to the world around it.

Related Guides

Although we’re now comforted with modern outhouses that collect our bowels, there will come a time when you really need to go and there is no latrine in sight. Depending on your location and estimated stay time, your method to finding the perfect defection spot may be different, but the major points will always be the same. We’ve gathered some tips and info on how to shit in the woods here for you, to make sure your disposal is safe and environmentally friendly.

Disposal Methods

Unlike the confides of your own home, there is more than one way to dispose of your feces in the wild. Here we’ve listed such methods that will focus on steering away from possible water contamination, tricking hungry animals such as bears and raccoons, and maximizing a beneficial impact on the world around you.

Take it with you:

This might seem unflattering and gross but it’s the best way to keep the environment clean. In many places across the U.S., rivers and streams aren’t an unusual find and being able to find an applicable location may be difficult. That’s why you should look into getting a sanitary, convenient cleanwaste portable toilet from WAG, which features hand sanitizer, toilet paper, a secure zip-close disposal bag and deodorizing materials. This is the best way to make sure you leave the environment free of disease.

Dig a hole:

If the portable lo0 disinterests you, you’ll need a shovel like this easy to transport and durable Coghlan’s backpackers trowel. If you’re in a flat landscape and at least 200 feet (if not more) from a water source and you’re able to dig a hole about six to eight inches deep — do it! Always try to dispose of your poop in the ground and cover it back up with dirt, twigs, leaves, anything.

This way, people can’t unintentionally transport your remains and spread disease, and it won’t be easy for animals to track it. Good ole Plain, white, unscented toilet paper is the only socially acceptable waste item to bury with your poop (But when in doubt, pack it out).

Note: If you’re camping, make sure you are also at least 300 yards, downwind from your site before you do your business. It’s important to keep threats away from your livelihood and food supply.

how to shit in the woods


Maybe you’re scaling a cliff or you’re in a rocky area where digging a hole isn’t an option. Well then alternative methods become necessary. If you find yourself needing to go number two while rock climbing, you could toss your feces down the mountain to dispose of it.

If you’re on a rocky hillside and can’t find sufficient digging dirt, the appropriate form of disposal would be to wipe your remains on a rock to let UV rays do the sanitizing.

Yes, these are not the most ideal forms of disposal, nor are they encouraged in any way; but, if you’re mindful of the water sources and possible people below then you’ll cause little harm.

Tip: If you happen to not have anything to wipe with, don’t reach for the leaves first. Believe it or not, a smooth rock will be your best bet to cleaning up after yourself. Like the alternatives above, this should be your last option.

Now, whenever those unforgivable bowel movements take control unexpectedly in the wild, you’ll have many combat methods to put into practice.

Editors' Recommendations

Here are the 9 best hikes in and around San Francisco to experience and enjoy
Experience these gorgeous hiking trails in San Francisco
A view of the waves and the mountains at Pescadero State Beach in Pescadero, California.

San Francisco: It’s the city that never seems to slow down. There’s so much to see and do throughout the San Francisco (SF) Bay Area, including things to do in the great outdoors. The Bay Area may be best known for great wines, fantastic gastronomy, groovy counterculture, and multinational tech companies, but there's plenty more to see and do outside.

Where should we go, and what should we do? Fortunately, we have some ideas. Here are some of the region's best places to hike, bike, surf, swim, and simply enjoy.

Read more
Hiking for Beginners: A Guide to Hitting the Trail
hiking for beginners sunrise.

That first hike is a gateway drug and a dangerous one at that. One moment you're pulling on your first pair of proper hiking socks, and lacing up your hiking boots, the next you're dedicating an entire room in your house to storing outdoor gear, and planning multi-day trips across the country. We don't typically advocate for vices that empty wallets, push our bodies to their limits, and find us waking up in strange places, but for outdoors junkies, we make an enthusiastic exception.

There's really no better way to experience a place than by exploring it one step at a time. If you're ready to take that first step but aren't sure where to begin your journey, you're in the right place. In this hiking for beginners guide, we'll cover everything you need to know on how to prepare for hiking and make it a serious habit. We'll cover what to wear and what gear you'll want to bring along. We'll even help you find some of the best hikes to take in your area. Ready? Let's chase this dragon...

Read more
The Perfect Guide to How Hiking Boots Should Fit
Everything You Need To Know About Getting The Perfect Fit With Those Boots for Hiking
A man jumps over rocks while hiking

A good pair of hiking boots is the most important piece of gear you’ll need to have a great hike. If your feet are happy, they can take you to some incredible places. But if you’re walking all day in ill-fitting boots, you’re not going to have a good time. Isn’t the whole point of hiking to have fun? If you’re looking for fresh hiking footwear, check out this guide to some of the best hiking boots of the year. But, how should hiking boots fit, exactly? A great pair of boots isn’t going to be comfortable if they don’t fit right. We’ll give you the low-down on how those boots should fit. 

Try Hiking Boots Exactly As You’ll Be Wearing Them
You’ll want to try on hiking boots at the end of the day when your feet will be the most swollen from walking and standing all day. Your feet will get swollen when you’re hiking so this is very important. 

Read more